Page 4, 19th September 1941

19th September 1941
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Page 4, 19th September 1941 — Visit To The Pope Pope
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ACCORDINO w New York reports, Mr. Myron Taylor has handed to the Pope a letter from President Roosevelt in which appreciation of the Holy Father's rejection of the anti. Bolshevik crusade is expressed. No doubt this letter explains the fundamental reasons which have led the President to associate himself so directly with the resistance to Hitlerisrn, and, in doing so, to pursue a policy which appears to run counter to the majority Catholic point of view in the United States.

If this account be correct, we may rest assured that the Pope. whose admiration for the President is known to be great, will express his appreciation and understanding of the policy pursued by America, for we cannot doubt that the Holy Father, no less than the American President or our own Prime Minister, realises the danger to Europe and to the world of a triumph for Hitlerism.

It was long before the war, while diplomdts were still trying to be polite to one another, that the Osservatore Romano habitually referred to " the persecution of the Church in Germany," and Mussolini's entry into the war on the side of Germany cannot but have been interpreted at the Vatican in the light of Pius XI's cry of anger and scorn when the crooked cross was displayed in Rome on the occasion of Hitler's visit.

We now understand that a report of the persecution in Slovenia has been sent to the Pope, and this cannot fail to increase the pain which the sufferings of his children in Poland and elsewhere at the hands of the Nazis has given him, and to which he has given clear expression. But if the hypocritical notion of the champion of the crooked cross leading a crusade against Bolshevism in the name of the persecuted Cross of Christ could only disgust the Pope, we must still remember that the Father of all Christians cannot but take the widest and deepest view of the disasters that are afflicting the world and that this view, while not in conflict with the present aims of Britain and America, is necessarily different from it.

In Summi Pontificatus, the Pope made it amply clear that the sufferings of the Western world to-day are to be traced to the failure of men and nations to accept and abide by that " universal norm of morality " which is the law of God and which the Church has taught from the beginning. However immediate the peril of Hitlerism may be, it is in itself but one peculiarly gross manifestation of that well-nigh universal act of blasphemy by which the will of man is set above the will of God, and we may well suppose that the Holy Father's deepest concern is to cure and eradicate the spiritual causes of this and other manifestations of the great world-sin.

In Germany the disease of aggressive totalitarian nationalism. whereby the will of one State overrides all moral considerations, has reached such an intensity that it has become impossible for other countries to find even a theoretic basis of acceptable relations with her, while internally even the right to preach God's will has had to be crushed. That this intolerable situation must be remedied is absolutely evident—quite as evident to the Holy Father, we may be sure, as to us. And the remedy cannot be a yielding to the solution proposed by Hitler, namely that Germany's empire should extend wherever the " master-race " pleases, for this solution would be but to acquiesce in the putting of the will of the strongest before the will of God.

But any study of Papal pronouncements since the pontificate of Pius IX must convince one that the Papacy links with this evil of exaggerated nationalism other manifestations of the modern blasphemy against God and teaches that the cure for any one of them must depend upon the eradication of the causes of all.

There is at bottom no difference between the nationalist empire of a secularist State and the pervasive attempts throughout the Western world to secure the international empire of materialistic socialism which would depersonalise man by reducing him to a cog in a vast machine. And Marxism, the Pope knows, is inevitably the magnetic pole of all attempts at social reform or progress that base themselves on the belief that perfection can be attained in terms of material efficiency. From the point of view of Christianity, is this danger—which reveals itself daily in every corner of civilisation—any less real than the peril of Nazism? Is it a mere coincidence that Stalinism, now Friday, September 19, 1941 defending itself and us against the aggression of Nazism, is difficult to distinguish from it?

The insistence, furthermore, of so many\Papal pronouncements on the terrible danger to man of the power of money and credit being concentrated into the hands of a few irresponsible persons (be they agents of the State or out of it) so that millions find themselves in the status of serfs, working at the nod of masters who may dismiss them on any day, reminds us that modern industrial capitalism is another blatant example of the power of the strongest replacing in practice the will of God. And again how much does Nazism itself owe to those who thought that they could make their profit in financing it?

Some people accuse the Pope of pettiness or narrowness or playing a diplomatic game or even of cowardice for not openly siding himself with those who are sacrificing so much in their physical resistance to the danger of Ilitlerism. Despite the wealth of evidence proving the point, they do not understand that in a world rent and broken with mass apostasy against God and His Law, the Pope cannot take sides, but must remain, over and above nations and peoples, the supreme witness pn earth to the only way of salvation— which is by peoples and nations acknowledging again God's Law and combating within themselves those political. social and economic evils which have been analysed with masterly precision in the great modern Encyclicals.

After all, we must admit that even victory over Hitlerism depends upon a preponderance of physical force and technical skill, both of which are to some extent material accidents. The Holy Father wields to-day, as he will wield to-morrow the sword of the Spirit, which cannot be blunted by any material weapon, but only by the apostasy of men who have the awful power of choosing good or evil. Even the aeroplanes and tanks of Hitler would become impotent to-morrow if men would listen to the Pope's prescription for a juster and happier world.




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