ONCE sufficient experience is gained, the responsibility for religious education would be shifted from teachers to parents. And the Hierarchy is to issue a statement 'before Christmas' giving some guidance to Catholics on public issues affecting the Christian conscience. These were the two main points which emerged from the fourth meeting of the Westminster Pastoral Council held last Saturday at St. Vincent's Convent. About 120 people attended, and Auxiliary Bishops Butler, Mahon and Guazzelli shared the platform under Cardinal Heenan.
The question of guidance had been brought up at a previous meeting, when the Cardinal had urged people to write to him on any topic which they felt to be a matter of conscience. As a result he had received hundreds of letters; a fully comprehensive statement was thus impossible, but one 'of practical length' would be issued soon, and further statements made as and when required. Among various schemes reported to the Council was the work of Fr. Cronin and Sr. Gemma in educating parents to give religious instruction to their children—especially those in non-Catholic schools. They said that although lip-service is paid to the fact that the primary obligation rests with the parents to instruct their children, this aspect has not been stressed enough.
WHOLE DIOCESE Cardinal Heenan emphasised that once sufficient experience had been gained, the shirt in emphasis from teacher back to parent would be extended to the whole diocese.
Bishop Guazzelli described the activities in Pope John House, Poplar, where he lives with four other priests in a Group Ministry. They act as a Task Force, selecting a particular street, and then carry out a three-week programme.
Week 1: Sisters visit every house in the street.
Week 2: The priests make similar visits.
Week 3: A family Mass is said in one of the houses, to which all the 'street is invited.
Monmouthshire singing rally
ARALLY to promote congregational singing in English at Mass was held an Saturday at St. David's Church, Pontnewydd, Monmouthshire. It was organised by the Commission for the Promotion of Church Music in the archdiocese of Cardiff, in conjunction with the Newport and District branch of the Church Music Association.
The singers were St. Mary's Girls' Choir, Newport; St. Michael's Boys' Choir, Newport; St. Basil's Girls' Choir, Rogerstone; St. Joseph's Junior and Senior High Schools, St. Mary's Junior School, Newport, and the Sisters of Llantarnum Abbey. These were interspersed with community hymn singing by choirs and congregations from other Monmouthshire parishes. The Pastoral Council also discussed the Bishops' Statement on First Confession and Communion. The Cardinal made it clear that although the Bishops thought that First Confession should come first, the statement explicitly gave parents the right to delay their child's First Confession. But he made the following points:
(1) There is danger in extending the age for Confession too long. In Holland, where this had been done, he thought it probably true to say that Confession had eventually disappeared.'
(2) As a priest he did not find that the average child was in any way afraid of Confession. There were obviously special cases.
(3) Everyone knew from their own experience "the shock it is in adolescence to be faced with these great temptations. I do not believe," the. Cardinal said, "that it is a fair imposition suddenly at that
point . . to say 'now you must come into the Confessional'." This was not theology but psychology, and a young person already familiar with the ritual would find it easier to approach the Sacrament.
The general opinion of the Council was that the Bishops: Statement was helpful as a first step, and it was now up to everyone to give a good deal of thought to it before proceeding with care.
Award to college principal
SQISTER MARY BENIG, NUS. Principal of Coloma College, the teacher training college run by the Ladies of Mary at Wickham Court, West Wickham, Kent, has been presented with the cross Pro Ecelesia et Ponlefice.
The presentation was made by Mgr. Charles Henderson, Vicar General of the Southwark Diocese, at a Mass of. thanksgiving in the college chapel.
Catenian president honoured by Pope
MR. ALEX CARUS, president of the Catenian Association's Blackburn Circle, and Grand President of the association in 1958-59, has been made a Knight of the Equestrian Order of St. Sylvester by Pope Paul.
The announcement was made by Mgr. Charles Egan, Vicar General of the Salford Diocese, at a banquet to celebrate the diamond jubilee of the Blackburn Circle. Mr. Carus founded two circles in Rhodesia when he was Grand President.