By Alex Cosgrove
RELIGIOUS education in Catholic primary and secondary schools should be in the hands of qualified and practising Catholics, according to members of the Catholic Women's League who held their annual meeting in Blackpool last weekend.
A lesolution passed by a substantial majority of more than 1,500 delegates said that while they welcomed the bishops' statement that they intended to retain Catholic schools they were "deeply concerned about standards and methods of teaching religion in both primary and secondary schools."
They urged the bishops to ensure that religious education was in the hands of "qualified" and — perhaps more significantly — "practising" Catholics.
Some teachers at the conference opposed the resolution because they felt they were already doing a good job, and an amendment to the resolution called on all CWL members to "become informed and aware of developments in these vital matters."
Another resolution which raised strong feelings, and which was passed with only one dissenting voice, was a demand for the abolition of mixed wards in hospitals with the exception of those for patients in intensive care units.
Delegates felt that mixed rooms in hospitals did not give sufficient privacy to women, and that difficulties arose when women were not warned in advance that they would be sharing a room with men. Lavatory facilities were also inadequate for separate sexes. they said.
The CWL therefore called on the Department of Health and Social Security to put an immediate end to the practice.
The growing impact that Catholic women are having in society was a theme taken up by Mrs Norah Iverson, the CWL's retiring president. She begged the conference to "treasure the sanctity of life". She said: "The facts about euthanasia and abortion are horrifying, and I want you to harangue your MPs."
Fr Tom Shepherd, secretary of the National Pastoral Congress, told the delegates that personal commitment was needed from everyone if the congress planned to be held in Liverpool in 1980 was to succeed.
"God works through people, and you are God's consecrated people," he said. "We must plan for the future — see what our world is going to be like and use the power we have as Christian people."
Other topics discussed at the conference ranged from the success of the Westminster Cathedral Flower Festival, which made a profit of £5,000, to the shortage of accommodation for the CWL Children's Summer Camps.