BY A SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
CHRISTIANS were urged by Bishop Harris, Auxiliary of Liverpool, ‘--A on Sunday to get down to really practical work towards caring for and rehabilitating the offender and delinquent.
A congregation in Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, which included Borstal boys, ex-prisoners and welfare workers, heard him describe how all mankind could be a mixture of good and bad, of nobility and low cunning. of generosity and niggardly selfishness.
"This is the contradiction that is you and me and the fellow next door, and the 1,000 plus who are in Walton Gaol and the 13,000 plus who will sleep rough and homeless in swinging Britain tonight.
"The thief takes away money. the respectable person takes away character. The vandal destroys property, the gossip destroys reputation. The man of violence murders a body, the editor of a newspaper murders a thousand souls.
"We must be quite sure that our rage when we talk of the delinquent is not 'the rage of Caliban seeing his own face in the glass'."
The Bishop went on: "The reform of the criminal begins with the reform of ourselves. If everyone in the community is kind to at least one person, the uplifting of the community will he brought about by the community, but by a humble community. showing respect rather than patronage. willing to welcome Christ as a fellow citizen.
"When Christ is in us He can radiate from us. Then we will approach our fellow men and be as aware and as generous and as tolerant as was Christ."
Bishop Harris wondered if our mistake had been the narrow front on which we combatted anti-social behaViour. "We provide a police force, a prison service. probation and after-care service and a host of supporting services, but the problem is community wide and the community cannot dodge it any longer."
We did not solve problems by locking them up. Each of us must ask: "What can I do?"
During the joint service, which was entitled "The Care of the Offender" — Christian Responsibility expressed as an Act of Worship, statements were made by a series of people to remind the community of the offenders' needs and the community's response.
The speakers included two prisoners, a prison officer, a probation officer, an after-care worker, the warden of a hostel for ex-prisoners, a trade unionist, an employer. and an ex-Borstal boy.