Page 2, 10th December 1937

10th December 1937
Page 2
Page 2, 10th December 1937 — No Extension Of Church Power Intended

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Exaggerated Statem ents About Leakage—says Mgr. McCormack That the Catholic Action Movement was not seeking to extend the power of the Church, as She was already sufficiently well organised to protect Her rights, and that the aim of the movement was to spread the Gospel, was a statement made by His Lordship the Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle (Re Rev. J. McCormack, DD.), addressing over three thousand men from all parts of the Archdiocese at St. George's Hall, Liverpool, on Monday evening.

Dealing with the question of leakages " from the Church he said he was of the opinion that these leakages" were exaggerated.

In a reference to politics the Bishop said that not one of the great political parties was entirely bad—nor entirely good. He suggested that the men remained members of the political party of their choice, but when a political party was standing on a rotten plank and they were called upon by the Church to put politics aside for a time, then they were taking part in Catholic Action.

He pleaded for the sanctification of Catholic homes and said that if they restored family prayers and preserved the dignity and independence of the Catholic home, then Catholic Action would have achieved much in the Archdiocese.

Mgr. Downey (Archbishop of Liverpool) who presided, was accompanied by Mgri. T. Adamson, J. Redmond, W. Traynor, Molony, and J. Dean, Sir John Reynolds, Sir John Shute, M.P., Dr. W. J. O'Donovan and Messrs. C. J. Doyle (Chairman of the Congress Committee), P. Taggart (President of the Catenian Association), J. S. McAisulty (President of the C.Y.MS. of Great Britain), and T. E. Lescher.

Describing it as a profoundly important document, Mgr. Downey read a letter from the Cardinal Secretary of State, Cardinal Pacelli, stating that His Holiness the Pope had learned with great interest of the happy event of the first Congress and bestowed his Apostolic Blessing. [The letter is printed in full on page 8.] Sir John Reynolds (president of the Liverpool Board of Catholic Action) said they had now a skeleton organisation but he hoped next year they would be able to report they had an active force in every parish. There was no place for jealousy, place-seeking, or vested interests in the movement Sir John said that any man who did not preach justice and charity was actively responsible for the spirit of bitterness in the world today. This bitterness was often cloaked under the attractive guise of Catholic Action sought to carry the sense of justice and charity into every walk of life, so that it would be impossible for a man to say his rosary beads in the evening and pay starvation wages in the morning. The movement had nothing political in it, and made no class distinctions.

"It is well for we Catholics to remember that we are a minority in this country and we enjoy great toleration from the Government," Sir John added. "As there are no politics in the movement, so there is nothing of aggression. We seek solely to strengthen our own faith and not to hurt anyone else's."

Thanks were offered to the speakers on the proposal of Mr. C. J. Doyle, chairman of the Congress Committee.

. Over eighty members of the Y.C.W. association attended the demonstration and sang their Christian Workers' song.


At the afternoon session of the third day of the Congress, a special address, entitled " Catholic Action and Ecclesiastical Assistants," was given by the Rev. Peter Walsh, P.P. (St. Francis of Sales, Walton). Mgr. Downey opened the meeting and Mgr. Adamson was in the chair.

Some idea of the importance of the Ecclesiastical Assistant in the scheme of Catholic Action, said Fr. Walsh, could be gathered from the words of the Holy Father spoken to the Ecclesiastical Assistants of Catholic Action Youth Associations on September 14, 1925, when the Holy Father said, " The Catholic Youth Movement will be what its Assistants make it."

These are words, said Fr, Walsh, that involve either the highest praise and merit or the gravest admonition and responsibility.

It is important at the outset, that the Ecclesiastical Assistant should fully realise the role he is called upon to play. In order to do so, he must keep in mind the classical definition of Catholic Action made by Pius XI : " The participation of the Laity in the Apostolate of the Church's Hierarchy." From this it followed that the Laity was the efficient cause of Catholic Action.

Lay members are not mere automata neither are they marionettes, said Fr. Walsh, they can direct and assume responsibilities, but they cannot act on their own initiative, for while directing within their own sphere, they are themselves directed by the Hierarchy.

When the directions of the Hierarchy concern social questions, the work of the Ecclesiastical Assistant will be far from being a sinecure, for if he is to be of real assistance to lay apostles, he must be equipped with a knowledge of social science both theoretical and practical, at least sufficient to deal with the particular matter in hand.

At the risk of being accused of shying at shadows, Fr. Walsh said, he ventured to state that in dealing with organisations which ranked as auxiliaries of Catholic Action the Ecclesiastical Assistant would need to keep in mind that Catholic Action aimed not at fusion but co-ordination, and this was particularly important, in dealing with organisations of a social or economic character, as the members of such bodies were, it seemed to him, to be somewhat suspicious of any movement which they imagined would tend to weaken their autonomy. Civardi and by Canon Guery, but no similar work has been done for us in English. Mgr. Civardi's book has been translated and it is the standard work which all should study who would understand the subject as a whole."

Concluding his sermon, Fr. Flynn said that a lot of the work in the Catholic Action movement would be bound to fall on the junior priests —the enrolment of students, instruction, spiritual formation, classes, sermons, retreats, general superintendence, etc. But the parish priest, he added, must at least be ready with sympathy, encouragement, advice.

Owing to pressure on our space the Archbishop of Birmingham's speech will be published next week.

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