• Overseas aid • Immigration • Holydays • Trade unions THB new Catholic commit ments to overseas aid, which we report on Page 1 this week, are to he heartily welcomed. Superficially they may not appear significant. Their real importance lies in the fact that they underline the gradual breakaway from an exclusive concern with denominational projects and put Catholic aid into a nondenominational framework.
Until very recently Christianity's help to the underdeveloped countries has been based on conversion work, conducted on a denominational basis. This had two major drawbacks.
First, the material aid was often thought of as inseparable from conversion or the prospect of it. And, secondly, the rivalry caused by a sectarian approach was, as many missionaries themselves have testified, the cause of grave scandal.
Nowadays the emphasis is being put on aid for aid's sake. The Christian Churches are doing magnificent work for the material well-being of less fortunate peoples and are separating this aspect from their other work of preaching Christianity.
A recent television programme on a Christian Aid project in a Hindu country underlined this new concept by revealing that part of the funds had been used to build a temple in the area.
Catholics are now being asked, in effect, to agree to developments like these, in which material and spiritual aid are separated. Some may find it difficult to accept this approach.
Others will see in it a recog
nition of the fundamental truth that Christianity is a freelyaccepted response to the gift of faith, not the strings attached to aid, and that it is important to keep the two things separate.
THE government's decision to experiment with a fixed "Spring Holiday", completely dissociated from Whitsuntide, is a final reminder that the liturgical calendar as it exists has little real relevance to modern life.
Though it was designed primarily as a perpetual reminder of the Church's teaching, and as a guide to a Christian way of life, a closer examination reveals a marked similarity between the liturgical cycle and the annual pattern of agriculture, not to mention the pagan festivals it superseded,
So long as society remained mainly agrarian there was little reason to change. Industry could not afford repeated stoppages and as the workers lost their traditional holidays they campaigned for a new calendar, more geared to their outlook and needs.
A working compromise was reached, satisfactory to a public that was still mainly churchgoing. First came the statutory hank holidays—Christmas Day, Boxing Day, Easter Monday, Whit Monday and August Bank Holiday. With the exception of the last all were related to the great Christian festivals.
Had the Christian churches held their own, this compromise might have survived. But this century has witnessed the pagan
isation of the Christian festivals. The Church's failure ao get its message across to modern society in a meaningful manner has led to the beach, the picnic and the car run becoming the new idols.
The result is that the liturgical cycle as it stands is almost dead, because it fails to live up to the needs of a changed society. It must be revitalised in a way that will make the Christian message pertinent to modern needs.
Perhaps the government's decision may jolt us into thinking afresh. If it does it will do a great service to Christianity.
* P to now, the case for helping the immigrant has been put largely on the social and economic level. This week, Cardinal Heenan put the moral side of the issue.
His statement will reassure a lot of people, both coloured and white, Christian and non-Christian, who have waited anxiously for the Church to exercise leadership in the matter. The issue has now been taken from the theoretical plane and put squarely before every Catholic on a personal basis.
What Cardinal Heenan is stressing is that the root of the race issue is a moral one. What it all boils down to is a question of human dignity, of how one man treats another.
Bishop Wright of Pittsburgh put the same point in another way when he stressed the danger in the use of the word "interracial". For, as he said, all men are members of the one race, the human race.
This is the real sense of universality which each Catholic is now being asked to uphold. It is not sufficient to subscribe to the theory: what matters now is if it is to be put into practice in the parishes of our own country.
DDISCIPLINE-'carried the early trade unions through the Combination Acts, Discipline brought them from their friendly society days to the point where they really could improve the lot of their membership. There was nothing to be sneered at about the unions becoming "respectable", for that brought acceptability.
Of recent years the complaint has grown of the "unions becoming too strong". But is this really the case? Surely a strong union is one which can maintain its side of a bargain, Strikes such as the recent BEA incident, corning on .top of a series of fitful stoppages and unofficial wildcat action, is weakening the union image. Strike decisions seem to come as a matter of whim, when one man's trouble-making can nullify the legal agreements of the chosen representatives of hundreds of thousands.
From the union point of view, where only the old can say, "But you should have seen the trade before we were organised", the strike is its ultimate weapon. An indiscriminate and frequent show of force will emasculate the strength behind the unions' bargaining power. if the leaders cannot exert proper control, they cannot claim to lead.