Respond Enthusiastically To Pope's
Charter For Students
The importance of the Pope's pronounce-. ment to college and university students is explained below in an interview with Mr. H. J. Parkinson, M.A., a re presentative of the Federation and the Editor of Unitas, the Federation's journal.
Mr. Parkinson also discusses what has been done in the past to meet the Papal lead and what is wanting in the present condition of Catholic higher studies in this country.
Mr. Parkinson explained that he could only make personal and premature observations, since the official reaction of University Catholics in this country would be shown at the Torquay Conference.
" But," said Mr. Parkinson, " we can be certain that the Vniversity Catholic Youth will respond with all their zeal to the Pope's promise that, if they but answer his call, they will have a 'snare in building up a new Age of St. Augustine from which will be born again the Christian thought and civilisation of a new Middle Ages. They could not have a grander summer, rightly described by the CATHOLIC HERALD as the " Catholic Students' Charter."
" I can think of no country," he continued, " to which the Holy Father's words are more pertinent than this land of ours, where but a century ago, it was necessary, in order to be a Fellow of any of the Colleges of Oxford or Cambridge, not only to be a Christian but also to be a celibate and in holy orders, but where to-day the ' divorce between men of learning and Christian thought ' to which the Pope refers, is almost complete; the intellectual leaders in all the great professions being, in effect if not in name, agnostics.
FULL CATHOLIC INTELLECTUAL FORMATION IMPOSSIBLE " Nothing came of the hopes some years ago of founding a Catholic faculty of Philosophy and Theology at one of our older universities. The most that was provided, before the war, was the occasional Catholic • univer sity extension lectures ' at London and Liverpool. It is, thus, practically impossible for a Catholic layman or a Catholic lay-woman to receive anywhere in England a full Catholic intellectual formation.
" Meanwhile, increasing numbers of pupils from our Catholic convents and secondary schools continue each year to present themselves as ' freshers ' at our secular seats of learning. 1 do not think that the Catholic community as a whole has been mindful enough of what that means. Our British universities, as has been apparent for some years now, are permeated with a worse than pagan materialism. And what else could one expect from the effect upon the mass of undergraduates of 'a university education, which did not include even the watered-down Christianity of the public secondary schools!"
/DEAL OF A CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY Asked what steps the Federation had taken to counter these dangers, Mr. Parkinson answered : " Since its foundation twenty-one years ago, the University Catholic Federation has not ceased to uphold the Ideal of establishing one day a Catholic Univerally for the laity of this country.
"At the present moment, the Federation is engaged on a project of founding a National Association of Catholic graduates, uniting the several thousands of Catholic men and women who have passed through our universities since it began. The University Catholic Federation has struggled for years to foster the religious education of the Catholic undergraduates at our British universities; and in the past decade, at least, there is evidence that its efforts have met with some success.
" Resident chaplaincies now exist at Oxford, Cambridge, Glasgow, Edinburgh, and London; and around these centres has grown up a whole tradition of university religious life, built up by Federation with due regard for local differences over the years ; a life with its cycle of academic Masses ' at the beginning of term, its Requiem Masses for deceased members at the end, its annual retreats, its solemn keeping of the university-feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, and last but not least, the dialogue Mass on the first Fridays, for university Catholics in the war, introduced last year by Fr. Martindale. Federation has insisted that the University Catholic Movement cannot reach its full growth in a university without such a centre. But where there arc no resident chaplains, the local student societies do what they can, making impossible calls upon the services of already burdened priests, many of whom year after year undertake 'heavy labours for the sake of our University Catholic Youth:" Mr. Parkinson admitted that these and other efforts fell far short of what was necessary and practicable.
EQUILIBRIUM BETWEEN RELIGIOUS AND SPECIALISED STUDY " Very little," he _said, " has been done to supply an equilibrium between religious culture and specialised university study. There have been articles in Unitas by specialists and Federation is now attempt-. ing to deal with the problem by organising undergraduates in sub-sections of local university Catholic societies on a faculty basis, linking these nationally under a Federation secretariate to supply general guidance and help. But something more powerful and fully-bodied is required, if we aro to have an adequate and continuous effect.
" It is hoped that this will be achieved when Federation has organised the graduates, brought our existing Catholic professional organisation into touch with the students, and filled the gaps by founding itself new professional organisations as required. Already in the very important field of biology, Federation has co-operated with the Guild of Mendel and Pasteur (which is also meeting along with it at Torquayiin August) with most beneficial effect. With that Guild functioning in close touch with Federation, there is now less excuse for any Catholic student of biology being ' at sea.'
" But can we say the same of some others, of the student of History, for example, where our powerful national literature is riddled with Modernism'?
(Continued on page eight)