and far-seeing effort to tackle the Northern Ireland probIlm is being made by the Irish School of Ecumenics, according to the Church of Ireland Bishop of Clogher, Dr. R. P. C. Hanson.
He continued: "It's scope is limited, its resources small, but no other organisation in Ireland is making so constructive an effort to resolve the great dilemma in the intellectual, academic and pastoral fields."
The Irish School of Ecumenies was officially inaugurated in 1970 by the Rev. Dr. Eugene Carson Blake, then general secretary of the World Council of Churches.
Its students since then have included Anglicans, Free Churchmen and Catholics. from Northern Ireland and the Republic, Britain, Malta, France, India, Africa, Australia and the United States. Laity and nuns have studied there, as well as ordained clergy.
FIELD WORK As a post-graduate institution-students are candidates for B.Phil., M.Litt. or Ph.D.-the school advances the cause of . Christian unity through research and study. Each student is required to become familiar with religious traditions other than his own. The major subjects for study are always presented by an inter-denominational team of teachers.
Last month the Rev. A. I. C. Ileron, a Scottish Presbyterian, joined the school from the University of Tubingen, Germany, as Research Lecturer in Ecumenical Theology. The school is fully interdenominational not only in its student body but also in its teaching staff, academic council and trustees.
The programme of studies give an important place to field work which requires personal involvement in the life of other Christian communities. Most students do a one-year course after which they return to their previous occupations and work within these to promote closer collaboration between people of different persuasions at the local level.
Those who stay on longer are equipped to develop ecumenical programmes at diocesan or regional levels; some are proceeding to academic careers in universities, seminaries and training colleges.
Graduates of the school already occupy positions of influence and posts of responsibility. The Rev. William Pike is Church of Ireland Rector of Tralee, where he is in charge of an Anglican team ministry which he would hope to make interdenominational.
RE-EDUCATORS A spokesman for the school said it was especially conscious of the role it could play in modern Ireland. It sought to encourage the reconciliation which alone could surmount the deep divisions within the country. The importance of the contribution which the school could make to Ireland could be gauged from consideration of the following two facts: 1-No basic research, such as the school planned to undertake,
Priests banned for remarks about atheists'
TWO PRIESTS in Slovakia have been suspended from their work and given conditional prison sentences by Czech courts.
Fr. Justin Jurga, who worked in Bosaca, and the unnamed parish priest of Adamovske Kochanovee. were both found guilty of "abusing the majesty of death and of church ceremonies by slandering convinced atheists".
The charges stem from "offensive remarks" which the priests are alleged to have made at burials of atheists.
"To a man without faith there remains only despair. the noose or the bullet" one priest is supposed to have said.
Justin Jurga, a young priest ordained in 1967. was given a con ditional 6 month prison sentence and forbidden to work as a priest for three years. The second priest was also given a conditional sentence and barred for two years. had as yet been done in such critical areas as the religious education and upbringing of the children of mixed marriages.
2-None of the Churches in Ireland had as yet a full-time ecumenical officer. None of them had an ecumenical officer specially trained for the work. It was only last summer that for the first time the Irish Council of Churches appointed a full-time secretary. The school saw its Irish graduates as potential reeducators of Irish society.
To do all this work properly, for which it was uniquely fitted, the school needed substantial material support. This had not been lacking. Many individuals and commercial firms had already made handsome contributions to the school's foundation and research fund.
These gifts to date totalled nearly £50,000-a considerable sum but still well short of the target figure of £200,000 needed to build a secure financial basis for the provision of scholarships, staff salaries and research facilities.
The school's sponsoring committee includes the Catholic Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise, Dr. Cabal B. Daly: the Church of Ireland Bishop of Cashel, Dr. John W. Armstrong; the Very Rev. Principal J. L. M. Haire, of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, and the Rev. Robert A. Nelson, of the Methodist Church in Ireland.
Fr. Michael Hurley, S.J., director of the school, is also a member of the sponsoring committee.
rate is 11?\,
NEW statistics released in ----1''America and Europe indicate falling population levels.
In America. figures released by the National Centre for Health Statistics show that the country's fertility rate has dropped below the replacement rate necessary for zero population growth.
The replacement level is 2.1 children per family. During 1972, the level fell, in fact. to 2.08 children per family.
In Europe, a survey undertaken by Acumen, the Lon• don market research organisation, indicated that the availability of a wide range of Contraceptives, including the Pill, was irrelevant to population levels.
Acumen's figures show that in the late 1950s and early 1960s there was a great surge of births in all the countries of Western Europe.
As early as 1961 the numbers rose to a peak in Portugal. Not until 1964 did they reach a peak in Britain and most other countries. And Catholic countries showed the same decline as non-Catholic ones.
Indications in Britain are that the decline will continue as it did in the 70 years before the 1939-45 war. .