By a Staff Reporter
ATHREE-FOLD form of Catholic Action to get rid of hooliganism and foster family life was advocated by Fr. Henry Waterhouse, S.J., rector of St. Francis Xavier's, Liverpool, when I interviewed him on Tuesday on his letter to The Times on juvenile criminals.
" Our present system of education is failing," declared Fr. Waterhouse.
"We may be producing better technicians, but the crime statistics are sufficient to show that we are not producing better citizens in spite of the extension of schooling and of social measures of all kinds.
" The growth of juvenile delinquency has caused a lot more people to search for the root causes of this failure, as well as to multiply the schemes for dealing with social casualties, Their searching is a most welcome sign and must be encouraged."
Fr. Waterhouse recalled that one after another writers on juvenile delinquency have pointed to the necessity of restoring discipline in the home as the chief hope of improving standards of behaviour; yet the pleas have all been for more clubs or better clubs.
Most of the measures taken to deal with delinquency and with neglect of children, by both statutory and voluntary bodies, are palliative in character, in spite of the Curtis Report warning that it is of the utmost importance to study how the deprivation of normal home life can be prevented, " The step which people are shirking, because of its complexity and immensity, is to take the measures which will give the family its rightful place in society and create the environment most favourable. to its proper functioning," said Fr. Waterhouse.
On the question of practical measures for improving family life he said that he could think of nothing better than intensive preparation for it by young couples setting out on married life.
" As the children come and grow up, couples who have started well will know how to continue learning their work as educators, and they are less likely to make mistakes in the handling of children than those who wait for the school to do everything,"
On the subject of marriage training courses, of which he has had great experience in the industrial North, Fr. Waterhouse said that obviously when it comes to arranging such courses Catholics must go to Catholic sources for information and inspiration.
"The wealth that we have at our disposal for this is the envy of nonCatholics who want to work for better family life."
Asked to suggest a scheme that could be used as a national Catholic campaign on behalf of British family life. Fr. Waterhouse made three points:
" We can spread right notions about marriage and the family,
" 2. We should devise schemes-and here we can cooperate with nonCatholics-for making family life easier, more efficient, and happier.
" Something could be done perhaps to make family holidays more practicable."
Fr. Waterhouse mentioned at this point that in his own parish of St. Francis Xavier they have "family admisison " to concerts, whereby the wife and children are admitted with the husband for the price of one ticket.
In hi a third point Fr. Waterhouse reiterated that Catholics can lead the field in providing immediate marriage training for engaged couples. The scheme started in Manchester four years ago and carried on continuously ever since has shown that it can he done.
Fr. Waterhouse quoted the Bishop of Salford as saying that he would like to see a network of such training centres covering his diocese, and remarked: "Would it not be a great step towards the re-Christianising of England if we had them over the whole country? "