In recent years state and church have been caught in quicksands and have not found a reliable means of extracting themselves from their predicament.

The state because too many members of our Parliament have become so engrossed in their own particular programme fail to see how they could adjust for the sake of the common good. Brexit has found us unable to take a responsible step forward to extricate ourselves from the daily mess in which we find ourselves. Meanwhile citizens are floundering; and legislation on vital matters affecting society as a whole has been found incapable of wise legislature and productive agencies are wasting money on safeguards instead of investing in productive activities.

As for the church it has got so involved in scandals that the outside world ignores productive work such as the gathering in Dublin to discuss matters affecting the family. Journalists in both cases have used their reporting to chase headlines and too many have allowed their own views and prejudices to colour their columns and broadcasts

Both organisations now need planks on which they can make their way out of the sands that threaten to prevent further progress. In Britain we have the advantage of two excellent leaders of the main Christian denominations Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury and Vincent Nichols Archbishop of Westminister. The head of the whole church could not be finer then Pope Francis with his fresh outlook on so much that needed clearing away from PETER’S BARK. Clericalism was and is a severe restriction for some who wish to deepen their awareness of Christ’s mercy. In some places it seems that the church authorities have forgotten that the MINISTERS of the Sacrament of Marriage are the bride and groom and that brought up in the faith they should be trusted to conduct their private life to fulfil God’s will, as it affects them and not have imposed the teachings of a celibate clergy.

It is surely time that the Princes of the church should get together to devise fresh group of prelates such Deacons, as was instigated when it was found in the early days that men were needed to see to the fair distribution of funds among Hebrew and Greek widows. The celibacy rule should be done away with so that men may feel free to marry should it be an addition to their vocation. Today when Christians are in the danger of being swamped by the huge numbers who either disregard Christian teachings or have no idea what the commandments entail, it is essential that men with the same experience of lay life should be working alongside their fellows. During the recent meeting in Rome of world bishops it looked as if there had been no women advisers to hand to speak graphically of the disastrous result of sexual attacks. It would be a wise move to spend half the money allocated to preventing abortions be used to educate men and boys on the respect they owe to their own bodies. Young women should not be advised by rags and the media to waste their time in learning to titillate.

When I went up to Oxford in 1934 Monsignor Ronald Knox that great scholar was the chaplain at Oxford University there were comparatively few women undergraduates and the small group of Catholic women who had the privilege of being cared for by the Holy Child nuns were not considered members of the chaplaincy.

In his latest address to the Youth Pope Francis’ words may fail to achieve their full potential when they seem to be addressed to only the youths of the flock. Conciously or unconciously the celibate clergy have failed to use the great gifts that they have been given to both men and women when nations are making use of anyone who can fulfill a certain citeria. How foolish to ignore what is available for the guidance of the common good.

Already a possibly apocrophycal world may owe its salvation to adolescents who are universally drawing attention to the vital need for immediate climate change.

Hope lies in the golden cross framed by the rose window in Notre Dame as hope was raised in Japan when in a devestated city there remained the leaning statue of the Sacred Heart.

The loving heart of our Lord Jesus Christ visits us like the dawn from above.”

Yvonne Fox

Oblate of Ampleforth

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