`Freedom of the Seas'
AFRONT page article in the Vatican City newspaper " Osservatore Romano " on Saturday discussed the Suez Canal crisis and reached the conclusion that " if the principle of the freedom of the seas is spurned, the slow, uncertain steps towards a Christian working community of people will suffer a fatal arrest."
The writer recalls that Pope Benedict XV's famous Note to the belligerents in 1916 during the first World War pointed to the freedom of the seas as one of the sure guarantees of peace.
The Osservatore's reference to " a Christian working community of people "—coupled with all the discussions about nationalistic feelings and the interdependence of all countries in relation to the Suez Canal—lends added importance to a manifesto on national emancipation which African Catholics in the Congo, with some European advisers, have issued and which the Leopoldville correspondent of the Fides News Service says " may become the turning point in Belgian Congo politics."
Two significant statements in the manifesto are that " it is possible to speak of a Congolese nation composed of Europeans and Africans," and, on segregation, that " we reject vigorously the principle of equality but separation."
A new aspect of an ancient problem
THE memory of Pope Benedict XV's warning, says the Osservatore writera warning deep in the teachings of the present Holy Father so that all roads towards ever closer human relations may he everywhere freely open— could not come at a more suitable time.
The Suez Canal, says the Osservatore, cannot be considered merely as a short cut. It does not merely connect two internal seas but the great oceans of the world.
All the recent history of the great European Powers is bound up with it. By means of the canal the Mediterranean world in particu. lar has found more direct contact with the immense continent of Asia. and through it passes twothirds of that vital lymph—oilwhich nourishes the industrial development of the West.
It could be said that for hundreds of millions of people it is a condition of existence. At the root of the question, says the writer, is that fact that today deep disturbance and threat permeates the whole life of the international and individual community —disturbances and threats of which this is merely the last in chronological order.
The fundamental problem is that of the independence of the States, of the interdependence of everyone in view of a good that is common to all and which can be followed only in a planned community.
It is the problem of an international community which seeks a unity which it cannot find owing to the contrasting principles and interests that still prevail.
On this basis the Suez question becomes a new aspect of the already ancient conflict between Eastern and Western politics, the manifestation of a battle that has not ceased because of the repudiation of the term "cold war."