MORAL TEACHING IN SCHOOLS FR. MARTINDALE REPLIES
BEVERLEY NICHOLS'S BOOK—
JUDGMENT ON THE ITALIAN WAR
MORAL EDUCATION IN SCHOOLS (From Father Martindale)
SIR,—If indeed Pius XI's words are so tragically forgotten as Fr. Rigby suggests, he did indeed good service in recalling them.
There are two separate questions here— Whether biology is to be taught in schools, and whether moral instruction as such should be given there. Biology cannot be properly taught without allusion to vital reproduction in plants and animals. We may decide to exclude biology from our curricula : theh we should handicap our children and drive all Catholic biological teachers into non-Catholic schools. If we decide to teach it, as many Catholic schools already do, Shen we shall need a number of trained Catholic teachers in this matter, or have recourse (as apparently on the whole we do) to non-Catholics • who can hardly be expected to be trained as we would wish them to have been.
As for special moral. instruction in schools, long before the encyclical Divini appeared, we had written in a small book, The Difficult Commandment, that we were wholly antagonistic to any collective public instruction of children anywhere. A prudent critic then thought this opinion too uncompromising, but the reasons I gave seem to me to hold good even to-day. Still, what the Pope deplores is the idea that disasters can be avoided by "means purely natural," by a "foolhardy initiation ... for all indiscriminately, even in public," not to mention the exposure of young people to temptations in order to "harden" them. We all know to what class of propagandists the Pope is alluding: no Catholic school would dream of admitting such teachers into it, nor use such methods. He proceeds to say that if some "private instruction is found necessary and opportune," it should be given by those who "hold from God the commission to teach," and seems to ,suggest (in a quotation) that these are primarily the parents. We wholly agree, but know how reluctant fathers usually are to undertake the task, and how shy the sons. It is said that this mutual shyness is disappearing, perhaps too rapidly. Parents constantly turn this matter over to the priest. We have given reasons why we do not think the confessional is a suitable place for it : outside, by no means every priest suits every "instructee," or even suits the job.
It remains that our personal, therefore most fallible but emphatic, opinion is that nowadays proper instruction is both necessary and opportune in practically all cases. The kloly Father wishes the will to be fortified : this is better ensured by an instructed intelligence than by an itching ignorance. I think I can safely say, by now, that I have known hundreds of cases where disaster has come about because of ignorance, curiosity, uneasy instinct, sense of isolation, suggestion, etc., and not one due to the kind of instruction which alone, as Catholics, we should wish to be given. But it should cover the ground properly—
physical, psychological and spiritual. It is the second department that we too often quite neglect.
C. C. MARTINDALE. 114, Mount Street,
Grosvenor Square, London, W. SCHOOL BROADCASTS (From the .Principals of Rye S. Antony, Oxford.)
SIR,—May we be allowed to express our entire agreement with Mr. Wilfrid Rooke Ley's recommendation of the B.B.C. schools broadcasts? During the present school year we have been experimenting in the use of these broadcast talks as supplements to class instruction, and are now quite convinced of their value in stimulating the girls' imagination and in broadening their outlook. The language and music talks we have not tried—there is not time for everything—but the history and geography and nature talks have served their avowed purpose admirably. The listeners, even the younger girls, take notes—excellent practice—which they write up later, and the results of an examination on what the senior girls had heard of World History and Tracing History Backward during Hilary term were very satisfactory.
The pictures in the pamphlets provided encourage the girls to make illustrated books of their own notes for future reference, and the composition of such books will certainly be a regular feature of the "suggested occupations for the holidays' with which our children are glad, to be supplied at the end of each term.
Since, unlike "some secondary schools" quoted by Mr. Rooke Ley, we do not allow the use, "indiscriminate" or otherwise, of gramophones, we do not fear the rivalry of educational radio, and as we do not begin games immediately after a midday meal we do not find the times fixed for the schopls broadcasts inconvenient. In short, we are grateful to the B.B.C. for providing our pupils with an opportunity in vivid form for the general reading for which the full curriculum of a modern school leaves, regrettably, but also inevitably, so little time.
ELIZABETH RENDALL. J. B. KING.
Rye S. Antony, 84, Woodstock Road, Oxford.
"THE FOOL HATH SAID" SIR,—May I suggest that you and Fr. Martindale are taking Mr. Beverley Nichols too seriously? I have read The Fool Hath Said and while I agree that parts of the book give the appearance of clear and orthodox thinking, the driving force behind it is not " thought " but pure emotion or feeling. It is only too obvious why Beverley Nichols has gone off into the clouds, as you put it. Throughout he is turning round and round himself, instead of round the facts presented to him. If I were to name Father Martindale's articles, I should call them : " From World to God"; "From God to Christ" and " From Christ to Beverley Nichols."
SIR,—Congratulations on having been live enough to see the tremendous importance of The Fool Hath Said. We must no longer present a blank face to the millions outside the Church who are looking for the Truth to-day. Some of our weaker brethren are too apt to confound
sympathy with weakness. Not reason alone will guide the modern generation to the Truth, and reason alone we may be sure has not guided Nichols along his pilgrim's path. Every word of the book proclaims sincerity and the beginnings of a full Faith. If we to whom the Truth has been revealed despise those who are seeking it because they have not yet attained it, how can we expect them to continue along the right path? I personally am quite sure that Beverley Nichols and many others like him would reach their true goal without the slightest hesitation if they could be induced to spend a month of quiet retreat in the sympathetic hands of a priest like Father Martindale.
I should like to see a bold sympathetic paper like the Catholic Herald twice as large as it is and in the bands of thousands of non-Catholics. There could be no quicker road, under God, to the conversion of this country.
• JOHN BATE.
2 Bickenhall Mansions, W.I.
APOSTLESHIP OF THE SEA (From Vice-Admiral R. A. Hornell)
SIR,—May I direct the attention of your readers to a concert which has been organised by the Apostleship of the Sea for the benefit of the Catholic Seamen's Home, Victoria Docks, London, maintained and conducted by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. We have been fortunate in having the enthusiastic support of that great artist, Count John McCormack, who is coming over from Ireland specially to sing for us. Madame Spiridovitch and other distinguished artistes are also giving their services.
For the information of the Catholic public it is important that the following facts should be known. The Apostleship of the Sea has been given a great charge and responsibility to make provision for the Catholic seafarers in all the ports of the world. There is not and there never has been any attempt to compete with those splendidly organised societies which already exist for the benefit of seamen in this and other countries.
But the mandate we have received from the Holy Father requires us to provide for the spiritual as well as for the material needs of all Catholic seafarers wherever they may be. British Catholics must be deeply concerned for the welfare of our Catholic seafarers in the oversea ports and cannot be forgetful of our obligation to provide for the spiritual need of the Catholic seafarers who are present from day to day in the seaports of this country and especially in London. Thus only can a
true Apostleship be formed. My appeal therefore is to all to support this further effort in aid of our seamen in the world's greatest port.
R. A. HORNELL. Vice-Admiral.
Chairman, Apostleship of the Sea.
"CHRISTIAN DEMOCRAT" AND ITALIAN WAR
SIR,—It was probably as great a surprise to you as it was to me to find such an article, part of which you reprint, in the Christian Democrat. The teaching of principles is one thing. The teaching of their practical application is another. My experience in teaching the application of principles would make me hesitate to come to the almost offhand conclusion in a question so involved as the Abyssinian embroglio. It is putting it mildly to say I was shocked at finding such an article in the official mouthpiece of the C.S.G. It is strange indeed to find that organisation backing its arguments in a moral question by the decision of the representatives of fifty nations, not ten of whom agree as to the application of the Ten Commandments or for that matter as to the definition of what a man is.
Isn't it time for us Catholics to give up the idea that because the League is international and because a court is international that it is necessarily right? There seems to me to be a very powerful movement to make the League the arbiter of morals. If we aid and abet such a movement with the League of to-day are we helping to lead the world back to Christian principles?
C. S. G.
SIR,—Reprinting from the Christian Democrat on the Italo-Abyssinian war in your last issue, the Catholic Herald leaves the reader guessing as to which publication is authority for the following verdict : "The action of Italy in going to war before full use had been made of means available for conciliation and arbitration was a clear breach of the moral law."
As the Italians have been unable to state their case to the British public, I beg to attest that every peaceful effort for a settlement of the Ethiopian dispute was shelved by the League of Nations, that the Negus' evasions were encouraged by sinister forces in Geneva and that the Italian colonies were untenable until their barbarous neighbours were subdued, preliminary to their civilisation.
The certainty of the facts were estab . lished through my recent contact with brother-journalists abroad, who have studied the momentous subject for five years. Unanimously they believe, as do I, that every foe of Italy to-day is a friend of Russia.
May I quote the Divine words: " He who is not with Me is against Me"?
SIR,—Would it be asking the Christian Democrat too much to believe that Signor Mussolini is acting in all circumstances (in spite of all treaties and pacts) in accordance with the dictates of his conscience, regarding the "higher duty," which may sometimes modify or destroy the obligation of a lower.
The same line of thought would apply
to C. Claxton Turner's letter, headed "Atrocities in .Abyssinia."
Fern Road, Storrington, Sussex.
rAs one of our correspondents is not clear about whether the judgment about the war was the Christian Democrat's or ours, we should like to state that the judgment was the Christian Democrat's. An error in printing caused the confusion.—Eviir0R.1 "Catholicus Natus" writes in reference to his letter of last week, headed "Irish and Irish Clergy," that the words "the spoke of Irish mentality in England" at the end of the first paragraph should be deleted.
Letters on Reasons for Bearing Arms, the Liturgy and the People, Basque Nationalism, and other subjects, are held over owing to pressure on space.