SIR,--I was astounded by your reporter's account of the Portuguese Youth Movement in the CA-mouc HERALD of September 26, and particularly by his concluding statement that he formed " the impression that there was a suspicious resemblance between the Portuguese and the Fascist and Nazi youth organisations." The Portuguese clergy, who take a very prominent part in the organisation and control of the Mocidade Portueuesa, would be extremely surprised and, I am sure, indignant, if they were to read his remarks.
The Mocidade Portugue.sa was founded, in the terms of Law No. 1941 of April II, 1936, as a national youth 'organisation " to stimulate the full development or physical capacity, the formation of character and love of country, and to bring youth to a condition which will enable it to contribute selectively to its country's defence." The first article of the regulations which govern it declares that " the M.P. will impress upon its members the Christian education traditional in the country, and will in no circumstances enlist in its ranks an individual without religion."
At all the great religious celebrations in Portugal the Mocidade is always prominent. When the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon makes a ceremonial visit within his province, a guard of honour is always mounted by the Mocidade And one of the most touching and encouraging sights to be seen in modern Portugal — a sight now frequent, though it would probably have been impossible in the anticlerical days which preceded the establishment of the New State — is the corporate communion of great numbers of members of the Mocidade at the open-air Mass which is invariably celebrated at any general gathering of this virile and definitely Catholic movement.
Elmsett, near Ipswich.
Sue—I have just noticed what seems to me a most mischievous headline, on the back page of the Cu-ewe HERALD of September 26, "Portuguese Youth," it says very positively, is " Trained Like Nazi and Fascist Youth." It is only the reader who gets to the bottom of the column who discovers that your reporter who interviewed the present guests of the British Council has made no study of the matter on which to base this judgment, hut merely " came away with the impression that there was a suspicious resemblance between the Portuguese and the Fascist and Nazi youth organisations." Permit me to protest against the way you have based the bold statement in your headline on such slender grounds. There is in point of fact every difference between the Mocidade Portuguese and the youth organisa tion of totalitarian ragimes. The resemblances are superficial, and the sort of " impression " which your reporter has derived has been the cause of much harm to AngloPortuguese relations during recent years; for reporters of the instinctively hostile secular press are equally prone to hasty judgments.
Membership of the Mocidade is compulsory for boys between the ages of 7 and 14: but that in itself is no more evidence of totalitarianism than the fact of compulsory primary education in our own country. The Mocidade is, in fact, essentially educative, complementing the education given between classroom walls. Its aim is education for Christian citizenship, and its work is wholly directed towards that end. I challenge your reporter to parallel in it any of the aspects of the youth movements of National-Socialism or Fascism to which as a Catholic he takes exception.
Cold Ash, Newbury,
[Our reporter, who happens to have personal knowledge of Portugal, faithfully reported his impressions as obtained Iron) conversation with the Portuguese Youth delegates. He himself was surprised that so little emphasis on Christian principles was made by them, despite his questioning.
At the same time we recognise the unfortunate nature of rhe headline, the second part of which should at least have 'had a question-mark. In any rase, the somewhat unsatisfactory answers to questions put by our reporter can obviously not be considered as any proof that lhe Portuguese Youth Movement is akin to totalitarian youth movements, and we regret a hasty story which. to say the least. was discourteous to the guests of the British Council. — Eurros. C.H.I.