FROM OUR SPECIAL COR R ESP° N DENT 1'1 IE CHURCH has a long
way to go before it begins to catch up with the millions of people who are becoming city dwellers, says a South American priest. Its message is still couched in the language of rural life, and its structure still built for the small village.
"I do not believe that we are ready yet to answer all the questions posed by urbanisation," Fr. Segundo Galilea told a pastoral congress in Sao Paulo, Brazil. "However, we will progress only if we are capable of clearly outlining our problems and formulating certain questions."
The problems and questions he drew up have just been printed in English by the journal CIF Reports published in Cuernavaca, Mexico. Although he is primarily concerned with Latin America. the situation he describes is world-w ide.
First, he asks, what is a city dweller like? For one thing, he is lonely. one of thousands of anonymous faces who meet each other impersonally and briefly. The small, permanent, tight-knit community of the country is gone.
He has gone to the city "to escape rural stagnation". poverty, and to seek freedom. He wants a better job and education. He wants to enjoy himself and to accumulate power and wealth.
But in the 'city "he becomes conscious of the power of man over nature. His religion and the help of God no longer seem necessary."
So what is the role of the Church in the city? Fr. Gallica makes three suggestions:
1. It should build on natural groups, the family first of all.
Pope's brother ill
The Pope's elder brother, Senator Ludovico Montini, was taken ill in London last week after a four-day meeting in the House' of Commons. He is vice-president of the Political Committee of the Council of Europe which met in London from July 8-11.
Senator Montini spent one night at Westminster Hospital and was released last Saturday and returned immediately to Italy. His illness was due to fatigue. House churches, where the priest says Mass for a family and its friends, can make the home become "a temple". Parents should be given more responsibility to teach their children religion, Perhaps priests could even say Mass in commutes trains, where many workers make their closest human contacts.
2. It must give more attention to service, the Urban world's "most important activity".
But while doing "the same good, functional things that other men do" it should make cli:ar that it does them "without an obvious motive, without a reason, only out of charity".
3. As an institution, it can provide a place for people to belong. to "stand out, to become individuals in the mass of humanity which surrounds them".
But, Fr. Galilea goes on, these suggestions lead to "some extremely disquieting questions": • WILL the Church become less insitutionalised or more sd?
• SHOULD it create special organisations to cope with every aspect of life or restrict itself to altar societies?
• CAN we expect the Church to be just another institution in a world of institutions, or will it "be reconstructed in the new societies which men create"?
And another danger he sees: The priest could become "only a religious technician" unless people come to understand their faith more deeply.
The task or understanding religion is made ever more difficult, he says. as modern urban life grows further away from the rural symbols of Scripture and liturgy. Even the family meaning (Sr a meal is crsappearing as more and more people eat in quickservice cafes. A lit candle does not impress a person used to constant electric lighting.
The words "temple" and "king" mean very little today. And "redeemed" or "saved"-he asks: "What is the psychological content of these terms for modern man?"
The religion teacher has two choices. Either he must explain the culture of the past which gave rise to these symbols. "Or perhaps we could create a new liturgy composed of symbols having an urban origin, This is the first problem we must face."