DAVID MURPHY, CTS general secretary, says that with the release of 'The Exorcist' film in Britain he is considering whether to reissue the society's pamphlet on Satan. Interviewed by Peter Nolan —
Mr. David Murphy, who became general secretary of the Catholic Truth Society seven months ago, has already succeeded in getting around a hundred nonCatholic secondary schools on to the mailing list.
Mr. Murphy said: "We wrote to all the non-Catholic secondary schools in the country. addressing our letters to the heads of religious education. Among the pamphlets we enclosed was Who is Jesus Christ?' and a large number of schools asked to be put on our mailing list."
The Jesus pamphlet was prepared last year by the Theology Commission of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales and was specially written for teachers to outline the doctrine of the incarnation. This is the type of publication which Mr. Murphy sees as aptly fulfilling one of the society's main functions, "representing the central magisteriurn of the Church."
Mr. Murphy. 38. a graduate of Brasenose College. Oxford, left a marketing job with Procter and Gamble to become assistant secretary of the Catholic Education Council. His wife is a teacher and he has a special interest in the educational aims of the CTS.
"The first thing I did on becoming secretary of the society was to appoint a schools' inspector to see• what could be done." he said The former inspector, Mr. Leonard Clark, was helping to re-present the stories of saints originally written by "pious olfl ladies" for today's young people. Illustrations accompanying the stories would he by a former Walt Disney employee, he said.
He has also asked schools and catechetical centres to send in their ideas and has received several requests for project sheets on religious topics and suggestions for tape recordings and even video-tapes, some ot which he hopes to follow up.
Mr. Murphy readily agreed the C I-S had "an old fashioned image" but emphasised he aimed to work at improving the society's publications rather than consciously to alter "the image," Improvement. complete with attractive covers and layouts. began under his predecessor.
The CTS had 500 pamphlets available at any one time and "ideally the whole list should be revised every three or four years." During the Second Vatican Council CTS sales reached an all-time high of 4 million a year. Later much energy went into producing over 30 pamphlets on council documents but these were difficult reading and "put people off," he said.
Now these are available the society can further add to its range of pamphlets, most of which sell at around 5p. They already embrace everything from theology — a pamphlet shortly to be issued counters the arguments in Fr. Hans Kung's book "Infallibility?' — to religious stories for children.
Mr. Murphy is careful to point out that anything he has done to date has a precedent in the society's history and this is true for a book he hopes to have published by the end of the year. This is a translation from the French of an introduction to the gospels by Fr. A. M. Roguct, a scripture scholar. He described it as "a straightforward account in ordinary language of modern scripture scholars' understanding of the gospels."
CTS sales are maink through the society's, stalls in church porches, mostly tended by laymen. The layman or "box tender" in charge orders the pamphlets he thinks will sell best. A letter from one box tender in this month's issue of the CTS twice yearly magazine suggests a meeting of box tenders should be held to allow themto swop hints quid "show . .
manship ideas, vi,men may well come about.
Sales are at present running at 2 million a year and rising, individual pamphlets having a sale of anything from 10,000 to 100,000, Mr. Murphy said.
Publications arc vetted by a small all-male publications committee. which includes a theologian. The society has no particular scheme of publications, but its current catalogue lists them under nine
headings, including Doctrine, Social Questions, Religion and Science and Devotional Works. CTS are official publishers to the Holy See.
"The Church reacts to contemporary situations — so does the CTS. We provide things currently needed," said Mr. Murphy. The new "Holy Year Book" at Sp, develops the theme of reconciliation in a "Thought, Word, De 1" programme and has sold 40.000 copies since January.
The booklet on "F.•,,ang,clisation," a discussion programme of the topic chosen for the 1974 Bishops Synod in Rome, has sold 10,000 since the beginning of the year. One of the latest to come out is the Directory, on Children's Masses. recently announced by the Vatican.
Another pamphlet, still on the CTS list, "The True History of Maria Monk." gives a clue to the 106-year-old society's history. It was in 1884 the-society was given its present form by James Britten. a convert, appalled by what he saw in the bookshops lining Paternoster Row in the shadow of St. Paul's Cathedral,
The CTS history describes these shops as doing "a quasipornographic trade borrowed from the lower reaches of French anti-clericalism. but masquerading as controversy:: Predictably, "The Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk" was an anti-Catholic slander, allegedly written by a former Montreal nun, describing, among other incidents, the murder of a nun by priests.
It will hearten Latin lovers that the new ('IS general secretary's talents include an ability to intone the language impressively). He appeared, in voice at least. on a BBC-2 TV film this month, as a monk describing how to cast a bell, a 10-minute documentary.
Mr. Murphy, quietly spoken but determined. sees the CTS today as being responsible for "public relations on a large scale" for the Church, as opposed to the Catholic Information Office, which he sees as operating on a narrower, though equally essential scale.
The society's strength is based on its 40,000 subscribing members, each givingil or 12 a year and it operates from a headquarters of three substantial adjoining houses in F.cclesion Square, a quiet gardened square near Victoria Station.
He is very open to suggestions and would like to see the society develop its ability to react to events far more quickly. He is currently considering whether the society's pamphlet on Satan, shillings and d n the
ldruecnece should d days rat' s sui lel di n gs t o ii coincide with the release in Britain or the controversial Film "The Exorcist." which has caused so many people to believe that they were possessed of the Devil in America.
"My main difficulty is in getting authors, Catholics who can also write." he said. I am sure he would welcome hearing -from readers who are known to possess this ability and feel they have something relevant to contribute.