Sm,-As one of those who, a generation ago, was converted to the Solesmes Theory of rhythm by Dom Gregory Murray's "A Pilgrim's Progress," I feel it is now incumbent upon him to publish an equally convincing booklet to prove his present theory. After all, he led us astray!
(Canon) A. S. F,. Buffett Bishop's House, Edinburgh Road, Portsmouth.
'Vatican and Solesmes' Sre,--I deeply regret my careless error in my letter under the above beading in writing. and failing to correct "Moment Musical" when, of course, it should have been "Nombre Musical."
Rs Woodbridge (Rev.) It. Mary Bourne, Andover, 'Hants.
SIR,-I agree most heartily with the views of your correspondents Messrs. Manning and Cannon about the need for the laity to handle more of the temporal affairs of a parish. The temporal needs of the laity have become very complex for the parish priest to deal with them. For example, in many parishes it is the priest who deals with the local Education Authority, often without seeking the views of his parishioners. Yet it is their money and their children which are involved. The present system, wherein the parish priest deals with a very large part of the temporal affairs of his congregation, creates in the minds of "outsiders" the belief that Catholics are completely under the
control of the Church in all matters, whether they are of a spiritual or of a temporal nature. Such a belief nowadays is most injurious to individual Catholics and appears in almost every attack on the Church itself.
The origin of our present state
of affairs lies partly in the apathy of the laity and is also in part a relic of the days when the parish priest was the best and, often, the only educated member of the community. The charge of apathy, while it is true, must, however, be qualified by the reminder that many parish priests appear quite unwilling to hand over their responsibilities outside the. spiritual field to any of their congregation and the capable and enthusiastic Catholic laymen have no means of insisting that they should do so. There can be no doubt that many such well educated and reliable Catholic laymen exist in most parishes. It might be suggested that existing
Catholic societies and associations could very well handle the lay problems of the parish, but there are difficulties in this solution. Some attempts have already been made in some areas to do this, but these have consisted in requests by the clergy to specific bodies to deal with certain temporal problems and have often been accompanied by instructions on how they should proceed.
In any case, the majority of parishes display a spectacle of chaos in their lay societies, most of which work quite independently of each other, so that their functions overlap, their programme of activities clash and their true value is jeopardised. Far from suggesting that the work of these societies should be coordinated, the parish priest usually gives these societies insufficient support, while I have seen instances of one society being encouraged at the expense of others. I have even been told of one parish where the priest actively opposed the for'mation of a branch of a nationally popular society, which was doing good work in neighbouring areas.
Only one solution appears ade
quate; the formation of "parish councils." It is not reasonable for the clergy simply to exclaim that the Catholic Church is not a democracy. In these days, the layman's part is far too important to be brushed aside in this way. He has an important part to play and he is quite capable of performing it. Let parish priests encourage the formation of such parish councils, let them be chosen so that they represent a good crosssection of the congregation and let them perform the following duties :.
I. Study the temporal problems of the Catholic community, such as housing, education, representation in the local Council, health and the thousand other things which affect the individual in his daily life.
2. Represent the Catholic com munity either as a body or by the selection of suitable individuals, in discussion or arguments with Government departments, local authorities and other bodies.
3. Encourage friendly relations with the laity of other churches.
4. Be consulted in the co-ordination of the activities of the various Catholic lay societies.
5. Act as an advisory body to the parish priest in all matters outside the spiritual field.
I dislike pen names, but I use one
as a subscription to this letter. simply because T do not want some local person or society to think I am singling them out. I ant not the trouble is, unfortunately, universal.