was launched last week, it gave new hope to the million people in this country living in sub-standard housing.
One priest who continually faces the problems of slum housing is Mgr. Anthony Reynolds. His riverside parish in London's Borough has a population of 12,000. He thinks it should be only half that. Buildings are crumbling, some are without electricity. Some have only the barest pretence at sanitation, with one lavatory between 30 people.
A typical family in his parish, with three half-way houses within a mile of each other, is a mother and father, two teenage sons, a teenage daughter and two younger children: they all live in one room with a kitchen and pay £2 14 0 for it. The paper peels off the walls because it is so damp.
Even if this family is re-housed--constant requests to the council have produced no results so far—the situation will be no better, for there will be another family, just as big, ready to move in right away.
"Our chief problem," Mgr. Reynolds says, "is tension. Then there are all kinds of moral and social problems such as teenagers of mixed sexes sleeping together." He points out that the more chances of work there are in an area, the more acute becomes the housing shortage. "This is being accentuated in our part of London during the squeeze."
But he does see a better side to the slum areas. "Where people are living on top of each other the good families can give a lead to the others, producing a very fine community spirit. They help each other far more, you know."
Mgr. Reynolds thinks that this is where the London authorities are making a big mistake "in re-housing everybody everywhere. We must do much more to build up communities, not break them down. If a person has lived in the Borough all his life, then he should be re-housed in the Borough. This business of shifting everyone about tends to break up human relationships." His own parish is certainly community minded with a thriving club which is packed every night of the week. "We now sell £200 worth of beer every week," he says with a hint of pride. "And this club is one of the most effective ways of contacting people."
Unscented, of course
"... a sophisticated perfume in the modern idiom, has rich jasmine undertones. Of lasting qualities, it is suitable for both daytime and evening wear."
Dior, Yardley, Elizabeth Arden? Wrong every time. It's the perfumes of the Monks of Caldey, an island off the Welsh coast. Their brochure which I received this week can compare to anything the professionals produce in style and soft-sale. You have a choice of Island Gorse "a fine fully balanced perfume", Brocade with "its warm spicy notes and rich woody fragrance", Parfurn Colognes a "perfume for the bath" and many others.
The Caldey Monks are Cistercians, an order established in 1098 by Robert de Champagne, to restore the rule of St. Benedict to its full vigour.
A diocese for the Abbot?
THE news that Abbot Butler is to be a bishop has been received enthusiastically. One aspect of the appointment, though. has caused comment: why has this renowned scholar been given only a comparatively minor position as auxiliary of Westminster?
A theory given voice in The Observer, that the
They set up in the perfume business in 1953 to help the Abbey finances. Their first effort was distilled lavender water which was sold to the Island visitors.
Now they have many varieties, perfumes, lotions, after shave, toilet waters and talc, selling 150,000 bottles each year. The monks, who train in Europe's best perfume schools, have established marketing companies in this country and in America.
'their newest perfume Island Bouquet was introduced last summer after three years of experiment, Fr. Stephen Peate, the Cellarer told me. It is, he said, "very successful". Like all the other products of Caldey Abbey, it is made from the flowers and gorse that grow on the Island.
Do the monks use their own after shave? "No," said Fr. Stephen, "but we do use the hand cream," adding "an unscented version, of course."
Abbot will succeed Cardinal Heenan when. and if, the Cardinal gets the rumoured Rome post is unlikely. It is well-known that Cardinal Heenan's overriding interest is in pastoral work, and he is unlikely to accept a desk job, even if it is in Rome.
Another theory is that the Cardinal is anxious to retire when he reaches 65 (in three years' time) in order to return to ordinary parish work and Abbot Butler would succeed him then. Again, this is hardly credible since, even if the Cardinal did want to retire, such a step would be viewed with alarm by both the Pope and British Catholics, the great majority of whom hold him in very high esteem.
I'm putting my money on a very different horse. The bishops are already discussing the question of re-apportioning the dioceses into smaller and more workable units. My guess is that Hertfordshire, which Abbot Butler has been given responsibility for, is to be one of the first new dioceses, and that it is only a matter of time before the Abbot becomes a diocesan bishop.
In the event of none of this happening, and Abbot Butler remaining auxiliary of Westminster, there can be no doubt that the students at St. Edmund's seminary will now be taught by one of the most open and lively minds in the Church.
Readers are generous
As you will have read on the front page, we are now half-way towards our target for the £2.000 Christmas Appeal. That's good news indeed! What are the chances of reaching the target by Christmas? Well, that is up to our readers. But going on your generosity in the past. I would say we have a very good chance.
This week I am going down to St. John's Convent at Kiln Green in Berkshire to take their television. Philips, the electrical manufacturers have given this, so I will be able to give Mother Therese a nice cheque from our readers in addition. If possible, we'll print a photograph of the priests with their telly next week.
Please remember that there are three other charities looking forward to their share of the appeal. Don't let's disappoint them. Please send your donation, however small, to me, Kevin Mayhew, Catholic Herald, 67 Fleet St., London E.C.4.
This week also brought a great response to my piece about Fr. Florio who wants Catholic families to entertain overseas students in their homes at Christmas. More than twenty families have responded, and Sister Consuelo at the Marist Convent in Devon is encouraging her pupils to ask their parents to extend an invitation.
This really is important work, and if you can help, please write to me, and I will pass your name on to Fr. Florio. As I mentioned last week, if they are not invited somewhere for Christmas, these girls and boys will spend it in their rooms, studying. Not a very pleasant prospect!
Enthusiastic but indifferent
ROY MACGREGOR-HASTIE, whose new book The Throne of Peter has just been published by Abelard-Schuman, says he is "fascinated by the topic of autocracy, and the decline of democracy". So fascinated. in fact, that he has already written biographies of Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul VI.
Pope John, he thinks, did a great P.R. job on the Church. "Who else could put it on the front page of Pravda?" But Mr. MacGregor-Hastie does not subscribe to the vision of John as a simple pastor. "He was an extremely shrewd diplomat", he says. "And what's more, he was most undemocratic."
His new book which surveys the papacy from Peter to the present day took three years to complete. He thinks that the only complete failure in two thousand years of Popes was John XII who became Pope at the age of 18, and thereafter was variously accused of sacrilege, simony, perjury, murder and incest. Even the Borgias, "men who had no right to be Popes" often became better men in spite of themselves, he says.
Mr. MacGregor-Hastie knows Pope Paul well, and inevitably, as fellow contributors to Humanitas, there has been a constant exchange of ideas between them. In spite of his reputation as a somewhat aloof and scholarly man, Popv Paul is, he says, a humorist, "with a Punch like sense of humour". And the Pope is a keen amateur gardener too, "always swopping plants with his next door neighbour. He's enthusiastic about it, but rather indifferent as a gardener", thinks Mr. MacGrcgor-Hastie.
* * *
"If you are a loyal Catholic and a priest. you do not argue with a bishop. You merely find ways of out-manoeuvring him." From a Mime at last week's Y.C.W. Rally in the Albert Hall.