Page 2, 1st October 1948

1st October 1948
Page 2
Page 2, 1st October 1948 — THE COST OF PACIFISM

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Locations: Cardiff, Rome


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[In view of the vital and only too topical nature of this controversy, we are giving an exceptional amount of space to if.--EDITOR. C.H.) Sig,-Mr, Arnold Lunn's letter on " The Cost of Pacifism" ("C.H.", Sept. 17), does, of course, "grip," like all Mr. Lunn's writing ; and although the first two paragraphs are misleading, the remainder of the letter clears the air. I think there are two points to be stressed in regard to peace and pacifism in the Christian sense and there certainly is a Christian sense of this term. The points are these: (I) The phase " Prayer for Peace" is commonly accepted as a proper one for public announcement of an intention; and it would be a pity, as well as a mistake, to reject it in view of the definite denunciation of war from the Holy Father downwards to simple priests and-not so simplelaity; and from St. Alphonsus downwards to Cardinal Faulhaher, Fr. Stratmann and Fr. Gerald Vann; and others of less fame though no less zeal. It would be a mistake because misleading; it tends to make hearers think that one holds a brief for war; and this is all to the baddespite the true teaching of a just war (in the abstract) and the possibility of a few just wars in actual history. It is well and wise, certainly, to point out what we mean by the term " peace " when we announce it: the " peace that comes from order "-" order " being the proper relation of things, their arrangement in right reason. in this sense we cry, " Our Lady, Queen of Peace, pray for us!" (2) It is certainly true that, if war he lawful, the Soviet is the most eligible enemy: no greater nor more despicable enemy has arisen in history; in quality of horror the Soviet is second to none, at least, and in numbers and area exceeds all hitherto. Thus, as Pius XI declared, the Communist is the greatest menace by far; the Pope's words were obscured by the subsequent rise of Nriaism; but since the Iatter's fall, the Pope's words are perceived to be true. But the trouble is that modern warfare is ruled out of morality by its intrinsic method: it is no longer the armed force against the armed force (the old theological sense of war), but the wholesale crash of people against people in such a fashion as to cause essential chaos all round, to material. moral, and even supernatural spheres. It is not usually noted (as I have been at pains to stress before now) that modern bombing-and the atom method a fortiori-inevitably deprives many of the Sacraments in periculo; this should appeal most strongly to theologians as well as to others. The method by which all modern war is waged not merely deprives the soldier of sacramental aid (that we might waive); but will deprive thousands of ordinary innocent and helpless people of Extreme Unction, Viaticum, and even absolution before death. Such a method can only be regarded as diabolical; it sti ikes at the Church and her essential ministrations as well as at the material well-being of all and sundry. There is, I am sorry to say, nothing in Mr. Lunn's letter which indicates that he realises this: but he. as others who reflect, must realise it after mingre meditation.

The whole question can be shortcircuited by saying that the only hope-humanly speaking and prescinding from miracle or at least what Newman calls a "providence" -is in the establishment of a sound international order, which requires the substitution of an international army for huge national armies (already agreed upon in theory by some 50 civilised nations, excluding Russia): the true "Society of Nations " which was the subject of the present Holy Father's Christmas Allocution a few years ago. By it, and it alone, can we hope to reduce warfare to a little war occasionally, obviating a world-wide war. This may be the most we can hope for: but this would change the world into a comparative paradise. It should not be beyond the power of rational men-and certainly not beyond the power of grace-aided men. It follows (from the fact of wholesale bombing and specifically atom bombing being immoral) that these would be outlawed by the International Order, and the weapons in question not even manufactured. We would then have returned to the lawful and rational conception of war-lawful in the abstract as the use of physical force used nationally: and. given the time-honoured theological conditions for a specific just war, we would return to the theological concept of which the Church has always been aiming at and striving to maintain officially: and not the sophisticated savagery into which war has now developed.


(Former editor. Catholic Gazette.) St. Teilo's Presbytery, Old Church Road, Whitchurch, Cardiff.

Who is the Levite ?

Sut,-There are some puzzling points about Mr. Lunn's letter in the " C.H.," 17.9.48.

Did he, before rebuking the selfish woman who prayed for peace, stop to consider that she may have been led astray by Pope Pius XII, who has so frequently and vehemently made his own voice of what Mr. Lunn chooses to call "the universal and selfish shrinking from war?"

Is it selfish to pray for peace but not selfish to desire a possibly worlddestroying, and certainly Europedestroying war in order to liberate or vindicate some millions of enslaved whose very condition now is the direct result of another war finished scarcely three summers ago and begun for the same purpose? If not selfish, it is at least self-evidently stupid.

Is the waging of another war at the present time with its inevitable condition of mass, indiscriminate slaughter and, if the official accounts of the effects of the atom bomb (not to mention the incomputable devastation that could be caused by bacteriological warfare and other horrors already hinted at by some of the American High Command) are to be believed, the rooting out of every possibility of life from certain areas of the world. is such a form of war to be reconciled with any idea of earthly justice however vague? and in Mr. Lunn's mind justice seems a very vague term indeed. Justice cannot come to the Hungarians (subjected to a tyranny exercised by some of their own countrymen) without war or at least the vigorous intention of war. But I have never come across any evidence-and one way and another the average English Catholic reader cannot but help coming across a great deal of Mr. Lunn's opinionsto show that Mr. Lunn has considered Class war, for example, as a possible means of righting binsies

able social injustice, nor the method of riot and sedition for freeing subject people, unless perhaps they happen to be under some other authority than the British Crown.

The term " pacifist," does it mean someone opposed to all violence? Or someone who hasn't been able to reconcile the conditions of contemporary warfare with the practice of the Christian Faith? Or someone who still thinks, at this stage of world madness. with the Pope, to quote the "C.H." of 17.9.48, that " there is some other solution than that of war or the constraints of brute force "? And which of these kinds of people can be described as the Levite? Is not the man who passed by on the other side to be discovered elsewhere? One war having failed to liberate the millions of enslaved, Mr. Lunn's advice before departing on his American lecture tour is: try again. He has nothing else to offer, but truculent contempt for some of those who happen to be aware of the horrifying dilemma of our times.

PETER Tisomrsoss.

Via Severino Ferrari 26, Bologna.

Christ and War SIR.-One weakness of Catholic pacifists is that they have caught the bad habit of Protestants in taking isolated texts and quoting them in support of their positioo. without examining the circumstances, or weighing one text against others.

For instance, Mr. Algernon Cecil refers to the incident in the Garden of Gethsemane when St. Peter was told: " Put up again thy sword into its place: for all that take the sword shall perish with the sword." Quite obviously that was the literal truth on that occasion. The little hand of disciples was hopelessly outnumbered by the band of armed men. and to have attempted resistance would have been suicidal. True, He could have asked for the assistance of twelve legions of angels, but " How then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that so it must be done ?"

That was the real reason for their non-resistance-the will of God-not that all resistance to evil is unChristian. Later on He tells Pilate: '' If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would certainly strive that I should not be delivered to the Jews."

fact that He did not choose to lead the revolt against the Roman occupation is certainly no argument against our resistance to Soviet occupation. The conquest of the whole known world by Rome was as much part of God's plan (though, of course, on a lower level of things) as the training of the Jewish people for the Advent of the Redeemer. For the first time in history. Rome bad brought peace, civilisation as it was then understood, and a most efficient transport system, to a vast portion of the world. Because of these conditions, and only because of them, the Apostles were able to spread the Gospel far and wide among the Gentiles. For the next few centuries the Roman Empire lasted on because God's plans needed it. By the time the barbarian hordes overwhelmed it, bringing the dark ages, its great work had been done; the foundations of Christian Europe had been laid. What is there in all this to justify our remaining supine and non-resisting while new barbarian hordes, set this time on destroying not merely an empire but the Faith itself, wreak their will upon us ?


Golders Green. N.Wm.11-1117 Dow.

The Aim of War SIR. The reason why war in modern conditions has not, as Mr. Hardwicke writes ("C.H.", September 17), notably achieved the object of helping helpless victims of brutal aggression is. I suggest, that no modern war has been undertaken with that as its object. I am not being cynical when I say that we did not go to war in 1914 to save Belgium any more than we did so to save Poland or rescue Czechoslovakia in 1939. We went to war because we were threatened -and it makes no difference whether it was our country and trade that were threatened or our " way of life." We were faced, if we did not give battle, with being overwhelmed materially and/or ideologically and we fought a war of self-preservation in order to avoid it.

A war undertaken on those terms, however much one may be aware of other (necessarily incidental) motives of assistance to less powerful victims of aggression, is bound to be an " impersonal, total war " because it is a war of survival. On the other hand an " aggressive war undertaken as a Christian duty where there was no threat to the "aggressor " could only be embarked upon if the motives of the people and their government were clear-sighted and pure and I suggest that the results of such a war would be far different from the effects we have so far experienced.

We should beware. however. of allowing the possibility of such a war to lead us into the common error of dubbing survival-wars as crusades; it only weakens the case as the laughable suggestion that the fox enjoys it weakens the case for fox-hunting.

There are two kinds of wars, aggressive and defensive. An aggressive war is not necessarily an evil war; most of them have been because not since the crusades has any country had the guts to start a fight in a good cause. A defensive war is by nature seldom evil in intention though fear may render it evil in execution; it is in fact normally perfectly justifiable; but it can never, never be a positive, shining thing of good.



Pray for Mercy am-At the risk of incurring Mr. Lunn's censure, may I suggest to fellow-readers of your paper that, as individual souls as well as English folk, we shall do better to pray for mercy (which may or may not include peace) than for justice, which must involve us in further war in which we shall assuredly reap as we have sowed in the last one, and in the shameful "peace " that has followed it.

No man, or nation, at best could face divine justice, and few, I think, will maintain that England has been at her best in the 20th century.

I think Mr. Lunn will agree with me on reflection; that we can all lay to heart with advantage the parable of the beam and the mote.

BERNARD ACwORTR. Linisiosootl, !telling Island.

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