SPEECHES MARK A NEW ERA IN SOCIAL PENETRATION
Song Of The Young Christian
THE LIVERPOOL ARCHDIOCESAN CATHOLIC ACTION CONGRESS, THE FIRST OF ITS KIND IN THE BRITISH ISLES, TOOK PLACE THIS WEEK. IT WAS ATTENDED BY THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE FROM EVERY PART OF THE COUNTRY.
The importance of the Congress was marked by the letter received by the Archbishop of Liverpool from the Cardinal Secretary of State in which the whole meaning of Catholic Action is made clear. Its features, wrote Cardinal Pacelli, are national union, the proper formation of the Catholic conscience and the apostolate by the laity under the direction of the clergy.
The Congress opened on Sunday in St. George's Hall, Liverpool, with a speech by Mgr. Downey which was broadcast to the whole country. Four days were devoted to the Congress which ended with solemn benediction at the Pro-Cathedral on the evening of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
One of the most important speakers was Father Kothen, Assistant Chaplain General of the Young Christian Workers' Movement. In a special interview with the Catholic Herald, Pere Kothen tells what hopes he has of the Y.C.W. spreading in England and suggests how it will have to be adapted.
Below, Paul McGuire, Catholic Herald Special Correspondent at the Congress, and Catholic Action Leader in Australia, gives his impressions of the Congress.
Congress Speeches—pages 2 and 11: Interview with Fr. Kothenpage 3: Cardinal Pacelli's Letter—page 8: Archbishop of Liverpool's B.B.C. Broadcast—page 13,
CATHOLIC ACTION MARCHES ON
By PAUL McGUIRE There were great meetings at the Congress. Useful meetings. The time of phrase-meeting passes. Now, there is a new intensity, determination plainly revealed. In the huge congregation at the Pro-Cathedral on Sunday, one saw what one used not to see, rank after rank of young men and women. Everywhere I go lately, on these occasions, I see them: a new generation for a new world.
And at the tremendous meeting for men on Monday night, one saw the future: in a high gallery, seventy boys rose to sing a song new in England, the song of the Young Christian Workers. It is the bravest song we have known in long centuries: a song of Faith, a song of Charity. a song of Hope. . . .
Hope, the Highest Hope, that Christ will be known again in England, that He will reign. .
Liverpool gave me this Hope.
There are people who complain that nothing is being done in England. I was astonished, in Liverpool, at how much has been done.
The Congress marked a first anniversary : but it is only about eight months since Liverpool Catholic Action took shape. Consider the difficulties. There was a large diocese and a population only vaguely aware of what Catholic Action means (extraordinarily few people, even those who write about it, seem to have troubled to discover what Catholic Action means): and Catholic Action has meanings precise and exact.
Before you can have Catholic Action, you must educate your leaders at least, in principles and, to some extent, in methods. And the formal structure of Catholic Action requires, in a diocese the size of Liverpool, hundreds, if not thousands (they looked thousands at Sunday's meeting in the Adelphi) of leaders. Each parish, remember, must have its Council : and for each Council, men must be trained, morally and mentally.
This has been Liverpool's first task, and it has made remarkable progress in it.
There has been a wide misunderstanding of the character of Liverpool Catholic Action. The famous " Plan " has been mistaken for the Catholic Action structure itself. Actually, of course, it represents only a method of co-ordinating the existing societies under the general direction of Catholic Action.
The form of Catholic Action in Liverpool is the form it must take everywhere: diocesan, regional and parochial councils. The Board of Catholic Action is responsible to the Archbishop; the Deanery Councils (the Archdiocese is divided into a number of Deaneries) to the Deans; the Parish Councils to the Parish Priests.
Catholic Action is not a federation of existing societies. It is a new organisation. To temper its officers, to erect the machinery, to set it working require time, prudence, patience, wisdom. Enthusiasm and zeal are not enough. And the soberer virtues are needed too in the task of co-ordinating the existing societies. Their energies must not be diverted from their proper ends: they must be sustained, encouraged, strengthened at every possible point, even while the new structure is shaping : and even saints have sometimes to be used with tact.
The Three Phases
• Liverpool's scheme for co-ordination is extraordinarily interesting, and worth attention everywhere. The forty odd societies have been brought, either as constituents or as auxiliaries of Catholic Action under one or another of the three chief phases of Catholic Action : the Preservation of the Faith, the Extension of the Faith, Social and Economic Action. The results of co-ordination already begin to appear.
But Catholic Action is not only a matter of organisation, or co-ordination, of social mechanics. It is primarily an affair of the spirit. Organisation is the outward shape
of inward life. Organisation without inward life is so much dead machinery. And what is there to say of the inward life of Liverpool under Catholic Action?
Everyone to whom I spoke agreed that there was a most notable quickening of the devotional life, first and final test always.
But again, Catholic Action is not only a devotional movement. It is a social movement, and the social movement has two aspects : what one might call diagnosis and treatment. The first requires Catholic social studies: and the Catholic Social Guild represents it chiefly.
The C.S.G. now conducts 18 lecturecourses in city and suburban parishes. It opens, this month, a College of Social Studies in Scotland Road, with courses in Elementary Economics, Industrial Psychology, Social Science, Social Science for Women, Industrial History, Moral Philosophy, Social Ethics, Public Speaking. People are being trained for the jobs.
Some of the Records
But the jobs will not wait; and the Social Service Bureau has been set up. Already it has served 2,000 people, in every sort of problem our wretched world presents: in domestic squabbles, in disputes between tenants and landlords, in dealings with Public • Assistance Committees, Housing Authorities, U.A. Boards and the like: in matters of insurance, pensions, workmen's compensation. It works in co-operation with public authorities and with Catholic and non-Catholic charities. Liverpool's appalling unemployment problem, its huge (Continued on page 9)