By ANDREW BOYLE
THE Cardinals and Archbishops of France after their annual meeting in Paris last week, issued a stirring appeal to the country's Catholics to help to translate the housing problem into solid terms of bricks and mortar.
Although the school crisis has for months past relegated this problem to the second place, the shortage of homes lies at the root of much of the popular discontent which the French Communists have striven to capitalise since the war.
Now is the time, the Bishops declare to " reiterate the practical demands of morality " since " the task of reconstruction is more advanced," and since "concern to maintain peace must be accompanied by equal devotion to all the needs of social justice." " Have you," they ask the people, " felt any concern for those who are badly housed?
THEY BUILT THEM
" Have you asked yourselves if there's anything you could do for the.i?H' Have you tried to help them, either by making available to them rooms of your own that were free or by helping to make existing apartments more liveable?"
They urge that it is necessary that Catholics should keep abreast of the laws and regulations for the construction and maintenance of homes.
An excellent example of the kind of Catholic enterprise the Hierarchy have in mind was provided this week in Rennes, capital of Normandy. the scene of some of the hard, destructive fighting which followed the Allied invasion seven years ago. Cardinal Rogues, Archbishop of Rennes. blessed 25 new houses built entirely with the money, labour and leisure of local Catholic Actionists.
The scheme started in 1949. when the Housing Association of St. Stephen's parish founded by a member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society-acquired plots. funds and voluntary help to erect five houses.
With the experience thus gained, the scheme was broadened. The Cardinal Archbishop gave it his approval, monc volunteer-workers joined, more money came in.
Not all the volunteers were Catholics, and they included engineers and architects as well as artisans and unskilled labourers.
The 25 new homes. blessed after a High Mass of thanksgiving. arc a token of freshet the Catholics of Rennes are already doing to supplement the efforts of the official planners.