Letters to the Editor

Disingenuous to use Luther's teaching as showing way to unity

Fr Sean McManus (May 21) enquired whether Free Presbyterian congregations were in the dark regarding ecumenical advances, as he continues to mull over my article printed in The Bulwark about the Mass. It can never be argued that congregations affiliated to the Presbytery of Ulster are ignorant about ecumenism.  One of the prime reasons why the denomination was formed in 1951 and why thousands have been led by the Holy Ghost to join our ranks, is because of the ecumenical trend that exists within certain Protestant denominations.  

This is not the real question. 
I would suggest another more pertinent question: Is ecumenism a biblical approach towards Catholicism?

Fr McManus has chosen to present ‘the great Martin Luther’ as an exemplar whose teachings on the Eucharist can help to provide common ground between Protestantism and Catholicism. 
My article (I wonder how many who criticise my words have read the article?), highlighted this very issue. I agree that Luther did accept the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, but he also rejected transubstantiation, believing that while the Son of God became present in the sacrament, the essence of the bread and wine remained unchanged. This became a hot debate between the Lutheran and the Reformed Churches, led by John Calvin. 

It is somewhat disingenuous, however, for Fr McManus to use Luther’s teachings as a light showing the way to unity with the Papacy.  One of the German Reformer’s most influential works, published in 1521 was ‘The Babylonian Captivity of the Church’. Perhaps it would be more appropriate to hear from Luther himself rather than the opinion of a commentator in the form of Lyndal Roper. 

In Luther’s introduction he described the theology of Rome as propping up an idol, by the way in which the Papacy was elevated. What would he have made of the more modern invention of Papal Infallibility, when the Pope speaking Ex Cathedra defines faith and morals for all Christians?

Luther went onto to argue that the true Church was held in captivity because of the way the Papacy had corrupted the sacraments. In this work he reduced the sacraments from seven to three, reserving his most intense criticism for the corruption of ordination and the office of the priesthood.

Has the Roman Church changed since the days of Luther? Does the Papacy continue to dominate? Can the Church of Christ exist without being in subjection to the Pope?

Yes, it is sadly true that some Protestant Churches have capitulated and have become part of a process leading their flocks back into the Babylonian bondage that Luther so boldly and bravely broke free from.   We call on Christians to resist this trend, not only by objection but by separation because truth cannot mix with error.

Clogher, Co Tyrone


Lack of effective leadership is NI’s biggest problem

Most of the local political parties recite ‘austerity’ as being the main problem in Northern Ireland.
It’s not. The biggest problem in Northern Ireland is the lack of effective leadership for making NI a better place for everyone. Who is addressing the waste of tax payers’ money which we have all around us.

Some years ago the figure of £1.5 billion every year was estimated to be the cost of duplication, that is about 10 per cent of the hand out from central government.

But what is the cost of all our messing about. We have had innumerable consultations, delayed decisions, botched schemes over the years. Examples abound – the trunk roads A5 &A6; the non-implementation of the Balgoa Health Report; no progressive action on the York Street interchange; the Police and Fire training school; the oversupply of 70,000 school desks; having two teacher training colleges; RHI etc.

And the latest fiasco where the sensible/practical decision by a senior civil servant to authorise the development of an energy from waste plant at Hightown was overruled by the courts. Who now runs Northern Ireland?

It is ironic that Sinn Féin warmly supports the court decision to do nothing when they were the prime movers against the original plan about 10 years ago where Northern Ireland would have been an environmental and financial beneficiary, where renewed land was to be used, transport connections existed and no residences would be inconvenienced.  Yet another example of waste.

This waste is a cost on present taxpayers.

Zombieism is reflected by the views of so many people who simply despair of the present political situation and no longer care. Would anyone wake up if they knew the cost to them of this waste?

We seem to have plenty of economists,  surely they could produce a figure of  the cost of  this money,

Belfast BT6


There is irony then there is pig irony

I have always thought that a key requirement for success, in unionist political circles at least, was to have had a sense of humour bypass. Then I read the report of Arlene Foster’s speech in London, where she claimed that the DUP ideology was “inclusive and welcoming”.

Where does one start with this nonsense? 

Politics aside, consider how ‘inclusive and welcoming’ the DUP is to the Gay community. In 2015 the DUP used a procedural device, [the Petition of Concern], to override one of the few areas of agreement in the assembly with multiple cross-party consent and more crucially, one with majority support. The majority will of the assembly was clearly to enact legislation permitting Gay marriage. Instead we were all afforded an insight into the DUP’s thinking on democracy, majority voting and the will of the people. Simply put, if they do not agree, then the opinions of fellow citizens or elected politicians is irrelevant.

Previously we had two DUP health ministers who refused to accept the life-saving gift of blood donations from the Gay community.
Somehow Arlene Foster thinks such behaviour could be described as inclusive.
I really would worry at what she would consider less welcoming or exclusive and hope we don’t get to find out.

Belfast BT9

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Letters to the Editor