THE "leakage" of a percentage of our youth from the Faith in adolescence is a problem which is constantly in the mind of those responsible for the care of their souls, and of all who, working and praying for the conversion of their land, are troubled at the spectacle of the number of converts each year being offset by those who drift away from the Church.
This leakage, in terms of numbers, is a serious one. In terms of human souls it is a most tragic thing. But it is, at least, one of which we are conscious—as the correspondence columns of this paper frequently reflect.
But there is another "leakage" of so-called pre-natal Catholics about which much less is said and written, and which readers are now discussing on page two. It is of the numbers of children born of Catholic parents who for one reason or another pass out of their hands as babies or young children into those of non-Catholics— children who never know the Faith which should have been their birthright.
Often—though not always—in the first place the fault is that of the parents themselves. That is another problem. But it is the children, the innocent victims, about whom the present correspondence is concerned. They come from homes which have been hit by some disaster which has left them alone in the world, or where one or both parents are deemed by the authorities to be unfit to have them in their care. They are the orphaned and the homeless whom Our Lord singled out as being particularly deserving of our charity. Yet, already deprived of material treasure, they are all too often deprived of their spiritual riches too.
T OCAL authorities, magistrates and social workers from time Leto time deplore the difficulty they experience in getting such deprived children adopted by Catholics or taken into Catholic homes as foster-children. Their strictures hurt the entire Catholic community. There are reasons, of course, usually appreciated by the authorities, why Catholics are often less able than others to take a child.
The one most often given, which contains much truth, is that the average Catholic family is already larger than others; that large families are common among Catholics whilst they are much less usual elsewhere.
But as a correspondent whose letter we publish on page two points out (and she clearly writes with a special knowledge of her subject). "the urgency of this problem is not always realised by Catholic families whose homes are ideal for this purpose."
In other words, those adopting children in the past have tended very often to be of the middle class. The working class 'families have perhaps felt that they could do nothing about the matter because their home lacked some of the amenities found elsewhere, or because they could not afford to send an adopted child to a fee-paying school. Yet the children concerned are most often those of working-class origin. There is no reason, Catholic social workers urge, why such children should not be adopted or housed "at their own level."
Nor is it necessarily only the young who can help in this. There are good people whose own families have just grown up who have taken foster-children into their homes (for which, in this case, they are repaid in part by the authorities) who have gained great joy as a consequence, whilst at the same time having the rewarding knowledge that they have played their part in saving the Faith of at least one human soul. It is probable that more could do the same.
The work done by the Catholic rescue societies and by orders and congregations who specialise in the care of deprived children is known to all. it is magnificent and deserves all support. But their burden will be eased if others help to share the load. And they more even than most know well that "there is nothing like a good home."