SIR,—Mr. Wynne Rushton's letter last week pleaded for united Catholic resistance to the demands of nationalism when these conflict with the laws of charity and justice. He wrote " it is obvious that the Catholic laity everywhere could act (I) if only it realised its moral duty in this matter, (2) if only it were organised."
The words I have italicised contain the rub. A Catholic is bound to obey lawfully constituted authority. What must he do when his country makes unjust war? Refuse his service, of course. But how often is it as simple as that? In the Great War Catholic Bavarians and Catholic Frenchmen killed each other with clear consciences, each lighting to protect their fatherland. The soldiers on either side fought from patriotism. even though it was nationalism, its horrid parody. which caused the war. It is the worst of nationalism that it can always appear as patriotism to its own nationals. How, then, shall the duty of the Catholic when it conflicts with the demands of the state be made as imperative as an order of general mobilisation?
An obvious answer is that the Pope should denounce injustice in a given war. Which would immediately involve countless Catholics in a tragic conflict of loyalties. A papal pronouncement on the justice of a particular dispute would not, after all, be infallible; the Pope might be misinformed or prejudiced, and whether he were or not, all the propaganda of the condemned state would be directed to show that he was. Yet the Catholic who disregarded such a papal pronouncement would be acting perilously, to say the least. Wisely does the papacy refrain from putting rocks of scandal in front of men who within the limits of their knowledge are doing their duty.
Perhaps Mr. Rushton will tell us what Organisation of Catholic opinion he has in mind.
OLIVLR J. G. WFTCH. The Oratory School,
l'We take the opportunity of pointing oul to our readers that in the third paragraph of Mr, Wynne Rushton's letter last week " Englishman's regard for his country " should have read "Englishman's regard for his county."— Emloa.1