Page 8, 21st August 1936

21st August 1936
Page 8
Page 8, 21st August 1936 — CATHOLIC HERALD

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Organisations: Territorial army, Army


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FR/DA )", AUGUST 21, 1936 HEAD OFFICE : 110-111, Fleet St., London, E.C.4. (Central 6264-5)

Bitatacti Oroces: 11, Albert Square,

' Manchester. (Blackfriars 1067)

30, Manchester St., Liverpool.

(Central 2461)

6, Vernon St., Leeds.

(Central 24891) 32, Clayton St. West, Newcastle-on Tyne. (Central 27993)

For Nothing Less Than The Mass

It is impossible to keep off the subject of Spain, for her agony has. interwoven itself with the diplomacy of all the nations and with the pre-occupations of all Christendom and of the kingdom of anti-Christ. There can hardly be anyone who has read of the ebb and flow of the struggle with real indifference as to the outcome, though there must be many who have been perplexed and troubled in mind as to whether any good can tome out of victory for either side when so many horrors have accompanied the arms of each.

This must be the case particularly with those who, like ourselves, hope for a victory for the insurgent army leaders in order that Spanish Catholics may be free to frequent public worship and the sacraments and go about their business, both religious and secular. Not only have such persons an understandable though not very logical reluctance to see these things protected by a display of naked force, they feel also a natural shrinking from the employment of Moorish Moslems for such a purpose; a loathing of massacres and looting perpetrated under the name of executions; and a still greater loathing for the association of these barbarities with the cause of the Church in countless minds. Finally, they are appalled at the thought that the harshest measures may have to be prolonged if sullen and embittered masses are to be restrained from violence against the Church in those parts of Spain where the Church has been rejected.

We do not add to this list regret for the eclipse of parliament. The greatest lover of parliamentary institutions cannot honestly think that their retention is a practical issue in this struggle. What those who think like ourselves dread, even while they see no immediate escape from it, is something that offends human nature far more deeply than the loss of votes. It is a widespread picture, and the partial fact, of the black cassock sheltered by the White Terror.

Nevertheless such heartsearchings as these among the partisans of either side —for we give credit to some of the supporters of the left-wing forces for corresponding compunctions—such heartsearchings will be to the good if they compel us all to face the fundamental issues. And, indeed, when so many hateful things must accompany any outcome, it must be a very shallow mind that chooses its side for any reasons but the most ultimate. Political and social views, legitimate in themselves, and anachronisms like the . watchwords of the 19th century Liberalism, must be shed sooner or later by those who penetrate to the heart of the debate. For our own part, in the course of the past four weeks we have given our reasons for desiring the defeat of the left wing forces on the ground that their victory would be a great gain, decisive perhaps over all Europe, for the anti-Christian front.

If an authoritative illustration of this attitude is needed it may be found in the appeal to the peoples of the Basque country and Navarre made by their Bishops in a joint Pastoral. These peoples arc both Catholic and separatist. Many, if not most, of them have so far sided with the left-wing, arguing plausibly and doubtless sincerely that a victorious left-wing will grant them separation and then they will be free to be a Catholic province. Their Bishops have said with unmistakeable emphasis that they must put nothing before "union against the enemies of Christendom, union above and beyond all."

And having arrived at a decision on fundamental grounds it is necessary to emphasise as unmistakably as the Spanish Bishops what those grounds are. We said a fortnight ago that it is in a sense an accident that gives Catholics and some of the dictators a certain identity of interest. They have a common enemy in communism but their motives in opposing it differ in so many respects that their presence on the same side is largely accidental.

Thus, we are most emphatically not rallying round the industrial or landowning plutocracies, or the interests of the City, or the politics of Colonel Blimp. We relish the support of the Rothermere press scarcely more than '1 General Franco's employment of the Moors. And in order that victory, if it is won, may be used for desirable and not these undesirable ends it is necessary to speak in terms of these ends from first to last, most of all to those who are rebuking atheists from essentially atheistic motives.

V We have been criticised for favouring the Spanish insurgents and their allies only ' half-heartedly. A little reflection would show our critics that when anyone has faced up to all the disagreeable accompaniments of a cause and then espouses it, " half-hearted " is the last term to apply to him, for it is evident that he recognises this cause as over-riding all others.

And that is indeed how we think concerning resistance to those who of deliberate policy would use all the power of the State to suppress the Mass and all that it stands for in religious and social life. We know that the essence of the Church in no way depends upon armed protection. But we know also that against systematic violence armed resistance is the proper shield for the public practice of religion and its social implications so long as there is reasonable hope of their preservation. And the time has not yet arrived for Christians generally to abandon their institutions to the destroyer and retire to the catacombs. The day will come when men in many lands will be glad that the crisis in Spain opened their eyes in time to the fate that threatens all Europe.

The Army-Bishop's Appeal

We print this week a long letter from Mgr. Dey, Bishop of Sebastopolis and Bishop in Ordinary to His Majesty's Forces.

In it he makes an eloquent plea to Catholics to show their recognition of the religious freedom they enjoy in this land to-day by volunteering to serve their country in the Territorial army.

He also suggests the regular forces as a career. He defends himself from any attempt to make out that he wishes to " militarise " British youth, by explain ing Britain's urgent need to-day of an adequate defence force. Lastly he states it as his view that as long as Great Britain ,acts as she is doing at the present time " service under the crown must be noble and meritorious."

We have little doubt that Mgr. Dey's letter will raise protests in inanY 'Oar ters. Our own immediate reaction to it—to speak frankly—was one of distaste. At a time when the horrors and futility of modern warfare are daily becoming more apparent, when the Christian conscience is becoming more and more sensitive to the motives of economic greed and materialistic nationalism which have ever been the root causes of war and which to-day are so ruthless that they can sweep away the will of all decent people in the world that the miseries and cruelties and idiocies of modern war shall never be again, when, in fact, not a few conscientious Christians are convinced that war itself under modern conditions can never be ethically just—at such a time it does seem disturbing to hear a " re cruiting-speech " from a Catholic bishop, and a " recruiting-speech" whose special note is that Christians should make themselves ready to fight in order to thank the State for allowing them to practise their religion !

Indeed this motive we find it difficult, even on reflection, to accept, for it is no more than the State's minimum duty to render to God the things that are God's, and we owe it no gratitude for doing so.

As citizens, however, who happen to be Catholics, we do owe the State respect, obedience and service; as Britishers, who happen to be Catholics, we do owe our country affection and gratitude. And however much we may try to do so, we shall not, we believe, be able to escape the conclusion that Mgr. Dey is right in his brief outline of our country's vital need to be more adequately defended at the present time, though some may think that the plea would have come better from a lay leader.

The theoretical alternative is to be ready to yield our country with its sane institutions, its decently human ideals, its undoubted desire for peace and international commonsense, to powers, some of which are self-confessedly out to destroy Christianity and Western culture and others which place material conquest and national domination at the head of their ideals.

We cannot therefore find any fault with the sense of the Bishop's letter, but must rather hope with him—though not perhaps for all his reasons—that many citizens, who happen to be Catholics, will respond to the nation's call by volunteering for home defence, and that not a few of those who feel able to accept the career as their vocation will enrol in the regular army.

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