WESTMINSTER CATHE" ORAL was this week described in• a prominently displayed letter in The Times as -not only the chief Roman Catholic church in the country, but one of London's most significant achievements in architecture."
The signatories to the letter. who include Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, 0.M., Sir John Rothenstein, Director of the Tate Gallery, Sir Kenneth Clark, Henry Moore, the sculptor, and Graham Greene, describe the cathedral as "a national monument."
The letter criticised the artistic nature of the works at present being undertaken within the cathedral, and stated that "the whole problem of the interior decoration calls for the most careful reconsideration at this juncture in order to achieve the grandeur of conception in its decoration which is inherent in Bentley's magnificent design and which the beauty of the building demands."
In the letter reference is made to the money now being asked of the public to meet the present plans, but the signatories do not allude to the financial problems involved in carrying out in all their grandeur the conception of the cathedral's architect, Bentley.
In a letter published next morning, Mgr. Collingwood. the cathedral administrator. stated that Cardinal Griffin had authorised him some time ago "to gather together a group of specialists" to advise on the decoration and adornment of the cathedral fabric.
A cathedral spokesman, speaking to THE CATHOLIC HERALD, said : "The consultative body referred to in Mgr. Collingwood's letter is in process of formation and has been for some time, but it has not vet reached a stage where any further announcement about it can be made."
C.M.A.C. GOES TO DOCKLAND
Two new centres opened
A new sub-centre of the Catholic Marriage Advisory Council was opened yesterday at the Holy Child Settlement, 14 Woodstock Terrace, East India Dock Road. London.
A councillor will now be on duty every Thursday from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
Another sub-centre has been opened at the Bird-in-the-Bush Infant Welfare Centre. 616 Old Kent Road, S.E. London, where a councillor will attend every Tuesday from 6 to 8 p.m.
The London Centre at 38-39 Parliament Street is open Monday to Thursday from 930 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Friday from 9.30 a.m. until 6 p.m.
300 HAPPY MEETINGS
During the past six years 300 Catholic marriages have developed out of friendships brought about by the Catholic Introductions Bureau.
The society was founded with the approval of Cardinal Griffin to foster Catholic marriages, Details may be obtained from the secretary at 24 Telford Avenue, London, S.W.2.
Mossend (Lanarkshire) Concert Party will travel to Corby at the New Year to give a "three-night stand" specially for the people of the Northamptonshire steel town, most of whom arc Scots Catholics who settled there during the depression years in the Scottish industrial midlands.
The concert party—founded by the Mossend Catholic Young Men's Society, and in existence for more than 20 years—has given hundreds of shows for church funds and other charitable aims.
26,840 native priests in the missions
(IF the 26,840 Catholic clergy "L' working in the foreign missions of the world in 1951, approximately two-fifths were native priests.
This striking fact the figures
are 11,139 native clergy to 15,701 foreign priests—is given in -The Catholic Church and the Race Question," a booklet just published by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco). The author is a French Dominican, Fr. Yves M. J. Conger.
Commenting on these figures, Fr. Conger says: "It is thus clear that, both in doctrine and in practice, the Church recognises the facts of 'race': hut so far as the Church is concerned, race is no more a reason for religious discrimination than it is a basis for the imposition of uniformity.** After restating the reasons for the Church's opposition to the principle of racialism, Fr. Cougar deals with some recent and current examples of racial questions and the Church's attitude towards them.
‘What do I claim ?'
Christians, he says, could not remain silent and indifferent to the South African policy of apartheid, and he notes that not all the pastors of Dr. Malan's own Dutch Reformed Church of South Africa support it.
The booklet gives the substance of the remarkable pastoral letter of the Catholic Bishops of South Africa in May, 1952, as indicating the humane and realistic approach of the Church to this burning African issue.
Evidence that the Church's interest in such matters is not a new and opportunist one comes in the section dealing with the Negro problem in America.
As long ago as IR91, Archbishop Ireland of St. Paul said in an address on the anniversary of the Act of Emancipation :
"What do I claim for the black man? That which I claim for the white man, neither more nor less. I would blot out the colour tine. White men have their estrangements, They separate on lines of wealth, of intelligence, of culture, of ancestry • . But let there be no barrier -against mere colour . . . Let the Negro be our equal in the enjoyment of all political rights of the citizen."
That that goal is still a long way from achievement in some States is shown by the fact that in Pennsylvania, in 1951, only two per cent. of beds in hospitals were allocated to Negroes, though they represented II per cent. of the population.
For years there was a lack of coloured clergy in America. Only 14 Negro priests were ordained between 1854 and 1934, while as late as 1950 the total number in service was only 33.
"Today, however, the number being called is substantial." says Pr. Conger. "and it is anticipated that there will be 1,000 coloured priests by 1960."
In his section dealing with the Church and Nazi racialism and modern anti-Semitism, the author gives a valuable list of 18 major documents and acts against the Nazis' race theories and practices. The first is dated as early as February, 1951— so rebutting the anti-Catholic sneer that the Church began to speak out against the Nazis only when their defeat was assured.
"The Catholic protest against antiSemitism is definite, united and absolute." he says.
The Church's sane approach to racialism is summed up in the concluding chapter as combining "healthy realism and untainted idealism."
*"The Catholtc Church and the Race Question." obtainable from H.M. Stationery Office, Kingsway. London, W.C.2, price 21-.