NO DEMAND FOR FINANCIAL HELP
By ANDREW BOYLE The great nation-wide campaign for the permanent solution of the schools' question, as proposed by the Bishops of England and Wales last week, is already getting under way.
From Nottingham comes a six-point plan of campaign. Mgr. Ellis has written to all the parish priests in his diocese calling for action "at once," based on then following lines : (1) The education of our own people; (2) The training of lay speakers to present our case; (3) Interviews with M.P.s and Local Government candidates; (4) Public meetings; (5) Distribution of literature; (6) A crusade of prayer. Southwark C.P.E.A., at their Council meeting on Saturday, revealed that it had written to every parish priest in the diocese offering to help in promoting and forming parish committees, where they did not already exist, to supp y speakers and organise meetings.
They are forming a panel of specially briefed speakers to bring to every parish the meaning of the campaign.
Mr. A. C. F. Beales, chairman of the Sword of the Spirit and a member of the Action Committee set up by the bishops, has given us his views on the campaign.
Speaking in his personal capacity, Mr. Beales began with a warning: " The campaign for a permanent settlement of the Catholic Schools' Question will not run itself. Unless the Catholic community pulls its full weight. the Central Action Committee will be powerless.
MISCONCEPTIONS "It goes without saying that we have the solid support of our people. But it is important that this great fund of energy and enthusiasm
should be properly tapped. That's why it might be useful here and now to clear away some possible misconceptions and throw out one or two general campaign suggestions."
Mr. Beales believes that there is one outstanding point about the Hierarchy's latest proposals which must he firmly driven home. And Catholics should be the first to spot and grasp it. He put it like this: "We are not simply asking, through these proposals, for more financial help in these difficult times, to rid us of present crippling debts and future commitments. " The new solution is along the lines of u quid pro quo; and we are indeed asking less than our due. We have advanced recommendations which leave the matter of cash settlement to the Government.
" They are not being asked to buy our schools from us. They are being asked to accept the lease of them at a price they choose. In return we are willing to concede powers to the Education Authorities which up to now have been denied them.
" At a time when the nation is confronted with grave economic diffi
culties, it is clearly essential that Catholics should understand from the start that the Hierarchy are not trying to saddle the Government with a fresh financial burden. That would be inviting the rejection of our solution out of hand."
PUBLIC OPINION In Mr. Beaks' view, the more formidable step of influencing public opinion also demands a thorough awareness of what is involved. " It cannot be overstressed." he said, " that the Action Committee isn't there to monopolise initiative.
" On the contrary, it won't be able to function at all until Catholics, as individuals or through their parish and national societies, make the first moves. " It would be asking the impossible in any case to suggest that the Committee could or should undertake itself an all-out, nation-wide campaign."
The Action Committee's task, he added. is to act as a kind of clearing house for ideas, plans and actual details of operations: " Like any good Headquarters, it is responsible for strategy — not tactics. Already letters are in the post addressed by the Committee to Members of Parliament. " I know that this introduction of the subject to M.P.s will be followed up in the constituencies. How and where. it is not for me or the Action Committee to discuss. Our Catholic organisations don't have to be taught their own business. They have the best working knowledge of local circumstances and opportunities.
" I want to assure them that the Committee is standing by ready to co-ordinate efforts so as to make local plans more effective."
Then Mr. Beales turned to dispel another dangerous illusion : " It would be a serious mistake to imagine that time is on our side. Nobody knows just how long we have left before the balloon goes up and the country is faced with a General Election. The sooner, therefore. we begin pushing—the better our chances of gaining a hearing and winning this battle for justice."
Finally—and quite " without presumption "—Mr. Beales hinted at one valuable way in which Catholic teachers could add their weight at once to the drive for a permanent settlement. " It is certain," he said, that our teachers, who on the whole must be well versed in details of the problem, will want to put their knowledge to some constructive purpose. They probably don't need my suggestion that it's through their professional union that they can do a good deal, quickly, to show the reasonableness of the new solution."
In the same way. all Catholics could assume instant personal responsibility by bringing up the facts of the matter " in the queues, at the benches, in the offices, in the press, and through the trade union branches."
Mr. Beales concluded: " This is a public question. Let's waste no time in taking it to the public. We can't afford to wait."