EVER since the outbreak of war we have pleaded in these columns for a thoroughly Christian outlook in our war aims as well as in our methods of prosecuting the war.
This has indeed been done because we have endeavoured to think as Catholics in a Catholic newspaper, but all the time we have been persuaded that there is no conflict between the patriotic or national cause at its best and the Christian cause. On the contrary it has seemed to us evident that the cause of our country has been weakened and enfeebled in proportion to our leaders' and countrymen's failure to understand the conflict in the light of Christian tradition and teaching.
In critical days like these when there seems to be no immediate issue to the struggle—when faith rather than reasoned calculation is needed in order to strengthen belief in the attainment of the high aims which the United Nations have proposed to themselves—it is, we believe, of the utmost importance that Catholics and Christians generally should stand together impressing upon the country and the world the true scope of the conflict.
Our Principal Aim As Christians our aim, we hold, is not victory, but a just and sound peace, guaranteeing as far as possible to all men the conditions under which they can live lives worthy of their supernatural and natural end. Victory may seem to us to be a necessary condition of such a peace, but we shall remain in a better condition to test the validity of our reasoning in this respect if we habituate ourselves to think in terms of our primary aim, a just peace. rather than the condition of our aim, victory.
Let us ask ourselves again what
this just peace involves. It is dependent, we believe, upon men becoming convinced that in the national as well as the international sphere the aim of government is to secure for them and their families the chance of living lives of human work under human conditions of living with the opportunity of the human development of soul and body.
It is impossible to lay down the detailed conditions of this security. It must vary under different climates, different traditions, different ways of living. Under certain conditions it may involve the maintenance of a democratic order; under others it will require something more authoritarian. In some traditions the defence of national interests will seem more essential to human freedom than in others. In one kind of economic order it will demand a greater degree of State control for the common good than in another.
The practical conditions arc endlessly variable—indeed the one thing we can safely say is that nothing would be more inconsistent with this purpose than any doctrinaire attempt to impose one particular formula for the whole world.
Why the War ?
One of the chief causes of this war has been the refusal of great European countries to accept the international order, financial, industrial, political, social, cultural, which resulted from the victory of the Allies in the last war and the subsequent treaties. Whatever view we take of that settlement, it is scarcely possible to deny that It created a sufficient degree of dissatisfaction to ,enable new leaders to arise an rouse whole peoples against an order that was felt to he incompatible in those
countries with this basic human ideal of security and hope.
Once these leaders had gained power it was possible for them, armed as they were with all the resources of modern technique, unscrupulously used, to carry their peoples to extreme lengths and ultimately to plunge the world into war again with an utter disregard of the real good of their own followers and. the rights of neighbouring peoples. Worst of all, they did not hesitate to use every method, however cruel and barbaric, to attain ends that became more and more extravagant.
It was this defiance which created the situation that forced us to resist on our own behalf and on behalf of many unable to defend themselves.
Our Res:stance At the present moment we are in the following position. The long-planned war pi eparations of our enemes have enabled them to make enormous conquests, and we have been virtually thrust out of Europe and vital strategical and economic centres in Asia and Africa. We stand fully armed and virtually impregnable in the Americas, with this island an advanced fortress of overwhelming strength.
For what does this resisting might precisely stand? That is what the people of the world want to know. They know that it stands for the destruction of the power of those leaders who exploited genuine post-war grievances in a completely unscrupulous manner; they know that it demands the restoration to many independent countries of those political conditions of liberty which are essential to the good life of their peoples. All this is passionately approved, especially by those who have felt the Nazi whip. But many want to know more. Is the price of this restoration the establishment once again of the financial. industrial, political, social, cultural ascendancy of an Anglo-Saxon world, modifield by liberalist Marxism with a special place in the sun for Bolshevik totalitarianism? If so, the world is doubtful whether the change is worth while—at any rate at the present cost.
It would take, we are convinced, a very different view if it was persuaded that this strong corc of resistance, in addition to its great negative aims, was really moving towards an appreciation of the world's real needs.
Where are we to look for their fullest expression? There is one person who can enunciate them without becoming suspected of utilitarian or self-regarding ends, one person who can deduce them, not from an amalgam of self-interest, idealism and political necessity, but from spiritual and moral principles, tempered by an inheritance of deep experience about human nature and history. That person is the Pope of Rome.
We think of the Pope in this role, not so much as the Vicar of Christ, but as a personage, elevated by his sacred office to a supranational position, the nature of which is patent to all men, no matter what their personal religious convictions Indeed many of Pius Xll's pronouncements, like those of Benedict XV (whose advice, had it been listened to, might have changed the whole shape of contemporary history), have clearly been made through his consciousness of the unique position he holds as the supreme neutral, charged nevertheless to judge at all times in the highest spiritual and moral terms.
Identity of Ends
The world to-day expects the highest from us, for the highest is implicit in the struggle against barbarism, The highest is not some visionary impossibility. It has been expressed time and again from the Vatican, and it would be expressed in greater detail and depth were the Pope to feel that one at least of the belligerent sides welcomed his help, position and experience, because of the nature of its aims.
Why not? Why should we not publicly declare that our war aims are—must be—the same as the ideals of the Pope, and that we should therefore at any time welcome his help?
To do this would immediately alter their quality, even if there were no substantial difference in fact between our claims and the Pope's judgments. It would alter their quality, because the history of all nations renders their moral pretensions in a lesser or greater degree suspect. The only way to overcome this difficulty is precisely to rest the matter in the keeping of one whose desire for peace, justice and charity cannot be suspect. No doubt, for many of our countrymen it would be necessary to overcome misunderstanding and even bigotry. Many too have not yet become convinced of the completely unique nature of this war, fought as it is against a background of almost universal popular demand for a different world —a people's world in which the old categories are outdated.
But for us Catholics, at least, is there any semblance or justification of excuse for not equating our national cause in such a war and at such time with the cause of the world and the peoples of the world as the Pope sees it?
Let us not be misunderstood. It is not a question of " stopping the war " or condemning it. The Pope has already expressed his own doubts about the feasibility of ending it soon. It is simply a question of the United Nations realising that the best in them coincides with what the Pope has in mind as constituting the basis of a just • and hopeful settlement, and that nothing but such a guarantee can overcome the suspicions which war, above all, engenders. Surely Catholics at least can understand the truth of this and campaign for the Pope's peace and nothing but the Pope's peace.