The Year 1975: The Indulgent 70s

It’s 1975 in the Indulgent Seventies. Washington and Moscow are the main adversaries in the Cold War’s escalating arms race. Pierre Trudeau is Canadian prime minister. Governments and citizens alike are spending freely. Paul VI calls on Catholics to observe a Holy Year by practicing reconciliation of differences and injustices.

Scarboro Missions begins the year with Fr. John Walsh as editor, soon to be succeeded by Fr. Gerald Curry. Writes the outgoing editor: “I wish Fr. Curry many miracles, and hope he will perform a few of his own.” When he takes the chair, Editor Curry promises readers he will aim for “a balanced diet” of magazine fare. Annual subscriptions cost $2. Subscribers number 41,000.

The ecumenical and interfaith outreach of the periodical in 1975 and the appearance of many guest contributors in its pages stand in sharp contrast to the nearly exclusive Catholic content of Scarboro editions in the 1940s and 1950s. Instances of the new openness:

  • Dr. Katherine Hockin, previously a Protestant missionary to China and now director of the Ecumenical Institute in Toronto told a Scarboro interviewer: “North America is itself very much a mission, and people who have been overseas see this new image very clearly.”
  • “Church, what do you say of your future? Are you going to give up the means of power, the compromises with political and financial power?” asked world youth assembled in Taize, France. Scarboro published their “Letter to the People of God”.
  • Janet Somerville, well-known Catholic journalist, concluded a four-part series on world development and the Bible. “Can we expect the spiritual blessings of renewal and reconciliation if we are not willing to live brotherhood in an economic sense?” was her challenge for the 1975 Holy Year.
  • Theologian Gregory Baum analyzed the relationship between personal and social sin.
  • After a tour through Southeast Asia, Scarboro’s Fr. Don Boyle described his findings in several articles. One Indonesian host was Fr. Mangunjiwaya who told him: “We respect all religions and we revere all prophets. Buddha, Mohammed, Brahman and Jesus are all respected and revered.”

As in past years, Scarboro events and reflections still predominated in the Society’s house organ. Examples:

  • The June issue was dedicated to the memory of Fr. Art MacKinnon, shot to death 10 years before in the Dominican Republic. There were accounts of his martyrdom and that of 10 other priests and religious in Latin America.
  • Fr. Frank Hawkshaw described the Society’s Fifth General Chapter in 1974. One major decision invited single men to join Scarboro’s missionary apostolate whether they chose to be ordained or remain laymen. In coming years the Society would train and commission both men and women as lay missioners, dozens of whom would serve alongside the declining ranks of Scarboro priests.
  • Scarboro’s Book Department advertised five works by Fr. McGoey, including his Nor Scrip nor Shoes, and Agent for Change, author Gary MacEoin’s account of Fr. Harvey Steele’s apostolate of cooperatives and credit unions in Panama.
  • A survey of Scarboro Missions readers found the majority were “veteran mission supporters.” Readers said personal stories about individual missionaries were the most favoured articles. Similarly, “Faces in Focus” and “I Remember” were “overwhelming favourites” among the magazine’s regular features.
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