THE"Sunday Express" on Sunday told the world in large front-page headlines that "Church Row Blows Up". They suggested that the Free Churches were going to fight against any further State aid for Catholic schools.
A delegation of Free Church representatives were going to put their case against the government's policy at a meeting of M.P.s of all parties this week.
As we have stated before, it is true that there is a hard core of opposition to Catholic demands in the Commons. This opposition consists of some 50 members, mainly of the liberal group, with people from the Labour Party to back them.
The present position as far as Catholics are concerned is that the Minister of Education has publicly declared that denominational schools would need more money in order to play their part in the Government scheme for expansion.
He has had two rounds of meetings with Catholic spokesmen and with other groups concerned, including the Free Churches. He has stated he does not intend to see these spokemen again. Mr. Lloyd is consequently in the process of making up his mind as to the extent to which he will help denominational schools.
It must be stressed that he has made up his mind that some aid must be given. This has been 'confirmed by Bishop Beck of Salford, who has added that the assistance will, however, not be all we are asking for. Our deinands, it will be remembered, have been for a flat grant of 75 per cent. for reconstruction of existing schools, and for the building of new ones.
But when will the Minister make his expected announcement? Will legislation to enable us to get that extra grant be introduced this side of the elections? — before the Summer recess?
And here is where we, as Catholics and citizens, have good reason for being somewhat anxious. Cardinal Godfrey underlined this anxiety when he recently appealed that the demand for extra money should not become an election issue. That possibility is feared by the leaders of the three Parties themselves. It is known at the same time, that the Minister has their promise of support for his plans for us.
When last week in the B.B.C. television programme "Who goes home?", a Leicester constituent rose to ask both the Conservative and Labour members of the panel what were their views on this issue of additional aid to voluntary schools, both of them (neither is a Catholic) agreed that their parties backed the Minister in his plans, and that they did not want the election to be run on the issue.
If the Minister is really assured of the backing of all Parties, the passage of his Bill through Parliament could be a short one. If the announcement is delayed, opponents will be given time to rally their forces and therein lies the danger.