By ANN KIMMEL BRITAIN'S leading lay Catholic organisations will be asked this weekend to launch a major investigation of the role of the Catholic in the modern world.
Representatives of 25 of them will gather at the Grail Farm in Pinner, Middlesex, to lay the groundwork and draw up questions for members to examine, survey and report upon.
Then later these English groups will join with their counterparts in every other country of the world in sending reports to Rome to be used as the basis for the World Congress of the Lay Apostolate in October, 1967.
Theme of the Rome Congress is to be "Unity between Men, between Christians, between Catholics". Britain's Catholic lay organisations are to prepare for this by evaluating how much real unity there is in this country at present, and what potential there is for further development.
WHY CATHOLIC UPSET?
On Sunday at Pinner they will sit down to a type of "teach-in" on a wide range of subjects. Observers expect the representatives of Family and Social Action — a 2,000strong group essentially concerned with community service —to delve into the individual Catholic's contributions to welfare and service projects. Are Catholics making any real worthwhile contribution, say, to Oxfam or UNESCO or on the local level, the borough council or street safety campaign?
Representatives from the Newman Society may, for instance, took a look at the intellectual disunity among Catholics over the Vatican Council decisions. As university graduates they should he well equipped to investigate the motives behind the Latin Mass Society, on one hand,
and the ultra-progressive Cambridge magazine, Slant, on the other. They may delve into the reasons why some Catholics are upset by the winds of change.
The Union of Catholic Mothers, say observers, may take a look at what factors unite a family, what disrupt it, and seriously consider parent children relationships. Also they may have a searching probe into the problems of looking after elderly relatives.
The Knights of St. Columba may also examine family unity with the accent on the role of the father, usually the one who is away from home for most of the day. They possibly will be investigating the role of Catholic men as citizens and their interest in local and national events and the support they give to their elected representatives.
As well as being introspective about themselves as Catholics and leaders of lay Catholic organisations, they will examine the Lay Apostolate Decree which Pope Paul promulgated last Thursday.
This degree, which aims to bring the clergy and laity closer together, says in some places the church could barely exist but for the activity of the laity.
As against the false tradition that Catholic lay people are merely expected "to believe, pray, obey and pay", the decree sets down their essential dignity. It says: -Each individual layman ought to stand before the world as a witness to the resurrection and life of the Lord Jesus and as a symbol of the living God. All the laity as a community and each one according to his ability must nourish the world with the fruits of the spirit. They must diffuse in the world that spirit which raises up the poor, the meek. the peacemakers—those whom the Lord in the Gospel proclaimed blessed. In a word, as the soul is to the body, so let the Christian be to the world."