FRIDAY, MAY 21, 1937
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The Envoy Of The Pope
The greatest importance should be attached to the interview with the Papal Envoy which the Catholic Herald publishes this week.
Mgr. Pizzardo holds the very high position of Assistant Secretary of State at the Vatican and the Holy Father's choice of this distinguished prelate to lead the Papal Delegation to the Coronation is an earnest of the desire of the Vatican not only to honour our Sovereign but to strengthen the friendship between the Empire and the Holy See, especially during these days when ignorant critics might attempt to involve the supranational Church in the difficulties that may obtain between national powers.
We may be sure that the Papal Envoy would not have consented to the publication of such detailed and profoundly interesting answers to the questions put to him unless he had judged that there was a real need for Englishmen, the very Englishmen the cordiality of whose welcome to the Pope's delegates had so touched his heart, to realise the truth about the utter and complete independence of the Vatican from the political troubles that vex present-day Europe.
As the interview makes clear, His Excellency did not evade or brush aside the difficulties that have been felt during the past two years by many people in this country.
In the light of his plain and simple words • and only those' 'who met him can properly appreciate the humility and sincerity of mind and character which prompted their expression—our fellowcitizens, and especially certain leaders of Anglican thought whose criticism has been the most bitter, should put a stop to their open or veiled attacks on the Government of the Church as being allied to or especially favourable towards certain Governments and certain political systems.
There has grown up in this country a sort of legend about the Vatican. According to this legend, secret and deep diplomatic plots, carried out with sinister skill, are continually being hatched by ambitious prelates in Rome. Though informed men may not believe in this legend in all its crudity, too many are affected by the suspicion of Roman priesthood and foreign intrigue that have inspired it.
The fact is, of course, that the Vatican is a place of the great simplicity, where men who have dedicated themselves to the service of God do their best to maintain throughout the world the conditions under which God may be freely worshipped and served and to protect the religious interests of the members of the Church. There is nothing more to the policy of the Vatican than that.
On Coronation Day King George VI stated in his broadcast that he had assumed the Crown " by the grace of God," and that he would, with God's help, faithfully discharge his trust. On Tuesday Mr. Baldwin in his speech to the Youth of the Empire acknowledged that the political faith held by his hearers and himself was derived from the Christian religion and that the brotherhood of man implies the Fatherhood of God. Mr. Alfred Noyes, on the same occasion, nobly proclaimed the supremacy of the eternal values that only have meaning in their source, Almighty God.
To give substance to these noble, but nowadays only too rare, professions of faith and to safeguard the conditions under which they may be lived in practice, that and that alone is the object of the so feared " policy of the Vatican."
To accuse the Vatican of too great simplicity, too great faith in men, to suggest that there is in it too much of that child-like spirit so beloved of Our Lord, these might be reasonable criticisms; to maintain that it has involved itself in the deep-laid plots of nations and men for utilitarian purposes is abeurd.
We may all be thankful that many Englishmen, and some who are of the greatest weight in the land, have had the opportunity during these days of knowing a great Vatican prelate in the flesh. They at least will be under no illusions.