Page 3, 19th August 1955

19th August 1955
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Page 3, 19th August 1955 — WAYS OF PUBLIC FORMING OPINION
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Locations: Geneva, Nottingham

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WAYS OF PUBLIC FORMING OPINION

JT would he ungracious to make no mention of St. Bernard in this column when this issue of THE CATHOLIC HERALD appears on the vigil of his feast. Professor Allison Peers sums up his story in these words: " Yet in more spheres than one his infectious enthusiasm had accomplished marvels. He had founded no less than 163 religious houses. all over Europe. Canonized 21 years after his death he was the first of the Cistercian saints. He was a great theologian and a great organizer: had he so wished he might have been a great statesman. Before everything else he was a great lover of God. As a writer on love, he has been surpassed perhaps by only one man, St. Paul; and by him only in one place-that wonderful thirteenth chapter of the first epistle to the Corinthians."

Public opinion

RECENTLY a • gathering of active young Catholics were asked without warning to define

" Public Opinion." Here were some of their attempts: The voice of the people.

The known and expressed opinion of the majority.

The opinion of the man in the street.

Views and feelings of the majority of the community.

Feelings and attitudes of a certain noisy section of the community.

What the majority of people think they think.

The often unreasoned opinions of a noisy set.

How is public opinion formed?

TN answer to this question the following list of suggestions was compiled at once: Press: radio; television; hooks; films;

Here's the ANSWER

Is it entirely unchristian and unethical for a State to retain the death penalty?

NO, it is not. Nor is it necessary that all States at all times should use this ultimate sanction; further, it does not necessarily follow from the fact that the State does not use this punishment that it is more Christian. more civilised, or more enlightened.

The chief argument from natural reason for the State's right to inflict this punishment is that the State as a " perfect society " has the right to defend itself to the uttermost against the external and internal enemy. This last being those whose crimes undermine " the very foundation of social order."

On this argument St. Thomas Aquinas bases his two clear statements on the subject: " such killing is not murder " (Ha, Ilae, Q. 100); " the slaying of an evildoer is lawful, in as much as it is directed to the welfare of the whole community " (ha, Ilae, Pope Innocent III (l198-1216) declared against the Waldensians that " the secular power could inflict the death penalty without grievous sin." The Catechism of the Council of Trent says: " Magistrates who condemn to death . . . are not only not guilty of murder, but eminentls obey this law which prohibits murder."

A State's decision to do without capital punishment may arise from many causes, some good, some bad, some indifferent. A State may judge its internal security and the level of public morality sufficiently high for it to he able to do without it; it may do so under the general though erroneous impression that all punishment must be remedial and deterrent; it may do so because it does not endow with sufficient "sanctity " the life of the individual.

advertisements; schools; gossip; sermons; private contacts, clubs and societies, tradition, public meetings; public houses.

Can individuals form public opinion?

Tr was agreed by all that if one Was lucky enough to be a croener, the Archbishop of Canter bury or Gilbert Harding the fashioning of public opinion would be possible. Some pointed out that individuals have made public Opinion and examples given were of A. P. Herbert, Miss Rathbone, the organisers of lightning strikes, the inventors of Daylight Saving and the Two Minutes Silence. It was also pointed out that gossip can have a powerful. often painful effect on opinion in a locelity. I publish these answers because they offer a host of suggestions and possibilities for those who find it hard to know what a Christian can do in the modern world.

Russian frenzy ASK at your library for ," Russian Frenzy " by W. Piddington, the Englishman who was arrested by the Russians and spent four years in various Russian camps. It is an extraordinary story and one which is highly topical in view of the visit of top line Russien statesmen in the spring. We .nust not forget the millions of innocent people in concentration camps or give way to too much back slapping until Geneva has led to justice for these poor prisoners.

The world to come

T LEAVE now for Nottingham 1 to give a retreat to the Union of Catholic Mothers at Tollerton Hall. Theirs is a most elegant and up to date programme. beautifully printed. The section headed " How to get there " starts off with " By plane. direct to Tollerton Aerodrome." It will be a wonderful sight to see Catholic Mothers circling the airport in their jets. In the not too distant future the retreat Father will arrive in a flying saucer and who knows. we may soon be having Mass from Mars.

Tailpiece

f-AN Thursday, August 4, the

B.B.C. reporter at the Eisteddfod described the setting, ending: " while around the edges of the field are many smaller tents belonging to the National Savings Movement, the Catholic Church, the Gas Board and other interested bodies."

GARDENING

oNE of the surprises of this year's drought in our own garden has been the profusion of bloom of certain annuals, including phlox drummondi and godetia, and from the admiring comments of visitors I have come to the conclusion that the merits of godetia as a colourful border annual has been, of recent years, overlooked.

A great merit of godetia is that it thrives in a poor soil, and if the young seedlings are planted out in May or June they will bloom in profusion from July onwards. The plants themselves grow thick and bushy and it is important to remember this when planting outnever less than a fool apart-otherwise the long stems may flatten themselves along the ground to turn up their flower heads as soon as they find blooming room.

If sown out of doors, the seed should go in in March, or April if the Spring is a very cold one. Get the best seed. It pays every time, and there are some lovely glowing colours to be had-shell pink, cherry red, mauve, carmine, white and rose striped, orange and salmon and crimson, a wonderful variety.

Other gaily-coloured annuals that do well in poor soil are gaillardia, verbena, marigold and lobelia, but where lobelia arc concerned, plant them in clumps or an uninterrupted row to get their full beauty; don't mix them up with alyssum or calceolaria or scarlet salvia as is all too

often done. j. H.




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