FOLLOWING my statement in the Catholic Press last year (quoted by Mr. Davies and re-printed in "Approaches"), I wrote to all the head teachers in the Southwark Diocese, clarifying the main points of my thesis as follows:
CHAPLAINS FOR THE SICK
T WAS very interested to read -11the account in your issue of February 12 of the conference sponsored by the London Medical Group at which Fr. Marteau drew attention to the importance of the hospital chaplain.
Many nurses will agree that the chaplain's visit can mean a great deal to a sick person. However, taking the country as a whole the number of fulltime Catholic hospital chaplains must be very small.
So the parish priest or a curate has to fit hospital visits into a full time-table. Arid he may reach the bedside of a patient who desperately needs long and understanding discussion to find that his time is running out, and a scheduled event — a service or meeting — is due in half an hour. Yet the priest knows he may not get back to that hospital for perhaps another week.
I have often wondered why each diocese did not appoint at least one full-time chaplain of the sick. A roving missioner to make the "rounds" but to be on call in emergency at the summons of any of the priests responsible for the smaller hospitals — and also to visit the sick being nursed at home.
In both sudden illness and chronic sickness there is often a "moment of truth" — a breathing-space when patients have time to sit back and look at themselves. They feel the urge to get "sorted out," and often they need help and considered advice.
The physician calls in his specialist, so why could not the part-time chaplain call in his specialist — one who has made a special study of the epostolate of the sick?
Today many chaplaincies serve all kinds of communities, but with the exception of prisoners, the majority of those served are mobile. The sick person is "stuck," often not likMg what he sees, and his need would seem high. Shouldn't he be priority number one, however small the priestly numbers?
Ex-Nurse London. "(i) That the content of religious teaching is being confused by theological opinions which conflict with the teaching of the Magisterium. and "(ii) That catechetical method is in danger of becoming totally secularised.
"If or when this happens, it is difficult to see how a child Can be helped towards a free response of faith, prompted by grace, to supernaturally revealed truths—and this, from Apostolic times until the Second Vatican Council, has always been affirmed as the primary objective of Catholic instruction."
As a result, over the last six months the support and sympathy of teachers in the Diocese and throughout the country has been tremendously encouraging. Inevitably, opposition has -come from some catechetical directors on the grounds that my comments were "uncharitable." To this can only reply that it is impossible to be charitable or otherwise in stating principles: one can only be right or wrong.
The so-called "traditionalist" school maintains that religious education is simply the process by which parents, teachers and priests strive to foster in their children a free and loving response to those truths revealed to us by Christ and propounded by a divinely authorised Church.
As to the other "school of thought": after a decade of listening to the catechetics expounded from platforms, in discussion groups and in private conversation, I am left with the impression of a revivalism which is rooted in humanism and presented in the style of evangelical protestantism.
The result of this influence in catechetics is that the doctrine of the Church comes to be regarded as an optional extra, since "life-experience" is a perfectly adequate source of revelation for each individual, while Christian morality and asceticism is abandoned in favour of "doing your own thing" — the very essence of humanism.
Until the Catholic teacher's terms of reference are stated in clear, authoritative terms, tension and uncertainty will increase.
(Rev.) G. Telford Director Southwark Diocesan Catechetical Centre London, SW.17.