ARE Britain's Catholics just about to take a leap forward, coming out of their corner to make the big contribution to our national life and thought which their Faith and numbers warrant? Fr. "Teddy " Zwartkruis, who re
turned to the Netherlands at the week-end after doing a lecture tour of England and Scotland for the Newman Association, told me joist before he left that he thought they were.
His tour had taken him to nine provincial centres. where he lectured on Catholicism in the Netherlands.
His impressions, backed by those of many previous visits, were interesting. We stand, he believes, where Dutch Catholics stood some 30 years ago--just before they began to make the big impact on the life of the nation which now makes them a force to he reckoned with.
He told me that he detects the same turning to intellectual discussion of the Faith, the beginnings of an emerging from a purely defensive attitude, and the new interest in the liturgy that characterised the eve of the Catholic community's great advance in his own country.
Dutch Catholics, as anyone knows who has visited Holland in recent years, have a decisive role in their country's affairs and as a community exert every ounce of strength of which they are capable. Let's hope that by 1981 the same may be true of us.
How shall we most successfully appeal to those who, living behind the Iron Curtain, oppose the Communist regimes under which they live? Not, I feel, by the sort of propaganda which appears to be spread, at great risk to themselves, by members of some of the underground movements there, and which have the support of a few good Christians
A leaflet distributed in the Soviet Union itself, a reproduction of which has been sent me, illustrates what 1 mean, It shows what is presumably a liberating army making its way through a Ukrainian street. And as they go the liberators are destroying with axe and fire the great Commun
ist party headquarters. It is, no doubt, intended to be partly symbolic.
It is a scene of violence and destruction — thrilling, maybe, to exiles longing for the liberation of their homeland or to outsiders impatient for the overthrow of evil, but are these the things of which those who already have to endure so much violence really dream ?
It may be that the regimes will themselves force organised violence
in the hideous shape of world war upon the nations and so bring about their own undoing (although it might not end that way). But that would carry with it no guarantee that the new life would he much better than the old.
Those who lead revolts tend to become the new rulers—and it does not follow automatically that the men who make successful civil wars are necessarily the wisest and most Christian of statesmen.
I have a feeling that behind the Iron Curtain are many men who in a sea of lies long for truth, in the midst of plots and intrigues pine for the things which are clean and decent, and in a militantly atheist State yearn for God, It is to them that propaganda from the West should be directed.
MOST people, I suppose, know of the way in which history is re-written in the Soviet Union in order to serve Communist interests. Thus Ten Days That Shook The World, John Read's on-the-spot record of the Bol
sheviks' seizure of power, which Lenin read three times and approved, was scrapped when Trotsky fell into disgrace because it recorded his leading role in those events and a new "history" was written.
But, it is sometimes argued, these are distinctively Russian not Communist methods. The fact is that British Communists practise them too.
Latest example was in the Daily Worker's hitter obituary of Mr. Ernest Bevin, last Monday. Mr. Bevin, as dockers' leader was involved in 1920 in the London dockers' refusal to load the Jolly George, which was said to be going to take arms to Poland for use against the Bosheviks.
There is no doubt that he, like a number of other labour leaders, was at that time on the side of the revolution. Indeed, Harry Pollitt recognised this when he wrote the history of the incident in a book called We Did Not Fight, published in 1935.
"They (the dockers) sent a deputation." he wrote, on page 274, " to Fred Thompson and Ernest Bevin, the London and general secretaries respectively of the Dockers' Union. They received assurances that the Union would stand by them if they took action on the Jolly George." And, on page 276 he told how " the coal heavers on May 10, 1920, refused to coal the vessel and stopped it from sailing."
Said the Daily Worker on Monday: "It was not the history books but Ernest Bevin himself who claimed that he had occupied a leading and enthusiastic role in the fight of the trade unions in 1920 against Churchill's war of intervention."