MORE CONVERTS AT OXFORD
'Catholic Herald' Reporter
rrHERE is much greater interest in religion among men and women at Oxford University to-day than there was in the 1930s and this is leading to a greater number of converts to the Church. Fr. Thomas Corbishley. &J., told me this week.
The Master of Campion Hall was commenting upon a Sunday Times report which quoted the undergraduate magazine Cherwell as saying that 51 per cent. of the men and 63 per cent. of the women at the university " regularly practise their religion.
Cherwell had conducted its own survey, which showed a pronounced trend towards religion: 25 per cent. of the undergraduates are atheists or agnostics.
All dons agree that Oxford is more religious to-day than in the 1920s or the 1930s and, said the Sunday Times. there has been a particularly significant decline in the number of Marxists and Communists.
Fr. Corbishley agreed that this is SO.
" In the thirties it was quite the fashion to be a Marxist at Oxford." he told me. " To-day there are still one or two among the dons and of course the Communist Party is still influential, hut it has been much weakened nonetheless."
Twenty years ago the " knowledgeable " student had to be able to talk about dialectical materialism but generally considered it unnecessary to know anything about Catholicism. To-day a knowledge of dialectical materialism for such a student would be less necessary than a knowledge of Thomism.
Fr. Corbishley thought that the suggestion made by Prof. H. H. Price, Wykeham Professor of Logic. that probably two-thirds of the philosophy dons are agnostic or atheist is a little excessive.
Mr. T. Balogh, the Bailinl economist, was quoted as saying that " it is surprising that there are not more Roman Catholics."
Fr. Corbishley's comment was: " I do not suppose that non-Catholics realise how many converts there are."
About 30, he said, are received from among the students each year. This is considerably in excess of the number who came before the war.
" Our own impression is that we are doing rather well." he added.
Enquiries among priests in Cambridge confirmed that there, too. as in other universities, there is a greater trend towards religion and more interest in religious topics than in the thirties.
It was emphasised that this reflects what is happening in the country as a whole,