Aid For Our Weaker Brethren
SIR,-111C Very Rev. Prior of Badmin's letter on " Cornish Catholics and Education " is of
Three features quoted by the Very Rev. Prior to describe ceneisely the condition of Catholics in Cornwall deserve close study ; they are in italics below, each followed by the pertinent remarks they elicit.
(I) e Most of these Catholics are humble people who have not known what it' means to have a secondary education. . ." This is said specifically of Catholics in Cornwall ; it is true of Catholics throughout England and Wales! Indeed, of elementary school children only about 13 per cent. enter secondary-schools (and not all stay the whole course !); moreover, Catholics, especially Catholic boys, are worse off in this matter than their non-Catholic neighbours who are aided more by the State.
(2) " The people are scattered, istllined and quietly but effectively made to feel in countless ways the disadvantages of being Catholics." This describes conditions in Cornwall; it exactly describes .conditions in parts of most counties (look at Menevia on a diocesan snap of England and Wales and do a little arithmetic, this and others like Nottingham and Portsmouth dioceses are useful examples); it also exactly describes conditions in parts of most parishes, excepting perhaps parishes in parts of Lancashire, of the West Riding and of the Tyneside. Where Catholic Parents' Associations are really active. these defects are in process of extinction.
It may seem strange to say Catholics in densely Catholic-populated parishes are " scattered:" if not actually " scattered," they are being scattered by incessant movement of population, as in dense urban areas like some of London's dormitory suburbs: here Catholics can live " check by jowl " for years and not know of each other ; they more likely only live near one another in suburbs for short periods. An example is in Ilford; Catholic censuses show that nearly 50 per cent. changes have occurred over the last three years; here as in other places the onus of continuity naturally rests on the more static nucleus of the parish. Hence, dense population is no certain guarantee of corporate civic or parochial activity; it can be a large impediment, especially when subject to incessant movement of population-that feature of uncivilised existence which finds thousands in a place but not of it. In this, thinly populated rural areas have an advantage over large towns arid suburbs; people in the former are usually static of the place and have deep roots therein. Obviously something is seriously lacking everywhere. Can it be a lack of Catholic courage or of Catholic ability to organise, or sof both?
(:) " Those from whom the people naturally expect a lead in these matters -the clergy-have no time to spare
from their pastoral duties daily. . ." The rpaI cause is a disproportion in numbers, of time and of distance. The statement (No. 3 above) is virtually a reiteration of the present Sovereign Pontiff's statement in his first encyclical, Darkness Over the Earth, see C.T.S. pamphlet No. S.151, pages 35-36, for the diagnosis and for the remedy-a remedy the essence of which, according to the Holy Father, is in a quotation from the Commentary on St. John, by St. Augustine of Hippo who died in 435 A.D.; those pages demand reading, re-reading and re-reading.
So much for the conditions; yet, as in densely Croholie-populated towns, no too in thinly populated areas can Catholic parents and electors " put up a strong delegation to convince their M.P.s " if their " better off" brethren will help them to fight the bottle-a battle wherein there is a duty and ample room for all; in a word, the big brothers should practise the elementary family principle of helping their weaker and smaller brothers; in other words, no single or apparently " isolated " Catholic anywhere need for long feel the disadvantage of either isolation or of being a Catholic-so long as his " better off " brethren in densely popuWed areas will help; it can be done, it ought to be done.
If Catholics in England and Wales are viqwed as a Catholic entity-the Catholic Church in England and in Wales-no one can ultimately fail to see in it (a) zones of high Catholic potential-voluminous reservoirs of high-pressure Catholic zeal and of Catholic spirit ; (b) many amply
dimensioned receptacles of low Catholic pressure, but of at least equal zeal and equal enthusiasm. This points to the solution of the problem.
The solution of this practical problem -a problem which may him no dimensions in the abstract, though tangible in the realm of reaIities-the solution is in the setting up of a network of intercommunications (trunk-lines, as it were) between these areas of high and of low Catholic pressure to facilitate prompt, energetic activity anywhere by Catholics everywhere.
It is necessary, it can be done, the methods are known: the methods are not theoretical, they are proved and time-tested by Catholics in countries abroad, some of which are more thinly populated than either Cornwall or Menevia!
This thing is no longer a matter for a few working continuously in splendid isolation-in vacua; it is no longer a matter for intermittent effort by many in a few localities, each in a watertight compartment.
The task for Catholics, now and in the future, demands steady untiring effort of various kinds; it demands co-ordinated unremitting exertion ; it
demands both the machinery and the wherewithal to facilitate this primary and essential functioning-to safeguard the primary natural rights of parents and to assist parents in the doing of their primary natural duties. Inasmuch as the ChuSch is built with and not without the family, it would appear that if the parents are fully looked after and they respond the Church " will look after itself," the leakage will cease, The task will not be an easy one; results will not come quickly ; too many are in reverse; these need readjustment, that calls for their bringing in too " neutral," before the desired movement ahead can obtain. Then and then only will the hard work begin.
That is all; but it is all that. CHARLES I. KELLY, Chairman, Ilford Catholic Parents' Association.
145, Coventry Road, Ilford. Essex.