HOW difficult it is to give a
true picture of the delicate situation of Pax in Poland today! Your two correspond-. ents, John Sheridan and Geoffrey Lawman (May 19), in their bitter polemic against the cautious appraisal given by Norman St. John-Stevas, distort the true position.
It is difficult to write a fair evaluation of Pax because whatever one says to its credit will tend to be read against Cardinal Wyszynski. Certainly Pax is doing some good work, for instance in showing the Communists that Catholicism has an intellectual content, also in getting translations of foreign books into the country (e.g. Newman, Gilson, Dawson, Daniel-Rops, Chardin).
Remember that the membership of Pax is relatively small and that it is an association of Catholic laypeople. We should also bear in mind that Government, Party, and Pax are three separate entities. Pax doesn't receive direct financial backing from the Government, but it is helped by trade concessions for its various commercial undertakings.
While it is true that Pax does support the Party line to some extent, e.g. on Vietnam and on Germany, yet there are many (and non-Communists) outside Poland who would favour such policies.
Poland is unique in being so overwhelmingly Catholic and at the same time a Socialist State. While the number of convinced Communists is very small, nevertheless the country is tied to the Communist bloc. The Polish people realistically accept this fact, perhaps with some reluctance, but this does not mean that collaboration in shaping their country's affairs (even on the political level) is a surrender to atheism.
In Poland today there is a valuable opportunity for Christian-Marxist dialogue. However, as Norman St. JohnStevas says, the unity of the Catholic Church in Poland must be maintained at all costs.
The conclusion I draw is that there must be nothing done to weaken Cardinal Wyszynski's position but at the same time one can recognise the good that can come from collaboration with the Government and one can hope for an improvement in relations between the Cardinal and Pax.
E. Crabtree Manchester 7.