Father Woodlock's plain words in special interview The nature of the response to the unhesitating affirmation that Britain is growing heathen and must be made Christian again is proved by the fact that " The Times " leader, " Religion and the National Life," has had to be reprinted six times.
Its sales have already exceeded those of any previous "Times" reprint. The appeal has been supported every day by many letters to that newspaper.
No Catholic is among those whose letters have been published.
In a sermon in Farm Street Church last Sunday, Fr. Woodlock, S.J., discussed the article and sternly denounced the heathen upbringing of Britain's youth.
He appealed—as did this paper last week—for the wide dissemination of the article, especially among public bodies.
In a special interview with the CATHOLIC HERALD, printed below, the famous Jesuit states that " the great masses are almost untouched by Catholic Action and only contribute a very small proportion of converts." He discloses the fact that a large majority of conversions come from the Church of England.
The problem of the Conversion of England is further discussed this week in our Correspondence Page, in which three priests contribute important letters.
An article by the Editor on the failure of Catholicity to live up to the Social Encyclicals and Pastorals appears on page 4.
"DEGRADATION IN MORAL STANDARDS"
—says Fr. Woodlock
By a Staff Reporter " When I said in the pulpit last Sunday that Our Lord Jesus Christ was less of a reality to the children than Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck I was not indulging in journalistic jargon to make an effect," Fr. Woodlock told a C.H. interviewer. "I was calmly stating a deplorable fact."
I found the famous Jesuit Father, appropriately enough, reading passages from Mr C. E. M. Joad's latest book, Philosophy for Our Times. "For the last ten years," he told me, "I have made it part of my business to explore odd channels of information so as to diagnose the attitude of this generation to Christianity.
"Now Mr Joad is a valuable witness because he is a professor of philosophy at London University, and in his vocation he is in touch with many intelligent young students.
100 Per Cent. Atheists
" What does he find? " Fr. Woodlock consulted some notes.
" An enquiry into the religious beliefs of two of his philosophy classes revealed them to be 100 per cent. atheists." "Now, look at this "-he turned the pages of Joad's book--" page 12. Here we are, " There has grown to maturity a generation which is to all intents and purposes without religious belief. To say that, as a result, life has no point and the universe no purpose would be true, but it would not be the most important truth. More important is the fact that to the present generation it is a matter of no interest whether life has a point, the universe has a purpose, or not.'
"I have quite a number of books, bought in the last ten years, which definitely describe the present state of affairs as a crisis for Christianity."
Fr. Woodlock quoted J. H. Tuckwell in the Faith of the Future: "' At present religious darkness has settled over our land deeper, we believe, than anything ever known before in our history.' " And the Bishop of Chelmsford: " ' I believe the tide of faith to be still running out. Britain is dissatisfied and disillusioned because it has lost God. A revival of religion was never more necessary than to-day.'"
" The Times," went on Fr. Woodlock, " is horrified at the ' discovery ' of the religious ignorance of the elementary schoolchildren. But the discovery ' that the state of mind of the average soldier
in the Great 'War—the father of the child of to-day—was equally one of abysmal ignorance of Christian fundamentals was plain for all to see in a book, The Army of Religion, published as long ago as 1916.
'' The words surprising,' appalling,' ' abysmal ' were all used to describe the ignorance of the soldier of 1914-18; and in this practically all the witnesses are unanimous.
" The difficulty in any attempt to get going a national movement in regard to education is that a very large proportion of adults neither believe nor are interested in the Christian faith.
" The preaching of the full doctrine of the Incarnation is hardly practical politics to-day. But it would be something if the children could even be made familiar with the actual Gospel record Of Our Lord's life."
The Conversion of England
Fr. Woodlock then referred to the CATHOLIC HERALD correspondence on the Conversion of England.
" This is my contribution to your admirable enquiry regarding the chances of England's conversion," said Fr. Woodlock. " My experience is that the great masses are almost untouched by Catholic Action and contribute a very small proportion of converts. " Some years ago I was allowed to examine the official records of conversions to Catholicism in England at Westminster.
"At that time out of some 1,45 conversions, 1,147 came from the Church of England. Only 94 had had previously no religion at all. The rest belonged to various denominations. "Now what can be done for the millions unattached to any Protestant denomination?
" In the first place let our apologists and evidence guilds get beneath Protestant controversy and get down to fundamentals.
" We must debunk those superficial slogans such as: Science has destroyed the Christian creed '; ' No modern mind can accept the idea of the supernatural '; 'Belief in miracles has been exploded.' " Really active societies such as the Legion of Mary and the Grail, who are inflamed with zeal for the spreading of Christ's Kingdom, may be able to help by the fearless distribution of C.T.S. leaflets or the publications of the League for God.
"They might also help in the CATHOLIC HERALD campaign for the distribution of The Times' leader on ` Religion and the National Life.'
" I have acquired a great deal of evidence that the ignorance of the Christian fundamentals of the average public schoolboy and secondary schoolboy is as great as that of the elementary schoolchildren, " The moral chaos of this generation— you will find plenty of evidence for it in Joad's book—is closely connected with
ignorance of Christ. Agnosticism as to God's authority and the general attitude of amorality which is characteristic of our age is a new thing in civilisation.
" A chaplain and Fellow of an Oxford college told me:
" 'I am certain that most boys come up to the university with much clearer information on the pagan gods than on the infinitely more important and historical figures of the Christian story.'
" This amorality, combined with the admitted moral dangers confronting young people in war-time, will inevitably cause a grave degradation in moral standards."
Fr. Woodlock opened Philosophy for Our Times again. " 'Here, then, is an age without belief in religion, without standards in morals, without convictions in politics, without values in art. I doubt if there has ever been an age which has been so completely without standard or values.'
" There you have it," said Fr. Woodlock.