His " War Against God"
SIR,—I have learned by experience that there is little or no chance of my being permitted to offer you my criticisms in the correspondence columns of the Church Times, so, by the courtesy of the Catholic Herald, I am giving you a long overdue and well-deserved rebuke. I am not, however, optimistic as to the prospect of your mending your ways and changing the policy which has characterised your paper's references to the Spanish War during the last fifteen months.
I feel that you have challenged me to some criticism because your publishers sent me, at your request, an advance copy of a book, The War Against God, written by you in collaboration with a member of the Church Times' staff, containing a chapter on Spain. in the last paragraph of that chapter, summarising what you profess to have proved in the course of it by impartial evidence, you state: " War against God! It is indeed being waged in Spain to some extent by both sides, and, as we see it. by the insurgents Jar more successfully than by their opponents."
Let me offer you some criticisms of the methods by which you reach, to your own apparent satisfaction, this startling conclusion.,
"I Had Hoped .
Before reading the text, I was—foolishly, as it turned out—hopeful from the fact that you included in the short " bibliography " of pieces justificatives at its close, Ciodden's Communist Operations in Spain and the Official Report of Atrocities (published by Eyre and Spottiswoode). Godden's pamphlet, as you know well, is calmly written, heavily documented from the Comintern's own official reports and devastatingly conclusive of the fact that Communist activity in Spain had been the root cause of the 1934 revolution and of the present conflict.
I was amazed to find that the only use you made of the pamphlet was to take from it second-hand a quotation from The Times, and to print the list of churches damaged or destroyed during the five months before the outbreak of the Civil War. Even in regard to this latter is illustrated your technique of suppressio yeti, for you introduce the list with merely " Mr. [sic] Godden says "; avoiding the fact that the list comes from the Official Report of a speech delivered in the Cortes and dues not rest merely on " Mr. Godden's" word. The solid irrefragable proofs of Communist activity given in the pamphlet are swept aside in your "Ipse dico" manner, so well known to Church Times readers.
You write: " The careful consideration of such evidence as is available causes us to doubt whether the revolutionary outbreaks were inspired by Russian or any other foreign influence." And you add : " The direct influence of Russia in Spain has obviously been exaggerated, and we agree with Mr. Langdon-Davies (the antiFranco journalist whose book you use as impartial testimony) that " the open-handed munificence of Russia is the theme that always makes its exponent ridiculous." I cannot think that you or this friend of yours would really wish to call the Russian Communist paper Pravda " ridiculous," because in its issue of August 6 it boasted that Russia had deposited 333,435,000 francs at the disposition of the Spanish " Reds" in a French bank.
I may add that I have just read in my Evening Standard (October 16) that the Socialist M.P., Mr. Dobbie—ridiculous man!—just back from Madrid, affirms that " the majority of the tanks, guns and airplanes the Spanish Government are using come from Russia." He does not add, what is common knowledge, that most of these war materials come over the " neutral " French border. So much for the use you make of Godden.
You dismiss the Official Report of Atrocities without any allusion to the terrible series of proe.es-verbaux where eyewitnesses testify under oath to the horrors perpetrated by the " Reds " during their occupation of villages and towns from which Franco's troops had driven them. The evidence in the text is convincing and damning. " Impartial "? Yes, save that it was given against the " Reds" and so useless for your purposes. The only comment you make on the Report is to say of the illustrations accompanying the sworn evidence in the text : Two of these photographs depict bodies of people who have been burned alive. The photographs are blurs and there is nothing to show that the victims were actually burned alive. Indeed, there is no impartial evidence that anybody has been burned alive." And thus you dispose of this volume of evidence which you include in your " bibliography"! Do you hope in your heart that none of your readers will obtain the books for themselves, but that all will trust you have honestly studied their contents and that you may thus " get away with it "?
You wrote in your Church Times: " Horrible things happened in Barcelona after the military rebellion had been defeated. Equally horrible things happened in Badajoz after it had been captured by the rebels. There is no Catholic authority for supposing that in the sight of God the cold-blooded murder of a priest is one whit worse than the cold-blooded murder of a Communist."
Atrocities? " One side as bad as the other " has been your attitude and you have closed your eyes to facts that priests and nuns were tortured in hatred of that for which their garb stood. Badajoz was a legend that has been shown to rest on no evidence and even in its original form it did not include torture. disembowelling and burning alive of the Communists who were executed for their crimes. But, you have by now wisely dropped Badajoz from your sentimental appeals, though I see that the
propagandist at the Spanish Embassy still uses it in a letter to today's Daily Telegraph (15th October). The murder of priests and religious was in one sense not " coldblooded," it was animated by a fierce,
sadistic hatred of Christianity. So drop once for all this " fifty-fifty " fallacy!
The Pope's Simplicity?
In your chapter, you quote at length from a Papal Encyclical and a Pastoral letter of the Cardinal of Toledo, and then naively dismiss them with the remark : " Both the Pope and Archbishop assume [sic] that Franco is fighting to prevent the creation in Spain of an atheist republic. On its side. the Spanish Government denies that it has any such intentionThe " impartial" witnesses from whom you learn the plans of the Spanish Government are (Believe it or not! readers of this letter), the English Deans, whose discredited Report—long since buried, unembalmedyou actually dare to disinter and reprint verbatim as impartial evidence! Of that Report, the non-Catholic Editor of the Nineteenth Century and After, Sir Arnold Wilson, has written: " This report is a typical example of dishonest propaganda against Catholicism." Your use of it is in keeping with your selection of " evidence " on Spain when editing the Church Times since August, 1936, but I hardly expected to find it at this date dug up from oblivion and served up as " evidence" even by yourself. You are fully aware of the conditions under which the visit was made, of the published fact that the members of the " delegation " agreed to publish only an unanimous report (a fact that cut out many things that some of the party wished to include) and that, among others, your Anglican Bishop of Gibraltar protested against and repudiated the statements made in it.
" They Came, They Saw . . ."
You probably saw the quatrain published over the initials " D. W." which so truly indicates the evidential value of the report on which you base so much of your conclusions in your chapter on Spain: "They came, they saw: they marked what they were told By kindly guides, who showed them what was shown: And they returned, uplifted and consoled By churches even emptier than their own."
It is these Deans who, you suggest, can reassure the Pope and Cardinal in their anxiety and correct their " assumptions." The Deans " marked what they were told." " All the members of the Government," they say, spoke with one voice. They expressed their belief in freedom of faith and worship! It was not a case of a mere " working majority " in the Government, but there is complete unanimity on the matter! And, once again, Ipse dico: " The Deans' evidence has a value which the sneers of Franco's apologists cannot materially affect." True, the worthlessness of the evidence was not proved by mere sneers! Some sneers, possibly. followed the reasoned destruction of that evidence by Franco's apologists and others.
The testimony of your friends, the Deans, was even treated with ribald levity in the Socialist Press of Barcelona after their Report was published.
The value of what the members of the Government said to their credulous guests may be gauged from the cathedral pulpit utterance of another of your " impartial" witnesses, whom you use as an authority, the " Friend-of-Russia " Dean of Canterbury: " It is totally wrong to say that these people in Spain and Russia are irreligious if they deny God. It does not matter what they say with their lips, it is what they mean in their hearts."
The suppression of every religious ministration throughout " Red " Government territory, where Mass was abolished and the sick and dying were denied sacramental help and the dead buried like dogs, are facts which reveal the secrets of hearts and teach us how far we can trust the unanimous declaration on the lips of the Government about freedom of faith and worship with which they fooled your " impartial," but childishly credulous, wit
nesses. No. the Pope and Cardinal can
get no comfort from the Deans! Why did you quote them?
You dismiss as worthless the writings of Mr. Douglas Jerrold and Mr. Arnold Lunn, and presumably all Catholic writers, by a typical " comprehensive " suggestio falsi. " Roman Catholic writers like Mr. Douglas Jerrold and Mr. Arnold Lunn are naturally concerned to justify the charges in the Pope's Encyclical." Surely you ought to refute their 6` justification ''? Do you wish to insinuate that they lie and fabricate evidence to support a " justification," just as conscienceless, irresponsible hack-journalists do who are paid to write up a political policy they know to be unsound? Anyway, you must know that many non-Catholic writers, unconnected with the controlled press and not under Papal Obedience, have written again and again reasoned refutations of the position you have consistently expounded in your paper, and re-state in your book.
Mr. Arthur Bryant, Sir Arnold Wilson, M.P., Sir W. Page-Croft, M.P., Sir F. Lindley, Major Yeats-Brown, Professor Allison Peers, and—to mention one whom YOU did not dare, for reasons of policy, to exclude from the correspondence columns of the Church Times—Professor E. 0. James, are a few of the prominent nonCatholic and fair-minded witnesses against you, many of whom have ten times the knowledge about Spain that your Dean; possessed. They give the lie to the Deans' Report and to the contents of your chapter. I did not mention Mr. Garvin, of the Observer, in the above list. You might!
discount his views as merely those of a journalist and fellow editor, but I feel that were you to apprpach him " as one augur to another " with a knowing " augur's wink," he would not even pretend to be amused!
Attacks on Martyrdom
Nearly every paragraph in your chapter calls for caustic comment, but I must draw this letter to a Oose. I cannot, however, omit some words on your attacks on the martyred Church of Spain.
Here you are a sound Protestant. Your tone and words seem to echo those that fell so often from Protestant episcopal lips last year in their _references to the Church of Spain. The parenthetical expressions of sympathy for the sufferings of martyred Christians which often accompanied the calumnious attacks on the Catholic Church by ecclesiastics, but which sounded so formal and unconvincing, was not recently included in the nuance of your Bishop, Barnes of Birmi gham, in his Presidential Address to the Modernist Conference printed in the current issue of the Modern Churchman. You will have read his address, it may be still lying in your edi torial office. Possibly you have noticed with satisfaction how you and he are this time in brotherly agreement about the Church of Spain. He dismisses the subject in the following crisp sentences of condemnation which summarise the views you adopt in your c1 apter, quoting extensively as an authority :1 pamphlet issued by the Propaganda Press of the Spanish Embassy
in London, writBarnes writes: by a disloyal Spanish layman. Bishop
That IMaginary Wealth
" The Church was enormously wealthy; its control of education was well-nigh absolute. Yet when once the Spanish revolution let free popular passion, priests and churches were attacked with an angry zeal which was obvi usly spontaneous. There must have beei, in secret, a bitter animosity to the C urch as an enemy to spiritual and material freedom." Thus he dis
missed the matter. Bishop Barnes probably never secs a Catholic paper. You have had in your office, in the Catholic weekly papers which you receive regularly, the refutation of this lie about the Church's wealth. Yet you unblushingly quote from a tendentious .pamphlet issued by the Spanish Embassy, a biassed source of tainted, lying propaganda., a string of calumnies, the refutation of which you have had again and again the opportunity of studying.
I am sending you a 2d. C.T.S. pamphlet on the wealth of the Spanish Church. Read it, I beg you, and if you feel no she* for your misrepresentations, no recognition of your duty to retract and apologise in the columns of the Church Times for your offence against the martyred Church you have maligned—then you are, to use a common phrase, " past praying for." " They know not what they do" may apply to Bishop Barnes: it is hard to cover the offences of an Editor of the Church Times by the same plea.
ChMy advice t you in e interest of your
tge, Mr. Dark
the paper is, turn over a new leaf, change your policy, renounce once for all your technique. Begin, for example, by letting your readers know of the "United Christian Front," whose membetiship includes many distinguished Anglicans as well as Free Churchmen, and whi0 exists to Ilissipate the smoke screen that lying " Red " propaganda has spread, and aims at bringing the truth about the Spanish situation before the deluded people ofEngland. You have concealed, as far as it in you lay, even the existence of this U.C.F., though Bishops and Deans of your own communion were among the signatories to the letter to the Press which announced its formation. Did you fear that its activities might unmask your obscurantist policy?
Join the U.C.F. . and encourage your readers to join it. It exists to weigh up evidence and to proclaim the truth. Next may I beg you, instead of clucking out " Guernica, Guernica," week by week with the hysterical insistence of a startled, unintelligent hen, examine seriously the evidence of the experts who have proved that that military objective was not utterly destroyed by bombing from the air by Germans, but, like the series of Asturian villages now being captured, was rendered a mere burned-out shell as a result of the deliberate incendiarism of the " Reds," who were preparing to flee. You say in your book: ' The story of Guernica is known to all te world ": the true story is not yet known to many owing to the policy of suppressio en i which controls " Red" journalism.
Your "snce " and attempts thus to ti
express an ar ment by reductio ad absurdum is no re ly. You cannot dismiss the evidence by wiiting: " The suggestion that the Basques themselves fired their ancient capital and presumably machine-gunned their wives at d children is obvious nonsense." You wisely dropped your story of Badajoz at ocities when the exposure of the lie of Franco's atrocities there was accepted by ell honest people. Let Goernice slip into a similar oblivion.
May I add that never once have you alluded to the multiplied instances of " Red " bombing of non-military objectives and the killing of women and children by " Reds in tOwns far behind the fighting lines; again justified no doubt in your mind because the eVidence for these facts is not that of " Red.,witnesses.
Possibly it is useless to beg a sentimentalist like yourself to use your reason and to weigh evidence apart from the principle you seem to have adopted that no evidence against the " Reds " can be " impartial."
I am not, I think, unduly sensitive, but I confess that this chapter on Spain in your book has caused me a sense of physical nausea. I see in it one more instance of the widespread, organised propaganda on behalf of " Rod " interests and against the Church of Christ. You and your paper co-operate with these " Reds" in spreading the lie that the Catholic Church in England. tlw Church which has always been, unlike your own, the Church of the poor. has " gone Fascist " and is now the friend of dictators and capitalists and the enemy of democracy and the toiling masses because it is openly on the side of Franco and opposed to those who consciously—or, in the case of some of the Basques, unconsciously—are engaged in "A War on God" in Spain. Cease helping to propagate this lie! Honesty is the best policy.
P.S.—ln the quite unlikely circumstance of your conscience being stirred to somt uneasiness by what I have written above may I implore you to obtain and read sone
of the following little books? Read then, not as you appear to have " dipped into ' Godden's Communist Operations in Spain, but with an open and critical mind. All can be obtained from Messrs. Burns, Oates and Washbourne: Democracy in Spain, R. Dingle, 6d.; Revolutionary Justice in Spain (foreword by Lord Phillimore), 6d.; The Legend of Badajoz, MeNiell-Moss, 2d.; The Conquest of Red Spain, MajorGeneral ,Fuller, C.I3., 2d.; and Conflict in Spain, Godden, Is. 6d.
They will show you how needed is " The United Christian Front" of which I have spoken above, and may enable you, if you have the humility and courage, to take from now on a more fitting part in the war between truth and falsehood thout Catholic Spain in its struggle against anti-religious Communism and the " Red " Left.