Page 7, 11th August 1939

11th August 1939
Page 7
Page 7, 11th August 1939 — Madras Prelate Wants A Catholic Elite

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Locations: Madras, London, Paris


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Madras Prelate Wants A Catholic Elite


By a. C.H. Reporter Mgr. Louis Mathias, Archbishop of Madras, who is at present in London, in a special interview with the "Catholic Herald," explained why he was touring England, Ireland and perhaps America.

He is in search of funds to help him build up a Catholic elite in India, and especially in the Madras Presidency.

Mgr. Mathias, who was born in Paris in 1887, served in the French Army during the War from 1915 onwards, was twice wounded, and taken prisoner of war in 1918. He also won the Croix de Guerre and was mentioned in the general dispatches of the French Army. He had been ordained priest only one year when the War broke out.

Accompanying the Archbishop was Mgr. P. Thomas, the very able editor of The New Leader, the

weekly organ of Madras Catholics, which under his editorship has increased its circulation by over 300 per cent.

Journey of Propaganda "I must explain to you," said the Archbishop. " what. I am doing in Europe. Missionary bishops, you know, cannot take expensive holidays to Europe. I am here on a journey of propaganda.

" There is a danger that Catholicism in India will be associated too much with the poorer classes and will thus lose much of its universality. At present there is great. difficulty in building up an intellectual Catholic elite.

" We have the great advantage of having a Catholic Minister of Education in the Madras Presidency, a Mr C. .7. Varkey, a 'Knight of St.. Gregory and a prominent Catholic. But that is not enough. We must train up a.n elite for the future.

Y.M.C.A. Leads to Indifferentism " The lack of a centre where all Catholic activities can be focused and to which our young men can be attracted and in which they can he trained in. Catholic Social teaching is keenly felt.

" In Madras, close to the Catholic Cathedral, the Y.M.C.A. has put up a magnificent building providing all facilities and attractions for the social and intellectual life of youth.

"The two topmost storeys of this huge building contain many rooms, in which our Catholic students are taking shelter. Madras, as the capital of the Presidency, the seat of the leading University of India and a centre of learning, draws many Catholic young men from all over India, chiefly from the south.

" In the absence of a Catholic. Home, it can be easily seen that our young men take refuge in the Y.M.C.A. and are necessarily influenced by the spirit dominating this world-wide institution; a tendency towards indifferentism in religious matters is thus created in the minds of our youth."

£30,000 Needed For Catholic Hostel The plan that the Archbishop has in mind is a large building that would house the headquarters of the different Catholic organisations, Social Guild, Truth Society, etc.; a central secretariat, or a clearing house of Catholic Action.

The building would also be a residential club for the Catholic university students, where there would be billiard rooms, reading rooms, and all the amenities of modern club life. Thus Catholic students will have some central hostel where they will also be able to receive training , in the various forma of Catholic activities.

Plans and estimates are already drawn up, and the total cost will be about f25,000 or £30,000. Archbishop Mathias feels confident that the needs of Catholics in British India will find a. generous response among their coreligionists in the British Isles.

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