Page 6, 11th November 1938

11th November 1938
Page 6
Page 6, 11th November 1938 — " PEOPLE AND FREEDOM GROUP " Don Sturzo's Defence

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Locations: London, Barcelona


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" PEOPLE AND FREEDOM GROUP " Don Sturzo's Defence

SIR,—During my forty years of political life I have always consistently maintained that there is no such thing as " Catholic political action," but only Catholics who engage in political action either as indivi dual members of non-Catholic groups or as groups made up of Catholics. In the latter case their political action is not carried on in the name of Catholicism (which is a universal religion), but in the name of their particular programme and political system.

Why, then, do you attribute to me ideas I have never expressed, saying (in your edi torial note to Mr. Anthony Heron's letter)

that I described the People and Freedom Group " as representative of Catholic poli

tical action "? This idea was never mine.

This misunderstanding gives me the key to the CATHOLIC HERALD'S resentment at my innocuous phrase in my article in l'Aube. You and I speak two different languages because we have two different sets of ideas; mutual comprehension is therefore difficult.

You assume that the CATHOLIC HERALD pursues a Catholic political policy. This I contest. In whose name does the CATHOLIC HERALD approve the de jure recognition of the Abyssinian Empire? In the name of English Catholics? No, for there are Catholics who approve it and Catholics who disapprove it. In whose name does the CATHOLIC HERALD approve the bombardments on Barcelona? In the name of the English Catholics? But here again there are Catholics who approve and Catholics who disapprove.

On all points of national and international politics opinions are so diverse that the English Catholics, who are members of the nun-Catholic parties, certainly have not the same politics.

Your paper calls itself Catholic not in virtue of its politics but in virtue of the religious principles it defends. Anything else is simply the opinion of editors, contributors, directors. They do not represent any true political group, at any rate up to the present, as far as I know, according to the criteria of political men of the Continent.

The People and Freedom Group, if it disapproves and fights against the de jure recognition of the Abyssinian conquest (see its correspondence with Lord Halifax) and against the bombardment of towns, does so in the name of its members who authorise it to speak on their behalf, There is also another group of Catholics in England working on a political platform (with a specialised character—feminism), and that is the St. Joan's Social and Political Alliance; it speaks in its own name, not in the name of Catholics, who in politics can he feminist or anti-feminist.

This brings me to another difference: that of political content, whether this be a practical programme or a system of ideas. The People and Freedom Group is oriented towards a democracy of Christian inspiration, like the similar groups in France (l'Aube, the Popular Democrats, the Jeune Republique), in Belgium (the Christian Democrats), and in Switzerland (the Demo cratic Conservatives). It was from an organ of these last, the Popolo e Liberia of the Ticino, that the Group took its name of People and Freedom.

What system or programme does the CATHOLIC HERALD represent? Now it appears democratic, now conservative, now philo-Fascist, If I am told that it is Catholic' I answer that Catholicism is a religion, not a political system, and that the Church admits of every political form, from the absolute monarchy to the demo

cracy; the Catholic Action promoted by the Church is outside politics, as is expli citly repeated by Cardinal Pizzardo in the observations that serve as introduction to the Scheme for Catholic Action for the Archdiocese of Westminster. " Catholic Action " he says, " is by its nature independent of all political affiliations."

This does not mean that Catholics as such must abstain from political life, or that they should not defend the religious interests that might be prejudiced by politics, but that in doing so they take their stand not on a political platform but on a religious one. This I have fully treated in my study La Politique et la Theologie Morale, published this October in the

Nouvelle Revue Theologique of the Jesuit Fathers of Louvain. Anyone wishing to pursue the subject further can read my forthcoming book with Burns and Oates, Politics and Morality.

Finally, the fact that the People and Freedom Group may be small, at its beginnings, and not well known, is not reason not to attribute to it its political character. It is not necessary to run parliamentary candidates in order to be a political group. The Friends of l'Aube as such are not an electoral party, but they are a political group. Every beginning is made by few. If the few find a response to their ideas and methods, it means that they have touched real feelings in the environment in which they work. The People and Freedom Group may encounter indifference, opposition, help; what little I can do will fall in the third category.

Liam SToRzO.

London, W.

[The CATHOLIC HERALD has time and again insisted—and the view is implicit in last week's editorial remarks • that it does not pursue it Catholic political policy, but that political policy which seems to those responsible for it the most. consonant with their views as Catholic citizens. The sixth paragraph of Don Starro's letter admirably

preSSefl just What t11.0 CAMOLK: HERALD

holds. But if at the same time the Civraotac lima!) represents no "true political group" and appears " democratic, now conservative, now philo-Fascist " it is because it tries to treat concrete political questions according to Catholic principles and not according to pre-formed political principles or personal desires. It is juEst because all this is true that we resented, and still resent, the attempt to claim for the "People and Freedom " Group the monopoly of political action by English Catholics. The phrase we used, " Catholic political action " in reference to that group was a slip; we meant of course " political action by Catholics." It is certain therefore that Don Sturzo has not discovered the clue. The " People and Freedom " Group, the CATHOLTO HERALD, the Tablet, and all English Catholics indulging in political views end activities, all view the relation between religion and polities in the same way. The question still therefore remains: why did Don Strinzo single out one group as alone representing the political action of English Catholics? Because he happened to approve of its political views?—Enrrond

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