Page 5, 16th September 1949

16th September 1949
Page 5
Page 5, 16th September 1949 — The Great German Catholic Rally

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Organisations: German Parliament
Locations: Cologne


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The Great German Catholic Rally




There are two and a quarter million Catholics in the Ruhr area, and that may partly explain how it is that such an unforgettable experience as the 73rd "Katholikentag," the first since Germany returned after the war to something like normal circumstances, is possible in Germany, and is yet so strange to the English Catholic.

Pontifical Masses had daily to be transferred from the largest church in Bochum to the partly-demolished hall of the Bochumer Verein steel works.

There were public meetings every evening attended by as many as forty to sixty thousand people—the whole culminating on September 4 in a Pontifical Mass in the open air at an altar facing the steel works.

It was in a field capable of holding half a million people—and that field filled in the afternoon for the final public meeting of the "Katholikentag. All Ws, with the guard of honour

numbering some hundreds, and the hundreds of banners, is a sight which would be impossible outside Germany.

Formerly such sights were held in honour of the Nazi terror; but this spectacle was held under the shadow of the Cross of Christ. " a symbol ", said Cardinal Fringe, Archbishop of Cologne, " of the greatest social act in history, whereby Christ reconciled heaven and earth, and united what on earth was torn asunder."

Nor was this assembly representative only of the Ruhr: it was in idea a representative assembly of all Catholic Germany. east as well as west of the Iron Curtain. and held in the full consciousness that Catholics have a task in Germany and an opportunity.

Earlier in the week audiences of impressive size had listened to Dr. Schubert, Director of German Postal Services and to Dr. Arnold, Prime Minister of North RhineWestphalia on the principles of social justice, and their connection with European peace.

Dr. Arnold had answered the foreign critics of his party for its alleged nationalism: there was a

true love of the Fatherland which should offend nobody, and he welcomed the signs, specially noticeable in France, of a growing desire to forget the age-long and so disastrous enmity between the two nations.

Both he and Dr. Schubert had repudiated Socialism, and every extension of State control over private and economic life. Both looked for a better way, and one which recognised the importance of the human person over purely economic considerations: policy must be based on the principles of the papal encyclicals. It was left for Sunday's mammoth meeting for a definite lead to be given.

This came from Dr. Gockeln. Oberbureomeister of Bochum, now chosen President of this year's " Katholikentag" to give what is perhaps the most definite lead ever given to Catholic social activity and Catholic politicians, and for the Gelsenkirche miner Herr Schmitt to reinforce from the worker's own standpoint the common Catholic programme. "I have been s. miner ", said Schmitt. " for 42 years. I had no

opportunity of higher education, and I know all the hardships of the miner's life, " Our Catholic demands are that the worker shall have a definite share in the control of the concern in which he works. a right to security of employment, a right to a wage based on his performance, with the minimum fixed at a level sufficient to maintain a family. There is no cure to be had by an extension of State action."

A Ruhr employer emphasised his agreement—" The State already has too great a share in what we do and what we earn."

Finally came the Holy Father's message on the Vatican Radio to the Catholics of Germany with its five leading principles of the Church's social action, reported in THE CATHOLIC HERALD last week.

The "Katholikentag" has done something. It has fixed once and for all the lines of Catholic social action not only for Germany and not only for the Catholic members of the new German Parliament at Bonn, but for us in England and in all Europe, in our individual action and in our public demands.

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