I.1. would. I think, be difficult to understand The Chronicle of the Worker Priests translated and edited by Stanley Windass (Merlin Press. 25s.), if one had not already a fair knowledge of the subject, for it consists in a large number of quotations from those involved in the priest-worker controversy very loosely strung together without a coherent narrative.
It is quite inaccurate to suggest that the first Anglican "priest-worker" movement begain in 1959; in fact there was an Anglican priest-worker in the Nuffield organisation at Oxford in 1941, and the present Anglican group of priestworkers began in 1951; and the whole of the last chapter has been largely made out of date by the Vatican Council, which has come down on the side of &spirituality deeply involved in the world.
It is part of the tragedy that one of the reasonable objections of the Holy Office, that a priest had not time to fulfil his spiritual obligations such as Mass, the Office, mental prayer and so on has been made out of date by recent relaxations. I can testify from personal experience that it is easier to live a life of prayer and to observe the rhythm of the office when doing routine manual labour than when living in a presbytery. or doing a whole time job of teaching.
When a priest talks in England about his parish he is apt to say "There are 2,000 people in my parish" when everyone knows that there are,
say, 40.000; for him the non
Catholic world hardly exists.
In France, a "Catholic
country, about 60 per cent only
have been baptised; and the vast majority of manual workers were not only cornpletely out of touch with the life of the parish church, they were also deeply indoctrinated with conscious or half-assumed Marxism: their only hope for social betterment lay in a professedly atheist movement.
Two outstanding mistakes were: the separation between priest workers and the normal parish set-up; and the very deficient training for the work which they received in seminary life.
In England the vast body of the workers knows hardly anything of the Catholic Church; Catholic workers are no more and no less effective witnesses than their brothers in France; apathy, rather than hostility, is the enemy; but it is possible to he involved in English trade unionism, as a member, not an official, without being involved in a rigid and bitter class struggle. Indeed, the whole class structure of England is in a constant state of fluidity. The relaxations of clerical obligations have removed most of the technical difficulties in the way of priest-workers: if the 90 per cent of the working population are really partof our flock, and their attachment to any denomination purely nominal, what stands in the way of a movement of priests to bear witness to the hungry sheep of England?