By Staff Reporters
A SOUTH AFRICAN priest who has attacked the South African bishops for supporting the right to conscientious objection, and described the policy of opening Church schools to all races as "stupid, Utopian ideals" has been described as "living 30 years behind the times" by Archbishop Denis Hurley of Durban in a telephone interview this week. .
Fr Francis Morscher, who works in the Transvaal and is a founder member of the newly formed Catholic Defence League, said
recently that the bishops'
support for conscientious objection, the appointment of black priests to predominantly white areas, the integration of schools and the bishops' constant criticism of the government would lead to the break-up of the Church.
"I object to the bishops supporting people who don't want to go and fight on the border. We can't afford to leave our country's borders open to the infiltration of Communism," he said.
Fr Morscher said he did not object to school integration on
racial grounds but because of the cultural and intellectual "gap" between blacks and whites. It was unfair to whites and blacks to lump them together in one school. "We must be realistic", he said.
The decision to admit black pupils to Catholic schools recently caused a confrontation with the government, but after a meeting on March 28 between Archbishop Joseph Fitzgerald of Johannesburg and government officials it was announced that action against the schools would be postponed until the end of the year provided that no more black pupils were accepted for the rest of the year or in 1978.
The matter has been referred to the Cabinet, and Dr Piet Koornhof, Minister of National Education, has promised that the issue will be dealt with as a matter of urgency. In the interim both Church and government officials have agreed to refrain from further comment.
Fr Morscher, however, has objected to the bishops' criticisms of the Government. "1 am aware that the government sometimes does stupid things, but then who doesn't?" he said. "We must be aware of the danger of Communism and support the government." South African security police recently raided the headquarters of the Bishops' Conference in Pretoria, apparently searching for a
pamphlet entitled "Heroes or Yesterday, Martyrs of tne Struggle" which had earlier been circulated to commemorate the Sharpville massacre and the deaths in the riots in Soweto last year.
Archbishop Fitzgerald said he was seriously perturbed by the raid,-and added: "No useful purpose could be achieved, only great harm to the name of South Africa all over the world."
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Church and country. His claim that the League has 300 priests as members and a potential membership of more than a thousand is, however. strongly challenged by Archbishop llurley.
"Fr Morscher is an isolated voice among the clergy," he said. "He is living 30 years behind the times and I don't know anyone in this area who supports him. I doubt that the Catholic Defence League has anything like the support he claims.
"The decisions of the Bishops' Conference were taken to affirm the unity and concern of the Church in regard to the major problems facing people in a difficult and tense situation in South Africa," said Archbishop Hurley. "The bishops are completely united on these issues and have the full support of the clergy."
Fr Morscher claimed that the • appointment of black priests to predominantly white parishes would lead to upheaval and the break-up of the Church..
Archbishop Hurley, on the other hand, said that while it was necessary to proceed with prudence on this issue, such appointments would certainly not have the drastic effect suggested by Fr •Morscher and would in no way lead to the break-up of the Church.
"We already have one Indian bishop, Bishop Stephen Niadoo, Auxiliary of Cape Town, and he is very well accepted", said Archbishop Hurley. "Although as yet we do not have black parish priests in .white areas, black priests serving as curates or assistants to these parishes are well accepted."
On the issue of conscientious objection, Archbishop Hurley said that all the bishops had called for was a recognition that there were people who felt troubled in conscience about joining the army in the present situation.
A further dimension was added to the relationship of the Church to the black community this week with the publication of a study claiming that by the year 2000 95 per cent or South Africa's Catholics would be non-white.
The report, published in the bulletin of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. said that in the last half of the century the racial
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Hurley angry at 'Utopia' warning
Continued from page I make up of South African Catholics had undergone a revolutionary change.
In 1920, three-fourths of South African Catholics were ,khite, but by 1960 the racial make-up changed to 70 per cent black, 11 per cent coloured about I per cent Asian and only 18 per cent white.
International pressure on companies investing in South Africa intensified this week
with 12 major American companies agreeing to implement six principles concerning the operation of their affiliates in South Africa.
The companies, which include the Ford Motor Cornpuny, the Mobil Oil Corporation and IBM, have agreed to press for equal pay for all employees, regardless of race the desegregation of recreational facilities, and equal and fair employment practices for all employees. The companies have also stated that they will initiate and develop training programmes for black workers and increase the number of blacks in management and supervisory positions as well as improving the quality of employees lives outside work in such areas as housing, transport, schooling and health facilities.
Cathedral Appeal, however, have said that they do not intend to reverse their policy of accepting gifts from certain companies involved in activities in Southern Africa.
The policy was questioned by Mgr Bruce Kent, National Chaplain of Pax Christi,. and others when it was revealed last August that the appeal had accepted donations from Rio Tinto Zinc, the Midland Bank and other companies which have business connections with South Africa. The trustees said they had noted the queries raised about the propriety of accepting gifts from such companies but that we do not agree that the issues are clear enough to have required us to decline gifts coming from such sources."
The trustees said, however, that they wished to make it clear that ."we are firmly of the opinion that apartheid is a system of racialism which is unChristian and also uncharacteristic of the other great religions, and should be brought to an end as soon as possible by every non-violent means available."
British Companies involved in Southern Africa should pay equitable wages and maintain good working conditions irrespective of the colour of their employees, the trustees said.
"Moreover, they should do everything in their power to influence racialist governments to, pursue policies in a non-racial direction."
Mgr Kent said this week that, given the lack of awareness in Catholic circles about the attitudes of companies like Midland Bank and Rio Tinto Zinc, "at least I welcome the trustees' clear acceptance of the principle that all companies working in racialist political structures should be positively working non-violently for just social change.
"In my experience this is a very different attitude from the one that is normally expressed by the leaders of companies involved in Southern Africa," he said.
"British companies have got great potential for bringing pressure to bear on racialist governments, and I shall certainly, in the light of the trustees' statement, be asking that companies should put the principle of non-violent social change into operation."