Parents' association hears of worsened housing shortage
BY A STAFF REPORTER THE extreme gravity of the housing shortage was brought home to a Catholic audience in London on Sunday—Feast of the Holy Family—when Alderman Maurice Burns, who has made a long and intimate study of the problem, said of thousands of young married couples: "God help them if they have a baby !"
He was speaking as chairman of the Catholic Parents' Association of the Westminster diocese at its annual meeting in the Tottenham Municipal Hall.
Earlier, the 350 members who had iravelled from various parts of London on a wintry afternoon. heard a message from Cardinal Griffin urging them to concentrate their energies 'upon the problem cif broken homes " and with the problem that is concurrent in many cases with broken homes, namely, housing."
The nation as a whole doesn't seem to care, said Alderman Burns, yet the fact is that for lack of house or because they live in overcrowded conditions, millions of people in this country now find it quite impossible to lead a sound family life; quite impossible, save for the grace of God, to live up to the high standard the Catholic Church sets for real family life.
For about seven years not a single house was built in this country. Half a million houses were made unusable, leaving at least a million and a half people without homes. And during 11 years, the population increased by four millions—also needing homes.
In hundreds of thousands of families — families living in two rooms or even in one room onlymothers are becoming neurotic, health has suffered, fathers become agitated and angry, and children, driven on to the streets, find their way to the juvenile courts. solely because they have not a proper home.
"Six rears after the war the waiting lists for houses ate longer than they were in 1945-46. The high hopes of the people have gone. "I here is disillusionment, frustration and desperation.
" Young couples are just as much in love, just as eager to marry as we were in our day. But can they get on the housing list ? In seven, eight, nine or 10 years' time they might get a home.
'God help them
" We know w hat Holy Mother Church thinks of long engagements. But we are asking them, through sheer force of circumstances, to put off their marriage for years. It is a very, very serious thing for these young people.
"But suppose they do get married. They will perhaps find a home in one or two rooms, sharing a house with several other couples.
"God help them if they have a baby. They know they will be turned out—in many cases they have been turned out.
"We demand of young Catholic couples a certain moral standard, but are we not asking more than flesh and blood can stand?
" And what nf the couples who have-had po Christian moral training ? Out of their sheer desperation you will hear of abortions.
" The world is crazy. There is no national effort being brought to bear upon this most serious problem.
" We are pouring millions of money down the drain on health services and leaving the people untouched. We are merely scratching on the surface of the housing problem."
Alderman Burns claimed that a great deal could he done through voluntary labour andhousing associations, and by a nation-wide effort by ordinary citizens to ensure that the problem is not allowed to become a party political matter.
At the same time he warned that if a really serious positive national effort to overcome the problem were to be effective, "the building industry has got to be shaken up from top to bottom."
" I do not think there is any other.
Mgr. Masterson, Archbiehop of Birmingham: Sunday. Visitation and Confirmation at St. Mary's. Harborne, 3 p.m. Tuesday. Attends annual meeting of U.C.M. presidents at White Horse Restaurant. Congreve Street, Birmingham, 12.30.
Mgr. Ellis, Bishop of Nottingham: Saturday, January 26.Attcnds annual meeting of the Nottingham diocesan councilof the Catholic Parents and Electors' Association at the Flying Horse Hotel, Nottingham, 3 p.m.
Mgr. Beck, Bishop of Brentwood: Tomorrow (Saturday). Presides at meeting of the Hierarchy's Action Committee. Sunday. Visitation at Benfleet, 11 a.m.; inducts new parish priest at Wanstead, 6.30 p.m. Monday. Attends diocesan clergy day of recollection at St. Angela's, Forest Gate. Vitednesday. Sings Pontifical Requiem Mass at Bren'wood for anniversary of Bishop Doubleday. 11.30 a.m.
TRAVELLING MISSIONS Brentwood: Sunday, January 20, Mass will he said at: 1, Knollehill Farm. Staplcford Abbots. at 9 a.m. 2. The Old School, Navestock Heath. at 10.15 a.m.
Southwark: The Mission will this week visit: I. Appledore, parish of Tenterden. Mass will be said on Sunday at Norman House at 8 a.m. 2. Bremen. parish of Ashford. Mass will be said at Harriet Cottage at 10 a.m. industry where there is so much slackness and so many restrictive practices," he declared.
MR. R. A. G. O'BRIEN, secretary of the Catholic Education Council, came to speak as a -Catholic father with three particular anxieties —housing. schools and the loss of young Catholics to the Church.
On the leakage he said: " We all see processions of children in our churches on certain feast days. But did you ever stop to ask yourselves how many of those boys and girls will he practising their faith in 10 to 15 years' time. Half of them will no longer be attending Mass or going to the sacraments."
But Fr. James Evans, S.L. Rector of St. Ignatius' parish, Stamford Hill, who presided at the meeting, said he feared that Mr. O'Brien had under-estimated the figure.
"We have in our parish 30 to 40 converts a year." said Fr. Evans, " but I believe—though I hope it is not true--that we arc losing far more than that. The number of our losses is more than 50 per cent."
No middle way FR. JOSEPH CHRLSTIE, S.J., set the Catholic ideals of the family, human dignity and human liberty against the background of a world that is losing all sense of what is right and wrong.
"It is true that the chief decline is in the sexual field," he said, " but the decline is and must inevitably be all round. So, when we defend the family, we defend the whole moral code, we defend everything.
" Society always goes in one of two ways: either it tends to the proper use of marriage or to pagan promiscuity. Either you cling to the law with all your strength or the law is swept aside. Either the law holds, or there is no taw. There is no middle way between the hard teaching of the Church—the law that God made— and pagan promiscuity."