Vatican Press Service
I WAS glad to see that the Tablet raised the point about the inadequate press service at the Vatican. We have had two examples recently. the handling of the 'Holy Father's strange experience in the Vatican Gardens which was falsely headlined throughout the world. and now the violent attack on Catholic (or rather Christian) moral teaching on the basis of inadequate and even false versions of the Pope's words. To me this " innocence" about the ways of world journalism is all to the credit of the Church, and is in fact the almost daily answer to absurd notions of Papal guile and Vatican secret services, and all that sort of nonsense. The Holy See's insistence on the spiritual nature of its commission and its quite secondary interest in secular technical matters and in repercussions in purely worldly fields are precisely the qualities which should earn it the respect of a world which only seizes on spiritual matters when it can twist them for political and economic ends. Once appreciate this, and little indeed is left of the ruthless totalitarian " comparisons between the Vatican and the Kremlin which even so friendly a iournai as Troth took up a week or two ago.
Any Journalists at the Vatican?
BUT there is no doubt that the enormous power of world iciernalism to distort truth, even unintentionally, makes it increasingly necessary that special precautions he taken to ensure that the press be accurately informed, and informed in very good time, of the precise meaning. relevance. importance of news which emanates from the Vatican and hich may well be carried simultaneously in many thousands of newspapers.The Holy Father, in fulfilling his sacred office, speaks at the right time and in words that best suit his purpose as Vicar of Christ. His object is a very different one from that of writing newspaper stories. But there seems to be no reason why competent Catholic journalists at the Vatican should not forestall the press 'sy seeing that the world's newspapers are furnished in time with a correct ,ummary of the vital points. and quotations, which will interest the newspapers. And this is all the more necessary as so many of the agency reports themselves, translations into English by Italian hands no doubt. are so badly done as to force London editors to change the wording and possibly miss the sense still Further.
A NUMBER of readers have writ" ten with some indignation about press reports that in Lewes effigies of the Pope are still used for the bonfire celebrations. Though more antiCatholicism of the blatant type seems to survive in that part of the country than almost anywhere else. I am surprised that the old tradition endures. It must be almost unique. Subconscious anti-Catholicism is still of course very strong, Though I think the newspapers got off on the wrong foot in the present controversy because of a genuine mistake for which they were not responsible, the debate has been steadily fed since then by the latent anti-Catholicism
hid, so easily rises to the surface. I happen also to know that letters from prominent Catholic medical men in a position to speak for their fellow Catholics have been refused publication in national newspapers.
THE point has been made that despite surface appearances the General Election was fought with great bitterness under the surface. If readers could see my own Catholic correspondence they would be confirmed in this view. Posts are still bringing me extraordinarily virulent letters from Catholics on both sides arguing the incompatibility of Catholicism with either Labour or Conservatism. and accusing this paper of betraying the Catholic cause in favour of one or other of the parties. I have never received a series of letters that betray so much personal feeling. " Jotter's hidden pro-Socialism" bangs -his head against " the editorial betrayal of the masses of Catholic workers."
wEEE, it is not "Jotter's pro Socialism " Or pro-1 oryism which makes me now deplore the Conservative failure to give any ministerial job to a Catholic. Catholics today are a very powerful section of the community, even if they are a relatively small number of the community. Many Catholic Conservatives really do feel that Catholic workers vote for class reasons rather than reasons of principle. If so, the Conservative Party is certainly not helping itself to get more of the Catholic marginal vote by passing over the talents of men like Christopher Hollis and Colonel CrosthwaiteEyre, when Labour uses so well those of Dick Stokes and lord Pakenham.
A Friend in Need
I HEAR from Bob Walsh that our valued and valuable contemporary (not competitor), the Catholic Worker, is going through a difficult financial period—not, as Bob Walsh point out. that it has ever been otherwise than financially hard-pressed. But rising costs today make it harder to get around the next. corner still standing up. Its own readers arc unselfishly coming to the rescue, but it needs a lot more support from the whole Catholic community if it is to continue to do its work. What that work is we know well enough when we consider the implications of its fine name. How much so few do for so Mile is proved by the fact that its weekly wages bill is much less than 1:10, and the generosity of its readers is such that donations amount to nearly a quarter of its circulation revenue.
AN unusual spate of theatre-going has taken me during the last few days to both of those mammoth houses which stand so close together that one may well be directed to the one for the other. I mean Drury Lane and Covent Garden. The Magic Flute is an opera that must puzzle Catholics because it is a Cath olic tribute to Freemasonry. But Mozart antedated the condemnation of Masonry. else he would have had nothing to do with the libretto. Though a fantastic and largely unintelligible story, it did give the mature composer the chance of combining the music of farcical-comedy. an idealistic love affair and solemn religious rites in a single opera. For this reason it retains its popularity. as a full house again showed, And how much worthier it is than the much belauded South Pacific. which also combines a good many ingredients, but remains dominated by the worst kind of American sex preoccupation. The British idealise sex on the musical stage. The French treat it as natural and inevitable. But the Americans have developed a gift for bringing it down to the level of the frustrated animal, who has just enough intelligence to make crude jokes about it.
VERY different in size, grandeur and locality from those great theatres is the Beaumont stage where the boys played The Merchant of Venice on the patronal day. the Feast of St. Stanislaus Kostka. What an enormous advance has taken place since my day in amateur stage scenery ---so much simpler now and so much more effective. Some sets evoked spontaneous applause. and nothing could have been more effective than the opening of the traditional fifth act. But the play imposes almost impossible difficulties for boy actors, who may be able to speak their lines well but hardly know what to do when they are not actually speaking. Only one or two minor parts and the central figure of Shylock offer real scope. These opportunities were very well seized, especially by the actor who played Shylock. Once his emotional powers support his exceptional technical ability. he should be heard again on a greater stage. Nerissa was charming, the Duke imposing and Latineelot actually funny. St. Ignatius. I think. would have given these and their fellow-actors a pat on the hack.
T Bishop's Night 'PO be rung up at midnight to be .1. asked, " Are you sending out Christmas cards this season? " would perhaps strike you as a rather inordinate demand on your store of goodwill. Bishop Heenan, at a recent journalists ' meeting, goodhumouredly remarked that such had been his experience after the news had been published that one of his Anglican colleagues had decwided to dispense w c hirspese istmnas
cards as an economy measure.