Summary Of Bishops' Reply
On Wednesday last the Hierarchy issued their answer to the Government's memorandum rejecting their proposed solution to the schools' question.
Their statement, which must be read parallel with the original Government document, takes up in detail each of the memorandum's points. We publish a summary below.
BY A STAFF REPORTER
"We are not dismayed by the fact that the Minister of Education and the headquarters of the Labour Party have rejected our proposal," say the Bishops. " It is our duty to do all in our power to obtain justice for our schools, and we are confident that in this endeavour we shall have the syMpathy and support of all fair-minded citizens."
That belief that if the nature of the Catholic claim is understood by the general public, justice will be done, provides the keynote to the Bishops' answer. The Ministry memorandum had charged that " the Roman Catholic Hierarchy have always aimed at throwing the whole cost of their schools upon public funds " and that they pre using the forthcoming General Election for this purpose.
To this the Bishops reply that in this matter they are speaking " on behalf of Catholic parents who have a duty in conscience to educate their children according to their religious convictions " and who " pay rates and taxes like other citizens." Catholics, they say, " intend to use every means at their disposal to make known the staggering amount of money they are ex
pected to pay under the so-called improved financial provisions' of the 1944 Education Act."
" STRONG TRADITION" The Government said, in their memorandum, that " there is a strong tradition in England and Wales against the teaching in schools financed entirely out of public funds of formularies designed to attach children to particular worshipping communities."
The Bishops answer that it is in the interests of the community to give children the clearest guidance on moral conduct and behaviour. This the Catholic schools do, entitling them to support from public funds.
" Moreover, in controlled schools, which are financed completely from public funds. it is permitted to teach ' formularies designed to attach children to particular worshipping communities '."
The memorandum, too, had introduced the question of " single area schools " as a difficulty, but to this the Bishops are able to reply that there are, in fact, only ten such Catholic schools in the whole of the country.
They continue : " There is definite evidence that it is not contrary to English practice to finance Catholic schools entirely from the rates and taxes (' public funds ') to which Catholics make their fair contribution.
" The Home Office does, in fact, provide Catholic schools for Catholic children; and these schools are staffed by Catholic teachers approved by Catholic ecclesiastical authority."
RELIGIOUS TESTS Answering the memorandum's objections to religious tests for teachers, they refer to a statement made at the recent Communist Party Congress to the effect that there are now 2,000 teachers who are members of the party, and comment:
" Most parents will agree that their children should be preserved from influences of this sort. If there arc to be no tests for teachers how can parents protect their children from such influences? "
On the question of costs the memorandum had argued that it had been foreseen that costs might rise above the 1943 estimates, and that the figure of a total national cost of £50-£60 million, given by the Hierarchy was not a real one. It suggested. instead. that " a more realistic assessment" would be " in the region of f204.30 million." But, the Bishops tell the Ministry: " We do not forget that the £10 million estimate of 1943 which has now proved to be utterly wrong was
theirs, not ours. We cannot help fearing that their latest estimate will prove wrong too. And we observe that just as in 1943 the Ministry today gives no guarantee that its estimate will not be exceeded.
" Be all this as it may, whichever of these enormous figures he correct. whether the costs to be borne by us under the 1944 Act be £20, £30, £40, £50, or f60 million, the benefits devised for helping Roman Catholics become mere paper benefits.' Contrary to the declaration of the Government, our schools will be administered out of existence. For we cannot meet these appalling costs."
In view of the utterly changed cir
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