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Children, eucharistic ministry, and Christmas

07 December 2012


From the Revd David Perry
Sir, - My heart sinks at the prospect of children administering holy communion (General Synod, 30 November). If children were, like Peter Pan, incapable of growing up, a case might be made for this innovation. But we do grow up in a process well described by St Paul in 1 Corinthians 13.

The last time something similarly precocious was raised was back in AD 385 by Pope Siricius in his decretal. "Whoever has vowed himself to the services of the Church from his infancy must be baptised before the years of puberty and join the ministry of lectors."

Why does Siricius demand that those whose parents aspire for them to pass through the ranks of Christian ministry should be baptised before puberty and be given the status of lectors as pre-pubescent boys? The answer is straightforward. Siricius was a strong advocate of celibacy for the ordained. If infants dedicated to Christian ministry were baptised and made lectors before puberty, it would make it much easier to enforce clerical celibacy. The boys would grow up already aware that their lives were to be lived in celibacy.

Perhaps these children who are to administer communion should be enrolled as Readers with a heavy expectation that they end up as priests. Doesn't that sound a bit odd? This rush to children's ministry is a denial of their right to grow up without being burdened with premature responsibilities within the Church.

11 Middle Garth Drive, South Cave
Brough, East Yorkshire HU15 2AY

From Mrs A. Kaleniuk

Sir, - The report about the "pressure" of children's Christmas lists (News, 9 November) could not have been more timely in our household. I came downstairs on the Sunday morning to find that my seven-year-old son had written his Christmas letter to Santa, and had also, after taking instructions from our three-year-old daughter, written his sister's letter to Santa.

As a stay-at-home clergy wife, I approached the letters with some trepidation; but imagine my delight when I saw that the price for each item was specified, and that the total cost had been totted up.

The total sum for each child came to less than £70; so obviously my son had been listening when I told him that Santa has a budget, which is why he can't give too many presents to one child, but has to distribute his gifts equally.

1 Tamarisk Close, Claines
Worcester WR3 7LE

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