Sir,—Mr. Byrne's proposals (July 23) deserve deeper consideration than those of Miss Begley (July 30.) Leaving aside Miss 13egley's assumption that Catholic teachers are not generally capable of teaching Catholicism, she ignores completely the role of the priest, who could and perhaps should play a far greater part in the religious instruction of adolescents. This could be augmented by redeployment of those religious who have specialised in education. Miss Begley also assumes that all the religious education of our children must necessarily be carried out by Catholics. In fact the bulk of our faith is common to the major Christian denominations, and there would be every advantage in ecumenical activities extending into the religious instruction of adolescents.
One hopes that the impression of Chesterbelloc Catholicism one gains from this correspondent is not typical of contemporary Catholic sixth-formers.
Apropos the desirability of a 'good Catholic atmosphere', I wort. der how far this could be retained if we were to accept voluntary controlled status in place of voluntary aided—with the consequent lifting of all our financial burden? D. J. Hayes, Bristol.
Sir,—! feel I ought to write a protest against those who write criticising education at the hands of priests and nuns. It seems that free education is taken for granted, hut at the same time complaints are made at the cost of schools; yet free education has to be paid for by somebody.
Nuns are old fashioned and should wear modern clothes: but the habits worn by nuns dedicate their lives to God.
The discipline in priest-run schools is out-moded; but no one can improve on the age-old system of instilling self-discipline into the male character. Yet today, the educational system that has been built up by teaching orders of priests and nuns has a world-wide reputation for success—and England is only one tiny portion of the great big world.
Teaching staffs wearing the despised habit of the religious carry University degrees and scholastic diplomas. There are waiting lists at Convent Schools and Catholic Public Schools, and many non-Catholics seek to obtain places for their children in them.
As to the question of lapsing, this is hardly ever because of the lack of, or the inferiority of, religious training, but in spite of it. The chief causes of lapsing are: exces sive anti-Catholic pressures; separation from Catholic influences: and sheer laziness. All of these situations are outside the sphere or control of the good nuns and priests.
After all, the Sower of the good seed was not blamed for V+ hat happened as a result of his CCM in. (Miss) A. B. Reid,
East Molesey, &Mee. Si r,—As a convert, who has but comparatively recently left a State school, I can remember being taught nothing, in the way of religion, which would conflict with Catholic belief.
I have often found it difficult to appreciate just why Catholics regard faith as a tender plant which has little hope of flourishing unless it is hedged round by a Catholic education. Surely faith is meant to conquer the world and not vice versa?
Moreover, if lapsation figures for school-leavers are correct, are we not mistaking for faith, what is mere conformity?
(Miss) Marian Thomson, Leeds, 2,
Sir,—May I use your column to make a plea to Catholic teachers? When will some, especially graduate teachers, come and take posts in the State schools in rural Wales. The size of the Catholic population in these areas makes it quite impossible to hope for schools of our own. Our children must of necessity go to State schools, where in my experience few of the teachers are even Christian.
There may be on average, perhaps 10 Catholic children in a school of 1,000 pupils. I know of one sixth former who is the only practising Catholic in the whole senior school.
This 17-year-old carries out a magnificent apostolate — says grace before school meals, answers innumerable inquiries the lot. Magnificent indeed, but so lonely as to be almost heroic.
I do beg that some of you in the teaching profession will consider Wales. Our teenagers lapse at a frightening rate, helped, of course by the (in these areas) inevitable mixed marriages. What a difference an apostolic teacher could make!
(Mrs.) Mary Wolfe, Welshpool.
Si r,—I have just returned from a holiday abroad to find myself committed in your review columns (July 30) to the comment on Hans Kung's "Theological Meditations" that they are "meditative writing at a quite non-Biblical level"!
May I explain that I wrote the review in a train, and committed the illegible script to a typist. The word was 'non-technical', not 'nonBiblical'. Not even in my most carping, pre-holiday mood would I have been so unjust to these fine Meditations as to have described them as non-Biblical.
The typist's lesser deviations (entirely thanks to my illegibilitY) include 'reprints' for `rdloorts', 'appreciation' for 'application', and 'scriptural' for 'spiritual'. May I tender you, Sir, my humble apologies.
F CE Fr. Columba Ryan, P. Bolloagckfriars,