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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University, Wellington. Vol. 21, No. 8. 2nd July, 1958

Rome, Sweet Rome

Rome, Sweet Rome

The Editor:

Sir,—Even though Mr. A. J. MacLeod has chosen to make guesses at the identity of his adversary, and really put himself outside the pale of decent controversy by doing so, his letter in your issue of 28th May makes statements that cannot be allowed to go by unchallenged. For that reason alone, I will consent to take issue with him, on condition that he replaces his offensive references to "Mr. Bollinger" by any references he chooses to make about myself.

The facts I quoted concerning incidence of crime among Roman Catholics were 44 years old solely because, as I said, they were "the last figures to be published in New Zealand." From the suppression of the subsequent figures, it can be assumed that they show a similar tendency. Father Engler's figures, quoted by Mr. MacLeod, were produced, as he will know, in a desperate attemp to explain the fact that official figures in America show a similarly high incidence of crime among Roman Catholics. In quoting the explanation without quoting what prompted it, Mr. MacLeod is not putting himself in a good position to accuse other people of "plain deception".

Mr. MacLeod is disappointed that I failed to produce facts supporting the view that too much, rather than too little, religion was responsible for certain adolescent behaviour in the Hutt Valley. Some of the worst cases of anti-social revolt which actually came before the Mazengarb Committee's attention were from fanatically religious homes. I could quote the names of several families, if that would please Mr. MacLeod, but I am hopeful that the youngsters concerned may live to find more wholesome influences and free themselves from a past stain which was not their fault.

Mr. MacLeod's Catholicism borders on megalomania when he assumes that my sweeping generalisation about religiously-based morals was intended to refer specifically to the teachings of his own sect. I am also surprised, considering Mr. MacLeod's enormous advantages in this matter, that he so completely oversimplifies and misrepresents what he is pleased to call "the worst excesses of Calvin." We have the best authority for lumping together "monkish and evangelical superstitions." The weird aberrations of flagellants and other mortifiers of their own and other people's flesh, were learned by the "Puritans" from the monasteries of the Middle Ages: And it is the Roman Catholic faith which today believes the last word on marital relations can be spoken by a man who has taken vows of celibacy!

"The idea of the strong right arm is not the basis of Catholic teaching"—then I take it the demented pictures of hell-fire current among my Roman Catholic playmates when I was young, have ceased to be the central nightmare of the faith.

"The Church has always shown a firm approach on moral matters"—well, really! I would to God it had—and in those small areas where it has (belatedly on H-bomb tests, for example) I applaud it sincerely. But what are we to say of Rome's flirtations with Hitler and Mussolini, of the murder of Giordano Bruno, of the massacre of the Waldensians, of the whole bloody night of the Inquisition,?

An institution that ignores the immoral horrors of movements it cares to make expedient alliances with, and reserves its denunciatory blasts for contraception, has no claim whatever to be considered the pillar of Christian morality.