Page 3, 26th November 1971

26th November 1971
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Page 3, 26th November 1971 — Focus on Facts

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Locations: Kingston, London, Liverpool


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Focus on Facts

and People

Carving out family tradition

BESIDES representing the third generation of his family to be a member of the 200-strong Royal Society of British Sculptors, Michael Clark last week became the first Catholic ever elected to the Presidency of the Society.

Besides the normal ceremonial duties, the post involves being chief administrative officer of the Society and chairing the ruling council. Term of office is one year, and maximum service as president is for five years. Michael Clark was educated at the Dominican school at Laxton, Leicestershire, and the Chelsea School of Art — although the rudiments of sculpture were obviously learned in the workshop of his father, Philip Clark.

At his inaugural dinner at Grocer's Hall in the City of London last week, the new president recalled that his grandfather, Robert Lindsey Clark, was elected to the Society in 1911 and the family could accordingly look back to 60 years' collective membcrship.

Michael Clark is 52 and has eight children. During the war he served as a captain in the Cameronian Scottish Rifles.

Among examples of his work are the statue of the Assurnption above the high altar at Aylesford, the frieze over the

. West door of Westminster Abbey commemorating its 900th anniversary, and the restoration of the shrine of the Sacred Heart in the Jesuit Church at Wimbledon.

Auxiliary as 'understudy'

CONFIRMATION candidates at the Our Lady of Grace parish in South-East London were surprised recently when they found that the Sacrament was being administered by Bishop Brewer, Auxiliary of Shrewsbury.

Bishop Brewer, who had been staying at Archbishop's House, Southwark, while attending the recent ,hierarchy meeting to consider the results of the Rome Synod, acted as "understudy" for his host at short notice. Archbishop Cowderoy, aged 66, who has headed the Southwark See for 22 years, had been slightly injured in a fall.

Southwark, the third most populous archdiocese in the country, is the only one without an auxiliary. Across the river, Westminster, which is larger, and whose archbishop chairs the hierarchy of England and Wales, has four bishops—Cardinal Heenan and three auxiliaries, Bishops Butler, Mahon and Guazzelli.

Liverpool, the largest See of all, has three bishops—Archbishop Beck and two auxiliaries, Bishops Gray and Harris.

Bishop tilts at idols

NTEVER averse to con1.1 troversial statements, Bishop Hugh Montefiore, the Anglican Bishop of Kingston, has been tilting at some of our idols. In the fifth Rutherford Lecture, "Doom or Deliverance?" given at Central London Polyteohnic last week, he questioned five popular assumptions.

These were that everyone was entitled to a rising standard of material living; that there was no limit to this standard of living which we could achieve; that man, through his scientific and technological know-how, could survive any crisis; that a rising standard of living meant greater happiness, and that the chief aim of government should be material prosperity.

"These dogmas," he said, "are rife in capitalist and socialist countries as Well as in the nationalist regimes of developing countries."

Bishop Montefiore said it was asked why had we this duty to posterity, and there was no easy answer. The only satisfactory answer that he could find was because we were not our own masters. God had given us dominion over nature to act as His trustees and stewards.

On the population explosion scare, Bishop Montefiore suggested the slogan — an overgloomy one, surely — of "No Family should Be Larger than Three" or even "Adopt Your Third Child."

He concluded : "There is no question at all that if mankind lived by the gospel, horno sapiens could make the colossal reorientation that is required of him."

Vocations rise in Poland

yrs not very easy being a A practising Catholic in Poland, where the Catholic Church (among others) is subject to continual vigilance and harassment. But this Com

munist-dominated Catholic country is streets ahead of countries where there is no religious persecution when it comes to vocations to the priesthood.

This year has seen the ordination in Poland of 480 priests. The diocese of Tarnow gained 43 new priests, Pizemsyl and Cracow gained 30 and 29 respectively. The Salesian Order has ordained 14 priests the Jesuits 12 and the Capuchins 11.

I.ast year 381 priests were ordained in Poland and in 1969 there were 406 new priests. At the last count Polish seminaries contained 4,299 seminarists.

A good word for voodoo

THOSE who remember the stern warnings of the Penny Catechism (it's now 5p) concerning charms, omens, discerns and suchlike fooleries, will be surprised to read that a Haitian bishop considers that Catholicism and voodoo rituals are not incompatible.

Archbishop Francois-Wolff Ligonde of Port au Prince, says: "The Church should value the riches of local traditions, custom and folklore." He sees one of his main tasks as spreading Catholicism without destroying the cultural richness of the folkloric religion of voodoo.

He said that many Haitians —65.7 per cent of whom are officially Catholic—get deep satisfaction from the voodoo rites of spiritual communication with higher Dowers and the emotional release that goes with these rituals.

He stressed that it was not the negative, evil cult of popular films and fiction but a religion blending elements of the old African pagan religions and Western faiths. it had an emotionalism not unlike fundamentalist Protestantism.

The Archbishop pointed out that the vodoo Goddess of Running Water has, an influence parallel to that of Our Lady in Catholic devotion, He feels that voodoo co-exists with Catholicism because of tradition and illiteracy, and that its influence will diminish as the level of education rises.

In a country like Haiti, where 90 per cent of the people are illiterate, he is convinced that such things as books and catechisms are not enough to teach the Faith. Personal contact is essential.

There is only one priest for every 12,000 Haitians, and Archbishop Ligonde spends three months a year visiting outlying parishes on horseback.

THAT twentieth century

phenomenon in Catholic life, the Opus Dei, a body of Catholics who have dedicated themselves to carrying out the Christian apostolate in their own state, has rightly or wrongly, acquired the reputation of having gained an unconscionable amount of power in Spain. Its nickname there is Octopus Dei.

Democratic community

'T HE devoutly wished con-1 summation of abolishing the "boss class" has fascinated and baffled humanity since time began.

But numerous religious communities in all parts of the Church are abandoning the old authoritarian structures whereby complete obedience to the Superior in all that was not sin is seen as one of the heights of religious life.

Instead they are experimenting with "superiorless communities." Sister Laurence Murray, of the Sisters of Notre Defile, an English nun working at the Georgetown University in Washington, writes of such a community

in the September issue of the Clergy Review.

Speaking of a community of 40 nuns with ages ranging from their late twenties to their eighties, she remarks that this community in which she had lived for two years was able to absorb nuns wearing the original habit, those wearing a modified habit and the majority in contemporary dress, "each sister making her decision on the basis of the demands of her apostolate."

The experiment started with the community superior being called away for several months, and it was decided that three members should carry out her duties. When she was eventually elected to a higher post in the Order the new way of running things had worked so well that the community wished to continue it. but the three nuns did not want to carry the burden indefinitely.

Evenutally the community was allowed to run itself democratically, taking decisions collectively with the help of four special committees responsible respectively for spiritual life, personal and community welfare, finance, and finally communications and hospitality. Additionally there were two standing committees, concerned with elections and evaluations of the scheme.

The set-up worked so well that permission was granted for it to continue. This type of government, maintained Sister Laurence, increases enormously the sisters' acceptance of responsibility or the wellbeing of the community. Legalism is replaced by reponsibility.

"Taking responsibility," she writes, "removes the security of 'having Sister Superior's permission' which seemed to overrule every other consideration, and precluded the possibility of questioning a line of conduct. 'In a situation of responsibility one cannot so easily pass the buck.' In the old structure, obedience, theoretically so exalted, could in practice be the merest routine." WANTED: Not just people who want vaguely to put the world to rights, but people who can type competently and are prepared to give several hours a week, free to S.H.A.C. — the Shelter Housing Advice Centre.

Fr. Paul Byrne, 0.M.L. Director of S.H.A.C. said: "We need the extra help as temporary workers are so expensive now — they cost El an hour. If any girls who can type would like to help us out for say, the odd hour, on their way home from work on one or two nights a week, they would be very much helping the homeless."

Those interested should apply to Fr. Paul Byrne, 0.M.I., Shelter Housing Aid Centre, la The Boltons, S.W.I.

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