BY A STAFF REPORTER
OF the 144 parishes who replied to the Catholic Herald questionnaire asking for details of New Pentecost arrangements, 115 said they had laymen speakers at services. But only 10 reported that these included women.
Only 11 priests stated categorically that the experiment was not a success, but more than a dozen others found it difficult or impossible to assess Its value, although several of these made the point that the laymen spoke well.
Comments ranged from "A most moving success" to "General idea much criticised by the active laity, including the preachers themselves."
The three-man committee which has been responsible for "New Pentecost" announced this week they were "happy with the results so far."
Mr. Ronald Brut), a management consultant and economist and chief spokesman, said that more than 500 letters of support poured in last week.
As well as cheques — one was for £50 — the letters contained pledges of help from people as diverse as ambassadors, architects, bricklayers and old-age pensioners.
"The support of the very old and the young was very significant," said Mr. Brech.
Although it was too early
to assess the financial success of the venture, Mr. Brech said "New Pentecost" had been a success in terms of getting Catholics, practising and lapsed, to realise that the Church is renewing itself and starting to move out of the area of "just talking about plans to serve the community.
"Of course, there has been criticism. We welcome criticism. This shows the laity are involved and interested. We would count it a failure if there was no criticism."
Mr. Laurence Cotterell, a public relations consultant, said the committee acknowledged that "it had made many mistakes." He said mistakes in any new venture were inevitable. "We have paved the way and those who follow us will learn from our mistakes."
Rejoined Mr. Brech: "I would be prepared to offer the CATHOLIC HERALD a £100 prize for some form of essay earnpetition among its readers in which they (the readers) could suggest "how they would have run this campaign.
"They would have exactly the same brief as us. That is, the campaign had to be organised in two months, £200,000 had to be raised. The laity and the clergy were to be made more aware of their joint partnership. And the campaign had to be addressed to Catho
lics churchgoing and nonchurch going."
The committee said one of their disappointments was the "opposition of the clergy in some areas." Mr. Brech said they had anticipated some opposition and this was partly why the scheme was addressed directly to the laity through the national Press.
"If the local priest had been our only channel of communication in several instances, the laity would never have been encouraged to participate."
An Essex priest sent in the opinions of a cross-section of priests and laymen which he had collected. These made the following points:
If this is the result of lay advice to the hierarchy, the bishops are either consulting the wrong lay people and/or the wrong advice.
"Deus Providebit." If the work of the various commissions had been made known in more detail, the guesswork budgets would not have been necessary and the money would come as people got involved in the work.
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