The Catholic M.P.s met in private on Wednesday to discuss the Catholic aspect of the education plans, previous to the two days' debate. The Catholic Herald has been able to obtain from a number of these M.P.s a statement of the v;ew they take. Two bishops have so far cornmented in public on the White Paper, the Archbishop of Birmingham, who recognises the Government's good intentions but is unable to aecept the deal for Catholics, and the Bishop of Salford, who pithily summarises Catholic objections.
Explain it to them
I find that the Catholic view is widely misunderstood; we should, therefore, explain our attitude simply and without complication of detail.
(a) We Catholics cannot accept agreed syllabus religious teaching, because it is Protestant in character and naturally rejects the central doctrines of our faith. (b) We cannot agree that our children should attend agreed syllabus schools and contract out of religious instruction in favour of an hour or two a week of denominational teaching, because we believe that Catholicism is not a mere subject of instruction, but a way of life; it must permeate the whole curriculum of the school; history, biology, for example, must be taught from the Catholic angle, and Catholic example must shine out of the lives of the teachers.
(c) We believe that education is primarily a matter for the parents, who, after God, are the pro-creators. The State is merely a convenient agent for providing the kind of education that parents require. (d) We reject. therefore, any educational system which forces us to contribute a full share towards schools to which we cannot, in conscience, send our children, and at the same time requires us to shoulder all or part of the burden of private schools which meet our requirements.
If every one could be brought to understand this fundamental position, we should get what we want.
Teachers — they are the crux
My personal view is that if the Government would meet us on the question of the appointment of teachers that we could accept one hundred per cent. and work in with the local authorities. On the other hand nothing will induce us to give up the right of Catholic parents to bring up their children in the faith of their fathers. But the difficulty of the appointment of Catholic teachers might be got over by resubmitting a list of our teachers to the local authorities for their approval. After all the money and sweat we have poured into our Catholic schools we cannot sacrifice all that just for a whim.
S/LDR. E. L. FLEMING, K.C. Toleration—a lubricant
I was under the impression that no controversial Bills would be introduced into the House of Commons during the war, unless it was absolutely essential to do so. Now an Education Bill is in the offing and I have no doubt that H.M. Government wish to have agreement amongst members as far as possible. This can only be accomplished by paying due attention to what I consider is a fundamental principle: All parents should be allowed to send their children to schools staffed by teachers professing the parents' Creed. Toleration is the finest lubricant for the wheels of our Parliamentary machine, and I would say to all men and women of good-will:
Let every bird have its own little nest; Let every Creed have the school it loves best.
Your conscience would stop you from marring the joy Of an innocent baby by breaking its toy. You can't stop the river from flowing. Nor the sweet rains from Heaven above; And you can't stop the young front going To the schools that their parents love!
I don't know the author's name; but those lines are full of common sense and I recommend their message to all my comrades of every, and no, belief.
SIR PATRICK HANNON
I appreciate Mr. Butler
The White Paper presented to Parliament by the President of the Board of Education is receiving the anxious consideration of the Catholic members of the House of Commons.
For myself, I am bound to express my deep appreciation of the whole project of educational reform for which Mr. Butler is responsible. I am quite confident that the Catho ARCHBISHOP WILLIAMS OF BIR MINGHAM
Grateful—but not enough
Let me emphasise first of all that we Catholics are as anxious as anyone in England for the improvement of education. We welcome every advance in education, and we arc anxious to share in it. But we believe that the most important element in true education is religion, the daily training of children in religion, and the teaching of true doctrine; and we cannot get these requisites in Council schools.
We are glad of the improvements for the sake of the children, said Mgr. Williams. but we fear that we may be faced with a financial burden which we cannot bear. No offer is made to us of any sort of aid towards the building of new schools. This is certainly not equal educational opportunity for all.
We shall be gravely disappointed unless something more is granted to us as a result of the debate.
BISHOP MARSHALL OF SALFORD
Pointers to the Government If Catholic parents are to have the right to establish Catholic schools, Parliament should distinctly declare in the forthcoming Education Bill the lowest number of children for which the right to erect a Catholic school might he established.
Section 45 of the White Paper also implies that under certain circumstances a denominational school might become redundant. The new Bill should distinctly state the lowest number which would justify a delominational school remaining open. A factor which intimately concerns " aided schools " will be the question of transport of the children Oom their homes to the schools of their patents' choice. Hence the new Bill should show what facilities for transport are to be given to children who desire to attend denominational schools.
In my opinion those facilities should be similar to those given to nonCatholic children on grounds of distance and it should be compulsory on Local Authorities to grant the facilities which are to be given.
Again. if the new aided sc' ools arc to take their part in educational advancement, facilities for the compulsory purchase of sites should be given
to managers and promoters. I presume if the Authority takes over a controlled school it will secure such rights. Therefore, in sheer justice, the managers of an aided school should enjoy the same rights.
The proposed Bill expects the erection of many new schools within the next few years, if so the question of the purchase oh house property must be considered. There is no doubts that much house property will be controlled after the war. Will the Bill give the promoters of Catholic schools the right to demolish controlled property ?