Thursday 16 August 2012

A strange coincidence?...

Many years ago, when I was an undergraduate at Oxford, I had occasion to write to the Chaplain, Fr Walter Drumm.

I was less obnoxious then, and wrote him a very gentle note pointing out that it was against the law of the Church for the congregation to join in the doxology at the end of the Eucharistic Prayer, quoting the appropriate Vatican document, and noting that he never encouraged the practice, but suggesting that perhaps he should discourage it.

Weeks passed by and nothing happened.  Then, right at the end of term, I got a brief hand-written note from him, saying 'Thank you for your comments, which I have noted.'

I thought that was inadequate at the time, and I still do.  Either I was right, in which case he should, I believe have addressed the issue, or explained why he thought it inappropriate to do so; or alternatively I was wrong, in which case, I believe that he should have explained my error.

But to be honest, I haven't been brooding on this for the intervening thirty years.  I had forgotten about it until this afternoon, when I received an email.

This one was from the Diocese of Brentwood, and it read: Thank you for your email, the contents of which have been noted.

This one was in response to my email asking if it was really appropriate to invite Jon Cruddas to address a Catholic Justice and Peace conference; given that, despite proclaiming himself a Catholic, he consistently, publicly and unrepentantly opposes Catholic teaching on Justice and Peace issues (such as the protection of marriage, the rights of unborn children etc) in both word and deed.

Are these people taught that this is the way to (fail to) answer questions they don't want to answer?  Is there a handbook somewhere for dealing with cheeky proles like me who ask impertinent questions?  I think we should be told (but of course, if I asked, I would be told: Thank you for your question, which I have noted.)


Ttony said...

See Left Footer's blog and the comments!

Ben Trovato said...

Thanks Ttony: there's another coincidence then.

I am minded to answer as follows:

Dear CJSR (whoever you may be)

A friend tells me: 'I was taught to use "Thank you for your letter, the contents of which have been noted" by a Commander RN when deliberate rudeness or insolence was intended.'

I hope that you are not a naval man or woman!

On the assumption that you intend no deliberate rudeness, I would be most grateful if you could answer my question, now that you have noted it.

Best wishes


Part-time Pilgrim said...

I think they could have justified inviting him (although I don't see how they could claim he was the best person to invite.) Something along the lines of: "Although John's views on abortion and same-sex 'marriage' are not in line with Catholic teaching he does have significant knowledge and experience of (insert whatever it is here)" or even better "As part of the conference discussion we intent to challenge John about his failure to follow all aspects of Catholic teaching."

What is really disappointing is that either they have not considered whether John Cruddas's failure to oppose abortion and SSM make him unsuitable or, having considered the issue, they are not prepared to explain their thinking.

Very disappointing

Personally I would have invited someone else less compromised.

Left-footer said...

We should keep in touch over this, and compare the responses we get. God bless!

Ben Trovato said...

P-t P

Quite: that's why I raised it as a query, rather than a denunciation. Had they said 'We are having a "know the enemy session" featuring special guests Jon Cruddas, Ann Furedi etc' I would have ben the first to applaud...

L-f: yes, let's compare our identical lack of response regularly...

Mater mari said...

We first experienced this response 40 years ago. Even worse was when I sent a reasoned and thoughtful letter about some aspect of RE teaching in our 'Catholic' secondary school to a diocesan official and received no direct reply at all. Instead we were sent a copy of a letter sent by him (a priest!) to the children's Headmaster which included 'It is a great pity that Mr & Mrs Bloggs can't get on with bringing up their very large family and leave religious education to the professionals'. Unsurprisingly we sent our younger children to non-Catholic schools where their Catholicism was greatly respected.

Omphalomancer said...

Raising concerns with priests seems difficult. Strikingly, there seem to be a number of very common themes: Father, you're doing it wrong; Father, he is doing it wrong; Father, she shouldn't be doing it all and my personal favourite, I told you so!
The solution is by no means clear: participate and condone; don't participate and and be ostracised or oppose and be vilified. while I know that I should not fear either of the latter, sometimes one feels very lonely being the only one not singing about "telling my story" or asserting that there is, "one cup of blessing which we bless and that is no longer woman or man!" We still have a communal recitation of the Doxology and last week we were told that, "...we should drop the word man from the Creed as it was offensive."
What hope is there regarding a response to your confers if the standard of engagement with the pew fodder is so poor. Justice and Peace as a movement has achieved...answers on a postcard should be not more than 200,000 words, should be fully inclusive, politically correct, inoffensive and cost not more than £60,000. Please note answers should be written in biodegradable ink and on recycled missalettes.

Hughie said...

This isn't about the post but about the "About me".

You say: "It would seem unfair to write about them (the children) under their true names, so ABCD seemed a good idea. My wife's not Anna either, but again the AB pattern seemed pleasing."

If it indeed be a pattern, who are wives B, C, and D? I think you priest should be told. And Anna's lawyer.