APRIEST who agrees with
the theory that children suffer from personality defects when they are brought up in high flats, or tower blocks as they are called, is Fr. Hubert Simes of St. Joseph's Roehampton, S.W. London.
"One of the reasons for the trouble is the isolation," he said. "People can go to and from their own front doors without seeing anyone at all. This is a real problem for mothers with young children Then if the children play in the flat. the neighbours complain. They can't be sent out to play because the mothers can't keep an eye on them several storeys down.
"But the biggest snag in this sort of housing is that people live so very close to eavh other that they are nervous about getting too involved with neighbours. As a result of this fear, they often become more isolated than they intended. Once the door is shut they feel almost imprisoned."
Fr. Simes made his comments after reading about Children in Flats: a Family Study by the N.S.P.C.C. which draws some disquieting conclusions.
The report gives an example of a mother with two or three small children living high in a tower block. "If she leaves them she is tormented with the thought of the danger of their falling out of windows or balconies, and if she permits them to go out to play, she may well be terrified at the prospect of their wandering unattended on busy roads.
"There seems some evidence to show that this kind of life contributes to the social isolation which is so common in modern cities, and under the impact of which many families break down."
On the threat to the development of the child the report says: "All authorities on children are agreed that play activities are a vital factor in development. The child who is denied adequate opportunities for play with others is likely to be at a disadvantage. in later life because this lack stultifies his power to express himself and therefore to communicate with others.
"He tends in consequences to become locked up within himself and to develop into the kind of person who cannot form adequate human relationships."
A caretaker's wife said, "We see them eoming in, time after time, and thinking everything's lovely. Then they have a baby and they know what living in a flat really means ..."
Are multi-storey blocks a necessity, completely unavoidable in our present overcrowded towns? Fr. Simes is not convinced that they are. "Wiser people than I have said that you could get the same number of people housed at ground level by planning differently," he says. "Even in my own area there arc vast areas of grass land which might be used."
The top cop
rill-1E MAN who was able to I give a House of Commons select committee some sound advice on curbing the drug traffic in such places as coffee bars crowned a highly successful career last week.
.Mr. William Andrew McKay, who was acting as Chief Police Adviser 'to the G.O.C. Commanding Northern Ireland from August to October. has been appointed the new Chief Inspector of Constabulary for England and Wales. Aged 57, he is a former Chief Constable of Manchester.
Born in Blantyre, Lanarkshire. he was educated at Our Lady's High School, Motherwell. and Glasgow University. He joined the Metropolitan Police in 1935 and attended the Police College at Hendon.
He served in the Allied Military Government from 1943 to 1947 with the rank of Lt-Col. and returned to the 'Metropolitan Police with the rank of Chief Inspector. He was appointed Chief Constable of Manchester in 1958. It was during his tenure of this post that he gave evidence to the select committee and was also made an honorary M.A. by Manchester University.
Don't be surprised if you soon hear that Fr. Herbert McCabe. who was sacked from the editorship of New Blackfriars in 1967, is back in the editorial chair before very long,
Austin Friars' six rebels
SIX pupils at Austin Friars Roman Catholic Secondary School, Carlisle, who returned last week with long hair, were sent into the town for a haircut.
The Headmaster, Fr. Bernard O'Connor, had sent a letter to parents, telling them he wanted the 300 boys to begin term with a normal hairline.
When school reopened, he said : "Most of the boys had made an effort, but some still had long hair. They returned from having their hair cut looking much better."
MAJOR JAMES UTLEY,
who arranged thousands of Papal audiences for people from all parts of the Commonwealth died on Sunday, aged 71, a couple of days after his retirement as Attache to the British I.egation to the Holy See, a post he has held for 20 years.
Always immaculately dressed. his knowledge of the Vatican and its personalities through the years was unequalled. Few men knew 'Rome better and few had more friends. ecclesiastical and lay. He had served in the British forces in Italy before joining the diplomatic service.
Major Utley was found last Saturday badly injured in his office by legation staff to whom he managed to indicate that he had slipped, 1-1c died in hospital on Sunday morning. He would have been 72 today.
He often reminisced with my colleague, Alan McElwain, about the elegant Rome that he had loved and said how much he lamented the jungle of noise and chaos that it is today.
Starting house Mass groups
ONE of the most unspectacular but significant changes gradually coming about in the Church is the growth of the house Mass movement. It is aimed at gearing the parish to the need of the people rather than fitting people into the ecclesiastical structure.
Family and Social Action have produced a booklet. Look at Life prepared by Fr. Terry Bucher, a curate of St. Winef ride's, South Wimbledon, and Mass groups in the parish.
"The basic purpose of these groups," says the booklet. "is to provide the opportunity for the ordinary folk of the parish to share their experience, build friendships and help one another develop a strong fa ith."
It gives step by step suggestions on starting house Mass groups based on streets, including valuable hints on getting people to relax and feel at home in the early days. The bulk of the booklet is devoted to nine suggested inquiry outlines concerning all sorts of contemporary problems, such as the unwanted. the lonely, the young who are misunderstood, the immigiants, alcoholism, and drug addiction.
The booklet, 2s ed plus postage from F.S.A., 106 Clapham Road. S.W.9, could be a useful tool in reinstating Christianity where it belongs -in everyday life.
'So many sat on the lid'
(ZONE are the days when the " scripture scholar rarely emerged from his library or lecture room. These days, if he has an international reputation like Fr John McKenzie of De Paul University, Chicago. he is quite likely to sandwich a world tour in between academic years.
Last week he was in Britain on a three day lecture tour arranged by the Scottish branch of the Catholic Renewal Movement. He had arrived from Kenya the day before and had just completed a radio interview at the B.B.C. before
leaving to lecture in Liverpool.
Fr. McKenzie was in the news earlier this year after a correspondence with the Jesuit General following an article he had written criticising the Pope's remarks about the widespread love of soft living being responsible for the dearth of religious vocations.
A Jesuit for 41 years he asked to leave the order to become a secular priest and now has a teaching post at De Paul University.
Fr. McKenzie is optimistic about the future of the Church. Concerning the turmoils that are still taking place he said : "It would not have been so 'turmoily', if that is the adjective, if the changes had not been put off for so long. So many people sat on the lid and allowed the pressure to build up. The Catholic Church doesn't really have a machinery for change, although I'm sure this is not intentional."
On the question of the American underground church in which Catholics disillusioned by the official church remain "doing their own thing." particularly liturgically, Fr. McKenzie felt they were only a small group. Ile was in favour of a tolerant approach to them.
He confessed he did not know too much about the Church in Britain, but said : "I'm sure it's not a monolithic structure."