From the V. Rev Canon Walter Smith, P.P
29th April, 1972
Dear Monsignor Mooney,
Since the front page of your questionnare destroys any hope of anonymity I have no hesitation in putting my name to this letter.
I very much regret that your schedule of questions has such a 'left wing' slant and seems to be directed at further sweeping changes in the structure of the Church and particularly to doing away with the well-tried parochial structure that has served so faithfully and well for hundreds of years. Your April 'Newsletter' confirms me in this belief since the only monotonous conclusion drawn therein to three disparate themes is - The parish is not the only means by which the Church can fulfil her mission. What other means are there? Are any such means at present being tried?
As a Curate I was happy to serve in several Parishes well provided with a Church, House and School - often through the self-sacrifice of former Priests and the people whom they had formed into loyal and devout family parish units. As a Parish Priest, I have been proud to inherit such well-organised and smooth running parishes and to try to maintain the high standards existing.
There is so much talk nowadays about consultation but there was no consultation with regard to the numerous changes in the Liturgy. For example, we were just told to put it into action and I think it is a credit to my generation that the changes have gone over as smoothly and easily as they have, despite the shoddy translations of the Canons and the dreadful 'so-called' English in which they are couched, the very poor selections of readings in the Lectionary, and the suppression, almost entirely, of the Saints days which were such an inspiration to priests and layfolk alike.
The Church was never a democracy, it was always, surely, from Apostolic times, ruled from above. The surrender and whittling away of 'authority' is the cause of so much disturbance and uneasiness today. Coupled with this is the emphasis on material needs and social activity almost to the exclusion of the Church's primary spiritual work.
I am not a Latin Mass fanatic or a member of any right-wing pressure group but I am sick and tired of being more or less told, at least by implication, that nothing worth while was ever achieved in the Church until Vatican II and its outcomes arrived on the scene. Most of the so called 'new ideas' have all been tried before in some guise or other, and those putting forward new proposals would do themselves and the Church more service by being less arrogant in their attitude to what has gone before. Traditions have their worth and especially in the Church.
I do hope that the National Conference of Priests will bear in mind, in their deliberations, that there are other ideas to be considered beside the ultra-modern ones.
To The Rt Revd Monsignor G. Mooney, L.C.L
Cathedral House, Mount Pleasant, Liverpool. 3.
Interesting, eh? I believe that it was Archbishop Derek Worlock's Diocese that had sent Canon Smith the questionnaire that elicited that rather eloquent response!