SPAIN PERU YUGOSLAVIA
POLITICAL observers in Spain are agreed that General Franco's cabinet shuffle represents a major shift towards political and economic liberalism. It comes at a time when Spain has an application pending for eventual association with the European Economic Community.
The emphasis, in the appointments, is on young but experienced men with keen interest in closer integration into Europe. The two Opus Dei men, Senor Ullastres and Senor Mariano Navarro Rubio, architects of the current economic reform programme, retain their portfolios. Meanwhile, General Franco has replied to Catholic criticism of his social policies by asserting that he had gone further than the Papal encyclicals. He said that Spain received Mater et Magistra with joy because "we have been fulfilling it for the past 23 years", and made special reference to the aid given to large numbers of families to acquire decent housing. Information Minister Manual de Fraga lribarno, newly appointed at the age of 39, has indicated that legislation will be speeded up to liberalise the press. He has announced that Mater et Magistra will he the basis of the new Cabinet's plans, with special emphasis on housing, land reform and education. (The Spanish bishops have been urging more liberal press policies for several years.) Another of the new ministers is a keen member of Catholic Action. He is Manuel Lora Tamayo, a prominent chemist and Rector of Madrid University. He becomes Minister of Education at the age of 57. The appointment of General Munoz Grandes as Vice-President of the Cabinet and Deputy Premier is virtually the nomination of a successor to General Franco. It is a move recognising the importance of the army, whose leaders favour restoration of the monarchy after Franco relinquishes power.
THE Papal Nuncio to Peru, Archbishop Carboni, is promoting collective action by the diplomatic corps to secure the release of the deposed President Manuel Prado, whom the Nuncio praised, two days before the bloodless coup of July 18, for "six years of fruitful and brilliant government". At that time, President Prado's term of office had only 10 days to run anyway, but the coup was precipitated by military leaders who charged that the balloting for a new president, which took place last month, had been riddled with fraud.
President Prado was arrested and imprisoned at the naval base on San Lorenzo island. On the same day, the Superior General of the Friars Minor, Fr. Augustin Sepinski, arrived from Rome to see Cardinal Juan Landazuri Archbishop of Lima and the only Franciscan Cardinal. To do so, he had to pass through an armed camp established in the Plaza de Armas.
General Ricardo Godoy is nominal head of the new military government.
RISING at 5.30 a.m. to attend Mass in a Yugoslav village just recently, an American family found 800 men, women and children, in Sunday clothes, lined up by six o'clock in a small field where the Blessed Sacrament was exposed at each of the four corners. The church itself, dedicated to St. Stephen, was packed to the doors.
(Oddly enough. the name of the village was Makoli, and the name of the Glasgow-born American family was McCawley!)
A crowd of 40.000 people turned up last month to the funeral of one of the country's greatest writers, 99-year-old Fr. Franc Finzgar. The faith is very much alive, but this year only 100 ordinands were raised to the priesthood. Throughout the country there are 2,500 secular and 1,000 regular priests.
Miss Vida Tomslc, president of the Slovene provincial legislature and a member of the commission drafting the new national constitution. has maintained that the constitution does not concern itself with Church-State relations apart from a few paragraphs "establishing the basis for a new phase of such relations".
In a recent interview, she insisted that "freedom of worship and equality of citizens in this matter will be confirmed , . . In Yugoslavia, the Church has lost the goods of this world, but not the possibility of praying for those of the next".
The government is still trying hard to establish a State Church divorced from the Holy See.
GROUPS of "prayer-pickets" have been praying for halfan-hour each day in front of the residence of Bishop Fougerat (Grenoble, France) in an effort to persuade him to restore factory activity by worker-priests.
The controversy broke out some months ago when two priests of the Mission de France, who were based on St. Mark's Church, Grenoble, returned to factory work without the Bishop's permission. A special lay campaign asserted that the Bishop was giving tacit assent to their appeals for a full resumption of the workerpriest movement. This was denied by the Bishop, who had the two priests removed.
When new priests arrived to take over at St. Mark's, the people refused to let them enter. Afterwards, a delegation appealed to the Bishop to cancel his dismissal of the other priests. Last week. a group of 300 persons met at the church and decided on the prayerpicket action.
SEVENTY-FOUR churches have been closed in the past two years in the Zhitomir area of the Ukraine. and 24 religious sects have been forced to cease their activity.
The Soviet Union Atheists' Handbook states that there are 30,000 Russian Orthodox priests in the entire Soviet Union. and they minister to 40 million people, There are 20,000 churches and chapels, 69 monasteries and two seminaries in Russia, Seminary admission has been limited to 1,300 students.
THOUSANDS of people in South Vietnam are daily crowding into the new fortified strategic villages where they can hide from guerrilla attacks and continuing Communist infiltration. Many come from tiny villages high up on the plateaux.
They build homes for themselves with branches, but for everything else depend on the priests and missionaries who have come with them, and who go to Saigon to buy tractors, spades, hoes and shears, not knowing how they will be able to pay for them. Their idea is to get the refugees working at once on rice-paddies. Near Dalat, some Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, caring for 1.000 refugees, have issued an SOS to say that, if they cannot get more eye salve in the near future, many of the children may be blind for life.
BOMBAY CATHOLIC schools in Bombay are growing year by year as long queues apply for admission among them many non-Catholics, who seem almost more keen on attending than the Catholics themselves. This is seen as a tribute to the high standards of scholarship and discipline in the Church's institutions.
Today there arc, in Bombay, 112,116 pupils in Catholic schools, of whom 52,583 are non-Catholics. There are 69 high schools, two middle schools, 74 primaries. and 12 special training colleges. Generous state aid is available.
CATHOLIC students from the United States are spending their summer vacations building small red brick houses to replace the cardboard and scrapwood leanto's on the edge of Tacambaro, Mexico. The students come from Notre Dame University, and some of their colleagues are working in another part of Mexico, particularly in the poorest section of Aguascalientes.
Here they are building a new chapel, teaching English to youngsters, and helping permanent Catholic social workers to distribute powdered milk. and medicines. The projects have been financed by U.S. lay societies.
Meanwhile. in Mexico City, Emilio Maspero, secretary of the Latin American Confederation of Christian Trade Unionists, has asserted that what he calls "conformist Catholics" concur with "masons. materialists. and middleclass conservatives" in hampering the efforts of the Young Christian Worksrs. and of the "selfless young priests who devote themselves to the urgent apostolate of young workers".
LEFTIST elements in Paraguay are trying to hinder the work of Caritas and other Catholic social welfare bodies. The government dislikes special mention of the large number of people now being aided by Caritas, as this detracts from government propaganda for itself.
Total Caritas aid from November, 1958, to December, 1961, amounted to 7,000.000 dollars. Government and Church joined to distribute U.S. farm surplus foods. This has involved heavy transport costs, of which the Paraguayan Bishops have advanced about 20,000 dollars to pay transport workers.
BRIEFLY . .
DR. ALFONSO PRIETO. of the central office of Spanish Catholic Action, has been banished from mainland Spain to the Canary Islands. He took part in the Munich meeting of Franco's opponents (June 5-8).
Bavarian government allocations for church building increased from 1.370,000 in 1958 to nearly a million pounds this year.
Dr. W. A. Visser 't Hooft, general secretary of the World Council of Churches, has told students of Free West Berlin University that whether a true dialogue will come about between Catholicism and Protestantism will largely depend on the willingness of the'Second Vatican Council to "take the existence of other Churches seriously" in matters like mixed marriages. He doubted whether the Catholic Church as such really favoured a true dialogue with non Catholic denominations. "Some individual
Catholics favour it", he said, "but
others are satisfied with a Catholic monologue."
* * The Red pagoda-type Communist propaganda reading room and the low white stucco Catholic Centre face each other on the island of Macao, where thousands of Chinese refugees escape from the Communist mainland. "You can be sure that the battle being fought here in Macao is just as grim and vital as that in the jungles of Vietnam", says Fr. Patrick Shaules, Si., the only American priest there. Forty-one per cent of the children are in Catholic schools, 31 per cent in government, independent and Protestant schools. hut 28 per cent are in Communist free schools.