Durham Quarrel About Public Prayers
CATHOLIC ATTITUDE EXPLAINED
All parties agreeing that it would be a " good thing if they prayed more," Durham City Council face a difficult problem in choosing the form which their prayers will take before Council Meetings.
The. Catholic members, of course, cannot accept the Church of England prayers which were included in the resolution passed by the Council last' month.
At a Council meeting last week the Catholics tried in vain to rescind the resolution but lot by 13 votes to 7.
" A MYSTERIOUS SCANDAL"
The Catholic attitude towards praying in company with non-Catholics still remains one of the greatest mysteries and "scandals" to others.
A correspondent in a Durham paper recently wrote:
"Can any Roman Catholic authority explain the attitude of the Roman Catholic members of Durham City Council in opposing the resolution in favotr of opening their meetings with prayer?" And he adds: "It is a sad thing to reflect that the Roman Church encourages such unChristian exclusiveness, for surely such an attitude is contrary to the mind of Christ?"
Contradiction The plaintiff contradicts hintsaf. The Catholic authorities did not oppose opening meetings with prayers (how could they?), but only explained that they themselves could no! participate in such public prayers.
There is, of course, no objection to praying together silently. But when people expect Catholics to join in public prayers, they generally forget that this means joining in non-Catholic prayers. or more positively, Protestant prayers, usually recited by a Protestant chaplain. It is not a question of all joining together in something that all share together, but in tacitly assenting to a service and formula which has arisen from a Protestant revolt against Catholicism.
Silent Prayers The motion for recision stood in the name of a Catholic, Councillor W. F. Edge, who supported the suggestion for silent prayers. He was seconded by Alderman Holiday. Councillor J. F. Smith moved that prayers might be said at the close instead of the beginning of the council meetings. The Deputy-Mayor ruled this could not be accepted, and Councillor Smith declared that the original resolution had been carried by weight of votes and not of conviction.
"Why should I be excluded from this Council Chamber by a resolution?," he said.
A member : You have not been.
Councillor Smith : We will be and you know it. We could not meet with you in prayer.
Another voice : Then stay out.
Stay Out Councillor Smith : " My friend has said 'Stay out ' and that is what we will have to do.
"You are ready for a fight and you are compelling us to fight, The resolution had no business to be on the agenda paper."
It was mentioned that a Catholic priest had been approached on the subject of saying prayers in the Council and he had declined on the grounds that he was not allowed to do so.