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A lesson in common cultural heritage

The issue in dispute between Fr Patrick McCafferty (Write Back, November 16) and D Howard Gilpin (Write Back, November 21) seems to involve that on which they both agree but differ in expression: God's omniscience, His knowledge of all that is and is to be, and His omnipotence, His powerfulness over and in all.

But Fr McCafferty, in an earlier letter, went off on another angle, after agreeing that Luther was right on the issue of the selling of indulgences: Such practice was no part of Catholic faith.

On that matter, the Bishop of Rome, Pope Leo X, was clearly wrong and Luther was right (although few at the time were prepared to say that).

That admitted, Fr McCafferty switched track (a track that D Howard Gilpin, in his reply, clearly avoids) to attack the character of Martin Luther, proceeding to itemise all the calamities that befell Western Christendom and placing them on the Protestant Reformer, or Catholic Dissident (both labels are valid) and on him alone. This is to write as though all that went before in Western Christendom was light and sweetness.

It seems to be what passes in many Northern Irish schools, forming the mindsets of many, and is behind much of our troubles. All that went before was far from light and sweetness. And that needs be said over and over again.

The condition of Christianity in the West in those centuries had a lot in common with the condition of Islam today. That is part of our common heritage, for in a cultural sense, most are Christian and, as I put it earlier (Write Back, November 9), the teaching of it should be a common subject in all schools. Fr McCafferty gives all the more urgency to that.

WA Miller

Belfast

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