Page 2, 8th March 1940

8th March 1940
Page 2
Page 2, 8th March 1940 — CONVERSION OF ENGLAND Anglican Clergyman's View

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CONVERSION OF ENGLAND Anglican Clergyman's View

SIR,—As an Anglican clergyman I have read the correspondence on the Conversion of England with great interest. May I crave a little space in your splendid paper for one or two things I should like to say?

If I seem hurtful and over-critical I hope your readers will forgive me; it is entirely unintentional. I cannot express in words the tenderness and sincere admiration I have for the Catholic community in this country. No one who is at all sensitive could

fail to recognise that Catholics have won the place they now occupy in English life. When sometimes I steal into Westminster Cathedral, and, kneeling by the body of Blessed John Southwoeth, watch the Liturgy performed with such magnificence, I feel you have earned every bit of what you know possess.

You have, it seems to me, great and wonderful assets at the present time. First the loyalty and devotion of Catholic layfolk. The beet advertisement of the Faith to the ordinary nonreligious man is the crowd that goes in and out of every Catholic church; the crowd not of specially " churchy people, but of ordinary people such as you see going in and out of a• tube station or restaurant. Second, you have the position of the Pope in the world to-day. Ile is the one international figure. And you are the Pope, In the eyes of ordinary men as well as in your own belief. Thirdly, you, like the Church down the ages, go to the world not with problems, but with the solutions to the world's problems. The Faith. with you, is clear-cut, definite. objective.

But here come my criticisms. Why are you not sweeping the country? Why out of 1,345 conversions, were only 79 previously without religion and 1.147 members of the Church of England? Why aren't you winning the ungodly, the materialist:, the sensual. ists. the people, in short, who are polluting the atmosphere and helping to cause the lapse of so many young Catholics?

Thee are many reasons no doubt; I will give you three:

So much of your propaganda is run on the lines of " We are the best and only true sect, join us." You are sectarian through and through. If you had half an eye on the whole position you would spend your time telling Protestants where they are right, not where they are wrong. As it is, the average Englishman thinks you are something quite different from what he has known. Perhaps not con sciously, but certainly unconsciously he places you outside Christianity; not so far outside as the Jews and Moslems but rather in that direction. This may astound some of your readers. but I am convinced it is true. You are another religion.

Next it seems to me that the authorities have not given you every aid in bringing your Church back into English life. I feel that special privileges should be granted to your parish churches in this country, e.g., Mass in the vernacular occasionally; and Com• munion in two kinds. If Melkite Uniates have the latter privilege (obscure as they are) retained from the past why cannot Catholics in England be treated in the same way with an eye to the future? What is the sense of ignoring the established religious traditions of the country. Even if those traditions have been among schismatics and heretics, they're real and living.

And be tly, haven't you learnt anything from the Reformation? Is the commercialised cultus still necessary? I appreciate the reluctance of the Church to interfere with popular

devotion. I set no limits ' to the miracles that God may to day perform at this or the other shrine. But I do deplore the advertisements that appear in some Catholic papers, and parade the Supernatural as though the sending of money will bring the benefit desired like some cough cure or other I do so wish this unworthy way of raising money could be done away with, and that things that are on the face of it miraculous could be kept quiet. I am sure its a hindrance. And, incidentally, un-Catholic.

Why do I write such a letter as this? Because far from the progress of the "Catholic Church " being harmful to Anglicans, it Is and must be helpful. I wish you could say the same about us; but I suppose you can't. AU the same, I cannot see that you would be better off were wo to decline and die. Without the Church of England, indeed Without the Christian witness of all who love Our Lord in England, your position would be infinitely more difficult, if not actually perilous. Cecil. CLARK (REV.). St. George's, Bloomsbury.

Concrete Plan

Sia—By the " Conversion of England " we really mean, I think, two distinct operations, viz.: the spiritual conversion of the people to Christianity (which is. of course, the Catholic Church), and the official conversion of the nation to Catholicism (which Is, of course, true Christianity).

The first is certainly the main thing to be desired, but to all who read Fr. Davey's letter last week it must be obvious what a great help it would be if we could accomplish the second. The task might look almost hopeless as things stand at present, but we know that nothing is impossible with the help of God's grace. and actually stranger and more seemingly impossible things have happened in secular affairs— for instance, the grant of self-government to Ireland by a Unionist government, and the sudden change of this country's policy from free trade to tariffs.

It is. therefore, a consolation to recognise that, although the prevalent mentality in this country is secularist and rationalist, yet there still exist powerful movements which are Christian in spirit. A more hopeful thing still is that we can discern among the workers in those movements an honest desire to close up the divisions between Christians and to work in union. The Great Novena to St. Gregory the Great, for instance, is not confined to Catholics, I happen to know that among the Society of Friends (Quakers) and other Nonconformist bodies there is a search for the possibility of general reunion, and it is certain that many Anglicans would welcome reunion with the Catholic Church.

For non-Catholics to effect a compromise by which they could unite without absolute fusion would not be a difficult matter, but the necessary submission to the Catholic Church is on a different plane. It would be a terrific change. involving the casting aside of centuryold prejudices and the adoption of an absolutely new mentality. In fact, it might truly be said that for Catholic mentality to permeate the present or any single generation of English people already educated in another, incompatible with it, is a sheer impass:bility. But It would be possible to train a new generation to it, and at the same time bring about that spiritual conversion for which we hope and pray. If, (nen, in the present generation we could bring about a nominal submission to the Catholic Church, which, while fully maintaining the positkin of the Church of God and the inviolability of her dogmas, were to present Itself to sincere members of other denominations under the aspect of compromise, we should be setting up a state of things which would create the right atmosphere and could be used by the grace of God for bringing about the conversion of England in the next generation.

To explain my meaning, the Church has in the course of history used even pagan rites and customs, retaining and blessing them for Christian use. Much more surely, then, could she use for her purpose organisations, rites and customs which are already partially, though not completely enough, Christian. To-day. also, she gives to lay people a very real partnership in the priestly vocation, under the guidance of the Hierarchy. Could we not, then, in every district try to establish contact with other religiolie bodies, and endeavour to catalogue, as it were, all their good points, everything in them that is not out of harmony with Catholicism, and at the same time reveal to them true Catholic teaching?

We should be surprised, I think, to find how much closer good Nonconformists are to the Catholic spirit than we imagine. The Church of England is more formal, but the Nonconformists' is essentially a personal religion, the personal worship of Our Lord. With us, our formalities are the outward expression of our inner personal religion. Once goodwill is established it should not be difficult to lead Nonconformists to see that they are both natural and biblical. The next step would be to stimulate in every way the desire for Christian reunion among Catholics, Anglicans and Nonconformists who are Christian, and to create such a strong public opinion for it that it would be reflected In the Press and in Parliament.

The appearance of compromise to which I have referred would then be this. There would be a national submission to the Catholic Church led by the King and the two Houses of Parliament. An Act of Parliament would reestablish the Catholic religion as the religion of this country, leaving freedom of conscience to all who wished to remain outside. The Holy See would leave all Church of England dignitaries, Bishops and clergy in possession of their benefices and the temporalities attached to them for the lifethne of the existing holder, and appoint a Catholic priest or Bishop to succeed them afterwards. Meantime, their status would be that of lay catechists, and they would preach, using Catholic text books for guidance, and hold services such as Mattine and Evensong. As often as possible a Catholic priest would say Mass and renew the Blessed Sacrament, and give Benediction. Where necessary, conditional baptisms would be administered to those wishing to become Communicants in the Catholic Church. Eventually, the Sees of Canterbury and Westminster would be united as the primatial see. with a Benedictine Prior and chapter at Canterbury and a secular chapter at Westminster. Nonconformist bodies would be regarded as organisalions within the Catholic Church, and their ministers, too, have the status of lay catechists and be permitted to conduct their habitual services so far as there was nothing Incompatible with Catholic teaching in them. Within a set period, their churches also would be handed over.

Meantime, in every school in the country—public, secondary and primary. and every university—Catholic teaching would be given, and children and young men and women trained in Catholic thought and practice. All would be baptised and initiated into the Sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist

As regards the funds at present held by the Church of England, these would be pooled as each beneficiary died and administered by a national ecclesiastical commission protected by Act of Parliament. for the maintenance of ancient cathedrals and churches classed as national monuments, the adequate maintenance of Bishops, the support of homes for orphans, the sick and the aged and for the promotion of foreign missions.

I make these suggestions in humble submission to the Catholic Church, whose teaching, discipline and conduct of affairs I would never presume to question or wish to question, and I realise that only the Sovereign Pontiff could guide us in such a matter.

E. S. Strreme (Rev.) Catholic Church, Ruislip.

The View That Matters

Sin,—I have followed with much Interest your correspondence on the above subject, and the letters in last eeek's issue are especially to the point. Father Ignatius Spencer, C.F., is buries within a few yards of where I write, so Father Howard's tribute touched a sympathetic chord in the heart of the writer: " We need a second Father Ignatius Spencer amongst us. His Apoatolate prepared the way for the Oxford Movement."

But, whilst all the letters are without exception stimulating and give food tot thought the roost practical are the two headed, " Put Your Own House in Order' and " The Bad Catholic ": here we are undoubtedly at the core of the matter As a convert of over forty years standing I would advise all members of the Household of Faith to " read, mark, learn and inwardly digest' those two letters. The advice applies also to the so-called " Good Catholic " who is never absent from Mass, present at numerous Benedictions, approaches the Sacraments at least monthly, but does not realise that the misuse of the tongue is a great evil, above all where his neighbour's character is in question.

As Mr Cole rightly observes, " We may multiply our societies and discuss this subject ad infinitum, but only in proportion as we love God and have true charity towards others shall we advance this great cause," URBAN YOUNG, C.P. St. Anne's Retreat, Sutton,

St. Helens, Lancashire.

Missionary Zeal

SIR,—As one who believes that the Conversion of England depends on a deepening and growth of spirituality in the hearts of English Catholics, and that its new spirituality will come from a reawakening of missionary zeal and love for the foreign missions, I should like to remind readers that every Archbishop of Westminster — Wiseman, Manning. Vaughan, Bourne and Hinsley—has said emphatically that the Conversion of England will be brought nearer by every prayer and good work for the foreign missions. Manning said this was "the surest way." We cannot convert ourselves. yet alone others, if at the same time we are attacking at its very roots supernatural Catholic charity by limiting so infinite a gift to the peoples of our own land. There are various forms of nationalism. Is English Catholic nationalism a greater or less evil than other varieties? In any form, said Pius XI, it is a curse.


Perpetual Novena

SIR,—As a Servant of Mary, may I suggest to the very many readers who are following this correspondence that their prayerful aspirations might be unified in the Perpetual Novena to Our Lady of Sorrows? The Perversion of England was surely one of Mary's great sorrows. A nation-wide petitioning of Mary through this Novena would bring both to us and to those whom we are trying to convert the light and energy that we all need.

The Novena is made each Friday at the Servite Church in London (address, The Servite Fathers, 284, Fulham Road, S.W.10i, and at the Church of St. Francis Xavier (rector, Fr J. Dukes, S.J.), In Liverpool (address, 8, Salisbury Street Liverpool, 3). Particulars may be had from the Servite Fathers at the address below.

GERARD M. CORR, O.S.M. St. Mary's Priory,

264, Fulham Road,

London, 8.W.10„

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