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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University College, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 21, No. 6. May 28, 1958

[Letter from A. J. MacLeod to Salient Vol. 21, No. 6. May 28, 1958]

The Editor,

Sir,—I notice that Mr. Bollinger, in an article on bodgies, advances the peculiar thesis that a Catholic education is a first-class ticket to a pair of stovepipe pants. In support of this he submits as conclusive evidence on a post-war phenomenon, figures almost half a century old. He then quotes more recent figures: these are twelve years old and refer not to New Zealand but to Australia (in fact not even Australia, but an isolated state). In his blatant hysteria Mr. Bollinger calls forth "proof" which is out-of-date, irrelevant, and selected with an eye towards plain deception.

Figures relating to the subject with which Mr. Bollinger deals are, of course, scarce. This should have made him use them with care. For example, some recent information on the question of Catholics and crime is provided by Father Cyril Engler, at present chaplain of the Iowa State Men's Reformatory, Anamosa, U.S.A. He states that one quarter of the inmates call themselves Catholics. But only two per cent, of these have practised their faith before their imprisonment; only twelve per cent, of these professed Catholics were educated in Catholic primary schools; four out of five who did go to Catholic schools were expelled or left to attend State schools; and only one in five had had any instruction in his faith at all.

Drawing of an angel

This is not conclusive evidence for the New Zealand scene, but until Mr. Bollinger submits similarly refined statistics for this country he should withhold judgment.

I had only one flicker of hope during Mr. Bollinger's outburst. This was when he mentioned in his favour "ample evidence" that the 1954 Commission had "overlooked" in the Hutt Valley enquiries. But he failed to quote it. If evidence only four years old and bearing specifically on the problem is as good as Mr. Bollinger implies, why neglect it in favour of misleading evidence 44 years old? Or is this unquoted evidence even weaker than that which Mr. Bollinger is prepared to produce?

Moreover, Mr. Bollinger's conception of religion, especially Catholicism, leads him to even greater clangers. He tells us that religion depends upon the "strong right arm", which leads to "anti-social outbursts in the teens". This kind of argument reveals Mr. Bollinger's utter ignorance and lack of understanding on religious matters. For his conception of religion is plainly reminiscent of the worst excesses of Calvin. It seems that he tries to impute a Calvinistic character even to Catholicism. Yet the idea of the strong right arm is not the basis of Catholic teaching, even though the Church has always shown a firm approach in moral matters. The emphasis has always been on infinite love, God's readiness to forgive sins (perhaps even Mr. Bollinger's).

I am surprised, considering Mr. Bollinger's enormous advantages in this matter, that he so completely misunderstands the Catholic doctrine. Perhaps in a year's time, when this particular clanger no longer echoes in V.U.W. corridors, he will be found asserting that Catholics are prone to crime because the idea of infinite love promotes sloppiness.

—A. J. MacLeod.

"A good season for courtship is when the widow returns from the funeral."

—Geoffrey Chaucer.

Printed by the Disabled Servicemen's League at their registered office, 21 Lloyd Street, for the Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association, Wellington.