Unfair attack on Roman Catholic Church

From: Jacqueline Heuberger-Hall, Tweed Cottage, Lawn Lane, Fenwick, Doncaster. ALTHOUGH Aled Jones's remarks (June 11) hardly warrant a response, I have decided to take up his challenge, because it seems to me the Roman Catholic Church has become fair game for unjust criticism and ridicule, probably due to its hierarchical structure providing an easy target.

I was born and baptised into the Roman Catholic Church 30 years ago, and have had the privilege to study theology at three universities both in Switzerland and in Britain. Everywhere I have met Roman Catholics who, like me, are deeply troubled by the Church's stance on various issues under the Pope, particularly his encyclica De Humanae Vitae. However, almost every time I state an opinion regarding any religious issue, I am immediatelyundermined by Christians of other denominations reminding methat my view does not coincide with Papal directives, as if members of the Roman Catholic Church were unable tothink for themselves.

It is unclear to me what Aled Jones is hoping to achieve with his remarks, linking the Roman Catholic Church to the spread of HIV/AIDS. Instead of applauding the priestin questionfor his obvious concern regarding an important social issue (ie lack of funding for HIV/AIDS sufferers), he seems to lay the burden of Church politics at his feet.

In doing so,Aled Jones neither helps the cause ofso-called "progressive" members of the Roman Catholic Church, nor that of HIV/AIDS sufferers. He also is very selective in hisview of the Roman Catholic Church.What about the Liberation Theology movement, which not only transformed the Church in South America, but also people's everyday lives (I have experience of this during a month's stay in a Lima slum)? Or, a bit more recent and closer to home, what about the open letter sent to the Pope in the week before his recent visit to Switzerland by 20 Swiss professors of theology, who, again at considerable risk to their academic careers, asked for his resignation?

As a forward-looking Christian and member of the Roman Catholic Church, I hope that the interdenominational discourse of the 21st century will be free of the age-oldstereotypes dating back to the Reformation.After all,every denomination has its own demons, and I can't see any Christian Church actively promoting safe sex or condoms (if I am mistaken, please let me know!). So, Aled Jones, next time you attend a Roman Catholic service,and a priest tackles a contemporary issue, instead ofairingsome one-dimensionalviews in a newspaper later on, why not searcha direct dialogue with the priest concerned, and give him some encouragement? Or would you rather hear a sermon about the horrors of hell and purgatory, because it would confirm your own stereotypes?

battle obesity by serving fare from school

of good food

From: Isobel Hainsworth-Brear, Guiseley, Leeds.

If the Government want to tackle the increasing problem of obesity, they need to take a long, hard look at the quality of food provided for school lunches.

My child attends a local primary school and the school lunches mainly consist of processed rubbish – food I would not serve at home.

Every day, the menu offers chicken teddies, turkey dinosaurs, fish bites or some other reconstituted excuse for protein.

This food is provided by a private catering company.

I think school lunches are an integral part of school life and it is important children have a decent midday meal – it aids concentration.

My challenge to Tony Blair, and his cohorts, is go back to the old system where food is cooked in school on the day it is to be eaten, using fresh ingredients.

This way, children's tastebuds will become accustomed to normal food and they will eat a balanced diet as a matter of course, thereby reducing obesity.

in a league

of their own

From: David Trotter, Monks Road, West Monksheaton,

Tyne and Wear.

PLEASE pardon this intrusion by a Tynesider, but I would like to make two observations on the outcome of the football league season just ended.

Although I do realise that Boston have only been a league club for two seasons, it must be a long

time since all Lincolnshire league clubs (previously three and now four) were in the lowest division

of the league – perhaps in the

season when Lawrie McMenemy achieve the promotion of Grimsby from Division 4 to Division 3?

Even more intriguing is the fact that due to happy reasons (the promotion of Doncaster, Hull and Huddersfield) and a sad reason (the relegation of York) there will be no Yorkshire representation in the lowest league division.

I would hazard a guess that since the formation of the "modern league" (ie, with Division 3 North, Division 4 and now Division 3) this has never happened before.

What Muslims need to prosper

From: Les Brotherton, Caroline Street, Saltaire.

What a wise and erudite editorial on Muslim education (June 10).

Great damage was done to Bradford when three of the four post-riot reports, ordered and paid for by the council, criticising as they did both council and Muslim leaders, were suppressed.

The practice of marrying a foreigner, unable to speak English and the family conversing in Urdu, enrages the indigenous population as the immigrants are then seen as Asian Muslims and not Bradford Muslims.

This system of arranged marriages and the utter contempt for education for girls and the sending of children back to the Asian sub-continent merely prolong poverty.

Bradford Muslims are never confronted with the wonderful success of Sikh, Hindu and Chinese pupils, conclusive proof that racism has little responsibility for the parlous state of Muslim education.

What Bradford Muslims desperately need is a populous middle- class, a multiple of the doctors, solicitors, accountants and businessmen already successful. This group would then lead the rest to greater prosperity.

Hunting issue a 'class war'

From: John Grice, The Close, Durkar, Wakefield.

I would like to agree with the correspondent on the attitude and obsession of this Government with the hunting issue.

However, I have thought for a long time that the attitude of a lot of back-benchers has nothing to do with foxes but a lot to do with fox hunters – to put it simply, these people are fighting a class war. They sit behind large Labour majorities, voters (99 per cent of whom have no interest whatsoever in hunting and field sports in general) and air their personal prejudices.

Why do I say this? In the last 50 years, there have been two Labour-instigated reports on field sports, the Scott-Henderson report and, recently, the Burns report, both of which said (and don't forget the two reports are 50 years apart) hunting with hounds was not any worse than other forms of control.

Instead of accepting these findings as any rational person would, these people have ignored them. Therefore, they must have a different agenda.

The criteria seems to be ignorance or spite in either order. For the sake of argument, how many MPs have taken the trouble to go and see for themselves? From the ignorant comments I have heard, I believe a 10-year-old girl on her first pony knows more than they do.

To change the subject slightly, I would like to give a bit of support to Helen Capstick (May 24) who dared to say her dictionary said foxes were vermin. She was contradicted by EW Beechey (May 29) who said his dictionary said no such thing.

She should not worry because a few months ago, I made the same comment and Mr Beechey tried to pull the same stunt on me.

Take comfort in the fact that eventually he will run out of dictionaries to criticise.

home front problems

From: John Riseley, Farnborough, Hampshire.

Tony Blair claims (PM's questions, May 26) that "everyone agrees we need more houses in the South-East".

If so, this is the sort of universal assumption that we need to be particularly wary of. The demand for houses, as for road space, can expand to strain

any feasible level of supply. We need to recognise that millions, indeed billions, of people who would like to live in the South-East will simply have to live elsewhere.

The best contribution the Government can make is to stop interfering in the allocation of scarce housing, except to provide for its own employees who are needed in the region. To this end, it should phase out housing benefits and subsidies in high-price areas.


for police

From: Gillian Paddock, Park Avenue, Hull.

YOUR front page article (June 10) regarding the shortcomings of Humberside Police came as no surprise to me.

As the ex-leader of a Neighbourhood Watch group in Hull, which has now folded after 15 years – due largely to lack of interest and support from our local police – I could give you chapter and verse on the subject.

We have been pretty much ignored for the last two years, the reason being given was the disruption caused by the introduction of Local Policing Teams. I note that they are still hiding behind that tired excuse, even though the teams were brought in at the beginning of September 2002.

As to the communications issue; we and other groups have been complaining about the poor quality of the communications centre almost since our group's inception.

Incidentally, our group was one of the very first to be formed in the city, and I am still quite bitter that it has been allowed to wither away.

Just the spot for a night to remember

From: Mrs Norma Elliott, Peaseland Road, Cleckheaton.

What a wonderful way to celebrate our 43rd wedding anniversary – by thoroughly enjoying the jazz concert at Harewood House.

Superb artists, lovely picnic, weather (apart from a cold wind), nice and sunny and to put the icing on the cake, a sighting of one of the red kites flying overhead, and then, in the Yorkshire Post (June 5), a photograph of our chosen picnic spot.

Thank you for the good report and photographs which will be put into my album to remind us of a lovely evening.

EU constitution crisis for British legislation

From: Michael Gardner Jasmine Cottage, Healaugh, near Tadcaster.

In addition to his article in the Yorkshire Post (May 27), I have read Timothy Kirkhope's "Simplifying the EU" and would say that it is a praiseworthy attempt at trying to halt the European "juggernaut" that is rolling on unabated.

I think we should first consider the existing constitution, its implications and what it has already done to Westminster. It is a fact that four out of every five of our laws now come directly from Brussels, and, as Timothy Kirkhope points out, "Government departments are able to 'gold plate' the legislation without MPs' knowledge or involvement".

Even if this failing was rectified, our Government's ability to reverse EU directives depends on the unanimous consent of the European Council of Ministers. If this is not forthcoming, the European Court would declare any unilateral repeal of EU legislation in breach of European law. In other words, our Government is in a straitjacket and is virtually powerless to stop EU legislation that consequently comes into law via Westminster.

Furthermore, the enlargement of the EU will reduce our voting rights from the present 15 per cent to less than 10. Remember also that we used to have the right to veto all EU decisions, but successive governments have surrendered this right. The Treaty of Nice alone saw the veto lost in 37 individual policy areas and another 30 were due to go in the new constitution. The present situation is intolerable and our ability to govern ourselves in the UK is severely under threat.

What was originally proposed and endorsed by the 1975 referendum, being the European Common Market, is now a bygone mirage.

I believe that we have reached a situation offering us only two choices – either to accede to full membership, accepting the single currency, losing monetary control as the Bank of England is lost to the European Central Bank, and not least, to anticipate what might happen to our legal system, admired and adopted by so many other parts of the world.

Or we say "No" to Europe and leave the EU altogether.

I believe that our ability to be effective within the EU has been so impaired that the only way now forward is to negotiate afresh as an independent "self -governing" nation. There is no half-way house.

Hull a victory

for Lib Dems

From: Denis Healy, (Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary candidate Hull North), The Poplars, Leconfield.

I was really bemused by Brendan Carlin's comment in Saturday's Election Results Special that the outcome in Hull was a setback for the Liberal Democrats. In fact, nothing could be further from the reality. The team were celebrating all weekend; at least until the result of the England game.

The fact is that the Liberal Democrats won the election in Hull, gaining a further two council seats and achieving 37 per cent of the popular vote against Labour's 34 per cent.

Fine result

From: David Shepherd Laburnum Grove, Gomersal, Cleckheaton.

BBC news (May 15) stated that there is a government report which claims that speed cameras, many of which have been bought with the proceeds of speeding fines, are responsible for saving 100 lives in the last year.

Congratulations to those people who have been caught and have paid up, as they have made a major contribution to road safety.

Crying foul

From: L Askew, Limekiln Lane, Bridlington.

I was a coal miner for 34 years, and the sort of talk now being used every day on TV used to be called "pit talk", but I can tell you that it was very rare you heard a miner swear in front of women who worked in the pit canteen or offices.

Women at war

From: G Lunn, Sandal, Wakefield.

The letter to the Editor (May 19) by Pauline Picken was absolutely brilliant.

Well thought out, truthful, it really brought home to me the effort my own mother and sisters in my very early young days put in (munitions, Land Army, Air Raid Wardens, and more).

My father and brother served in the war years, but mother and sisters "held the fort" at home, exactly as written by PP.

My thanks go to Pauline and to you for publishing this very important, informative letter.

Cross reference

from: MJ Bell, Main Street, West Tanfield, Ripon.

I almost bought a St George's flag early in June in the run-up to Thursday's many elections, and then realised that I could have been accused of being an England soccer fan – with all that entails!