Letters to the editor Wednesday September 5 2018

HOLY ORDER: Reader Neville Aubrey queries whether the concept of celibate priests relates to outdated concepts of the body and soul favoured in the past.
HOLY ORDER: Reader Neville Aubrey queries whether the concept of celibate priests relates to outdated concepts of the body and soul favoured in the past.

REGARDING the present debate on clerical celibacy, I make two observations: firstly, celibacy is not in accord with apostolic tradition. Jesus was not married (as far as we know) but he did not impose celibacy on his disciples. Peter was married (Mark 1:30) and other Apostles too (1 Corinthians 9:5). Paul was a confirmed bachelor and not keen on marriage (1 Corinthians 7:8) though he conceded marriage was preferable to lack of sexual control. But remember that Paul’s view of marriage like much else was controlled by his belief in an imminent end to the world. What was the point in long term relationships when the world was soon to disappear? The point here is that the church of the first century did not regard celibacy as mandatory. So, if Jesus and his immediate followers did not insist on celibacy, why is it practised in certain churches today?

Secondly, we are biological creatures with a natural urge for sex. This being so, what is one to make of an institution that denies its leaders natural sexual activity? I suspect there are theological undercurrents here. The Greeks thought humans were made up of a body and a soul, the former imprisoning the latter. The soul was the good part, so to deny the body pleasure in some way such as fasting, vigils; celibacy was to promote the soul. Such sacrifice it was thought made for spiritual superiority.

Such thinking seems odd to the modern mind though advocates still insist on its practice. If compulsory celibacy is non biblical and unnatural, it leads to the question of whether or not sexual frustration within the priesthood has in some way contributed to the appalling abuses. The debate continues.

Neville Aubrey, Wallsend


I FEAR democracy is being undermined internally by the behaviour of many politicians, the power of the big and wealthy mediated via lobbyists, by weak rules around political donations and flaws in the candidate selection processes.

Dr John Tierney (Herald, 30/8) makes a valid point about the value of effective leaders. Democracy is vulnerable to corruption and media irresponsibility. Malignant digital intrusions are a threat. We need to develop effective means of defending and responding.

Assumptions that Australian democracy will see us through turbulence are being challenged. These challenges require consideration extending beyond electoral cycles. They require voters, politicians and institutions to sustain and strengthen democracy, and nurture a culture that binds.

Mark Lynch, Merewether


Mr Morrison's willingness to back his ministers who make 'Captain Calls' without waiting for an investigative outcome is a misstep. Accepting foreigners on an ad hoc basis could be a bad look for a ministry billing itself as the saviour of border control. This has the look of a slap dash approach, giving the minister free rein. It could leave him open to suggestions of favouritism or worse. Labor can make a lot of this freestyle approach to immigration.

Do all the Coalition ministers engage in ad hoc decision making that lack consistency for rules or policy?

We should be outraged if young children and pregnant women from fractured nations are ignored so that 'appealing' cases from Europe can receive special consideration.

Mr Morrison should look closely at Coalition ministries and assure us that legitimate and consistent policy based decisions are being made and not the crazy 'Captains Calls' we still cringe over.

John Butler, Windella Downs


ON BEHALF of all devotees of our second-hand monarchy and constitutional muddle, I must protest at Scott Morrison being reported as meeting his counterpart in Indonesia. President Widodo is nothing of the kind.

He is the equivalent and equal of the Queen. It is an outrageous breach of protocol to say that he is the counterpart of some glory-grabbing Australian politician. Monarchists everywhere can only be much embarrassed by this.  They must also be cooing with gratitude that Scott Morrison is allowed to walk beside the President of Indonesia instead of behind him, where the Prime Minister of Australia really should be.

G.T.W Agnew, Coopers Plains


THE city university campus claims they encourage student transportation be walking, cycling, skating and scooting (‘Cars parked’, Herald 3/9). Is this real? Can l believe what l am reading? For starters bikes, skates and scooters can't be used on footpaths or roads. I imagine bikes are banned from tramway areas for the risk of being stuck in the grooves. So what's the next move Newcastle Council? Finally admit students must use the tramway, which is probably the real reason the university was built there to provide the patronage needed to offset the cost of the light rail. The council seems quite happy to allow many to keep blaming the government.

Carl Stevenson, Dora Creek


AS A former military officer, I appreciated Minister Chester's comments (Letters 1/9).

I have been thanked for my service only once, by an American lady whose brother served in the Marines. She went on to explain how well the American government treats its current and retired service people. Minister Chester alludes to this as bravado - complacency by our government would be a better word.  An exception was Tony Abbott, who changed the indexation rules to benefit military pensioners.

Earlier this year, I became entitled to the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card. This was my first experience with Centrelink in 65 years. I completed the form and provided documents detailing my extensive military service. I took my application into Centrelink and a staff member went through it line by line. He told me it was a routine, straightforward claim and should take about 21 days. That was almost five months ago.

I have now visited Centrelink on six occasions and telephoned twice. I have always remained courteous.

No-one can tell me why my claim is taking so long, although it was acknowledged on two occasions that errors had been made by Centrelink. I don't expect special dispensation based on my military service, however I would expect my claim processed in Centrelink's own timeframe. In most other countries, any claim submitted by an ex-serviceman/woman would not drag on this long without explanation or appeal.

Minister Chester, I have the highest respect for our servicing men and women. I now have an equal amount of sympathy for those required to deal with Centrelink on a regular basis.

Brian Agland, Hamilton


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