Yesterday afternoon I was waiting on Platform 4 of Newcastle station for a train to London; and although there were plenty of trains, because I had a pre-booked ticket with a reserved seat, I had no choice about which one I went on . . . the one which was running half-an-hour late owing to a mechanical failure outside Edinburgh !
Eventually there was an announcement that it would be arriving on Platform 4 at 16:51 . . .
One minute later - about 16:45 - a train drew into platform 4, saying 'Kings Cross' on its front; but the platform display said that this was the 16:55 service. How, we wondered, was our train going to arrive at 16:51 if the 16:55 was already there ?
Finally someone in a uniform appeared; and seemed confused when we asked the question. 'But of course it can't come in here' he said : 'they'll change the platform for yours'.
Of course : how silly of us to think that they might have explained that to us in advance.
In fact the announcement of the new platform was made a moment or two before the train arrived; and it was only Platform 3, so no distance to go (I once heard a platform alteration - to the other side of the station - announced just as the train in question began to leave the station !) . . . but the general feeling was 'why couldn't they have told us right at the start ?'
So what, I hear you ask, has this got to do with the Faith; what conceivable connection does it have with the Catholic Church ?
Well, I'm sure that by now you are only-too-well aware of the Petition that has been started asking the Bishops to act clearly and promptly about the Abortion Education issue : and you may have noticed that not everyone is enthusiastic about it, if only because they feel that the wording is unacceptably critical of the Bishops, whom they feel probably are doing something, even if we don't know what it is . . . and that's my point.
The problem yesterday afternoon wasn't that the railway people didn't know what they were doing; they did, and it all worked fine . . . the problem was that we, the paying public, didn't; so it wasn't so fine for us, and it caused a lot of anxieties and criticisms which could so easily have been avoided by keeping us informed.
Despite reservations, I'm perfectly happy to accept the premise that the Bishops know what they're doing; because although I'd dearly love them all to get up in their Cathedral pulpits next Sunday and denounce this abominable piece of legislation, I accept that such a course might not actually stop it - and that, at present, is what we want : a result, not a discussion.
However, and with every respect to the Bishops, I do think that it's important that the faithful, who are greatly concerned by this devilish proposal from the Government, know that something is being done to protect Catholic interests. It may be, I appreciate, that they can't be told just what that is; but I do think that - as an act of charity if nothing else - the faithful should not be kept waiting for that information any longer . . . a simple announcement would calm so many fears, and solve so many problems - just as it would have done on a cold platform at Newcastle station yesterday afternoon !