I have just been talking to a friend in Birmingham about this week's protest there against Sutton Coldfield Council plans to help buyers who can prove that they cannot have children. It is a serious affair.
A meeting of Birmingham Catholic Laity Committee registered. it appears. "strong disapproval" of a scheme by which a husband seeking a Council mortgage would be able to have his wife's income taken into account if he could provide medical evidence that he has had a vasectomy, or if the wife was unable to bear children.
Mrs. Molly McGrath, Chairman of the Laity Committee, said: "I am horrified and appalled that Sutton Coldficld should even consider this moral blackmail. The whole idea is outrageous and interferes with basic human rights. The personal liberty of the individual is I hreatened."
A statement from the Committee attacked the scheme as a negative approach to the present housing and mortgage situation. "Ironically it would constitute an attack on family life to justify a home."
Councillor Mrs. Mary Dickinson, Vice-Chairman of Sutton Coldfield Housing Committee, said: "When we have considered the income of both husband and wife up to now. it has been when the wife has been more than forty. With the advances in science, operations and so on, it seemed a pity to penalise couples who were not going to have more children but were not entitled to have both incomes considered.
"We felt that this new scheme should be as much for a husband as a wife, so it could easily include something like a vasectomy. There may be some controversy but it seems a sensible idea. Any objection I should think could only be on religious grounds."
Even the Family Planning Association in Birmingham seem alarmed. One of its "spokesmen" warned that the clause could encourage a man to have a vasectomy for the wrong reasons. "It is entirely wrong that anyone should he pressurised on these grounds into something that is a totally irreversible step."
Liverpool's Haydn Mass
Haydn's Nelson Mass will be the main work to be performed in the Crypt West Chapel of Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral on Saturday, November 24, at 7.30 p.m. the annual concert celebrating the feast of St. Cecilia.
The soloists, Sally Le Sage (soprano), Elsa Kende] (contralto), Douglas Leigh (tenor), Alan Ward (baritone), the Cathedral Choir and Orchestra (leader Russell Thompson), Terence Duffy (organ) will be conducted by the Master of the Music, Philip Duffy.
Mr. Philip Duffy has aimed, since the St. Cecilia concerts started, to present one of Haydn's great Masses in alternate years. Having sung the Pauken Mass and the Theresa Mass, the Nelson Mass is now to be presented.
The programme will also include Cavalli's Marian Antiphon Alma Redemptoris,• which was sung last year, and Salve Regina for four voices and organ. As this year marks the 350th anniversary of Byrd's death, the choir will sing some of his motets including "Teach me 0 Lord".
Earlier in the month, on Wednesday. November 7, at 7.30 p.m., Terence Duffy will give his fifst recital of the season. The programme will include: Fantasia and Fugue in G Minor by Bach: L'Ange a la Trompette by Charpentier; Toccata Francese by Kropfreiter, and Sonata No. 6 by Mendelssohn.
Mr. Edward Burns, Head of Art at St. Gregory's Comprehensive School, Kirkby, will again exhibit a cross-section of art produced by the children in the school. Last year's exhibition, presented on the walls of the circular stairway, received much notice and praise.
It is always cheering to hear that a struggling literary society is Managing to hold on to lift
and getting more robust. The
Francis Thompson Society has. increased its numbers and is thriving. Dr. G. Krishnamurti, its secretary, tells me.
Dr. Krishnamurti, passionate devotee of the Catholic poet, has just brought to fruition the labour's of ten year's research in an exhibition which closes today at the National Book League HQ, 7 Albemarle Street, W.I. "The Eighteen Nineties", where quotations from Thompson 1;-1.
the walls, is a unique assembly of a thousand literary items: sketches by Aubrey Beardsley, letters from Joseph Conrad, copies of The Yellow Book, and a mouth-watering collection of first editions ranging from Yeats to Wilde.
"How wonderful," said Mr. John Betjeman, the Poet Laureate, opening the exhibition last Monday from halfway Lt p the splendid staircase at 7 Albemarle Street, "is the feel of a real book again in this age of the paperback." Some 300 orders for copies of the catalogue were placed with Dr. Krishnamurti at the preview.
Henry Williamson, President of the Francis Thompson Society, made one of his rare appearances; in London at the preview. Quoting from Thompson's "unforgettable poem". In A Strange Land: Does the fish soar to find the ocean, The eagle plunge to find the air That we ask of the stars in motion If they have rumour of Thee there?
He admitted that he had recently, owing to pressure of work, sent in his resignation. But after seeing the exhibition, he begged that his resignation he torn up. Mrs. Olivia Sowerby, daughter of Wilfred and Alice Meynell, the Catholic writers who rescued Thompson from the gutter and took him into their home, has lent many of the Thompson items and also a fascinating letter from Arnold Bennett dated September 18, 1897. that she found in a copy of one of his first books in her father's library. It is in reply to a letter of appreciation written by Alice Meynell to "Barbara" of the magazine Woman. Bennett. admitting that Barbara is none other than himself, writes: "I have to confess I am not of the sex which my pseudonym denotes. The fraud is innocent and I hope you will pardon it."
Pope Paul received on Monday a delegation of Rumanian Oriental Rite Catholic bishops living abroad, and said he hoped they would be able to overcome the obstacles in the way of the development of their Church.
Rumania's Oriental Rite Catholics numbering 1.700.000 recognise Rome's primacy but have Byzantine traditions and liturgy.
in a move strongly opposed by the Vatican, their Church was declared non-existent by the Rumanian authorities in 1948 and absorbed into the much larger Rumanian Orthodox Church under the Patriarch of Bucharest.
More than 50 scouters and chaplains, representing nearly half the Catholic scout groups in the Salford diocese, met at Thornleigh College recently for an afternoon conference. Despite the plethora of conferences this seems to have been unusually important.
Three discussion bases, led respectively by Bryan Dodgson,
Scout Field Commissioner; Norman Lewis, Diocesan Youth Commissioner, and Sir Geoffrey Hulion, the UK representative at the International Catholic Scooters' Conference, dealt with problems of the Church
sponsored group, the role.ofthe Diocesan Youth Cornmssion, and the work of the National Scout Chaplain and Catholic Scout Advisory Council.
Two exhibitions illustrated the history of scouting in Catholic Circles starting from the first Catholic group at Mount Carmel, Manchester, way back in 1908; and on a more topical note displayed some of the audio-visual aids available in scouting today.
At a short general meeting which ended the conference.
two projects for the future were raised. One is the effect on Catholics in scouting of the new Scout Counties in the new Greater Manchester Metropolitan Area. the other is the proposed Scout Pilgrimage to Rome for Holy Year in Easter 1975.
Just as Cardinal Heenan called in at a meeting organised by the Catholic Advisory Group for Au Pairs on Sunday evening in Notre Dame Hall, Leicester Place, he was greeted with the words: "He's incredible . . . he's beautiful . . . he's wonderful!"
They were sung by young people putting on a musical about the life of Christ called "Rock". Later, in a short speech, the Cardinal thanked them for their reception. "The warmest I have ever had," he said.
The script of the musical was written by Peter and Sally Heath, parishioners of Christ the King of Cockfosters, North London, and the lyrics by two teenagers, Josephine Collins and Anthony
Carmelites' Rosary way
Two London lay Carmelites, Violet and Christine Hall, have raised £1,000 towards the erection of a Rosary Way at the shrine of Our Lady and the Forty Martyrs at Hazelwood Castle, Tadcaster, Yorkshire, which was acquired three years ago by the Carmelite friars. Most of.the money was contributed by other lay Carmelites, £800 of the total being raised at a bazaar in Westminster Cathedral hall.
Canon Bartlett. of the Cathedral, presented the specially designed cheque, bearing an illustration of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, to Fr. Peter Cooper, 0.Carm.
Fr. Cooper said: "I'm overwhelmed by this magnificent sum. This means we can engage Mr. Adam Kossowski, artist of the famous Rosary Way at Aylesford, to create something that everyone who has contributed can be proud of."
Canon Bartlett said the acquisition of this beautiful, historic place which belonged to a recusant Catholic family was a romantic. almost Chestertonian story. Mass has been celebrated at the chapel at Hazelwood almost without a break since 1184.
The Vavasour family lived at the castle for 800 years, until the beginning of this century, when the last descendant became a Carmelite nun. The -Hazelwood quarries largely supplied the stone for York Minster, and there is a tradition in the Vavasour family that the graveyard contains the remains of St. Margaret Ciitherow.
It was not until last year that the Carmelites were able to take full possession, and a handful of priests from Aylesford are now turning it into a guest and retreat house.
Lobbying for life
One of the first events in what the Humanist Newsletter has described as an "efficiently orchestrated shock campaign" to lobby MPs against abortion takes place tomorrow.
The Human Rights Society (which supports the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children's mass lobby planned for November 20) invites people to attend a free one-day seminar on "Population and Human Rights" at the London School of Economics. Mr. Frank Field, Director of the Child Poverty Action Group. Dr. E Schumacher of the Intermediate Technology Group and two professors of medicine will address the meeting.
The Knights of St. Columba, who are acting as stewards for
the undenominational lobby, hope that up to 7,000 of their members may attend a special Mass "in thanksgiving for the sacred gift of life" at Westminster Cathedral on November 10, concelebrated by Cardinal Heenan and several bishops.
Last month the Knights held a meeting with six national Catholic organisations to help to boost their programme for forming :Christian electors'
associations in each consii(ueney to inform MPs of Christian views on events.
Mr. Douglas Mutch, the Knights' national action officer, said the l8,000 member organisation was preparing a brief to be distributed to each of the 500 local councils to advise them on holding similar meetings to form electors'
associations. About ten per cent of constituencies already nave such groups.
Senator Harold Hughes of the U.S. Democrat Party has announced that he will give up his political career to work for two Christian lay organisations.
As Governor of Iowa, Senator Hughes abolished the death penalty, gave tax concessions to the elderly and initiated an aid programme for the mentally ill and the handicapped.
In the early stages of the last presidential campaign there was a chance that he would become a candidate for the Democrats, but observers felt he was thrown out of the running by his faith. "This man seems to be dangerous, because he understands Christian teachings literally."
Holy See and Israel
The Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano welcomed the announcement of a middle east ceasefire and said it hoped this would not be merely a transitory armistice but real peace.
A front page editorial signed by editorRairriondoManzini said this must not be a "transitory armistice, but the beginning of
world negotiations organised and resolved on the basis of morals and rights, such as will guarantee peace."
The article added that "any agreement must not humiliate the honour, traditions and patriotic feeling of anyone."
Will the Holy See. people are beginning to ask. soon recognise the State or Israel?