Fr. Basset stresses need for more initiative
Catholic Herald Correspondents HULL "IN all Catholic Action, in our study groups, in training ourselves, in teaching others, we have as the primary human duty the need to think for ourselves," said Fr. Bernard Basset, S.J., addressing the annual summer school in Hull of the Catholic Social Guild.
"And to think for ourselves," Fr. Basset continued, "means to collect true evidence for ourselves, to read with discretion, to observe the world about us, and to digest our observed facts."
Fr. Basset was speaking on the subject of Responsibility. "A responsible man." he said, "need not be a clever man, but he must be a thoughtful man. 'those who think for themselves tend to act where a situation demands.
" The threat of the modem state Is not to sin but to passivity as we saw in the era of Stalin, Hitler and Mussolini. as we saw in Jerusalem on Good Friday when even the Governor could take no initiative.
" The queue spirit, the accep tance of wrong change. the tolerance of sloppy service in restaurants. the acquiescence in low standards of work, sport, entertainments arc all symptoms of the debility which is seen today on the social plane." Fr. Basset said.
" People have no views ' on
racialism, strikes, restrictive practices. monopoly, the choice of Parliamentary candidates. They take what they are given. A sure sign of childish immaturity."
On the exercise of responsibility, Fr. Basset said : " Responsibility in the social sphere is not mainly to promote the Church. to hack Catholic causes. but to exercise universal charity towards all our fellow men."
Referring to Pope John's encyclical Mater et Magistra, and its analysis of Responsibility, Fr. Basset pointed out that Pope John not merely urged us to make ourselves more responsible. "The Holy Father advocated strongly that we should set about teaching responsibility to various groups. He gave a practical example of what he was preaching in his handling of the Council at Rome. He made the Conciliar Fathers responsible for the reformation of the Church. He did not force his own views . . . He rocked the boat ... allowed the bishops the true dignity of shepherds in place of the false impressiveness of rubber stamps."
Fr. Henry Waterhouse, S.J., said that the Catholic Social Guild wanted to spread the Church's social teaching with a view to getting moral principles observed in social, economic and political life no less than in private life — studying principles with a view to action as indicated in the motto of the French Social Weeks: TO KNOW IN ORDER TO ACT, " Men go to Mass on Sundays and to the sacraments. remembering the importance of saving their souls but forgetting too easily their social obligations, failing to appreciate the doctrine of the Mystical Body and the part they must play in the people of God," Fr. Waterhouse declared.
" They are not gripped as they should be by the teaching of the social encyclicals in which the Popes are pleading for men to recognise that the social teaching of the Church is of the essence of Christianity, that the fulfilment of our social obligations in the ways appropriate to the 20th century is the way we must carry out Our Lord's injunctions about loving our neighbour.
" The driving home of this truth," Fr, Waterhouse said, " is the conversion of England of which we stand in most immediate need. It must begin by the conversion of Catholics themselves.
"This alone will make possible that humanizing and Christianizing of our modern civilisation' of which Mater et Magistra speaks of as the ' immense task of the Church today.' It is a conversion which makes more sense than the
me re counting of Baptisms. Without it, the Baptised will decline in numbers as well as in fervour."