SIR,-I was pleased to see the illustration of the proposed new Cathedral for Johannesburg in your issue of March 13. I think, however, that your faith in your readers' critical abilities is unjustified, for I feel sure many of them will assume from your scanty comments that you approve of today's Cathedrals being "built in the Romanesque style"; and could you blame them altogether? They will look IO THE CATHOLIC HERALD, England's leading Catholic weekly, possessing its own art editor, for some guidance on liturgical art and its standards. But, I am afraid, they will find little.
The only regular feature on art is "Pictures in Church." Certainly. Giotto's use of space is an interesting academic problem, and it can be maintained that an understanding of problems of that kind is essential for finding a solution to the great and pressing problem of a genuine Christian art in our churches. But there is no evidence of these historical studies being put to any critical, practical use. Let us. sir, keep a sense of proportion; compare the space devoted weekly to films and the radio, and that devoted to matters of visual art. Can any non-Catholic be blamed for assuming that Catholics simply do not care about the appearance of their churches or, any Catholic for assuming that THE Cereoeic HERALD has never even heard of any of the Papal Encyclicals and other pronouncements on liturgical art?
I suggest that your present feature could well be supplemented with, or even replaced by, a series of illustrations of some recent churches, together with some genuine critical comments, a n d information o f greater import than the fact that the Queen Mother is about to visit a particular Cathedral.
To carry out such a policy would simply show a recognition of the fact that this whole problem of the visual setting of worship is one to be tackled as a branch of Catholic Action, in which no thinking Catholic would dare to show complacency; complacency only condemns Catholics to the continued use of churches with but one merit : they arc a test of faith. If they do not make the carrying out of the liturgy in anything like its true spirit impossible. then our faith must indeed be strong.
Thomas A. Markus, B.A., A.R.1.B.A.
School of Architecture, University of Manchester.