SIR,-As my letter in your issue of March 23, referring to the closing down
of certain local branches of the Catholic Parent movement, was written from actual knowledge of events, and so the cases concerned are personally known to me, I think I can answer the question asked by Fr. Paul Crane, Si.
Those persons concerned, whose
mentality Fr. Crane describes as " catacomb," saw in the C.P.A. (or C.P.E.A.) the rise of something which, though for the moment a necessary weapon with which to oppose the threat to the existence of our schools, was nevertheless not to be encouraged as a permanent thing. It has, therefore, in their view, had its day, and should now be allowed, nay, advised, to die gracefully and quietly and be buried with certain other movements which the older generation of Catholics wot of. They fail to realise that the Education Act, because it seemed to threaten their children, was merely the immediate or accidental cause of the rise of the Parent movement. Almost any other piece of modern anti-Christian legislation should justifiably have had the same effect. The education crisis was only the spark that set the tinder afire.
Fr. Crane's suggestion of positive
reconstructive effort is timely, and while I have no brief to speak for these parts. I can assure him that the Councils upahere, working with their clergy, have prepared and issued very practical memoranda on these lines, copies of which I have sent to Fr. Crane hy post. May I also assure him that any meeting which I am privileged to address has always a very conspicuous Social Study stall, to which serious reference is made in the address.
Finally, in reply to my friend, Mr, Donnelly, I fail to see anything discouraging in enumerating the evils to be watched and the steps to be taken. I see no point in emulating the ostrich, and division of labour in the form of sub-committees is surely the secret of enthusiasm in the Catholic Parent moVement. The more bees busy the better C. Howlsoe.
Ste.-May I be allowed to reply to Mr. P. J. Conroy's letter of March 23 in which he accused me of publicly slandering the Salford Diocesan C.P.E.A. committee because I criticised it, condemned me as irresponsible because I chose publicity for my remarks instead of making them through the usual channel, and did his best to belittle me by jumping on my admission that until I started to read the Catholic press (I did not say how long ago) I never imagined a Catholic angle on anything, but in which he said nothing to allay my anxiety that all is not well with the organisation and activity of C.P.E.A.
I dislike his use of the word " slander " and would like him to withdraw it unless he can prove both malice and false statement.
With regard to my departure from the usual channel, the reaction to my letter leads me to think there is an air of complacency at Salford and that my suggestion and criticism would have been resented no matter how I made them. Also I am by no means sure that it is not in the best interest of the Association that wider publicity should be given to criticisms and expressions of dissatisfaction from members so that answers can be made and causes removed. Then again, perhaps it is too much to hope for normal procedure to be followed when part of the machinery does not appear to be functioning. I refer to the Diocesan Committee (not Executive Council) which understand had not met for many months up to the time I wrote.
In stating how I personalty first became interested in Catholic Action, however irrelevant it might have appeared, I had hoped to draw attention to the urgent need of reading matter on C.P.E.A. work if a really conscious and well-instructed membership ie desired. It is largely to the Catholic press that credit must be given for having kept interest in C.P.E.A. alive. Unfortunately, however, Catholic newspapers and periodicals reach comparatively few homes, hence the need for C.P.E.A. to take some action not only to maintain interest but to provide information and instruction on the subjects which it eXpects its members to take in hand. I know there are difficulties-paper restriction for onehut I am confident much more could have been done: where there is a will there is a way. Training .and study classes in each district might meet the need temporarily, providing they all work to one syllabus and deal with first things first. And with regard to priorities should we not now be dealing with education-how to secure the maximum In the administration of the new Act. or has the ordinary branch member nothing further to do? Many people would like to know.
The task of educating and training members is a full-sized one I admit, bin it will have to be tackled systematically and with as little delay as possible if C.P.E.A, is to be a movement and-not a monument to one lost battle.