Page 4, 18th March 1955

18th March 1955
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Page 4, 18th March 1955 — APARTHEID : WHAT WE CAN DO
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APARTHEID : WHAT WE CAN DO

By RENEE HAYNES HREE considerations must affect our attitude towards the present situation in South Africa. There a white minority rules, and ordains for its subjects of African or mixed race a life of perpetual segregation. subjection and surveillance on all

levels, personal, educational. economic and political.

As Catholics we have to face the fact that it is essential for the Church to be there and that such dramatic gestures towards the guilty as would relieve our own feelings might simply mean that no one was left to help the innocent.

As Catholics again, however, we have to realise that it is urgently necessary for the rest of the world that the Church should not he misunderstood. should not even seem to give grounds for the old taunts that she cares for " pie in the sky when you die," but not for justice in this living world. and that her prayer. " Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven," is no more than a pious mumble.

We have also to think as citizens. St. Augustine. writing when the Roman Empire was decaying into its final corruption, could make an absolute contrast between the City of God and the City of the World. We. in a civilisation still permeated by religious values, cannot draw such a distinction. We live in both Cities. and we have to try to transform the second into some shadow of the first.

We have power, economic and civic, and we are responsible for using a.

Slavery abolished

OUR secular responsibility,

moreover, is greater than a purely national one. We are citizens of one of the memberStates of the British Commonwealth of Nations; citizens of the original country whence the rest sprang.

This country laid down the principle, nearly two centuries ago, that there was to be no slavery within its borders, and that if a man

Lighter side of Church

my rival and friend Fr. Basset has already got ahead of me in recommending Andre Frossard's " The Salt of the Earth " (Harvill, 10s. 6d.). But I can pull greater weight than he with the editorial powers that he, and so I reproduce part of the amusing jacket, with Fr. Basset himself on the extreme right (non political sense). M. Frossard in writing about the spirit and habits of the better-known religious orders reminds us all that there is no reason to be so deadly serious about matters Catholic. The Americans, I think, are ahead of us here, though their type of humour may not quite be ours. It is high time a superficially funny, basically serious, book about Catholics were written. Author? Mgr. Knox, D. B. Wyndham Lewis, J. B. Morton, Ted Kavanagh, Fr. Basset himself— there's no lack of names. And in case of misunderstanding, " The Salt of the Earth " is not so much funny as lightly and happily written.

History and Geography

T SEEM to have been travelling last week-end around and about the centre of England I was told in Birmingham that the centre of England was somewhere in the city, and then later as I was about to drive from Birmingham to Coventry I was told that I should pass the centre of England in a village called Meriden. Unfortunately, as I had to keep appointments, I was unable to stop and investigate. But there is something quite striking and appropriate in the fact that this area with its immensely active light industrial activity, typical of today and vital for exports, should be " the heart of 20th century England " in the geographical as well as in a more metaphorical sense, Of course, for generations this area was rural and there was nothing special about its central position. But Warwick is not far. On my way, I had time to wander through its streets. What a lovely and unspoilt town it is, with its dominating castle. its churches, its fine gateways. Historic Warwick is no had place to figure as England's historic geographical centre. While there, I thought for a moment it was going to prove the place where 1 would hear a historic decision. Into the hotel where I was having a cup of coffee four or five large men entered. their countenances betraying terrible anxiety. Snatches of their conversation suggested that vitally important news had just come by wire, I thought of course, of war breaking out. Howe % er, it turned out to be nothing mo:e than a rumoured cancellation of the local races.

Prof. Bodkin

IN Birmingham I lunched with Prof. Bodkin. Chatting with him about Warwick. I was struck by his remark that, coming to this country ifter living in Ireland, he

brought a slave here with him from overseas. directly that slave set foot on British soil he should be free, without restrictions on his liberty to earn a living, to hold property. to marry, or to travel about : restrictions imposed on all nonEuropeans in South Africa today.

In 1834 Britain freed all slaves in her colonies, and paid due COMpensation to their owners. One of these colonies was South Africa.

The Calvinist Dutch settlers had rationalised their natural inclination lo exploit the Negro peoples by deciding that the latter had been divinely predestined to serve them; and exploded, in the words of Piet Retief's sister Anna. at " the outrageous notion " of their black slaves "being placed on an equal footing with *Christians '" (it is not clear whether any of them had been baptised; if so, they still did not count).

Britain also put into practice there, as. far as this was culturally possible, the axiom that all men should be equal before God and the Law: before God. Who is Love, and before the Law, which gives justice.

Soup not enough

THERE is an old saying that you must be just before you can be generous. In the same way, you must respect and he fair to your neighbour before you can love him. Otherwise, of course, however much soup or social welfare you may provide, the relationship between you will not be one of love but of patronage on the one hand, and humiliation. resentful or fawning, on the other.

It is interesting to remember that help came to the wounded man in the ditch not from the caste-proud priest or the race-proud Levite but from the despised Samaritan, whose human kindness was untainted by conscious. virtuous superiority.

Degradation

AFTER the Boer War and the magnanimous Peace of Vereeniging. the defeated Calvin was qutte bowled over by the wealth of architectural beauty in our English towns and villages. " The product of a country that has never been invaded," he said. But if we have given Prof. Bodkin pleasure. how much England and Birmingham owes to him. I was privileged to be taken round the Art Gallery of the Barber Institute by the man who built it and collected the pictures. His formula was that nothing but the very best must be admitted. The result today is a truly perfectly balanced and representative gallery, both in choice of the pictures and other works of art, and in their framing, hanging and display. Taking me round, the Professor's mind seemed divided between a sense of ecstasy before the lovely canvases and a twinkling eye over the amazing bargains which he made when buying them. Had he used his judgment and knowledge for himself instead of for his gallery, he would today be a very rich man indeed, instead of a retired professor. An immense Rodin bust stands at the staircase head. I think Birmingham should get up a subscription to have it replaced ad perpetuam rei memoriam with an immense bust of Professor Bodkin.

Dolgelley

T AM sure many of my readers

have motored along the lovely Barmouth Estuary to the little Welsh town of Dolgelley (not doljelly; but dolgethly). and I dare say many of them have started the ascent of Cadcr Idris from there, with the exciting Foxes Path near the summit and the lake in which really hardy people bathe. I mention this because I have just heard that the Catholic church there has suffered from recent floods. It is in charge of a Maltese priest, Fr. Francis J. Scalpell. Recently, one had to enter the sanctuary with waders I Anyhow, Fr. Scalpell is faced by a hill far beyond the means of himself and his people. It strikes me that readers who know that part of the country and have climbed (or tried to climb) Cader Idris might like to offer a little help. If so, do not send money to me, but straight to Fr. Scalpel!, Our Lady of Seven Sorrows, Meyrick Street, Dolgelley, Merioneth.

Hymn-singing

APRIEST from the North wrote to me this week, and I quote from his letter because I am sure that everyone agrees that in this question of hymn-singing, as with other changes, the one test is whether (a) the change would help to bring people to church, and (b) raise the quality of their spiritual life. H e Writes: " THE CA mom HERALD has done great service to the cause of hymn-singing by opening out its columns for so lengthy a period to help people express their v Jws. I have built up here a good tradition of hymn-singing and it has ill:WCISed Our Sunday evening congregation to a point at which the church is practically filled, and is packed on occasions when (and now it is very rare, alas and alack) we can secure a good preacher." ists regained power, and gradually they reverted to the traditional policy of racial oppression. This, though no longer called slavery, was made ten times more painful and degrading by the fact that an industrial revolution had taken place and that the link between the dominant minority and the serf-majority was no longer. for the most part, the personal one between farmer and labourer but the impersonal mass-contact between industrialists and those who were known at a similar time in England not as human beings but as " hands."

Only in this context could the concept of apartheid be framed and planned.

Even Blessed Martin de Porres, the Coloured man who knew so much misery, did not suffer from this State-formulated, State-implemented collective degradation.

Three alternatives

THERE are three main forms of political organisation in the world today.

One is Communism, which holds out to the oppressed the offer of such human dignity as is implicit in being a fellow-unit in a vast machine, rather than a creature destined for all generations to he despised.

One is racialism; to be seen at its most advanced, embittered, theoretical and practical form in the Union of South Africa.

One, springing from Christian humanism. works for individual and general justice, responsibility and liberty irrespective of birth, wealth or race. It is to be found in principle in Western Europe, the United States, Brazil. some other Latin American countries and the British Commonwealth. Its practice is perhaps nowhere complete or perfect, but opposition to its theory is shamefaced, and comes chiefly from the ignorant.

Its aim is precise. It is directed towards the development. nurture and education of backward peoples until they are ready to share in political responsibility,

Expulsion ?

ALARGE proportion of the world does not realise that Britain has no power to interfere with the internal policies of the self governed Dominions and blames her for the racial tyranny of South Africa, a tyranny of which British opinion was made aware by the alternate silences and booings which greeted Dr. Malan's coach in the Coronation procession.

A large proportion of South Africa's Negro and Coloured population, as ignorant as the rest of the world, may come to believe that there are only two political alternatives for them and for their descendants—to adhere to Cornmunism or to acquiesce in their own oppression.

For this reason, and in order to make it widely known, without possibility of mistake, that the British Commonwealth of Nations stands neither for Communism nor for racial oppression, but for justice, it would seem advisable that the Commonwealth should expel a member whose principles and practices are so utterly alien from its own. Like America in the 1860s, we cannot be partly slave and partly free.

Practical aid

TT would seem. then, important that Catholics here should work and pray for three things— on the political level that Cornmonwealth abhorrence of apartheid and of racial discrimination should be quickly and clearly shown; on the religious level, first that the work of the Church in South Africa should be strengthened and supported in every possible way, and that the action of the lay-teachers in accepting a 50 per cent. cut in their pay in order that Catholic schools may survive should be paralleled by financial help from this country; and,

second, that the Catholic view of the situation should be made known as widely as possible.

Too often, through timidity or silence, we give colour to the accusations that we do not care what goes on in the world so long as we can assure our own salvation, and, worse still. that we countenance oppression under the pretext that as long as people's souls are all right, it is unimportant whether their bodies and minds are stinted, their human dignity is ignored, and they are kept in the state of children " good" or " naughty" in so far as they obey or disobey their masters. (Basil Davidson's new book, " African Awakening." is inbred with this preconception. and cites a number of incidents to support it.) It is, of course, an absurd idea.

he soul, of White or Black, is not a sacred tadpole in a jam jar, to be balanced carefully on top of its owner's head as he moves about, doing all sorts of acrobatics lest he should drop the jar and lose the inmate.

It is the principle of his being, involved in all he thinks and wants and does, involved in the smug superiority of the White as in the bitter humiliation of the Black; both states of mind conducive to pride rather than happy humility.

Justice demands . . THAT such accusations should he made, that they should have any basis at all in our emotions, that they should be taken for granted as true. is disastrous.

Chapter and verse to prove their intellectual falsehood may be found in Archbishop Mathew's essay on Africa in " Catholic Approaches:' in the Archbishop of Durham's recent protest against the Bantu Education Act, and in two points from the pastoral letter on racial problems issued by the Archbishop and Bishops of South Africa in May, 1952.

They are: " Discrimination based exclusively on grounds of colour is an offence against the right of nonEuropeans to their natural dignity as human persons " : and : "Justice demands that non-Europeans should be permitted to evolve gradually toward full participation in the political, economic and cultural life of the country."

These points are taken from the summarised version given in F. Yves Conger's solid, balanced and most stimulating discussion of "The Catholic Church and the Race Question " (H.M.S.O., 2s.). It would be good to see this made a set-book for all Catholic sixthforms.




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