Degrelle And Catholics
SIR,—I cannot do better in answer to the points made by Mr. Van Pelt, entitled "The Belgian Catholic Party," than submit to you the answer written at my request by a well known leader of the Catholic Party of Belgium.
" Degrelle," he writes, is not to be compared with Mussert. the Dutch Nazi. The latter is a confirmed disciple of Adolf Hitler. whose methods and programme, he (Mussert) is ready to adopt at a moment's notice, circumstances permitting.
" Degrelle is a Catholic. A dunce in the University, he has, undoubtedly what is colloquially called, the gift of the gab,' but his programme, as far as he has ever expounded it, is a mass of contradictions, and a slice of Utopia.
" A Catholic swashbuckler. temperamentally unable to adapt himself to the rather obsolete methods of post-war politicians—most of whom are men of the old school-Degrelle kicked over the traces, went his own way, and found a splendid field of action in the general discontent brought about by the financial and economical difficulties of the past 15 years.
" Now that the campaign against 'Les Pourris ' (the Rotten) is falling flat through want of material to work on, he seems rather at a dead end, though curiosity still draws crowds who enjoy his grandiloquency.
" The Rexist M.P.s—or at least the pick of them—seem to be on the look out for a short cut to an alliance—or to save the face—a 'concentration ' with the official Catholic political forces.
" There has never been a formal condemnation of the Rexist doctrine. (In fact, it would be an arduous task to analyse it, if doctrine it were!). The Hierarchy certainly did direct the Catholics to vote for M. Van Zeeland—at the Van ZeelandDegrelle election—but this may quite reasonably be taken as a mere tactical move, in the general interests of the country at a critical moment.
" If the Catholics are, politically what Mr. Ferd. 1. van Pelt describes as a Minority Party, they are, in fact, outside politics, a strong majority.
" Internal dissensions on objects which have nothing to do with religion, such as the language question which has now been rendered alarmingly acute owing to the use many politicians have made of it to acquire a personal popularity; the mediocrity of many members of Parliament, a result of the one man one vote system,' have broken the political strength of yore.
" A very great majority of Belgians have received baptism. In scores of homes where avowed Socialists have their abode. religious emblems occupy a place of honour. Among. the people officially known as Liberals ' (that is to say, AntiClericals) a mere civil marriage or a civil funeral is the exception.
" A moderate amount of ability, diplomacy, disinterested work would suffice to once more place the Catholic Party at the head of the poll. But ' Quos Vult Perdere Jupiter Jupiter Dementat ' and we are afraid things will have to get worse before personal ambition gives precedence to the interest of all."
YOUR OWN CORRE.sPONDENT IN BELGIUM.
Condemnation of Rex
SIR.—May I say that, as a member of the Catholic clergy of Belgium, I agree totally with Mr. van Pelt.
Two things strike the Belgian readers of your Belgian news: the extreme Right opinions of your Antwerp correspondent, which are not always in accord with reality, and the confusion over the condemnation of the Rex movement. There is no Roman document on the case, but I think that the theological treatise of De Ecclesia gives to bishops in their diocese, and of course to the hierarchy in its province, the right to condemn any idea which has some connection with doctrine. Nobody will deny that Rexism is in some degree related to Catholic doctrine. Such a condemnation demands both external and internal assent from their flocks.
A BELGIAN PRIEST. Brussels.