Now It's Hot PeaceJ
FTER the cold war comes the
hot peace. And at the moment the politicians between them are keeping it very hot indeed, with challenges and counter-challenges as to the sincerity and intentions of the opposing peace camps flying thick and fast.
By building up our stocks of arms and atom bombs to a point where the economies of half a dozen European countries are creaking under the strain we have, it seems possible, won the cold war in the West.
For that, given the necessary will, it was necessary only for us to be able to show that "we've got the guns, we've got the men and we've got the money too."
Something more will be needed to win the hot peace—that is, to ensure that what to the Communists is merely a tactic in the world fight for Communism works out to the advantage of mankind everywhere.
For that to be achieved, it seems to me, it is necessary for our spiritual defences to be strengthened, just as we have, at great cost, built up our material defences against Communism. And this requires the same sense of urgency, the same drive, the same readiness to sacrifice.
The last round belonged to the military leaders. This one belongs to the spiritual leaders.
In the political sphere, if we want to make our civilisation proof against Communism, we must be prepared to see glaring social injustices, racial prejudices and colour-bars, and everything which tends to lower the dignity of man or to shift the emphasis from the human person to the mass (or the mass leader) as being chinks in our defences.
They all can, and will. be exploited by the Communists. They are weapons put into their hands by people on our own side—just as much as when the secrets of the atom bomb were passed to Russia during the cold war.
This is a time when Catholics interested in the Church's social teachings should be applying their principles in both the broadest and the most detailed possible way. This is our chance.
APART from going, for purely family reasons, to see Robin Hood and Lorna Doane, I have managed to get to the cinema only once in the past five years. And on that occasion it was to see a film featuring myself. I left in the middle.
But on Monday night I took time off to see The Diary of a Country Priest at the Curzon Cinema in Mayfair. I was glad I went.
My decision to give up an evening in this, for me, unusual way was influenced by the fact that of all the reviews of the film which have
appeared in the n a tional Press, the one which seemed to me to be the most sincere in its praise, with the reviewer clearly having been profoundly moved and influenced, came from an acquaintance of my Communist days.
He will pr o bab 1 y be flattered rather than hurt if I describe him as a hard-boiled. cynical Left winger. Yet the technical, dramatic and spiritual quality of The Diary of a Country Priest is such that he paid it one of the most handsome tributes he has ever handed out to any film, and incidentally—or perhaps I should say "as a consequence"— was inspired to do some of the best writing he has ever produced.
I don't know what happens to the film when it leaves Mayfair. But I hope that Catholics will take steps to see that this unforgettable spiritual experience—for that is what it is— will not be denied to the people in the provinces.
ROM Bishop Francis Esser,
0.S.F.S., of the Vicariate of Kcctmanshoop, South-West Africa, the other day I get a letter describing what it is like to be a Bishop in the African missions. It makes startling reading.
The Vicariate comprises an area of 108,000 square miles, in which live 12,000 Catholics, the majority of whom are natives of the territory. There has been no appreciable amount of rain for years, he says, and the people are suffering appalling poverty as a consequence.
"Before my consecration," he writes, "the See had been vacant for over two years. On my assuming office I found the coffer utterly depleted. This had been due to the drought and to the many calls on the missions."
He refers to the largo number of orphanages, schools, some hospitals and clinics for which he is responsible and then, describing the people who come in their tattered clothes and suffering from malnutrition to the missions for help he says: "You weep Inwardly and whisper a prayer that you may get the much-needed aid."
Yet, such is his belief in the charity of his fellow Catholics in Britain and elsewhere that Bishop Esser, whilst working to relieve the physical misery around him is planning. also, the building of a new Cathedral to replace the existing one which is too small.
"I was sick .99 AS Britain becomes increasingly paganiscd so she comes to depend more and more upon Catholic girls, in whom the spirit of Christian charity and self-sacrifice still lives, to staff her hospitals and institutions.
And the more distasteful the work, the more is this true.
From the Christian, (a by no means pro-Christian religious weekly) of April 3 comes the following:
"We learn on good authority that the hospitals for patients suffering from tuberculosis in this country are staffed by hundreds of Roman Catholic nurses, mostly from Ireland. The explanation given to us is that English nurses will not volunteer for positions in hospitals reserved for tuberculosis patients, hut Irish girls have no such compunction.
"If that is the case, and we know of no reason to doubt it, then obviously instead of complaining about the zeal and enterprise of the Roman Catholics in regard to the nursing profession, we should be better employed in seeking to emulate them."
It does rather tend to suggest that "The Roman Catholics" may have got something after all. doesn't it? And it is something of which we should all be proud.
On the job
TN a feature article on trade 'unionism in Scotland, The Times Labour Correspondent last week noted the way in which Communist and Left-wing Socialist influence have been reduced north of the Border.
And he had this to say about Scots Catholics in the Labour and trade union movement:
Clydeside, the Catholic influence is of some importance as a counter to Communism, and Catholits hold key positions in at least one important -union. At factory gates one may sometimes see the Daily Worker being sold at one side of the road and the Catholic Worker at the other.
"There are many Catholics also in the Scottish Labour Party. with which the Scottish T.U.C. keeps close contact through a joint committee,"