Page 2, 23rd January 1959

23rd January 1959
Page 2
Page 2, 23rd January 1959 — Too Few Priests

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Organisations: His Church, Church of Christ


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Too Few Priests

SIR,-The letter from the pen of "Senex" priests is not the cause of leakage in this surprising, to say the least of it.

I am sure he is familiar with the that shortage of country is rather

words: " Faith comes from hearing . . . and how can they hear without a preacher." I need not quote the authorship of these words-it is known to all Catholics.

If faith comes from hearing the word of God from the accredited ministers of the Church of Christ, it is surely not incorrect to hold that the preservation of the faith is closely linked with hearing continuously the doctrine of Christ as expounded by the ministers of His Church. To attribute the leakage (viewed as a general drift of so many away from religion) to any other cause is surely erroneous.

"Senex" gives us ways and means for preserving the faith understanding the liturgy of the Mass and taking an active part in the life of the Church, a commentary on the Mass, etc. Surely these points are unintelligible without a priest to say the Mass. and very often One is necessary to give a proper commentary on the Mass Does "Senex" not realize that. if there is a shortage of priests, these requisites will necessarily be lacking to many of the faithful?

"Senex" then stresses the use of the laity in responsible Catholic Action. We arc all aware how useful such action can be and what great advantages are attached to a living Catholic Action movement in a parish. I hope that "Senex" does not think that these have been neglected in the parish which was subject matter of the article in the "contemporary" paper.

How easy it is to suggest certain measures to prevent the growth of leakage, as "Scnex" does, when actual contact with the circumstances of an abnormally high leakage would give an entirely different conclusion.

Perhaps "Senex" can picture to himself a parish with two large towns at either end. with no church. no chapel, no hall, no school. where not more than a few of the thousand Catholics ever got more than a state school religious education. Thc two towns in this parish are not new towns they are long established.

It is in such circumstances that We can expect a flood-tide of defections from the Church. when so much is entrusted to one priest. More priests could change all that, and it would make it possible to bring the Gospel to those lapsed Catholics, many of them baptized in the Church hut having grown up without a spark of any religious instruction.

Faith would come to them ex auditu ("from hearing"), but how can they hear without a preacher?

"Homo Quidem" SSI R,-I have been following the correspondence in your paper about the leakage of young Catholics from the church and am of the opinion that the laity are, in some part at least, to blame.

In many parishes, there are to be found Catholic organisations. the activities and even the very existence of which are veiled in obscurity. They carry out much good work, on both the spiritual and the temporal plane. but in too limited a sphere. dealing as they do with only a small proportion of the parishioners.

These same parishes contain young people who, from shyness or self-consciousness, will not make enquiries about these societies and take the initial plunge on their own. Others are at non-Catholic schools and, on being encouraged by their friend to join a non-Catholic organisation, do so from lack of knowledge about Catholic activities and thus drift slowly from the Church.

If members of Catholic organisations would publish details of their particular activities and would moreover take it upon themselves to learn from their parish priest the names and addresses of eligible people and to contact them. whenever possible in person, offering to take them to a meeting, many more people would undoubtedly be willing to take part in the organisation's activities and through it learn to value their Faith.


Would there not be more interest in lay activity and co-operation with the parish if a stronger community sense were evoked by community worship, instead of the present silent one and one and one worship?-EnnoR, "C.H."

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