Henry Mitchell's provocative article "The Cathedral, National in Name Only" {Style, July 31} concluded with the clarion call "Stop calling it the National Cathedral, damn it." As an Episcopalian living and working in Washington, I'd be quite content to call it by its real name, "The Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul," but no one would know what on earth I was talking about.

Deferring to Mitchell's judgment, then, we could find an appropriate synonym for "national cathedral" by looking into the meaning of these two words. A cathedral is, quite simply, a place where the bishop sits (from the Latin cathedra, the chair of the bishop, a guardian or overseer who "looks over" the people committed to his care). A nation is "a people," "the entire people of a country, as distinct from any of the classes composing it." We would call it "the place that looks over the people."

How appropriate it is that the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul is situated on the highest point of the District, literally "overlooking" our nation's capital.

I worship on one hill, Mount St. Alban (yes, Henry Mitchell, there is a St. Alban's, the neighborhood parish church just next to the cathedral), and work on another, Capitol Hill. My favorite spot for lunch is a table in the Montpelier Room of the Library of Congress where, on a clear day, you can see straight past the Capitol dome up to the towers of the cathedral, as if reminding us, as we work down here below, that in the end we are citizens of "another country."

So what shall we call it, damn it? Let's not squabble about it. No need to call it anything at all. Rather, let it call us, instead.

-- Robert Brown

The article by Henry Mitchell is partly correct; however, it is the press and not the church that seems to use the title "National Cathedral."

The cathedral is the national cathedral of the Episcopal Church in the United States. It became so on Oct. 22, 1941, when the Most Rev. Henry Saint George Tucker was enthroned, in a 16th century service, as the presiding bishop of the church. It is from this great cathedral atop Mount St. Alban that every primate of the Episcopal Church has since been enthroned in his cathedra. It is the only cathedral in this country that also serves a local diocese, that of the see of Washington.

So, Henry Mitchell, if you are an Episcopalian, which I doubt, the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul is the "National Cathedral." Don't try to correct the church -- work on the press.

As the late bishop of New York once said when asked by a reporter whether there was salvation outside of the Episcopal Church: "Perhaps so, but no gentleman would consider it."

-- Everett Courtland Martin