Alternatives to Criminal lunacy'
By HILARY KNIGHT
riEother week I went to a meeting of the newly-formed Catholic Nuclear Disarmament Group, since I knew that it was run by young people (its chairman is 18) and that its membership was mainly among the young. The meeting was held in a hired room in Friends' House, Euston Road, and was addressed by Archbishop Roberts.
Archbishop Roberts. a Jesuit who lives at Farm Street, is an extraordinary man. To begin with he is tireless in the cause of seeking alternatives to the "criminal lunacy" of nuclear war, and is prepared to address small and scruffy audiences just as willingly as big and smart ones, which is a rare virtue in important people. I have heard him fairly often now, and have been able to observe his habits.
On these occasions he always has "Morals and Missiles," a heavily thumbed book bristling with slips of paper marking pages, tucked under his arm, and usually takes as his text Mr. E. I. Watkin's essay in that excellent little book.
HIS 13 years as Archbishop of Bombay have given him wide horizons, and he usually stops at some point in his lecture to say in his habitual off-hand manner: "By the way, since I started talking, several thousands of people have died of starvation." This not only serves to jolt us out of any possible complacency but to demonstrate what urgent need there is to deflect the world's resources into construction, rather than organise them for destruction.
Archbishop Roberts is very strong on Catholics using their freedom of conscience in those fields where they are entitled to do so. When he is asked such questions as: "Is it all right for us to take part in direct action protests at nuclear missile bases and so on?" he answers with his little smile: "You follow your conscience." He deplores that "Is it all right . ..?" attitude on the part of the laity, as being sheep-like in the wrong sense.
On the occasion of the meeting of the Catholic Nuclear Disarmament Group. Canon Drinkwater was in the audience.
HAVE begun, now, to sort out the different shades of opinion that obtain among the various Catholics deeply concerned with the nuclear dilemma. Archbishop Roberts thinks that, with the advent of the H-bomb, war is now out of the question, for any total modern war would sooner or later make use of nuclear weapons, and the use of nuclear weapons involves world suicide.
Canon Drinkwatcr, on the other hand, while looking on nuclear weapons as totally immoral, does not, therefore, condemn all modern war. He still admits the possibility of a war with conventional weapons which might be just. He illustrated his view exactly when, in a private chat after the meeting, he suggested that the new Catholic Nuclear Disarmament Group might put itself under the patronage of Saint Barbara, the patron saint of artillery, and thereby make it plain that it discriminates between nuclear and other weapons. He detests the conception of "pacifism", while wishing all nuclear weapons at the bottom of the sea.
THOSE of my readers who arc bored with my preoccupation with the nuclear dilemma (who are not, I may say, among the under-25's for whom I write) will be pleased to be reminded that I have not broached this subject since August. Hence I still have the letters by me expressing horrified protest at my correspondent who said he'd rather his grandson was a three-legged monster than "a good little Communist".
Extracts from the letters include: "Does the Cross depend on the sword? Your correspondent shows complete lack of faith in God's infinite power".
"The ultimate moral issue is not whether it is preferable to be atomised rather than Communised, but whether it is better to suffer evil rather than do evil".
"Apart from the unlikely eventuality of individuals everywhere having the commonsense to renounce war, the solution lies in the political unification of the world in some kind of World Federation or World Government. It is time people started thinking in terms of the good of humanity rather than thc advantage of this or that country ..."
'THINKING internationally" which, I agree, is vital, brings me to a letter I have received from the World Federation of Catholic Young Women and Girls.
The letter thanks me for writing about the W.F.C.Y.W.G., which I did last summer, and goes on: "The W.F.C.Y.W.G. is to be held next year at Rome, from Easter Monday, April 18, to Sunday. April 24. This would be an excellent opportunity for young people to get to know the Federation Any young girl wishing to go should apply through the organisation or group to which she belongs. If she doesn't belong to any Catholic Action group she should write to: Miss Sheila Taylor, Digby-Stuart College, London, S.W.15.