Page 7, 29th October 1965

29th October 1965
Page 7

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Locations: Dublin, Southampton


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Letters To The Editor

Page 6 from 10th July 1936


SIR"—Although it is perfectly possible to find unbalanced people in the "liberal" camp, inclined to over-intellectualise religion, it would be unfair to suggest, as Mr. John Green did last week, that such people typify the new changes.

Thomas Merton hit the proper note when he explained in a recent article how, despite his having been received into the Church by way of a deeply traditionalist Catholicism loyal to all the recent tradition of the Church, he could nevertheless joyfully and without reserve accept the logic of the new worship.

The priest who received, him had been deeply spiritual, his parish church alive with devotion. In such a situations the practices which arc now in eclipse were capable of providing him with sustenance.

But tisie is unhappily not always the situation. What we are pleased to call the "old ways" are all too easily made the vehicle of an external pharisaism.

The new ways could do the same, of course, as Merton pointed out. if they were made an end in themselves. This is a danger that is always with us: but it is a danger which for the time being at least—is not acute among those responsible for our new ways or worship.

When it becomes so, then the liberals will have ceased to be 1:berals and a new revolution will be required.

Conservative Catholics who have. like Merton. a keen sense of the values enshrined in the old ways must be experiencing a great sense of desolation and very probably feel that they arc being Wide/ed.

Unfortunately, some bulldozing is inevitable because worship is a communal thing producing communal psychological patterns. If the old ways did indeed debilitate a great many spiritually immature people, the only solution is to replace them by more wholesome patterns.

The important thing is surely to remember that you do not rightly give your love to Latin or tabernacles on the high altar or Introibo ad altare Dei but to God. Desolation may be a healthy reminder of this fact.

John and Margaret PInnington, Southampton.


Sir,—It would take a lot to convince me that the Catholic Truth Society is the haphazard body your correspondent, Mary Harper (October 72) would have us believe,

If, as I presume, your correspondent is a member of the C.T.S., I am amazed that she did not assert her privilege of membership to address her criticism to the C.T.S. in the first instance.

If she is not a member that oversight could have been rectified to enable her to do so, for only the C.T.S. could clarify the position alleged to exist.

In these days of emphasis on the vitluc or Christian charity, 1 think it would have been both gentle and discreet to have given %%hat might appear to be an erring body an opportunity to explain itself privately, or mend its ways, before publicly trumpeting its supposed misdemeanours to the whole Church.

I agree with your correspondent that propaganda, especially that which is based on shat is nothing better than one's personal impression, is not helpful in the current quest for a fuller understanding of the truth.. K. M. Timon Dublin.


Sir,—On May 28 you were kind enough to publish a letter from me giving a detailed analysis of some grave weaknesses in the wording of the Newman Association's survey questionnaire on birth-control.

Now that the results have been published (as reported in the CATHOLIC HLKALD on October 14) it can be seen that there are yet further reasons for attaching little importance to the facts and figures so laboriously extracted from the replies. Echoing in part Dr. A. D. Clift's recent letter to these columns, concerning the survey carried out by the Guild of Ss. Luke, Cosmas and Damian, may I therefore be allowed a few further comments on the Newman survey?

First, it is not true that "over half of those questioned" consider the Church's teaching on contraception wrong.In fact, just over half of those who replied thought this. Since only about 36 per cent of the members replied, we know. for certain only that about onefifth of the Newman Association opposes traditional teaching—not a very startling number.

The problem of non-response, and hence of getting a representative sample, is of course particularly severe with mail surveys. I am afraid that the wording of the questionnaire was such that those who wanted revision of the Church's teaching were much better catered for, and hence could reply much more easily, than those who agreed with that teaching. So the sponsors destroyed any chance of obtaining a representative sample.

As the eminent statistician, Prof. C. A. Moser, in his standard work, Survey Methods in Social Investigation, makes clear, no survey is better than its questionnaire.

Even a large sample size is no remedy for a badly framed questionnaire. But is the response of 36 per cent so very high, as the sponsors claim? Prof. Moser says that in a general population survey it is hard to get a response above 30 to 40 per cent, but that if the sponsoring body is connected with the population members, the situation is more favourable.

think, therefore, that our sponsors should be rather disappointed in getting only just over one-third of their own organisation of professional, and hence reasonably articulate and informed, people to reply ori such an issue.

Moreover, speaking of -a response rate of 30 to 40 per cent, Prof. Moser says that "in such cases it is difficult to know how to Interpret the results, or indeed whether to attach any value to them". (op. cit. p. 179, my italics.)

Since no sampling technique whatsoever has been employed in this case, it would be no reply at all to the problem of non-response

if it were suggested mat those who did not. reply were not interested, and that therefore their opinions did not eount. Indeed, it could be that people seriously concerned about this weighty and delicate issue of birth-control would not wish to he a party to this Survey, ith its bogus all of scientific investigation.

In a well-judged editorial on June 4 on "The Layman in the Church'', you suggested that our Christian witness is "more than one of standing up under a banner and being counted". Catholic readers of the national press will be only too familiar with surveys on this, that, and the other matter relating to Catholic life and thought.

What even a well-conducted survey can prove is not always clear. It can perhaps tell us something of what people actually think; it could never tell us what it is rational to think. The Newman survey, however, is plainly inadequate even as a guide to what the Association's members actually think.

A. F. Walters Department of Philosophy, University of Southampton.


Sir,—Several Catholic grammar school teachers have assured me that at least in one diocese and possibly in others, there is a grave danger that there will be accepted by the clergy a system of so-called comprehensive education, whereby Catholic children will he required to take a selective exam. at 13, to compete for the education now given in our Catholic Direct Grant Grammar Schools.

Non-Catholics in the same areas will of course, have the opportunity of the same type of education without a selective exam.

This will mean that, for Catholics and only for Catholics, the "11 plus" and all its accompanying anxieties for parent and child will not disappear but only be postponed.

Catholic—and only Catholic— secondary schools will be "creamed" at 13. Catholic parents wanting their children to enjoy equal opportunities v.ith their nonCatholic peers will be forced to send them to State comprehensive schools.

if this system, or one similar, is to be foisted on to the Catholic laity let us be warned in time to make our protests heard.

Let us not be presented with a fait accompli which may satisfy the religious orders who own thc Direct Grant Grqmmar Schools, but which will appal the Catholic parents and the Catholic teachers outside the grammar schools.

"Catholic Parent"


Sir,—The interest aroused by the address of Cardinal Heenan on 'Religious' at the Vatican Council has led to the expression of opinions which may not cotnpietely express His Eminence's point of view.

Some of the laity have been in doubt as to their proper evaluation, since they are not aware of the status ' of religious in the Church. It may assist them to know that the Council has reiterated the frequent approbation of the value and need of religious in the life of the Church today.

Naturally. religious differ in the form of the Institute to which they belong within the Church and their work and duties are governed by constitutions, which are approved by the Holy See only after careful and detailed examination.

Since the propriety of their work in schools, hospitals and .other labours has not always been appreciated in modern times, it may not be out of place to mention that these works have been praised by every Pope, even the most modern, including Paul VI now happily reigning.

The task of forming Christ in the young, of uniting the sick and the dying in their sufferings to Him and so on. is one that is done best by those called to these tasks by Our Lord and who, living in close association with Him. bring what has beets aptly called, the "fruits of their contemplation" to effect the fulness of their apostolic work.

Religious priests are religious and not seculars for one reason only namely, that they have been called by God, who alone can give a "vocation", to be religious rather than secular priests.

God calls some to the secular or diocesan clergy, others to live apart from the world with Him, alp* to specialised activi

One may be called to be a simple monk, another to hold high office in the Church each comes solely because the Master has called him and fulfils his proper destiny on Earth in pursuing that particular form of life to which he has been called.

The religious is called sometlmes to a full contemplative life, sometimes lb the so-called "active" life, more often to the more perfect "mixed" life in which his apostolate represents the fruits of his contemplation. tasks in the Churn. or which the missions arc the most evident; but whatever their works, and they may sometimes have been founded for one specialised work in the ahurch, it is God's work and God alone who calls them to it.

All of them wink in obedience to His Church and it would be a complete misunderstanding of a vocation given by Him, if any group of His servants were to regard any other group called by Him as redundant so long as they are doing the work approved of for them by the Church?

The question has been asked, through some misunderstanding, whether religious should continue to give retreats to nuns and other grades of religious women? In fact they are thc only people, who seem to have the training and time to conduct these spiritual exercises both for the diocesan clergy and all kinds of religious and the Church has always approved of this activity.

This is not to say that secular priests cannot give these retreats, hut quite evidently they are more aptly given by religious priests, as is shown by the demand for such direction.

With the Cardinal, who has had the benefit of being taught by religious (Jesuits) at all the most formative stages of his brilliant career, many parents will be glad to find Our Lord calling their sons or daughters to the religious life, whether in Congregations, which exist only for teaching or in Orders, which undertake it under the approval of the Church when the need is present.

The religious life, whether lived in a clerical or in a non-clerical institute imports a state of perfection according to the evangel:eat counsels. whereby the religious separates himself from all that could render him less completely consecrated to Christ and His service.

It is a state which has always been held in the highest honour in the Church and thfs esteem has been already confirmed by the Council.

The mere appearance of misunderstanding between religious and secular clerics in the Church is never edifying, and is nearly always avoidable by the attainment of a better mutual understand:rig of the part each has to play in the Church.

Rev. Peter Flood, O.S.B. Eating Abbey, W.5.

The Apartheid problem

Sir,--In reply to my Critics may I point out that my first letter was written precisely to get behind all the emotional (and dangerous) overtones which bedevil the subject of apartheid, and to examine it afresh with cool objectivity from Catholic social principles'? I set out my justification for it

as a principle in logical terms, ' acknowledged the possibility of inadequacy in doing so, and hoped for intelligent comment so that the truth could he elucidated and a sensible judgment arrived at.

It seemed to me that once we got it established as a sociological method (morally neutral in itself) we could then proceed to a judicious examination of apartheid inn proetice in South Africa, allowing both sides ample statement of their case. 1 never have, and do not now, take sides in the matter. 1 am not competent. Mr. Penty's attitude seems to me admirable.

My own position was, however, sadly prejudiced by an excision that you, Sir, felt obliged to make in my second letter. It ran, "I ant no apologist for the South African Government or any other if it is guilty of injustice to anyone, black, white or coloured. If injustice exists, I am as indignant as Mr. Daniel. But we are not discussing injustice; we are discussing apartheid."

Is it not disgraceful that this single word, which merely means apartness or aparthood. and signifies the separate development of differing cultures within a single nation-state, has been so worked upon by political agitators that its mere mention raises horror, not only in the minds of illiterates but also, apparently, of the Catholic "intelligentsia"? If their vehemence is directed at racial injustice, We all agree; but why is it concentrated on racial apartness?

And since my opponents appeal to Archbishop Hurley, then to Archbishop Hurley let us go. So recent as this month's Word carries his ipsissima verba. "In 1959", he says, Dr. Verwoerd announced that what had been up till that time African preserves—comparable to the Indian reservations in Aniel ica—would now be allowed to develop socially, economically and even politically into separate little countries which (if they uished) could either remain in a federated union ssith other parts ot South Africa or even become independent if they liked ... obviously in principle there is nothing wrong with it." That, Sir, is exactly the point I wished to make. It was the whole burden of my letters.

Now two significant things emerge from this correspondence so far. The first is that such an elementary proposition as I made, now endorsed by their ON\ n chosen champion, has been greeted with something like fury by the antiapartheid crowd.

A detached examination of the matter is something they will not have at any price. A simple request for it is to them an enormity.

Secondly, while heaping up their condemnations of the South African Government they make the automatic assumption that it has no right .whatever to a defence, They constitute themselves prosecutor, judge and jury, and fly at any mho dare to demand impartiality. They must not complain if we draw our own inferences. s Harold MeCruns Luton, Northants,

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