DESPITE the danger warnings of recent years there appears to be no dearth of firework displays planned for this weekend.
They are being held all over the country and have been extensively advertised since there is money to be made out of them. There is even one tomorrow evening at St Ursula's in Westbury-on-Trim (Bristol ).
Should it be surprising for "Gunpowder, Treason and Plot" to be recalled in such manner at a well known Catholic school?
It may depend on whether or not you are one of those Catholics who look upon Guy Fawkes as a romantic hero whose action was meant to bring about a general rising in favour of the "ancient Faith."
Such an attitude is understandable on the sentimental plane. But supposing the Houses of Parliament were blown up next week by a member of the Provisional IRA?
Those Catholics who affect to admire Guy Fawkes would surely condemn the action, even though the moral factors involved are similar.
Baptismal water. however, is sometimes thicker than spilled blood. And moral attitudes can often operate — though quite unconsciously — at two completely separate levels simultaneously.
How we are viewed
SUCH FACTORS were highly relevant to the question posed by last Sunday's ITV "Credo" programme: "Are Roman Catholics bigger sinners than the rest of us?"
The programme lacked punch and human interest and was much too abstract. It was not particulaly interesting to hear the theorisings of supposed experts. Far more revealing would have been a glance at the human raw material involved.
As far as it went, however, it was a disturbing indictment of traditional methods, long favoured within the well defined Catholic system of education and indoctrination. Such methods were nevertheless not necessarily all bad.
The programme's unwelcome findings highlighted the loneliness and frustration of so many Catholics who, having been made frightened by the idea of sex, take to drink or drugs rather than marriage as a way of life.
The fact that so many parishes are in no way communities was also cited as a prime reason for the failure of the Catholic system.
Perhaps more important was the blame laid on the unattractively negative approach of former catechetical methods. The programme was thus, indirectly, a vindication of the more personalist and, at times, even existentialist nature of the "new theology", widely misunderstood as it still is.
Condemned by implication was the old theory that Catholics receive far more efficacious grace through the sacraments than the unfortunate. spiritually undernourished members of other Christian denominations on whom so many of us were brought up to look down (in charity.) Since non-Catholic "ministers" had no valid orders they could not make present Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.
Catholics, on the other hand. received superabundant grace ev opere operato It could not fail — in theory. But in practice, it appears to have failed very badly and the undernourished second class Christians of other churches seem to have conquered the devil, the world and the flesh better than ourselves.
Yet it is not all the fault of Catholicism's formidable but naive head-in-the-tabernacle, holier-than-thou brigade. "Liberal" methods are not necessarily more successful unless administered with greater wisdom and humility than is possessed by some of the selfstyled champions of enlightenment whose own indiscretions are often the result of misplaced enthusiasm.
They too are the victims of the system.
Wrong city wong verdict
IMAGINE the discomfiture of Archbishop Worlock when reading in the Times Diary for October 30 that the Apostolic Delegate was working on his list of recommendations to the Pope for a new Archbishop of Liverpool.
The Archbishop may have his critics in a diocese notorious for the outspokenness and independence of its clergy. But this sounded like a possible twirl) to those who did not know that The Times diarist really meant Birmingham.
A curious mistake you may think. But The Tinte.‘ does things like this. Humanae Vitae was the most controversial papal encyclical of modern times — probably ever.
When all the lesser journals had had their say about it after it was issued, The Time.s finally decided to give its readers the benefit of a definitive verdict.
In a portentous leader the arguments were carefully and circumspectly presented. We could have no doubts that there was much to be said either "on the one hand" or "on the other."
The effect, however. was somewhat spoiled when the encyclical itself was referred to as flumani Generis, a document that had appeared some IS years earlier.
As Ronald Frankau was fond of saying, "is that really true, or is it just something from The Times?"
High Court recollections
CONGRATULATIONS to N1 r J usi ice James Comyn on his splendid hook of fact and fable about life long ago at the Irish bar. It rivals the classic accounts of Maurice Healey and Sergeant Sullivan who covered sonic of the same ground. Many of the anecdotes are rich in paradox and inscrutability.
The interesting question is: have things changed all that much over the years? Not long ago in south County Limerick the Church of Ireland parish church was burned down as the result of a drunken dare. All the locals knew the identity of the arsonist but no jury could be found to secure a conviction. The case was dropped by the State which magnanimously supplied the funds for a new church.