Geoffrey G. Attard

A recent referendum in Malta on the subject of hunting raises interesting questions on how the bible and Christian tradition tackle the subject. In this article, the author attempts to find a compromise between the ancient human need of hunting, and the abuses which have arisen in modern times regarding its practice.  Geoffrey G. Attard is a priest of the diocese of Gozo (Malta).

‘But, My Lord, shooting?
It’s like golf.
It livens up a good country walk.
Yes, but, with respect, My Lord, golf does not involve the slaughter of God’s creatures.
Controlling the bird population doesn’t trouble the Vatican, Brown’. G. K. Chesterton, The Father Brown Stories: The Deadly Seal, introduction.1

The bible as point of departure
God said, ‘Let us make man in our own image, in the likeness of ourselves, and let them be masters of the fish of the sea, the birds of heaven, the cattle, all the wild animals and all the creatures that creep along the ground’ (Gen 1.26)

(You) made him lord of the works
of your hands,
put all things under his feet,
sheep and cattle, all of them,
and even the wild beasts,
birds in the sky, fish in the sea,
when he makes his way across
the ocean. Psalm 8.6-8

The two biblical quotations above make it clear from the beginning that it is the Bible itself – in the first of its books – that has put man at the very top of creation. This is the tradition view still held by some theologians. Protestant theologian Jurgen Moltmann had this to say about it:

According to the anthropocentric world view, heaven and earth were made for the sake of human beings, and the human being is the crown of creation; and this is certainly what  is claimed by both its supporters and its critics as ‘biblical tradition’. But it is unbiblical;  for according to the biblical Jewish and Christian traditions, God created the world for  his glory, out of love; and the crown of creation is not the human being; it is the Sabbath.2

The traditional argument in favour of man as the ‘crown of creation’ from the beginning is still prevalent among people who think that the destruction of creation for their own aims can be justified within a Judeo-Christian framework.

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March/April 2016

Chris Richardson

Catholic schools share some features with all good schools but this article suggests that there are uniquely Catholic features that deserve to be made explicit. Chris Richardson is a retired Catholic secondary headteacher and diocesan commissioner. He is currently a visiting lecturer in Catholic school leadership at St Mary’s University, Twickenham.

Striving for excellence
On the whole, Catholic schools are successful and popular. In Surrey for example, where schools are generally very good and highly regarded, Catholic schools top the tables for academic achievement. This is highly commendable and we should celebrate these achievements. Academic performance is important and teachers invest huge amounts of their time and expertise helping students achieve this. Of course it is important that young people have the skills and qualifications necessary to allow them to make a living and to live fulfilled and fulfilling lives. However, teachers are involved in something much more important. They recognise that the person the child is becoming is more important than what he or she knows.

Schools can sometimes be criticised for being one-dimensional, for concentrating too much on the cognitive, on reason and logic. There is surely little doubt that we must teach students to deduce conclusions from data, to tell fact from fiction, demonstrable truths from prejudice and opinion. I am sure our schools do all this. But there are more things in heaven and earth than facts and logic. We all have to manage our inner life.

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March/April 2016

Diana Klein

In this article, the co-author of a new book describes why she wrote a guide for anyone who works in a parish. Diana Klein edits the Parish Practice page in The Tablet. How to survive working in a Catholic Parish – a guide for priests, volunteers and paid parish workers by Diana Klein and Bernard Cotter. Foreword by Archbishop Bernard Longley. To be published by Redemptorist Publications in May 2016, price £9.95.

When I brought my son home from hospital some 30-odd years ago – and throughout his childhood – I sometimes wished that he had come with an instruction manual. Being a parent has been enormously fulfilling and I wouldn’t have missed the opportunity for anything. However, I faced many unexpected challenges in being a parent and I often thought it would have been helpful to have had a brochure telling me what I was about to experience on this journey.

I had a similar experience when I began to work in my parish as a catechetical co-ordinator. I was studying theology at the time; and it was a course requirement to get some pastoral experience. I had been volunteering as a catechist in the parish for a few years, while I was working as a manager in a City law firm. There I was responsible for a support staff of over 50 people and for the general operations of the office. I had developed many skills – from recruiting and training the staff and dealing with the conflict resolutions that are bound to occur, to organising conferences for worldwide meetings – and I thought I was well-equipped for the challenge.

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March/April 2016

Bridie Stringer

As commercial organisations become more publicly accountable for their financial  probity, this reflection considers how the Church, both centrally and locally, responds to the call to give an account of its stewardship.  Bridie Stringer lectures in Pastoral Theology at St Mary’s University, Twickenham.

This reflection, with due deference to Jane Austen, was prompted by three events: the ‘Parish Practice’ column of The Tablet, a recently completed fundraising campaign in my own diocese, and the ‘Vatileaks’ allegations that charitable donations to the Church had been misappropriated.

The Tablet’s Parish Practice Column of 28 November 2015 featured an article, ‘Money Matters’, in which the following questions were posed:

• When supporting the financial needs of the Church, ask yourself if you give a realistic amount given your circumstances.
• Are you aware of what the Church takes in, in terms of income and what it has to pay out in terms of expenses?
• Should the parish ask for a percentage of the cost of the reception after baptisms, marriages and funerals, or a standard fee?
The author outlined the issues around the upkeep of the local church and how offerings and stipends are used, concluding with a reminder that ‘Canon Law is very clear that the lay faithful have a duty to support the financial needs of the diocese and that priests have a right to request offerings in the name of the parish’.1

Parishioners of a certain age will, of course, remember that in addition to the Decalogue given to Moses on Mount Sinai, there were a further eight ecclesial commandments, one of which was: ‘To the Church, neglect not dues to pay’. 

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March/April 2016

Sean Whittle

An overview of seven books on Catholic education which would be useful additions to any pastoral theology library. Sean Whittle teaches RE at Gumley House Convent School in London, and is a Visiting Research Fellow at Heythrop College, University of London.

Since The Pastoral Review last presented a survey of recent books on Catholic education in May-June 2014, some noteworthy publications have appeared. Taken together they shed some interesting light on the current trends in thinking about Catholic education both in the UK and further afield. 2015 was a significant year for Catholic education because it marked the fiftieth anniversary since Vatican II’s declaration Gravissimum Educationis was promulgated. A number of the books being reviewed here show a nodding recognition of this notable anniversary.

The first three can be taken together as in effect they form a trilogy of books published through Redemptorist publications. The authors borrow and adapt the title of another older but much loved Redemptorist work How to survive being married to a Catholic (1986). Each of the books in the trilogy takes an aspect of Catholic schooling and offers readers guidance and advice that will help them to survive working and teaching in the Catholic sector. The series begins with...

How to survive working in a Catholic School pp 88, pbk
Authors: Sr Judith Russi
and Raymond Friel
ISBN: 978-0-25291-404-3
Date: 2014
Price: £6.95
Publisher: Redemptorist Publications, Hampshire

This book is attractively presented. The chapters come in bitesize chunks and can be digested during a twenty minute break. The authors, both seasoned advocates of Catholic education, have written a text which seeks to induct new staff into the distinctive features of Catholic schools. In the opening chapter the reader is given helpful answers to some of the frequently asked questions about working in Catholic schools. Subsequent chapters go through the aims and distinctive features of Catholic education, ethos and Catholic social teaching. There is an accessible chapter on the liturgical year, which explains how Catholic Christians strive to mark out and celebrate the cycle of each year.

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March/April 2016

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