For the first time a delegate from this country was present at the annual meeting of the " Standing Commission of Editors and Directors of Catholic Newspapers," which met in Budapest last week. This fact is not in itself of great importance, but it may be taken as a symbol of the all too slowly growing importance that is being attached by English Catholics to Catholic thought and activity on the Continent.
One of the main purposes for which the Catholic Herald was refounded, some three years ago, was to help Catholics and non-Catholics in this country to follow, understand and appreciate Catholic life abroad, and so it was not inappropriate that the first paper ever to be personally represented at this important annual conference of the leaders of Catholic journalism should have happened to be the Catholic Herald.
Three years ago the ideals in this respect of those who refounded this paper might still have been thought a little optimistic, if not bizarre. English Catholics, strong in their whole-hearted allegiance to Rome and often apparently more single-mindedly loyal than some of their fellows on the Continent, had for years been content to let their organisation, thought, and cultural development jog along after the traditionally individualistic style of their country.
The last three years, however, have made it evident that this pleasant and comfortable attitude, suitable for times of peaceful development rather than for days of war, will not suffice. The enemies of Christianity today have organised themselves internationally and with such success that it is the Pope himself who has repeatedly called to all Christians to close their ranks and to stand firm.
In a private audience with the President of the " Standing Commission," above referred to, the Holy Father emphasised the fact that in Catholic journalism, as in other fields of Catholic defence, the two vital needs of the days are unity and organisation.
There is something slightly distasteful, especially to English minds, in this apparent regimenting of Christians. It seems almost like making public and reducing to a common level the spiritual and personal values of religion.
Yet the Holy Father has called for it, not because it is any more to his taste, but because the conditions of the day imperatively demand it. The tactics of our enemies, who aim by simple but internationally organised propaganda to undermine religion by attacking the philosophy of life on which it rests, have left us no choice of weapons. For every lie or half-truth they spread throughout the world we must spread a truth, as simply told, as attractively put; for every attack they make, simultaneously initiated across the globe, we must march forward in step for Catholic Action.
Under these circumstances there can be for a time little question of the luxury of individualism or the homely muddling through " that is supposed to be the genius of our race. And be it noted that it is precisely in those fields of culture and of philosophic, moral and social thought when we most value our individualism and where journalism has its greatest task to perform that unity and organisation are most urgently demanded, for it is on those field § precisely that the enemy's attack is most insistent and dangerous.
Though we recognise that there are often exceptional difficulties, both of time and finance, in ensuring constant personal contacts with Catholic activities abroad, it is scarcely satisfactory that only one delegate from Great Britam was present at a conference which the Editors of all the great Catholic dailies felt it to be their duty to attend, and that, we believe, no delegates from Britain are present at the great International Congress of Christ the King being held in Poland about which the Pope has just written in so emphatic a way.
For three years the Catholic Herald has remained constant in its efforts to create a demand in this country for the news that matters rather than for the news that entertains—and there is entertainment for the religious and spiritual senses as well as for the bodily ones. It is a consolation for it that its recent personal contact, with the mainsprings of Catholic journalism will do much to strengthen and deepen its purpose, a purpose that is at last visibly bearing fruit.