The recent survey in the Catholic Herald. and the subsequent commentary upon its findings by Michael HornsbySmith, shows more than ever the need for an Institute of Pastoral Research in this country. The first five of a series of booklets designed to carry out a "pastoral investigation into social treads" must be warmly welcomed as steps in that direction.
The investigation was commissioned by the Conference 'of Major Religious Superiors of England and Wales. It is being carried out by the Liverpool Institute of Soeio-Religious Studies, which has published the booklets. While they are intended to supply members of religious orders men and women with no up-to-date them to be as fully informed as possible when they decide their own pastoral priorities, the whole Church will benefit from these publications.
Practically and quite cheaply produced. the first five booklets give statistical information as well as covering more specific issues. Most of the data necessarily comes from public records rather than from figures the Church itself can produce,
Rashid Mufti's booklet "Demographic Trends" points to the need for the Church to develop a reliable source of such information, rather than depend upon the often dubious figures from directories, diocesan or national, Sr Mary Rendall's booklet on "Development Education" is a comprehensive 'introduction enabling more Christians to participate in the current "development debate".
Jack Dominian has provided "An Outline of Contemporary Christian Marriage", looking particularly at the early years. Dr Dominian helps us to identify and take up the challenges offered by psychiatry and psychology in the whole area of sexuality and marriage.
For copyright reasons this booklet has a limited circulation, but the promise of it being extended into book form is welcome news.
The other two booklets are perhaps more "social service" oriented, covering as they do the care of the elderly, and provision for the mentally handicapped. David Hobman, director of Age Concern, tries to make us face up to the gap between our own ideals for society and the harsh realities. Nowhere is this more glaring than in our care of the elderly.
"A Life of Your Own" raises the painful question as to whether society's treatment of the mentally handicapped, through attitudes or even institutional curing, has not