SIR,—Mr. Stanley B. James's article in your current issue is extremely interesting, but it was not Wesley's preaching that saved England but the Gospel he preached to the poor and oppressed. Mr. James recommends the Young Christian Workers to reach the working man by following the example of Wesley, while omitting to state what the Y.CJW. are to preach to what he Terms—" a fiercely anti-Catholic proletarian world." Now much of this antagonism is directed, not against our religion about which little is known, but against Catholics in respect of matters confused with religion and which are quite distinct from it.
In Liverpool and places where there is great unemployment. and competition for available work between people of different nationalities, the rivalry having an economic basis, reappears as sectarianism. Sectarianism invades and divides the political parties on matters of race and religion, leaving the individual in a position of conflicting loyalties; particularly the English Catholic.
Wesley left a State Church which was spiritually dead because of its identity with, and control by, privilege and political power which oppressed the poor to whom Wesley preached the Gospel. The leaven of the Gospel created the religious movement amongst the people which was opposed by the State Church of that period, and resulted in an opposition political movement, the Left parties who are opposed to privilege and " authority." The Bible became the sole authority for the Dissenters' religious belief because any other authority meant the State. Diverse interpretations of the Bible were hound to result although many found the Bible a source of comfort and guidance because they earnestly sought to know and do the will of God; it was this sincerity that turned a whole people to religion and a national conscience based on religion. The improvenient of the conditions of the people through social services, were a direct result of the national conscience and therefore the fruits of the GospeL It is remarkable that the political parties of the Left have fought for these improvements against the political opposition of the parties with which the State Church was linked. We have all heard about" the squire, the parson and all their relations, and may the Lord keep us all in Our proper stations "—and this accounts for any Church being considered as opposed to any improvement in the conditions of the oppressed. It is a factor to be seriously taken into account because it is hardly conscious so much as instinctive.
The political differences were not all
based on religious differences. Nonconformity during the industrial age represented manufacturers having interests in conflict with privilege Toryism represented. The result of trade competition is to lower the wage standard of the working classes, so to obviate the evils of the competitive system the working classes turned to Social. ism, the political faith of the Labour Movement.
Just before the war Socialism was condemned from our own pulpits and Catholics were warned to keep clear of it as rank heresy. It is true that much that was stated about Socialism being anti-religious, has proved to be accurate in regard to certain countries on the Continent, but it is not true of England where no account has been taken of the religious nature of the people. This opposition, however, is not forgotten, and today in the case of Spain the attitude of many Catholics is viewed with suspicion. The Labour Movement is anti-Communist and anti-Fascist because it is essentially democratic, a fact which is demonstrated by its own history of struggle in England, This history colours its attitude towards any Church and its sympathy with the Spanish Government; because Franco is supported by powers which destroy all democratic institutions, including religion.
• The fact that Catholic Action is an organisation to be directed by the Hierarchy —which the dictionary defines as government by priests—is not likely to appeal to a democratic movement, and it is noted that the Catholic press is decidedly towards the extreme Right and therefore opposed to the Left political parties. The Young Christian Workers certainly have a much more difficult task than Wesley undertook —unless, of course, they are to preach the same Gospel.
There still remains the Bible and its appeal to all the religiously disposed people of this country. If Catholics were encouraged to seriously study the Bible, under the
direction of the Hierarchyathey, would not only know more of their religion but would gain the serious attention of their countrymen. Surely the only effective opposition to atheistic Communism, is a firm knowledge and belief in the law of God and the spiritual fruits which result from a desire to carry out the will of God.
Of recent times it is very noticeable that the Epistles and Gospels are becoming more and more neglected due to the pulpit time being taken up with matters of a semi-political nature. The whole of the New Testament, at least, should be thoroughly known to all Catholics; the psalms also should be the subject of discourses from the pulpit and the people encouraged to include them in their private devotions.
A. G. BULLEN.