Page 5, 30th July 1965

30th July 1965
Page 5
Page 5, 30th July 1965 — The role of the laity

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The role of the laity

Sir,—I would suggest that Mr.

McGowan (July 16) could obtain a great deal of helpful information and guidance on the administration of parish affairs from the parochial church council of any one of hundreds of Anglican churches.

It is right for his committee to

seek to take from the parish priest's shoulders as muoh as possible of that which does not require the priestly office, leaving the parish priest free to carry out the work for which he was ordained — the administration of the Sacraments and the pastoral care of his people.

1 should be glad to write to Mr.

McGowan privately on the formation and rules of order for such a Committee as he has in mind, as it would take up too much space in your paper.

(Mrs.) D. M, Harvey, London, N.17.

Sir, — The Sevenoaks Catholic Association briefly mentioned in my recent letter (July 16) provides a single comprehensive organisation for Lay Catholic Action embracing the entire parish.

Under the spiritual guidance and the presidency of the parish priest—who is thus able to exercise an over-riding control over its activities and policy—the Association is governed by an Executive Committee with a lay chairman. The assistant priests are ex-officio members of the committee, the nucleus of which is a body of nine elected lay men and women.

Elections to the committee take place each year at the annual general meeting of the Association, which also provides th e parishioners with . an opportunity for ventilating their views about the affairs of the parish in general, and the Association in particular.

The Association deals with all those multifarious activities in the life of the parish which are complementary to the pastoral work of the clergy but which can he carried out by lay people — the Christmas bazaar, the Summer Fete, youth organisation, discussion group, welfare work and so on.

It also provides for Catholic representation on local bodies such as the Old People's Welfare Committee; and it takes up with the local authorities and the Member of Parliament matters affecting local Catholic or Christian interests. Membership of the Assodiation is currently around 1,400, so it can fairly claim to be representative of the local Catholic community.

The parish priest thus has at his disposal a representative body of responsible parishioners to whom he can entrust any task or turn to for advice and assistance at short notice at any time; and he has repeatedly expressed his appreciation of the practical value of this arrangement. Last year, for example, at his request the Association investigated the question of planned giving and submitted to him a suitable shceme for that purpose.

One of the Association's early achievements was obtaining the release from a mental institution of the son of a parishioner who had been detained, unjustifiably as the Association contended, for 72 years. This man has since settled down well and has amply justified the action taken by the Association. A more recent success was a 'campaign to persuade the local education authority to grant free places at a local convent, which they had long refused to do. This brief account will, I hope. suffice to show how valuable an organisation of this kind can be in a parish: in fact it is difficult to see how otherwise a parish can play its full part in the Church's grand design of bringing about the Kingdom of God on earth. I shell be happy to provide further particulars for any of your readers who are interested.

Capt. S. E. Norfolk, R.N. (Rid.) Sevcnoaks, Kent.


Sir,—May I assure Mr. McCarthy (July 23) that I am not a tobacco manufacturer, nor do I hold any tobacco shares—I am not even a smoker?

Mr. McCarthy does not appear to have read Professor Eysenck's hook before criticising my review of it. Had he done so, he would doubtless have noted the author's reservations about much of the current research into the causes of lung cancer. The central argument of the book is that research based on smoking as the sole contributory factor is inadequate. The crux of the matter seems to be that most smokers do not contract lung cancer. Many people, therefore. can apparently smoke in perfect safety to themselves, and it may well be that they form a particular "constitutional" type (to use the Professor's term) which could eventually be defined by the kind of research which Eysenck is such a type, then I can If there advocates.

see no reason why those who conform to it should not carry on smoking. I do not regard the habit as particularly aesthetic or socially useful, but smokers have as much right to indulge in it responsibly as non-smokers like myself have to our non-smoking compartments and to the serious consideration of banning smoking in cinemas and other public places.

Unless research is to be directed beyond the current anti-smoking campaign, to find if it is possible to distinguish those who can smoke safely from those who cannot, then the whole operation becomes, in my opinion, an indiscriminate and illiberal scare. even though such prophylactic gestures as the Government's ban on TV commercials for cigarettes may result in some individuals not contracting the lung cancer from which they might otherwise have died.

David Crawford

Teddington, Middx.

We regret that in view (it the' numbers of letters submitted we Cannot acknowledge receipt unless readers enclose postage for return of leiter. if unpublished, or p.c. acknowledgement of receipt of letter.—lileitor, "CR".

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