Page 1, 2nd September 1960

2nd September 1960
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Page 1, 2nd September 1960 — South Africa
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looks to the whole Church

“WE have never exposed the Colour Bar to the searching ray of Christian faith and Christian charity", Archbishop Hurley, 0.114.I., of Durban said last week to the Editor of the CATHOLIC HERALD in perhaps the fullest interview given on the present position of the Church in South Africa.

After describing in detail both the progress being made and the handicaps, which SouthAfrican-born Mgr. Hurley attributed to failure in the Church generally to produce a contemporary Christian culture, he underlined the pressing need for practical apostles, such as Y.C.W. organisers, academic teachers, and the finance to support them.

BY THE EDITOR

D° you think, Your Grace, that Catholics in South Africa are in a position to influence race relations? Are they fully pulling their weight?

WE must remember that there are two white communities in S.A. — the English-speaking which is about 40 per cent. of the total and the Afrikaan-speaking. Catholics have very little chance of influencing people in the Afrikaan section.

1n the English-speaking section, Catholics are beginning to play their part. The number of young Catholic laymen who are becoming very aware of racial problems and very clear in their Christian convictions about the only possible Christian solutions is growing and could in a matter of ten years be an important element in public opinion, though the political influence of the English-speaking section as a whole is small. ARE there any Catholics among the Afrikaans speaking section?

Ninety-nine per cent or more are non-Catholic. You find here and there the individual, and the number of conversions from the Dutch-Reformed Church is growing. These make excellent Catholics. Conversion means an enormouse change since they have to separate themselves entirely from their past and see race-relations in a totallynew light, HOW do Catholics vote?

Up to now almost solidly for the United Party.

D°they still feel obliged to stand for the colour-bar?

The majority still accept the colour-bar. This is inevitable in S.A. The younger ones, of course, have been more vividly made aware of the problem in its Christian context and today you find an increasing number being very active in the Progressive Party. They have been influenced by recent statements of the Hierarchy and the general teaching of the Church. They are happy to find an outlet for their Christian convictions in that party.

ITHINK there is a feeling In this country, Your Grace, that the Anglicans in S.A. are doing more than the Catholic to fight this battle against race-division. Do you think this is justified?

Comparisons arc always odious! The stand of the Anglicans is given practical expression by a limited number of outstanding men. One cannot say that the Anglican Church in S.A. as a whole follows the lead of these men. They are individuals speaking their minds very clearly and very courageously.

I think many of the younger Anglican clergy think seriously about apartheid. It is the mature Anglican who comes to S.A. from England who really leads this movement.

By cornparision the Catholic Church in S.A. is very effective at Continued on page 5, col. 3

CHARITY ITSELF AT STAKE

what the Americans call the " grass-roots level". The ordinary day to day collaboration is very striking in that white missionaries, white sisters, get along so well with their African counterparts.

WHAT about the laity in general in this regard

suppose you could say that the Catholic Church gives the best example of collaboration in active worship. Others have to make a systematic effort to achieve unity in worship; the Catholic Church has taken it for granted for many years. Common worship is the natural order of things.

The only exception might be in small country churches with very limited congregations. Catholics, anyway, have an advantage in that their parishes arc territorial, wherea.s Protestant ones are very, very personal and people belong to the parish that suits their religious taste.

In the old days Catholics were accidentally divided where worship was concerned, but with the growth of urbanisation, the different races have come together in worship.

HOW do the authorities feel about this?

They do not like it and even the United Party passed a law making it necessary to obtain a permit before you could establish a specifically African church in an urban area. Nationalists followed this up with the Church Clause under which. if a local authority objects, the Government can forhid Africans to attend any church in an urban area.

The present administration is totally opposed to common worship. But it has become the habit and the custom especially in Catholic parishes, To enforce the law would lead to such adverse publicity that they close their eyes.

WHAT is the attitude of Catholie Africans towards Apartheid? Does it differ from that of

other Africans?

1 would not say that there is any great difference. Yet, the thinking Catholic African suffers a certain division in his mind. He sometimes finds it hard to reconcile the two loyalties — loyalty to the faith and loyalty to African national ism.

The tribal system comes in here too. He feels a strong loyalty to his tribe, though the educated African usually overcomes that. He is concerned with his quality as an African, not with this or that type of African. He suffers from the present 'humiliations and would love to achieve the recognition of his human dignity.

Bat there is one other important point. Many Africans have not seen yet a very practical application of the Church's teaching to the racial problem. They know that Church statements have been made, They know they have the sympathy of the Hierarchy. They know and love their missionaries, but they haven't seen yet that liv

ing concrete application of Christian charity to the racial question. This is what makes things difficult for them.

AT would you say pre

vents the Church from being able to give that confidence to the African?

I would say that it is the general weakness in the whole educational system of the Catholic Church during the last few decades or even , centuries. We have taught the faith on a rather abstract level, but we haven't always taught in concrete vivid terms how the faith must he applied to the circumstances of daily life.

Our failure in S.A. in that regard is but a reflection of the failure all over Europe and America, and perhaps in the world at large.

It is a question with which Catholic educators are very much preoccupied today, a question that is receiving enormous attention in the catechetical and theological renewal, and the effects of this arc yet to come. In South Africa especially, unfortunately, all effects take time.

AA.LAST question, Your Grace. What can Catholics outside S.A. and through the world best do to help the work of the First of all, we can be helped by any efforts that are made to improve the formation and education of the Catholic public in regard to the pressing problems of modern civilisation, i.e. the education of our people in terms of the concrete difficulties and problems of modern civilisation. If standards

were higher and more contemporary, this would automatically affect S.A.

We are a mission country. We cannot develop new ideas nor initiate new movements. If the Church elsewhere were to become much more active in developing a Catholic culture and so effect the vivid application of the faith to modern conditions, this would get at the heart of the missionary problem also.

What we really need in this regard is a better understanding of Christian charity.

For some reason or other we have allowed the colour bar to escape the application of Christian charity.

We have accepted it as an inevitable condition of the relationships between White and Black. But we have never examined it.

We have examined the assumptions o fthe Colour Bar; but we have never exposed it to the searching ray of Christian faith and Christian charity. We need a more realistic approach and this would force us to become more intense in our study of our situation in the light of Christian principles.

Secondly, I would say that our pressing immediate need is to educate our people to the real Christian situation and we can only do that by having young people formed with a socioreligious outlook along the lines of the Young Christian Workers.

It is almost impossible for us in S.A. to have institutions because of the difficulties arising out of the Apartheid legislation. But we can still have Catholic Action movements.

All types of movements increasing Catholic social education are wanted, but I will say that the Y.C.W. could help us enormously. Above all, we need Y.C.W. organisers — organisers of a social apostolate in S.A. Such a development would cost more than we could ourselves finance, and financial help from overseas to help us grow along their lines would he one of the greatest helps we could have.

This type of Catholic Action is so inspiring in that it helps to weld together the different sections of the Catholic community.

Another most valuable help would he bursaries and scholarships for our young Africans to study at University level. We have the Pius X11 College in Basutoland, and those who go through that College will he future !ay leaders. Far too few can go there at present. as only with bursaries can they obtain this vital formation.

Ever since the withdrawal of the subsidies after the Bantu Education Act, we have been working under very great handicaps in education generally. Financial assistance in all this field would be of the greatest possible value. This for us is the basis of social apostolate. the lay apostolate, the academic apoetalate which the Catholic community in S.A. so greatly needs.




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