Page 6, 30th January 1953

30th January 1953
Page 6
Page 6, 30th January 1953 — Sunday observance

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Organisations: Select Committee


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Sunday observance

Continued from Page 1 many Catholics really know what Sunday observance means. It is commonly supposed that the mind of the Church in the matter is that the faithful, after attending Mass, should enjoy the rest of the day as they see

"I have never been able to accept that notion. It brings to mind the case of the man who said he could not define what a hippopotamus was but would certainly know one if he saw one. When I see boys and girls going to an early Mass, then moving off to the seaside or elsewhere to spend the rest of Sunday in secular pleasures, I feel I know this is not the Catholic ideal of Sunday observance.

"The Catholic sees nothing wrong in combining harmless and useful amusements with the day of recollection Sunday is supposed to be. But to suggest, as many non-Catholics as well as Catholics seem to, that we are all for the 'Continental Sunday' is nonsense."

Canon Fitzgerald added that the hallucination of the "Continental Sunday" ought to he dispelled.

"There is no such thing," he said. "It may be hard to persuade Englishmen that France and Italy are not Catholic countries, but it is true and we have no right to pretend it isn't. It is utterly absurd in our reaction against extreme Sabbatarianism to swing to the other extreme. That is not going to help anyone.

Select Committee ?

"I hope the Bill Is thrown out, as it deserves to be.

"What is wanted is a balanced. moderate approach to a knotty question. We really need a Select Committee to go carefully into the matter."

A priest with a different viewpoint is Fr. George Long, parish priest of Our Lady of Sorrows, Paddington, a keen sportsman himself and an excellent youth club organiser.

"The Bill is a good idea," he said, "not only because it proposes to remove absurd anomalies in the existing laws controlling Sunday activities, but because it will provide many people outside the Church with opportunities for diversion which they have a right to enjoy.

"I cannot think that Catholics should have anything serious to say against it. After all, we have a tradition that is centuries old of playing and enjoying ourselves on the day of rest. The fact that that tradition should have outlived the practice of the faith for many continental Catholics is not an argument against it."

A convert, brought up in Nonconformist surroundings, who for many years has been associated with the theatre, declared that in his view the Bill is "a realistic step, though it does carry with it the incidental danger of sliding further and further away from a proper observance of Sunday."

He recalled that. despite his own personal loathing as a child of the dull rigidity of a strict Sunday regime—"with two services, straight lines everywhere, and only the Bible and approved religious books to read"—the world had certainly not improved since "men decided to break away from all that."

'Be positive'

"But," he added, "surely it would he better if instead of trying to block a Bill of this kind, those who oppose it in principle tried to be positive and showed others by example what Sunday should be."

The most indignant person I spoke to was the trade unionist giving vent to his spleen against "people who write ridiculous letters to their M.P.s protesting against this attempt to foist the 'Continental Sunday' upon the country.

"It must be obvious to anyone with eyes that we have got the so-called 'Continental Sunday' already. whether we like it or not. All this measure will do is remove a few antiquated anomalies which not even the most strait laced Puritan approves as such.

'ia keep a ban on certain arousemonk for no rhyme or reason does not make sense."

Mr. Christopher Hollis, M.P., admitted that he supports the Sunday Observance Bill because "everyone agrees, even the Methodists, that, existing laws are nonsensical and contradictory, and ought to be revised."

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