Page 7, 15th October 1965

15th October 1965
Page 7
Page 7, 15th October 1965 — POPE'S SOCIAL LEAD?

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Locations: Cambridge, Surrey


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SIR,—The Pope's visit to the United Nations has re-affirmed that the Church's mission is concerned with peace among men as well as peace with God. His concern for world peace has found an echo in the hearts of non-Christians and Christians alike, with one or two inevitable exceptions. The trip underlines the fact that Catholicism is not confined to the sacristy.

Inevitably, people will wonder, for all the good intentions behind it, what positive difference it is going to make to the international arena. Last and West still have enough weapons to destroy .life on the globe; China still aspires to wars of liberation and, if statistics arc correct, there were a few thousand more empty bellies in the world after the Pope's journey than there were a day or two before.

There is little doubt that Pope Paul is as aware of this as anybody. Presumably, he hoped that his initiative might start a change of heart that would eventually make itself felt in the years to come.

One might almost summarise the gist of his speech as: "We are all involved in mankind. Ask not for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thIee". Ile spoke of thinking in a new way of man's life in common.

Presumably we should look to the Church for the most effective implementation of this. If the history of British Catholicism's attitude to the Papal social teaching is anything to go by, we may look in vain.

I have been attending Mass in various parts of Britain regularly over the past 20 years and not once have I even heard the existence of Pope Leo X.111's encyclical Rerun, Novarum even mentioned.

As Pius XI's updating encyclical Quadragesitno Anno was issued only in 1931, I suppose we must be patient for some time yet. As for John XXIII's social encyclical Mater et Magistra, which is still red-hot—it was issued four years ago—we will have a long wait for reaction.

It would he an illuminating experience if your paper were to conduct a survey similar to the one

Sir,—Mr. Michael Dempsey takes me to task (October 8) for my report of the Liberal Party Assembly. There are two main points. First, as he quite rightly says. the Assembly did not pledge "no action" to alter the position of independent schools. I apologise for this mistake, and I am most grateful to Mr. Dempsey for putting the record straight.

We now come to more arguable ground. "At no time," says Mr. Dempsey, "did the Union of Liberal Students propose a motion at (Liberal) Party Council calling for the abolition of religious schools." He goes on to say that the motion in question was moved by a former chairman of the Union of Liheral Students, acting in his personal capacity, without official support from U.L.S.

"Indeed." Mr Dempsey continues, "the present U.L.S. chairman was a signatory of a letter asking (the proposer) to withdraw his motion."

If Mr. Dempsey's last statement is true, then the behaviour of the chairman of U.L.S. is, to say the least, curious. For any resolution to be discussed at the Liberal Party Council, it has to be formally supported by a certain number of members of the Council, Among the supporters of the resolution in question was none other than the present chairman of U.L.S.

Now let us consider Mr. Dempsey's earlier proposition, namely, that at no time did the Union of Liberal Students propose such a motion. If he simply means that the Union of Liberal Students never as a body formally gave consent to the motion, then I will accept his assurance. If, on the other hand, he means, as I think he is trying to imply, that the Union of Liberal Students was in no way at all associated with the motion, then I must take issue with him.

you did on the effects of the Vatican Council in the parishes into the "impact" that the Church's social teaching has had.

I suggest that concepts of the just wage, fair profit, subsidiarity and the demands of justice NOT charity towards the poorer te °thirds of the world would produce plenty of blank stares. "Money for our schools" at least could bank on instant recognition.

The reputation of Catholics in this country for being unconcerned generally with social work and political life is not a myth foisted on us by Whig historians. In the Freedom from Hunger campaign, "What an our parish do to help?" was not the most burning topic in most parishes.

I know some individuals do great work, and such organisations as the Knights of St. Columba, the Catholic Social Guild and Y.C.W. are doing their best to spread social teaching. But it is not enough.

The average Catholic can go from the cradle to the grave without his pastors ensuring that he understands the social i mpl Icanuns of his Faith. The liturgical revival in this country, confusing as it can be, is surely a good thing, reflected in more frequent reception of the sacraments. But unless this is accompanied by a greater social awareness of problems at home and overseas we will he doing nothing to implement Pope Paul's mission of peace.

The Popes from Leo onwards have done their bit. Could not our Bishops start bringing social justice to our attention? Could they not order so many sermons a year on the subject?

For too long in this country have we been tacitly encouraged to play Dives.

Brian Spillane Blackheath, S.E.3.

The Liberal Party Council is a representative, policy-making body composed of delegates from the various constituent bodies of the Liberal Party, including the Union of Liberal Students.

The resolution which we are discussing stood not only in the name of the present chairman of U.L.S., as I have already said, but in those of the Political vice-Chairman of U.L.S., of one of its Scottish representatives, and of the immediate past-Chairman of U.L.S., who is still playing an active part in its affairs. Out of eight members of the Party Council recorded as formally supporting the motion, no less than half were prominent members of the U.L.S. Executive.

If Mr. Dempsey expects us to believe that these people were acting purely g individuals, then 1 think he is asking too much. I have accepted his assertion that U.L.S. as a whole gave no approval to the motion—but surely in any representative body such as the Liberal Party Council, the Chairman and vice-Chairman of a constituent organisation do not give formal support to a resolution unless they have good reason for believing that they represent substantially the views of their members.

If the officers of U.L.S. are in the habit of lending their names to motions without any such evidence, then 1 think they are acting irresponsibly, for they occupy their seats on the Council purely as representatives, and they are not representing their members.

Since Mr. Dempsey assures us that U.L.S. has not given formal support to any attack on religious schools, it would seem all the more important for members of the U.L.S. Executive to be cautious in putting their names to such a motion: front the fact that they did so, I drew shat still seems to me to be a broadly reasonable conclusion.

Your Political Correspondent

Sir,—During this presumed last session of the Council, when time is se precious, one would like to know how the system of calling speakers works, and if nothing can be done to ensure widest participation among the Fathers.

Apparently, Cardinals have preference. This might be suspended. It seems like A case of all Bishops (as descendants of the Apostles) being equal, but some more equal than others. And the title Cardinal, after all, is merely a hit of worldly Renaissance potnp, with no ecclesiastical meaning.

Then, too, Bishops with apparently little experience in a particular matter speak while others who are experts are silent.

In other debates, Cardinals Ruffini and Suenens have been heard over and over again.

It is mathematically impossible for all to speak, hence some selection. But how is that selection determined? Can Desmond Fisher give us the names of the Fathers on the selection committee? Can he tell us on what ground they -base their choice, in this last debate particularly?

I ask since the layman is now allowed, indeed expected, to take an intelligent and active part in Church affairs. This matter of peace, is of course, vital for mankind and is not just a Church matter.



Desmond Fisher writes:

Generally. Council speakers are taken in order of their eh ing mince to speak. The rules lay down that resumes must he in the days in advance though Cardinals are given preference and greater leeway.

The list of speakers is prepared by the Council secretariat but the Moderators often propose closure of the debate and this is put to a standing vote.

Many Bishops speak in the name of others and often a Cardinal is chosen because he is almost certain to he called. Even after the closure a Bishop may reopen the debate if he gets 70 other Bishops to support him.

Sir,--How very heartening was that description (CH., October 8) of the Mass celebrated in a private house at Westbury-on-Trym. This is a practice that one can only hope will spread, encouraged by every bishop and adopted with enthusiasm by every parish priest.

I can hardly imagine any better or more efficacious way of bringing the Mass — and so. God and salvation to the people, and above all to the lost sheep of the House of Israel.

One phrase only in your correspondent's description of the event has given me cause for surprise and puzzlement. It is where he says: "Because of the shortage of space, Communion was received standing".

Why "because of the shortage of space"? Surely it is now quite a normal — and indeed a desirable — practice to receive standing?

It is not long since you printed a picture of the Holy Father distributing Holy Communion to standing communicants in quite spacious surroundings: we here regularly receive standing, though we arc certainly not short of space. Nor, I imagine, are we in any way singular in this respect.

Frank R. James, Dorking,, Surrey.

Sir,—That you should print in your own columns a resume of the article by John Hennessy in this month's edition of the Catholic Teachers' Journal is a little surmising. First, an article by an individual with experience of one college (and that at least a year ago, since he is a teacher) is of doubtful validity when generalising of all the Catholic Colleges of Education.

It is about one year since this Association ran a concerted campaign for an improvement in the Divinity Courses in the Catholic -011eges. As a result, it became quite apparent that the principals were as anxious to effect improvements but were hindered by external obstacles. However, in most Colleges, changes, sometimes radical. have been put into effect, the results of which have still to be seen but which would seem to be to the good.

The results of these changes are that the courses are based much more firmly on the reforms of the catechetical movement. The opening of the College of Cateche,ties and the interest therein (you quote the principal as saying that a religious whirlwind has hit the nation) is but one indication of the awareness of the existence of the new approach in this country.

1, therefore, have no hesitation in saying that as a result of enquiries by this Association, the situation in the Catholic Colleges is practically as good as it can be in the circumstances in which they have to work and that the changes suggested by Mr. Hennessy have already been put into practice.

It is only fair that the other side of the coin should be shown and that any inmistation against the standards of the Divinity Courses in the Catholic Colleges should be refuted.

• Anthony L. Slade, President, Association of Catholic Teacher-College Students.

Sir,—May make a further point with regard to the report on the Urrnston survey on sex education (C.H., October 1). One of the moat important branches of our work is to encourage parents of very young children to talk more freely on this very intimate and personal subject.

Embarrassment is nearly always one of the main causes of tension here, hut to the young child it is not in the least embarrassing. He is just as curious about his own origin and the way he is made as he is about poking a stick into a puddle, or watching a spider make its web. This natural curiosity is strong and insistent, and it is up to the parents to keep it healthy and innocent by answering questions simply and truthfully as they arise.

Many parents can transfer their own feelings of guilt about sax to their children quite unwittingly. Even whilst not positively condemning sexual interests in their children, they can imply guilt by the continuous absence of approval.

Even the adult's attitude towards toilet training can give rise to feelings of guilt in children, instilling the idea that anything connected with sex is dirty. These impressions can easily be more lasting than is realised. and can be carried into adult life and impair adult relationships.

The over-prudent parent may in fact he harbouring a deep sense of guilt about sex which can in turn determrne the child's acceptance or rejection of his natural erotic feelings. More tolerance of the young child's interest in sex, and more open discussion of these problems can help him to achieve healthy maturity.

It is our aim to help parents to lessen these tensions and anxieties, and to show that we learn to love and live together in our own family circle. This is the hest way of building a good Christian foundation, and ensuring that a child grows up to have a happy married Ile of his own, (Mrs.) Frances Hancock, Lancs. Remedial Education Service.

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