Sir,—Now that workerpriests are apparently to become a regular part of the Church's missionary witness— and not only in France—it is about time that Catholics came to understand the story of the movement. Recent articles in your columns have not been i very accurate n some respects.
In the Church and Industrial Society, a book on the mission of the worker-priests, by Gregor Siefer, and the most detailed work on the subject so far, we read that Cardinal Rancelli (later Pope John) was the great friend of the worker priests, and his recall from Paris meant the beginning of the end for them (page 71).
Yet your Paris correspondent (October 29) and Michael Dennigan (November 5) state that his reports to Rome caused their suppression. Further, Michael Dennigan said that they "rushed" into the movement unprepared save for their ordinary priestly training.
Some few may have. but the majority were specially prepared in the seminary of the Mission de France, opened at Lisieux in 1942 and removed to Limoges in 1952, when 250 seminarians were being trained there specifically for the mission to the workers.
Siefer shows very clearly how all the forces of the right, including, alas, very many "good Catholics" and clergy. not to mention a large section of the Catholic Press, carried on a relentless vendetta against the worker-priests from the start, sending a constant stream of highly prejudiced "reports" to Rome about them.
The Bishops defended the priests valiantly, and publicly denounced this campaign of calumny and detraction. (Siefer also shows very clearly how and where some of the priests really did go wrong.) Oddly enough, the two most notable books on the movement. Siefer's Mission der Arbeiterpriester (Mission of the Worker-Priests) declared by Pere Jacques Lem, 0.P.. 1 understand, to be the best and fairest work on the subject in any language, and Henri Perrin's Itineraire dun Pt-titre Ouvrier extensively quoted therein have both been curiously renamed by their English publishers. The former has become The Church in Industrial Society—a title well calculated to frighten would-be readers off an eminently lively and readable book, and the latter, the Autobiography of Perrin, although that valiant worker-priest never wrote a line of an autobiography.
He was far too busy until his death in 1954 continuing the apostolate described so vividly by him in Priest Workman in Germany, and by Pere Jacques I o c sv, O.P. (not "Father Lowe" as Michael Dennigan calls him) in Mission to the Poorest. two • fascinating books still available in paperback.
The silent non-polemical mission of the Little Brothers of Pere Charles Foucauld is also described in a book by Rene Voillaume, Au Coeur de.v mas.ve.v, and this makes its appearance in English under the title of Seeds of the Desert.
One is accustomed to thinking of book titles as labels chosen to convey as briefly and accurately as possible a book's contents: and the original title of this work does indeed convey the kind of life led by these worker-brothers and -priests, living in workers' flats in docklands and mean streets over the world, including South Lambeth, their London home. But Seeds of the Desert!
Winifred Walshe. London, N.W.8.
Sir,--May I inform your editorialist (December 17) that the US. Government has been explaining to the American people for the past year or so exactly why American soldiers are fighting and dying in South Vietnam? It is certainly crystal clear to me, and to millions of other Americans. Perhaps the disproportionate publicity given to the vociferous fringe has succeeded in creating the opposite impression.
America is in Vietnam for basically the same reason we were in Europe in 1943 and Korea in 1950, to support a free country against unjust aggression. In this case it is to allow the Vietnamese people to live their lives as they themselves determine it to be, free from the attempt to impose a political system upon them by force.
And certainly it is Vietcong troops who are in South Vietnarn, not the other way around; so who is the aggressor? Unfortunately, there are people who cannot fathom an altruistic motive such as this, just as there were people in 1943 who shouted vigorously against American involvement in a Europsan war.
But as Christians, If we are committed to the principle that this is "One World" and all the people in it are my brothers, then what happens to a South Vietnamese under Ho Chi Minh should mean just as much to me as what happens to a Sussex farmer under an Adolf Hitler.
The American goal now, so often repeated by President Johnson, is a negotiated peace. But not peace at any price. otherwise we accomplish nothing and there would soon be another Vietnam in another part of Asia. As regards the socalled "peace feelers" put out by the Communists in 1964, last week North Vietnam dismissed that story as a "fabricated legend". I wish it weren't. So once again, let me assure your editorialist that Americans do know why U.S. soldiers are in Vietnam—perhaps only too clearly.
Rev. Nicholas P. Cushner, S.J. London, S.W.19 Sir,—Defeat in Vietnam is unthinkable. It would be the equivalent of inviting the Americans to take over the whole of south-east Asia, or even, as you point out (December 17) the equivalent of inviting the Chinese.
Victory in Vietnam is credible, and worth fighting for. The kind of victcey the Vietnamese people have in mind is a national liberation from two ditterent, but linked oppressions: French, Japanese, then French again, and now American; and, secondly, the oppression of landlords and 11SeTeTS.
The Vietnamese victory, when finally it is achieved, will not be a defeat for America, China, or any other people. A liberation is a victory for all people, even for those Who out of present ignorance of the origin and nature of the war in Vietnam, consider themselves to he opposed to such a victory.
Denis Knight Tunbridge Wells n o t without sympathy for members of the Latin Mass Society, I sincerely hope that the bishops will resist any clamours for a return of something which is outdated, inappropriate and contradictory to the expressed mind of Christ and his Church.
The Latin Mass was an unhappy relic from the Middle Ages which regrettably lingered for several centuries after it should have been "put to sleep" owing to unfortunate circumstances such as the Reformation. Indeed, if the Latin Mass and accompanying errors had been remedied at the right time, the Reformation would have almost certainly been prevented.
Personally I like Latin and sometimes pray privately in that language. Members of the Latin Mass Society may continue to do the same without let or hindrance, and there seems to be no valid reason why this should not suffice for their spiritual needs.
If they wish to follow the entire Mass in Latin they RTC at liberty to do so and since the Latin Mass was, as we all know to our shame, aimed invariably inaudible, the only difference would be that they would now be following an English Mass in Latin rather than a silent Mass in Latin.
The Mass is fundamentally a meal and 1 feel sure that none of the Latin Mass Society would invite friends to their tables and then converse with them in Latin. If they did their friends would soon take their leave and even had they partaken of food, the entire social aspect of the meal would have been by-passed, As the Mass takes on more and more of its reality as a meal at which we express our union with each other in the love of Christ the use of a foreign language will become more and more anomalous. Michael Nighdngsle Sutton, Surrey
Sir,—Fr. Riley says (December 17) of the teenager's motive, "I might go to hell," that it is "sufficient". Sufficient for the validity of the sacrament of penance, perhaps. Hut how tragically inadequate for responsible, joyous participation in the work of our redemption and—consequently --for the building up of a healthy Christian life, Tragic, because the notion of hell easily becomes devalued or ceases to he credible as a sanction for missing Mass. Edward Quinn Rotherham, Yorks
We regret that In view ot tbel I numbers of letters submitted Wr 1 leannot acknowledge receipt un-: !kir reG•ier, eri..boe pri,falre for irclurn letter, it witublitha. lor p.c. acknowledgment al Feeder of terters.—Edlior,"C.,11.'
Sir,—Some time ago you published letters defending the presence of babies at Mass. I should like to register a protest against bringing the ill-behaved under fives. I realise that there are cases when it is unavoidable, but an increasing number of selfish couples incapable of controlling their under lives now render churchgoing an ordeal, and reduce it to a beargarden every Sunday.
My husband and 1 went alone 40 Mass until our children were old enough at five to understand something and to sit still for an hour. It was miserable for us, but we did it for the children's sake as much as from consideration of other people. Children who discover that they can take advantage of their parents, and who form
the habit of wriggling and playing in church are a menace to their parents and to society.
Nobody minds the occasional chirrup or a little solo chant; but a child in a deliberate tantrum, or who is causing discomfort to the whole congregation by running about and talking should be taken out until it is quiet.
As soon as they realise that this will happen, they will stop, especially if chastised outside. It is so unfair on the good children who are distracted from what is after all an effort of concentration for everybody.
Mrs. N. F. W. Dyckhoff Sale, Cheshire Sits—May an Anglican who has been privileged to know Rome before, during and after the epoch-making Second Vatican Council be allowed to pay public tribute to the memory of the Mgr. Charles Duchem in?
Naturally and properly firm in his convictions, Mgr. Duchemin saw fit, long boore good Pope John or the Council were ever thought of, to invite me (I was then chaplain of All Saints church in the Via del Babuino) frequently to eat and drink—followed always by a welcome visit to the chapel—end then converse amicably, and, as we should all now say, ecumenically, at the old Beda College in San Nicola da Tolentino. The Venerable English College, be it added, was not less hospitable.
The atmosphere created then was in a small way what it has since become in a big way. Dee' gratiav; and thanks too. to Mgr. Duchemin. Literally he was "of the Nay". May May God lead him on along further ways of radiance and uncreated light. Requiescat in pace.
Rev. John Findiow Rome.
Sir,—In past years you have kindly allowed us, through the hospitality of your columns, to thank your readers for their generous support of the work being done 4o help Britain's 75,000 spastic men, women and children, The Spastics Society is the leading organisation in the world for the care of spastics; in the past thirteen years it has established nearly 100 schools, residential homes, training and work centres, It has also helped more than 1,000 spastics to obtain employment, giving them a chance of independence that would once have been impossible.
Much remains to be done, as three spastic babies are born every day in this country, in need of care and treatment.
When your readers are giving their alms, may we ask them to include spastics in their generosity and help us to continue to help them?
Michael Cuntuar, Archbishop of Canterbury. + John C. Heenan, Archbishop of Westminster. Peter McCall, Moderator of the Free Church Federal Council.
Sir,—The need for a crash programme of African education has been stressed as absolutely necessary if a race war is to be avoided.
However, in fairness, we should not allow this call to wage a "scholastic crusade" to obscure what has been achieved already. Only recently I received a letter from a missionary priest who teaches at Kitabi Seminary, Mbarara, Uganda, in which he writes:—
"Here everything is fine: we have 15 students who have been accepted at the Major Seminary and out of more than 100 applicants we have accepted 69 new students. During the year we have been registered as an official (but private) school, and ('antbridge has accepted us as an examination-centre. So for the first time our students had not to go to another school for their final examination which, we hope, is a good thing for their nerves.
"And they are no more considered as private candidates which is a good thing for the students who do not continue for the priesthood and who like to continue their studies elsewhere. The only drawback is still that we do not take science as a subject, but in three years time biology and health science will be on the list: in January they will start building our laboratory."
This writer, of course, refers to a seminary, but his remark about the education of those who do not continue to the priesthood is encouraging, as they will be able to serve the Church by using their knowledge in other fields.
The work done over the years by many devoted missionaries is now bearing fruit, and we in Britain can best help to keep law and order in Africa by supporting their efforts even more loyally and generously than we have in the past.
Elizabeth Beamish Southampton
&at Sir,—Your recent report of the bullfighter who alleged that his superiors had told him. when he failed to become a monk, that he could serve God equally well as a bullfighter made horrifying reading and must have given an entirely false impression of the Roman Catholic C'hurch's attitude to the bullfight.
Could you not have pointed out, in an editorial note, that the Church has always condemned what Cardinal Gaspard described in 1920 as "those shameful and bloody spectacles"?
At one time, bishops and rulers who allowed the bullfight were excommunicated and bullfighters killed in the ring were denied C'hristian burial.
In 1957, Pope Pius XII refused to receive bullfighters who wished to give him a present. All power to those Spanish Catholics who do their utmost to persuade visitors from this country and others not to visit the bullrings.
Can your excellent paper not help them instead of making their task more difficult?
(Miss) Joan Chaloner London. S.W.I 2
Our report was not designed to encourage bullfightleg.—Editor.
Sir,—Did Senor Juan Garcia Mondeno's "Dominican Superiors" really believe that he could serve God as well as a bullfighter as a friar? Do they think that tormented bulls and disembodied horses "serve God"?
A. Francis Harris Wirral, Cheshire.
Sir, — I read in the Observer that "the Roman Catholic Church in England has the enormous annual income of about £21 million".
This figure of £21 million does not surprise me. My only comment is that it is miserably small.
The, Catholic population of England is probably about five million, so that an income of £21 million would represent just over £4 per head or Is. 9d. per week per head—say 7s. a week for the average family of four persons. The average family income in this country is £42 per week, If we assume that the average family income of Catholics is £35 per week (700s), we conclude that Catholic families spend 693s. (99 per cent) per week on themselves, and give a wretched pittance of only 'is. per week (1 per cent) to God.
It is an appalling state of affairs.
John F. L. Baty Orpington, Kent
ii. Modcalfs letter regarding the moving by Archbishop Cranmer of the Gloria in excelsis from the start to the end of the Eucharistic Liturgy was published on the same day as the Report of the Liturgical Reform Commission appointed by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York. Among other things the Report suggests that the Gloria in excelsis be moved back to the position it has always occupied in the Roman Rite!
The suggestion follows the recommendation of the last Lambeth Conference, as also the Liturgy of the Church of South India, the New "Liturgy Africa" and the Draft Rite of the Church of Wales, The wheel spins, so it seems.
T. (Sweeney London. N.7
Sir.—In your issue of December 17, Rev. John Medcalf states that at least one of our new "Bidding Prayers" is an exact copy of a Cranmer Collect.
1 would just like to point out---for I have not hitherto seen it mentioned in either the Anglican or our own press— that hoth our new Gloria and Creed are also (almost) identical copies of Cranmer s translations albeit modernised,
'F. M. Battle Birmingham 31.