Are you a reader of the 'Express' ?
If so, please read this
D° you happen to be a reader of the " Daily Express"? The CATHOLIC HERALD has more than once had occasion to refer to stories which seemed to be aimed at attracting a Christian readership to a high-class paper. Sometimes it does not occur to the "Express " that there are other ways of falling from high ideals such as innocently misrepresenting other people and institutions. Last Saturday in the issue reporting the visit of Her Majesty to the Pope, the "Daily Express" featured an article on the Vatican which stated that the Italian government in 1929 paid the Holy See £750 million. The article also implies that the "wealth of the Vatican" was spent on maintaining a private army, vast palaces and staggering spectacles. It also referred to a "bar in St. Peter's."
Harmful blunders uncorrected
1VEWSPAPERS (not excluding
the Carsice tc Hestato) have to work very fast and all newspapers (no i excluding the CA1HOLIL HERALD) consequently make mistakes. But respectable newspapers should be prepared to correct any serious mistake, particularly any involving the good name of people and institutions. In this case the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the Catholic Union of "Great Britain, Sir George Rendel K.C.M.G., wrote to the "Express" to point out (1) that the payment was £8 million (the £750 million was a simple blunder in currency calculation by the writer of the article. Rene MacColl); (2) that the Vatican wealth is largely spent on charity and welfare work and the immense ecclesiastical commitments of the Church throughout the world; and (3) that the "bar in St. Peter's" is outside the basilica and simply furnishes refreshment for priests who may have been fasting for a long time before saying Mass. Up to the time of writing that letter has not been printed or referred to. I hope readers of the "Express" will know how to react.
Evaporated Monastery My picture this week tells of one of the oddest Benedictine remains in Europe. The spire indicates a church. where is the abbey? In fact, the houses around the spire are remains of the sixth century Abbey of Baume, in the French Jura, which was founded by St. Columba in the 6th century —so, at least, my guide-book states. Furthermore, this Abbey furnished the twelve monks who started Cluny. The Abbey church, immense, tall and romanesque, remains in excellent condition, but it seems that the rest of the buildings have gradually been altered and turned into the houses and living-quarters of many of the villagers. The name of the village, magnificently situated at the meeting of three rocky valleys, is Baume Les Messieurs, and the " Messieurs" (noble canons) took the place of the original "Moines" or monks.
The oddest Abbots
BUT when I began to read further in the guide-book. I felt that here was a place worth meditating on when one fells how mediocre one's religious life is. For Baume in the 17th century produced an abbot who surely must have been the oddest Abbot of all times. His name was lean de Watteville. As a soldier, he killed a fellow-officer in a drunken brawl and, when hiding in Paris, he heard a sermon on hell which induced him to turn to higher things. He became a Benedictine, but soon he literally jumped over the wall after having shot the prior, and returned to soldiering. Then he fled to Constantinople. became a Mahomrnedan and the Pasha. Called upon to fight the Venetians, he made a deal with the religious authorities. Ile was prepared to hand over his troops if he received absolution for his crimes with the abbacy of Baume thrown in for good measure. The deal was concluded and Watteville returned to religious life. Once again he left religious life to fight for Louis XIV, and with such brilliance that he demanded the Archbishopric of Besancon. This, however, was too much for the authorities, and after having served in the Parlernent, he died at the age of 84 in his abbey. Naturally, I cannot vouch for the historical accuracy of this extraordinary tale, but it shows what can—or rather could be done in those days,
Schools, Jesuit and Benedictine
AS a person who worked at Beaumont many years ago, I feel I have a special interest in its coming centenary. It is a school with a curious charm of its own, a charm that is perhaps due to its relativd ysmall size and its historically and scenically attractive setting, But I do not think that on these great occasions one should necessarily confine oneself to praise. I have often felt that Beaumont and the other great Jesuit hoarding schools have suffered from constitutions which involve rapid changes of rectors who are, in effect, headmasters, This criticism is by no means only my own. If this is a fair criticism, would not a great occasion like this he most effectively commemorated by changes which would mean, in effect. that the Jesuit schools would be organised in a manner similar to the outstand ingly successful Benedictine schools?
'Dialogue' across Continents
I WAS interested to conic across in the Roman Propagation of the Faith monthly Fides an Italian translation of an article by Dom Bede Ciriffiths published originally in the USA "Commonweal ". It gives an account of the work of the great Indian mystic and social reformer, Vinoba nave. Vinoba, many will remember, has covered the whole of India on foot begging land for the poor from landlords. When Dom Bede met him, their conversation turned on Unity. i.e. relations between dedicated men of differing faiths. Vinoba began by maintaining that the maintenance of different religions meant that religion itself became a principle of division. But Dom Bede answered. "We can accept that in the last analysis there may he only one religion of humanity, but we cannot find it by ignoring the essential differences now existing . . . The time has come when the various religious traditions, Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Moslem, which have developed separately with few mutual contacts, must meet in a 'dialogue.' The theme of the dialogue must not simply be to convert, but rather to understand one anotheeand to penetrate more deeply into the principles of
different faiths." This Vinoba accepted, and Dom Bede explained the Catholic dogmas which are essential to Christians. I wondered, as I read, whether in the long run the immense differences between the great religious traditions of the world could be more easily overcome than the apparently much smaller differences which divide those who call themselves Christian.