Canon Ian Ellis (‘If churches don’t resolve millennium-old dispute on an Easter date, governments may do it for us,’ April 17), advocates a fixed calendar date for Easter. Canon Ellis writes, “...what makes me come down on the side of changing to a fixed date for Easter is the very real possibility that ...society (civil) will simply decree that there will be a Spring holiday with a fixed date, and any religious significance would quickly be lost.”
I think that the opposite is true, and that the religious significance of Easter would be pushed aside, if such a change were to take place.
The focus should be on the reason underlying the religious holiday and not the calendar date.
There are historic precedents for different calendar dates, for instance, the Jewish feast of Rosh Hashanah is a movable feast. Within the Christian churches there can be differing dates for Easter i.e. say between the Western and Eastern churches.
Even within the Catholic church (which Canon Ellis would probably call the Roman Catholic church) there are differing dates for Easter.
For example, there are 23 Catholic churches in full communion with each other, but having different rites and rules, including the dates for Easter and Christmas.
Interestingly, the Church of Ireland follows the Latin Rite element of the Catholic church regarding Easter.
I remember asking an Armenian monk about the differences for these major Christian dates and what he thought about it.
He replied that it was a good thing, because when the large crowds of Western Christians had finished celebrating, and had gone back home from Jerusalem, the Eastern Christians could celebrate the festivals in serenity.
I understand that the Prophet Mohammed, bless his name, said that the date for Muslim feast of Ramadan should vary in order that the faithful would concentrate on the reason for Ramadan, and not attach importance to the date.
Finally, I think that Archbishop Welby is out, by a factor of centuries, in his observation of the first attempt to change the date of Easter (10th century); the Venerable Bede (672-735) says, “...the Britons did not keep Easter at the correct time.”
Micheal O’Cathail, Fermanagh