Page 20, 10th February 1939

10th February 1939
Page 20
Page 20, 10th February 1939 — "From the time of Gregory the Great and Hildebrand there

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Organisations: Royal Navy
People: Monte Rosa
Locations: Milan, Rome


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"From the time of Gregory the Great and Hildebrand there

never was a greater Pope than Pius XI," said Cardinal Hinsley on Thursday night at the Catholic Association Banquet.

Cardinal Hinsley's

Tribute to THE LIFE Pius XI OF POPE (Continued from Page 3.)

When summoned to Rome his profound knowledge of history was at the disposal of the authorities there in troubled times.

But he had no opportunity of exercising his administrative powers till he was pent by Benedict XV to settle the ecclesiastical affairs of the new Republic of Poland in April, 1918. There he had to suggest the appointment of Bishops, even before his ewn episcopal consecration. He had to talk in half a dozen languages in that multilingual country, Including Hebrew to Jewish Rabbis with whom he Was on the most friendly terms.

He had to cope with pro-German and anti-German difficulties without being partisan. There were people who said that they had never known what work meant till they saw what he did and made them do.

All this time he was careful to observe his religious duties; he never neglected prayer; he answered every letter. "Not answering letters," he said, " is a dire disease." Gratitude and courtesy were always regarded by him as among the greatest human virtues. His endurance was tremendous.

He journeyed through flooded lands when the roads had been ruined, when the telegraph poles had been swept away, when the engine itself was draped with icicles. So welcome and appreciated was he that whole populations came out to meet him in the snow,

Elected Pope

Then after his short rule at Milan when post-war Italy Was on the verge of anarchy, he was elected Pope.

I saw him come out of the Conclave and stand an the loggia overlooking the Square of St. Peter's thence to give, for the first time since the loss of the Temporal Power, the blessing " Unit et


He was as calm and self-possessed as when he stood on the summit of Monte Rosa or spent the night on that rocky ledge in the Alpine storm. In thus departing from precedent, he intended, as he said himself, that his blessing " should bring to the whole world the wish and the announcement of that universal pacification which we all so earnestly desire." His one aim was' the Reign of Christ in the Kingdom of Christ."

Tremendous Understanding

As Pope, his energy, his wide outlook, his determination and versatility were at once displayed on a world-wide scale. His interests seemed unlimited. He vigorously encouraged science and art, modern inventions like wireless and the cinema, and, of course, the Press. He urged on the codification of the Canon Law. He had an intimate knowledge of the customs of the native races which were being evangelised by the Church, and he gay an immense impetus to the work of the missions.

He told me once that the study of African problems had been his delight from his college days, so that he was called by his companione " the African," and that he was certain that he had been the first in Italy to read Stanley's Through Darkest Africa, of which an advance copy had been sent to the Ambrosian Library.

He was an indefatigable worker. Up to midnight he would labour; then slept the moment his head touched the pillow, and next morning early he was at his meditation followed by Mass. To a Religious, afterwards Cardinal, he once said that seven hours' sleep meant the loss of a quarter of one's active life. His allowance was for four hours.

Social Reformer

His keen support of the cause of the working classes, and his masterly development of Leo XIII's social doctrine, in the famous encyclical Quadragesimo Anna, place Plus XI in the foremost rank of social reformers. I think that the passionate devotion of the last four Popes to this pressing cause of social reform, and their determined vindication of the rights and dignity of the individual human person against State absolutism of every sort, ought to be much more widely known; and besides this, their defence of the sanctity of family life and of the home. In Catholic estimation not the least of the late Pope's merits was his devotion to the Holy Scripture, the Sacred Liturgy and the august Sacrifice of the Mass.

What Will Historians Say?

There are those who say that Pius XI will go down to posterity as the Pope of the Missions, and certainly his claim to do so is undoubted. Others hold that he will be named hereafter "the Pope of the Concordats," whereof he has sanctioned so many.

Clearly, the most notable of those -is the Concordat with Italy which marked the mid-period of his reign and put an end to the conflict between Church and State, which had so hampered the

spiritual work of the former in Italy for nearly sixty years.

Catholics understand that the Pope by so doing did not in any way abandon the principle for which his predecessors had had always contended, since the only thing they sought was in reality that the Sovereign Independence of the Papacy as such should be recognised and respected.

Thus in the Lateran Treaty Pius XI only aimed at securing as much independent authority as would make visible his freedom from subjection to any civil power. Except for that purpose he did not wish to possess even that microscopic territory assigned to him. As he himself said, the arrangement was not perfect but the best which could be secured in the circumstances.

Although the Italian Concordat provides a tolerable modus tiveridt for the Church in the Italian State, I must point out that it does not mean that she is In any way committed to upholding any particular form of government. Our people are being misled to-day by a double fallacy through the rival catchwords of parties. Fascism is made to mean everything opposed to Communism, and Communism is represented as the only alternative to that ill-defined Fascism. Anyone who has read the Papal Encyclicals in the last century will understand that the Popes are committed to neither position.

Not Unapproachable

I conclude by saying that personally in my intercourse with the Holy Father I found him always affable, easy of approach and paternal. He has shown himself on all occasions the common Father of all the Faithful, especially to those crowds of pilgrims of nearly every nation—one million and a quarter are said to have visited Rome during 1925, the year of Jubilee—who constantly flock to Rome to venerate the Apostolic See.

Pius XI and England

He had a special regard for England.

He expressed to me his admiration for the spirit of fair play and equity which animates our Colonial Officials in their administration. I once heard him call England " the classical land of liberty, as evidenced in Magna Chaste. and Habeas Corpus."

I remember also the warm welcome he gave to 400 British officers and men of the Royal Navy whom I was once privi'edged to present to him in the Sala Clementine of the Vatican. He passed down their ranks and gave his hand to each and spoke to them of the sea, of its fascination and its perils. Then pointing to the fresco of St. Clement. being east upon the waves, he reminded them that the Pope also was a sailor, and like them was often "in perils of the sea " and had to f/sce the storms of the deep. This truth was brought home to me when I learnt from his own lips how the sorrow caused by the sufferings of his children in the Spanish tragedy had overwhelmed even his calm spirit and dauntless optimism.


I am sure that many, besides the three hundred millions of his own flock, will echo their prayer, " May he rest in peace. Amen."



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