THE suggestions made by Mr. Norman St. JohnStevas (May 17) for reforming the government of the Church are welcome, if only because they bring the matter into the open. In discussion with Catholics one notices how the Pope fulfils the double role of Prime Minister and Monarch. In private, he is criticised like a Prime Minister. In public, he receives the formal respect offered to a Monarch. Rarely does one hear a public admission that the private criticism exists. This is not, I think, an ideally healthy state of affairs. Mr. St. John-Stevas' ideas can be criticised on at least two counts. First, there is an uncomfortable resemblance to the American Presidency. Secondly, the election process sounds like a gesture in the general direction of democracy; but it might turn the Church into a "meritocracy" in the current sense of that word. This would hardly satisfy the legitimate aspirations of the people of God. In short, Mr. St, John-Stevas' seven-year Pope might well be more efficient, and just possibly a shade more actively infallible. But could he by any stretch of the imagination be described as the Father of the Poor?
These are negative criticisms,
but otherwise like the suggestions, and I hope that they will be widely and freely discussed.
Frank O'Hara Tolworth, Surrey.
IAM entertained by Norman St. John-Stevas' selfappointed role of adviser to the Pope, the bishops, and the whole Catholic Church.
His suggestion (May 17) for an age limit for the Papacy would, in retrospect, have eliminated the late Pope, to whom the world owes so much, Thelma C. Oates London, S.W.7.
QUESTIONS and problems about Catholic schools, their staffing and future role extend beyond those raised by "Realist" of Nuneaton (May 17). Like "Realist," I have been asking myself questions about Catholic schools, Perhaps I could recommend to him a Sheed and Ward publication "Catholic Education in a Secular Society" (editedB. Tucker), which appeared a couple of months ago. The authors of this book presumably hoped to make a contribution to the discussion now going on about the future of Catholic schools. I found the book a useful starting point because up till now so much of the discussion on the subject has been through the often misinformed letter to the Press or brief reports of some conference one hasn't been able to attend. Thisnew book sums up most of the issues being discussed today and presents some solid philosophical discussion of the underlying problems.
Mary Hughes (Mrs.) Salisbury, Wilts.