Difficulties ahead for Church in S. Africa THE election of Hendrik Verwoerd as Prime Minister of South Africa, following the death of Mr. Strijdom presages a period of increased difficulties for Catholic missionary work among the nation's non-white majority. The new Premier is one of the country's most militant advocates of white supremacy and the government's policy of apartheid, which has repeatedly been denounced by the Catholic Hierarchy. Since he became Minister of Native Affairs in 1948 Mr. Verwoerd has been regarded in the Union as the chief architect of the policies tightening government control over all aspects of the lives of non-whites-the country's 11 million Negroes, Coloured (mixed race) and Asians. He introduced the 1953 Bantu Education Act, which gradually cut off government subsidies to Catholic and Protestant mission schools for Negroes. Many mission schools have been forced to close, including six run by Catholics, which were forced to shut down because they were not granted registration by the Department of Native Affairs.
Some 370 Catholic mission schools attended by 122,000 students, however, are still in operation. When the withdrawal of government subsidies, which had amounted to more than £570,000 annually, was completed last year, the schools began to draw on a fund of over £700,000 contributed by South African Catholics The new Premier also introduced the Native Laws Amendment Act of 1957 which gave him the power to order that no Negroes "shall attend any church or other religious service . . . on premises situated in any urban area outside a Native residential area." Virtually all Protestant leaders in South Africa except those of the Dutch Reformed Churches-to which more than half the nation's white Christians belong-joined the Catholic Hierarchy in its protest against the act.
When the law was passed Archbishop Hurley, 0.M.I., of Durban, said that its provisions aimed at suppressing cultural and social contacts between Negroes and whites were even worse than its "church clause".
"The suppression of free association," he said, "... is a very dangerous piece of legislation. There is no finer method of fostering animosity and prejudice between two groups than by abolishing communication between them."