—STATE THE BISHOPS
The Hierarchy of England and Wales, having met in London on Tuesday, issued the following declaration on the schools question:
Now that the White Paper on Educational Reconstruction is before us we wish once again to state the Catholic position.
Not only as good citizens, but also as loyal upholders of the Catholic tradition, we desire to be in the forefront of educational progress. We therefore welcome the bold and comprehensive scheme of reconstruction described in the White Paper.
But we regret to find that according to its provisions we shall still be penalised for our conscientious convictions,
We readily grant that an effort has been made to mitigate the injustice under which we have suffered in the past. The provisions of the 1936 Act are to be revived; rev.ised proposals will be permissible in certain conditions; a 50 per cent. grant from the Exchequer will be available for alterations and improvements to our schools, including the rebuilding of a school in appropriate circumstances; and the same maintenance costs already enjoyed by elementary schools will be available for our secondary schools under prescribed conditions. There is also a promise of much-needed aid for transport.
In spite of all that, which we gratefully acknowledge, we see in the White Paper a threat to the existence of our schools.
Not for an instant do we suggest that those responsible for the forthcoming Bill would deliberately put us ip such a position of danger ; our contention is that they have not safeguarded us against it.
UGLY WORD " PENALISED " We have used the ugly 'word " penalised," and we hasten to justify it. Catholics are under Statutory obligation to send their children to school. It is against their conscience to send them to any but Catholic schools. But in order to have Catholic schools they must, in addition to the rates which they pay, make a further contribution to the cost of education.
As the late Cardinal Hinsley wrote: " While continuing within the national system our schools should receive equal treatment with other schools, since the general demand now is that there be ' equal opportunity for all.' No equal opportunity will exist for a minority
who are saddled with extra and crushing financial burdens because of their definite religious convictions and because they cannot accept a syllabus of religious instructiok agreeable to the many."—(Letter to the Times, October 31, 1942.) Catholics have borne these crushing financial burdens for many years and had hoped for relief in the future. For there is a limit to endurance.
We have had experience of school building. We know the proglyssive nature of the demands of the Board of Education. We are in the best position to know the resources of the Catholic body. And it is our considered conviction that the demands foreshadowed in the White Paper would impose an intolerable burden on our people.
ONE ESSENTIAL DEMAND
For many months we have been in negotiation with the Board of Education. The negotiations have at the request of the President of the Board been treated as strictly confidential until the publication of the White Paper. We wish now to make it clear that at no stage have we agreed to the financial conditions now made public.
During the protracted negotiations uOVER TO PAGE FIVE