THE IRISH TIMES
Letters to the Editor. Teusday, April 25, 2006
Controversy over the Drogheda Mass.
Madam,-The eucharistic readings for the past weekend, the second Sunday of Easter, give us two profound different pictures of the church. In the first, from the Acts of the Apostle, we see an open, caring andunited community of believers;indeed, it is said that st Augustine founded his first monastic community on the insperation of this reading - idealised, perhaps, as it was.
In the other, the Gospel, we see an embattled community, fearful of the religious establishment and the authorities. Acommunity behind locked doors who are visitd by the risen Christ, whose body is scarred by wounds of Calvary. His message is of peace and reconciliation and it is alsoa challenge and a mission.
On Easter Sunday, in the Augustinian Church in Drogheda two priests and their communities came out from behind their closed doors to break down the barriersand speak to one another of peace and reconciliation in the most powerful sign we have of that peace, The Holy Eucharist.
It was a truly courageous action, true to the mission of the Risen Lord, and the reaction of the pharisees on their respective hills in Armagh shows us just how deep the wounds in the body of Christ run.
Each day of our lives brings us painful reminders of those wounds, but the actions of Fr Michael Graham gives us a glimpse of the glory that is to be revealed.
Rev JOHN McKAY,
St Johns the Evangelist,
Madam, - I was wondering how long it was going to be before the "WWJD" contingent sprung into action following the the "concelebration" of mass by three Roman Catholic priests and a Church of Ireland minister? You ask what WWJD means? It is short for "What would Jesus do?"If anything, the reactions prove the need for a strong adult faith formation. If people do not see anything wrong with what occured on Easter Sunday in Drigheda i would recommend an introductory course in theology with some electivs on the Eucharist and church history.
To concelebrate the Eucharist implies shared faith and understanding, not only of my faith, but of the faith of the church into which i was ordained. This painfully not so between Roman Catholics and Protestantism.We pray on the same day unity will be achieved, but it is not there yet. There remain fundimental differences between the two traditions especially in relation to our understanding of the Eucharist, the place of the succesor of Peter, the ministerial priesthood, the seven sacraments, the place of the Blessed Virgin Mary in salvation history - the list is endless.
Do not get me wrong: I welcome and foster credible expressions of ecumenism, but not by attracting contraversy to the celebration of Easter Sunday Mass. Certainly have a joint prayer service, but do not put publicity abd well meaning gestures before truth.
To the WWJD contingent i say:think with your mind aswell as your heart; do not allow yourselves to be swept along by the emotive feelings of unity. Remember the words of Lord Jesus: "Go be reconciled, and then present your offering".
Rev MICHAEL O'GRADY
Madam,- Fr Paul Clayton-Lea (April 22nd) should lighten up. Two Christian priests concelebrating the Eucharist on Easter Sunday. How scandelous is that?
Fr KEVIN HEGARTY
A chara,- The contraversy surrounding the stunt pulled by Fr Iggy O'Donovan in Drogheda on Easter Sunday has, at least, exposed the serious crisis within the Irish Catholic Hierarchy and clergy.
The fruits of this are everywhere to be see, not least among the "in this day and age/ let's move on" brigade of lay Catholics, whose enthusiastic support of Fr O'Donovan suggests they have little or no grasp of even the most basic tenants of Catholicism.
Only a validly ordained Catholic priest can celebrate Mass, and Mr Graham's involvement on this occasion was nothing short of sacralige.
Bearing in mind that if a Catholic priest wa to piblicly say the traditional Latin Mass without the "permission" of his bishop he would soon find himself under censure, it is to be hoped that the Hierarchy defend the faith in the light of Fr O'Donovans recent antics and not, once again, bend to secular opinion,
Editor, The Hibernian
Madam, - The real scandal that the Drogheda Eucharist has highlighted is the continuing disunity within Christianity and for that the priests involved deserveour gratitude. Tony Allwright (April 21st) believes that "at least one of the priests had to be denying his faith, which made him an apostate". Such language is more appropriate to the era of the Inquisition.
In actual fact he has it totally wrong when he decllares solemnly that there are "irreconcilable differences between the faiths" as regards the Eucharist. He adds that Catholics "believe that the Mass's consecration transubstantiates water and wine [presumably means bread and wine] into the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ; Protestants believe that they only symbolise the flesh and blood".
I refer Mr Allwright to the 1971 Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission statemen, elucidated in 1979, which clearly stated "we have reached agreement on essential points of Eucharistic Doctorine". The members of this high level commission were all official appointees of both the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches.
The real scandal is that we still await the impimatur of the Vatican to this document. We all should be demanding real and meaningful acion by the Churches on the restoration of unity when there evidently is no further irreconcilable differences on the essential doctorinl meaning of the Eucharist between the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches.
The unity of the church is both signified and brought about by the celebration of the Eucharist and we owe a debt to all the ministers involved at Drogheda for bringing unity among Christians another step forward.