Sir, Mr. and Mrs. McDonnell ask for a statement from , the Association of Catholic Teacher-College Students concerning the Union of Catholic Students Report on "The Case for Catholic Schools". A brief review of the works of ACTS in connection with the report will answer them.
From the start, UCS kept ACTS informed of the work, and in January the ACTS Executive submitted a memorandum that strongly favoured the retention of Catholic schools as in the present system.
This memorandum was rejected at the recent council meeting in favour of a separate one submitted by St. Mary's College, Strawberry Hill, which simply called for further information and investigation on the lines of the Newman demographic survey.
ACTS' policy is now to suggest that a sociological survey be made to assess the effectiveness of Catholic Schools, obtain recommendations for improvement, and seek other possible ways in which Catholic education can be achieved. The ACTS Council also agreed to work on a joint working party with UCS to examine the philosophy of Catholic education.
The decision to join the working party imples acknowledgment of the lack of information on this important topic, but ACTS has not formally adopted a neutralist policy. Rather it has adopted a neutralist attitude towards being neutral.
It should be mentioned that ACTS also passed a resolution regretting that a 100 per cent grant was not given for the establishment of Voluntary Comprehensive Schools, and at the same time welcomed the recently announced rise in Government aid to voluntary schools. This might be seen to imply favouring the retention of the present system, but the increase was welcomed so that the relief of the financial burden would lead to more correct thinking on the case for Catholic Schools.
Hence ACTS is almost in a state of self-contradiction, but is taking the necessary steps to obtain the information which is so sadly lacking.
Besides the working party mentioned above, ACTS has organised a teach-in to be held at Hopwood Hall on May 12 on "Catholic Education 10 Years from Now?" and Archbishop Beck is among the speakers.
ACTS is also to establish a working party to examine "The
Case for Catholic Colleges of Education", for we suspect that here. as in many aspects of the teaching of religion, the system is riddled with unwarranted assumptions.
In the light of all the information thus obtained, it is to be hoped that a more positive line than mere neutralism will be adopted; though it must be emphasised that the neutralism which UCS has adopted and which could be adopted by ACTS is only a temporary policy until further information is obtained.
If I might venture a personal opinion, one positive policy would be to support the retention of Catholic Primary Schools and the abolition of Catholic Secondary Schools. There are sound religious and psychological reasons for this, and if religious instruction were to he given to Catholic children in State or interdenominational secondary schools by well trained Catechists, many problems of the moment (e.g., the
Sir,—Gerald. Stuart's letter last week is somewhat symptomatic of the rethinking that is proceeding among Catholic educationalists. His comments must also find a sympathetic audience among those concerned in promoting the ecumenical movement.
In the effort to initiate closer relations with our Christian brethren, protestations of love are not sufficient. Acts of joint worship are a useful and necessary contribution but something more is needed. Moreover, if the Church is to come to terms with a secular world, the solution can only be radical in outlook.
The question Catholics are asking now is this: what action would demonstrate to those not of our faith that we intend to implement ecumenism to its fullest extent?
Recent changes in the regulations concerning mixed marriages went some way to large number of Catholic children in non Catholic schools, the reticence of many Catholic teachers to teach R.I.) would be removed.
As for the concern latent in the attitude of Mr. and Mrs.McDonnell on the intended link-up between. ACTS, ASCC and UCS, I fail to see where our attitude to the case for Catholic schools is relevant within the framework of the proposed Catholic Student Union, which will represent all Catholic students in Further Education, regardless of the place of their education. This move is more of an implementation of the Council's Decree on the Lay Apostedate, and one which is financially and politically one of the most obvious steps that the Catholic Student Organisations in this country should have taken some time ago.
Anthony L. Slade President, Association of Catholic Teacher-College Students.
express this determination. Again, a step in the right direction but 1 suggest the real break-through could emerge with the adoption of a more liberal policy on the issue of religion in schools.
Unhappily, the present educational system, divided as it is along religious lines, tends to create barriers. It is also a regrettable fact that Church schools in a number of cases fail to provide a high academic standard.
As Stuart points out this is the major criterion of most modern parents and one which cannot be minimised. Hence, differences of a fundamental nature arise and are perpetuated by the insistence on religiously segregated schools.
In my opinion if these consequences of the present rigid attitude are acknowledged the resultant reformulation would create conditions for a more enlightened approach.
Hugh Gallacher Oxford