The theme of this year's National Crenians' Conference, to be held at Spode House, Rugeley, Staffordshire, front, March 15 to 17, is "Damn Your Politics Give Me a Roof." One of the speakers will be Fr. Paul Byrne. Director of the Shelter Housing Aid Society, whose subject will be "Information, advice and housing aid." Mr. Charles Irving, chairman of Gloucestershire Social Services Committee, will discuss "The role of the housing association," and Mr. David Tidmarsh, former research psychiatrist at Camberwell Reception Centre, will speak on "The needs of the homeless casework or housing?"
Other speakers will include Miss Pat Healey, Social Services Correspondent of The Times, and Mr. Illtyd Harrington, deputy leader of the Greater London Council, Mr. Tom Gifford, general secretary of the Cyrenians. will speak on "The Cyrenians at large." In addition. the organisers have arranged a special panel of prospective Parliamentary candidates of the three main parties to answer questions.
Those wishing to attend should send a booking fee 9f 50p to: Cyrenians, 13 Wincheap, Canterbury, Kent.
Posters on the London Underground are proclaiming that. from today, a new centre of "Message," the interdenominational telephone •service, has been established at Merton, in south-west London. There are three others round London at Barnet in the north-west, Redbridge in the north-cast and Eltham in the south-east.
The poster, designed by John Haynes of Coventry. shows a diagrammatic map of London giving the four telephone numbers with the caption: "Dial your nearest number and listen for a Christian Message." There are now 19 "Message" centres in this country from Newcastle to Jersey. and more than 130,000 calls were made last year. Miss Norah Coggan, of Sevenoaks, Kent, who is the national co-ordinator, said last week: "As each caller dials, a recorded message is received,
I conveying some Christian thought from the Bible, in a sincere and relevant way that meets the needs of modern man.
"It is a service that can be run as part of a parish or area ministry. as it does not demand a manned telephone. The telephone can well he installed in any home in the area, and the tape changed daily by the resident." Miss Coggan. who lives at 47 The Drive, Sevenoaks (Tel. 0732 53164) will be glad to give further information.
Is. of Man
The National Council for Civil Liberties publishes today a book called "Against Birching: Judicial Corporal Punishment in the Isle of Man," written by Angela Kncale, It is a welldocumented condemnation of birchings and canings; hut, having no access to official records, Angela Kncale and her friends were forced to search through the files or the island's newspapers, to piece together the evidence.
Reaction in the island to their efforts was swift and predictable. "We were troublemakers. We were not Manx. We had no right to interfere," writes Angela Kneale.
She says that those who.have campaigned for the abolition of barbaric forms of punishment all over the world have found usually that they are campaigning against prejudices and misinformation: in the Isle of Man, for instance, there are several widely held myths that birching is an effective deterrent: that it is almost always inflicted for crimes of violence; that it is never given to first offenders.
None is true, as this book emphatically proves. Out of 13 crimes described as violent for which juveniles have been birched, only nine survive close scrutiny. The author goes on to point out that "all forms of corporal punishment are fraught with danger.
"On the purely physical plane. the little research it has been possible to carry out has unearthed a young man who was birched in spite of a history of epilepsy; a boy who had attempted suicide two days before being birched: and one youth who was birched before a severe, but hard to detect ab.dorninal disease was discovered."
It is only since 1970 that the right to appeal a birching order has been made known, but several more birchings have occurred, either because the defendant genuinely preferred to get it over and done with. or on the advice of counsel. But it is Miss Kneale's contention that all birchings, even those when the defendants or their guardians waived the right to appeal, may have been illegal. She points out that judicial corporal punishment is not tolerated in any other part of Europe or indeed in the United Kingdom itself (with the exception of the Channel Islands), and this is a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted and proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations without a dissenting vote.
The .book may he obtained for 80p from N,C.C.L. at 186 King's Cross Road. London. WC.I, and most booksellers.
Prince Philip will present the 1974 award of the Templeton Foundation Prize for Progress. in Religion at Windsor Castle on Wednesday, April 10, it was announced this week.
The Templeton Prize, which was inaugurated in 1972, was last year awarded to Mother Teresa of Calcutta. This year's recipient will be announced late in February or early in March. The panel of nine judges is now considering the nominations.
The prize is aimed at recognising those who are making a distinctive contribution to the progress of religion. It carries with it £34,000 each year and is open to people of the world's major religions.
Mr. John Templeton, who sponsored the prize, said: "This is.not a prize for religion. It is a prize Fur progress focusing attention on people and projects not yet widely known . . . It seeks not a unity or denominations or a unity of world religions, but rather seeks to encourage understanding of the benefits of diversity." The judges for the prize are: The Rev. Dr. Eugene Carson Blake, former General Secretary of the World Council of Churches; Professor Suniti Kumar Chatterji, National Professor of' India in the Humanities: Sir Muhammad Zafrulla Khan, President of the International Court of Justice, Dr. Margaretha Klompe, former Minister of Cultural Affairs in the Dutch Government: The Rev. Dr. James McCord, President of Princeton Theological Seminary, New Jersey: Sir Alan Mocatta, Judge of the High Court in England: Abbot Kosho Ohtani, Chief Monk of the Higashi liongwanji Temple, Japan: Lord Thurlow, former Governor of the Bahamas. and the Anglican Bishop of Worcester, the Rt. Rev. R. W. Woods.
Fr. Congar's visit
o mark the 700th anniversary of the death of St. Thomas Aquinas, who was a Dominican friar. the English Dominicans have invited Fr. Yves Conger, 0.P., the French Dominican theologian. to lecture in Oxford and Cambridge under the -auspices of the universities' theological faculties.
Fr. Conger, one of the architects of the Second Vatican Council and a pioneer in the ecumenical movement. will give public lectures on "St. Thomas Aquinas and the Spirit of Ecumenism" at the Divinity School. St, John's Street. Cambridge, on Monday at 5 p tn., and at Rlackfriars. St. Giles'. Oxford. on Tuesday at 5
Music in Liverpool
This month's music in Liverpool's Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King will include the second concert by the Liverpool Schools' Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Michael Bush, and an organ recital by Jacques Dussouil, of Notre Dame de Royan.
The schools orchestra, which is led by Stanley Gill, Is drawn from the Liverpool Schodls' Senior Orchestra and some of their tutors. The soloist at their concert, in the Crypt West Chapel on February 6 at 7.30 p.m., will be Mair Jones (harp). Also taking part will be the Junior Choir of Mary Help of Christians High School.
The programme will include Petite Symphonic for Wind Instruments by Gounod (directed by Thomas Gilbert); Harp Concerto in Bb Op. 4, No. 6, by Handel; and The History of the Flood by Gordon Crosse. for children's voices and harp. (Fhst performance in Liverpool.)
M. Dussouifs recital will he on February 21 at 7.30 p.m. in the Cathedral. His programme 11, ill include Couperin: Offer
toire sur les Grands Jeux; Baal: Passacaglia in C minor; Franck: Choral in B minor; Main: Litanies.
M, Dussouil is the organist of Notre Dame de Royan and also the director of its choir. He has been to Liverpool several times with the choir, and the Metropolitan Cathedral Choir has visited Notre Dame de Royan.
Caring in Madras
Sister Mar) Ciarson, who has started more than 17 homes and blocks of flats for old people in the South of England, is opening her first overseas centre in Madras, India, later this year.
The centre will help care for and nurse poor people and a secretarial school might be opened there to provide income for the project, said Sister Garson. Planning has not yet been completed, nor funds assured. but the scheme is going ahead. "It's either stupidity or faith." she said.
Sister Garson, who is visiting Madras this week, first became interested in India through correspondence with a Salesian brother there and later an,-Indian sister joined the Order she founded, the Sisters of Our Lady of Grace and Compassion. She was invited to open a centre bY Bishop Anthony Muthu of Yellore. The area chosen is a missionary parish, which has only had a Church for two years. Sister Garson's activities in this country have not. however. slowed down. A London committee is planning the opening of an old people's home in Ealing.