"0 N E of the most important and delicate questions which arises concerns the spiritual upbringing of Catholic children in local authority care," Bishop Beck of Salford told the annual conference of the Association of Children's Officers at Folkestone last week.
"I think I am right in saying that there is no clear directive or definition of what this religious upbringing involves," continued the bishop.
It might be said that it was the duty of the Catholic community or authorities to see that, even within the setting of local authority child care, Catholic persons were available for this work, particularly as foster parents and house parents. "We who may still be called the 'Catholic authorities' have still much to do to make our own people more conscious of their responsibilities in this field," said Bishop Beck. "Here again I believe there is a field for closer co-operation between children's departments and rescue authorities and the clergy generally in a joint effort to find suitable foster parents and house-mothers."
The old institutional pattern of child care was easily adaptable to the life of religious communities. The influence of holy people tempered the institutional atmosphere with a charity and a spirit which, though intangible, were a real influence on the lives of the children, "The new pattern of child care has, I think, the firm support of most Catholic authorities concerned with this work," continued the bishop, "You will not be surprised, however, at the note of caution which must have been evident to you. The new pattern involves not only changes of outlook and breaks with tradition but on the material side it involves very heavy expenditure." Denominational religion had • a supremely important role in the development of the personality of the child. The wishes of parents in regard to the religious upbringing of their children must always be respected.