"THE END OF OUR SCHOOLS
—PROPHESIES BISHOP MARSHALL
Continued from page one
We Ask for Equality
Bishop Marshall at the outset said no consideration, no disappointment, would cause Catholics to swerve from their loyalty in time of war. " In every vicissitude of this country until its glorious victory we Catholics will stand side by side with the Government of the country." (Cheers.) "I maintain," continued the Bishop, " that the implication of the White Paper can only end in one thing. That is that your schools shall be slowly but surely extinguished. It does not propose to take our schools' position by assault; it is going to take them by attrition, by administra(ion, until they have lost all that our fathers worked for."
He went on : " The White Paper proposes to reorganise the schools of the country. There shall be primary schools for all children from five to eleven, and there shall be senior schools or secondary schools for children tram eleven to sixteen. Now how does that affect us?
" We have all a school, as you know; schools we have struggled for, schools that we have made much sacrifice for From these schools all the children of eleven will be moved. If those children are moved we shall have to build senior schools, but what of the schools that remain ? They will be converted into primary schools and we will have to alter those schools in such a manner that we shall have to build a hall, a medical inspection room, heated rooms for the children's clinics, and spacious playgrounds.
" Admirable WHO PAYS?
" We Catholics are delighted, but we as ourselves, who is going to bear the cost ?
" We cannot pay the rent for this huge educational reorganisation and at the same time put our hands into our pockets and pay for the huge costly scheme of reconstruction.
" The Government knows perfectly well that we cannot pay and it makes an offer to the managements of voluntary schools by which it proposes to assist them to reorganise these schools. Now if," continued his Lordship, " the Government proposes to reorganise our schools we would take it that any financial help which would be forthcoming would conic to us independently of our religion. In other words, there should be no religious inequality. In the giving of the grant there must be no religious inequality." (Cheers.) Its the eyes ot the Government one citizen should be as good as anothei, so far as his religion was concerned, the Bishop went on.
In the giving of money for public funds there should be no discrimination between one religion and another. The Government should assist all impartially and show just as much justice to one as to another, " We Catholics maintain that the State should show as much justice to the Jewish child as to the Catholic child; should show as much justice to the Catholic child as to the Church of England child, and it should show as much justice to the Noncontormist child as to the rest." (Cheers.) THAT IS EQUALITY " That, in my opinion, is religious equality."
There was a minority who could not accept the Agreed Syllabus. They, the minority as opposed to Anglicans or Nonconformists, stood out for their right to educate their children according to their beliefs.
They would say to the Government : " We cannot accept your 100 per cene grant offered provided we accept your Agreed Syllabus," and the Government would reply: " We did not expect you to accept it," But a fairer Government reply would be: " We know you pay rates and taxes as other people do; we know your sons and daugnters have gone to the wars and shed their blood as other people do." But what in ellect they said was: " If you want to teach your sons and daughters the Catholic laid, in your schools we will not give you the 100 per cent.: we will only give you fifty per cent." The Bisnop asked: " Does that offer stand with equality of religion ?" (Cries of " No 1") " We have borne the burden of our schools for many years," he continued, " and the reorganisalion which the Government proposes to make by Statute will cost us dearly. In our opinion it will cost us £56 per child for every child up to eleven and £125 per child for our senior children. We have made sacrifices in the past. We were conscious that we were treated fairly, but to-day when the Government wants to place upon us the obligation which is completely beyond our means we have to show that we cannot go any further: we refuse to go any further." (Cheers and applause.) " Poor as it is. the Catholic elementary school can deliver the goods."
Our Enemy—Ignorance •
Commander Bower, R.N., M.P. (Cleveland), was introduced as "father of seven Catholic children, all of whom have attended Catholic elementary schools." His speech was brisk and forthright.
" Although we Catholics may be the minority, we are the greatest worshipping community of the whole country." he said. " Ours are not the empty churches or the empty cradles, thank God.
" I have interviewed the President of the Board of Education and I am sorry to say that in high places it is being put about that the Catholic laity are not properly informed about the splen did advantages they are going to receive from this White Paper and that Catholic speakets have been misinforming the general public. The average Catholic knows what these proposals mean.
" If Mr. Butler or anybody else in this country thinks that we are misinformed they are quite wrong. If they think Catholics want anything which other people have not got they are wrong. We realise to the full the virtues of this White Paper and the great advance in education which it means. But so far as we are concerned we not only want the splendid advantages which are offered. We want the even more splendid advantages which thc other fellow has already got. We know exactly what we want and although we may have to light for years, we shall get it." (Applause.) " The principal enemy we arc up against is not the handful of ' No Popery ' men, a handful of malicious individuals; our enemy is apathy and ignorance, especially ignorance.
" Another main difficulty is the National Union of Teachers. They are not friendly to us because they have got their eye on the jobs. They object to the strength and the headmasterships of our schools being reserved for Catholics. They are a very strong organisation, but I do not want to quarrel with them. Catholics insist that Christianity must shine out of the lives of its teachets, that the schools must have a Catholic atmosphere and that everything must be taught from a Catholic angle. Catholics pay twice fo, education at present, and I insist that our schools should receive exactly thr same support as State schools as their right. Our schools which have been built by the pennies of the poor would, if we consented to them being controlled, be filched from us and I for one would rather our children be brought up unlettered and that I should suffer in gaol than consent to their being sent to such schools."
Commander Bower added: " If we are not careful we shall get ourselves into a Nazi-like frame of mind where children are held to belong to the State. We, as Catholics, can never have that. We do not seek to destroy the Government's plan but we want justice. My advice to Mr. Butler is ' Drop the Bill until after the war '." (Cheers.) DR. HEENAN
Be Strictly Fair Dr. J. C. Heenan said : " Nobody is more anxious than the Catholic to avoid dismal controversy. Nothing is further from our desires than to seem anxious to wreck these admirable plans for educational reconstruction by introducing religious controversy. It is our desire, and the whole history of the Church of God bears witness to our fixity of purpose, to work for improved education for all citizens of this country and of the world. If controversy has unhappily become necessary it is not because we wish to obstruct progress in education either for our children or for the children of our nonCatholic friends. But became there is an attempt — and however good its intention, I must say a misguided attempt—to make the price of improved secular instruction the sacrifice of the religious education of our children, Much as we dislike controversy, it has been forced upon us.
"I make this plea to ail Catholics that in our controversy we shall he strictly fair and scrupulously honest. Let us not ascribe to our Opponents bad motives of which they are not guilty. Let us not call our opponents enemies simply because they do not share our views, but let us in a democratic manner voice our views, keeping always to facts and never allowing anger to mar the sober statement of our just cause.
" I wish to point out to you that in the House of Commons Mr. Butler has uttered a sentence which makes nonsense of all those elevated motives lot which we in this country have pledged our lives—the four freedoms, said Fr. Heenan. T have read his statement time after time and with each rearFne the wonder grows that any responsible Minister could have given voice to such sentiments in the year 1943. Mr. Butler said : ' I have not been able to concede the full demand of those who desire complete liberty of conscience.'
" I want you to ponder this sentence, for it is at once the answer to those who complain that Catholics intend to fight this issue and at the same time a terrible indictment of any Catholic who might be tempted to surrender. If this responsible Minister understands that we are fighting for liberty of conscience. then in God's name let us fight if necessary to the death. " But I want to give you the sentence immediately preceding the startling phrase I have quoted. .
' If we were to give one hundred per cent. to denominational schools with the accompanying conditions of control . . . we should have alienated beyond recall certain partners in the field of education who are indispensable, namely, the authorities, the Free Churches and the teachers.'
" So the reason why freedom of conscience is to be denied to a large minority of His Majesty's loyal subjects is that to have done otherwise would have alienated the authorities, the Free Churches and the teachers. In a democracy the local authorities are the servants and not the masters of the burgesses. I believe that no Free Church minister can be at ease in his pulpit while it is being said that his church is one of the obstacles to complete liberty of conscience for other Christians."
Dr. Heenan recalled a recent speech of Sir Frederick Mender, Secretary of the National Union of Teachers. Sir Frederick was heard to say: " You have been warned. Unless you Catholics are careful' what you say, you will cause such a wave of feeling in this country that all non-provided schools may be swept away altogether." (Laughter and cries of " Shame.") Said Dr. Heenan: " The last way to treat Catholic parents is to threaten them. It is not encouraging to be told by the leader of those whose duty it is to take the place of parents that if we are too insistent on the rights of Catholic parents and children we shall be swept away. That kind of approach may make a great impression in Nurearburg but it strikes the wrong note in Manchester."
He Believes in Fighting
Mr. Jack Donovan, of the Transport Workers' Union, said the White Paper was designed to give local authorities the power to close Catholic schools or voluntary schools where they thought fit. " What are we going to do?" he asked, and the gathering cried back; " Fight "I