Page 7, 25th November 1938

25th November 1938
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Page 7, 25th November 1938 — Three Grouses Of A Seminarian In France
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Organisations: C.S. Guild, US Federal Reserve
Locations: Paris

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Three Grouses Of A Seminarian In France

RDINARILY I never grouse. My vocation demands that. I must set the example to others of seeking and pointing out the good there is in everybody and everything. I shall have to teach others to accept patiently and with resignation to God's Holy Will all that is painful, irritating. or in any way disagreeable to us, whether it come of the ignorance, stupidity, or even malice of those around us. Accordingly, therefore, 1 myself strive for this ideal. Nevertheless, to air one's grievances soberly and charitably can, I think, do good, and this page presents an opportunity for doing so effectively.

As theologians always do things in threes, I have three grievances, complaints or grouses, call them what you will, that I should like to lodge : against a country, a generation, and a paper.

The French and Franco I am a student at the world's largest seminary, in France. Every part of the world is represented here and one is thus constantly in touch with views and characteristics of the most divers nationalities. And the character most difficult to " get on " with, I find, is the French. I wonder if English Catholics realise how vastly different is the outlook of French Catholics from their own. I find Catholic France not nearly so concerned about the fight for the Church in Spain as political France has been about the fight against it. Priests and clerics have unblushingly assured me that they are anti-Franco; that before the outbreak the Spanish clergy were au dessous de tout; that the war is a defence of the poor against the rich; that a Republican victory would not mean Communism at all but simply a state of affairs similar socially to that of France—at which last I feel like asking them whether they are arguing against or for Franco. A seminarian, however, in a dissertation, praised the defence of the Alcazar, which he had mentioned incidentally. A quotation I gave from the CATHOLIC HERALD was summarily dismissed, by an English-speaking priest, with the contemptuous observation that that

paper is Fascist. If I appeal to the letter of the Spanish hierarchy the triumphant reply is that two bishops did not sign it, if to the attitude of the rest of the Catholic world, my attention is drawn to the Basques. Now instinctive fear and hatred of Germany, and anything she has had a hand in, may explain this attitude to National Spain, but it does not explain such gross illusions concerning, for example, the Spanish clergy. These are undoubtedly due to Left propaganda. Communist propaganda is certainly clever; to seep into the very training-centre of its future combatants is surely a master-stroke.

tin Peu Fanatique Once a week in winter we have a conference by an outside speaker. The first this (scholastic) year was by a professor of German literature at a famous Catholic institution in Paris, and the subject was "Contemporary Germany." I have never heard a richer torrent of fanatical antiGerman invective, except from RadioMoscow, of which I was constantly reminded throughout the lecture. For the whole hour one could have heard a pin drop as the audience (perhaps ninety per cent. French) stiff with admiration, received this precious information : supposed oppression of Sudctens was just a pretext for another step in a mad spasmodic expansion; had we not guaranteed the integrity of Czechoslovakia? Was she not by this coup a helpless victim of gross injustice? Were we not shamefully capitulating to brute force? (with quotation from Sir Archibald Sinclair to support this). How often the Fares has broken his word! Rearmament, the Rhineland, Austria, Czechoslovakia, and next? Indeed, these open violations of the Treaty of Versailles must be stopped. We must build up a powerful France. And much more in the same strain. It received tremendous applause, of course. A Cierman-Jew refugee who was present told me afterwards he thought it was an pea fanutique. This conference given to us future priests was intended to be, and was, purely political, so purely so that the sufferings of Catholics at the hands of Nazism were not once mentioned. That of course is quite all right. But the conferencier was thanked with the expression of hope that the auditeurs

deviendraient d'ardents propagateurs de ces idees, si virilement ex posees."

Hymn of Hate

So much for my first grouse. My second also has something to do with Germany. When any member of our older generation attempts either to instigate or to perpetuate anti-German feeling, it makes my blood boil. Their reason is of course (speaking at least for those whom I have met) that they cannot forget the War, and try to keep alive in us the bitter feeling, now rapidly disappearing, which resulted

from it, They thus deliberately try to stem the friendship which is growing between the two countries. A headmaster in Northern England boasted to me a short lime ago that he would absolutely refuse to trade with Germans. Charity and respect for age prevent my telling such people that just because they couldn't settle their differences without a war for which we have now to pay, that is no reason why we should repeat the blunder, and by their very experience or the War they should know better than to egg us on to it. As a matter of fact I did say that once and was rebuked for ingratitude, which was of course totally irrelevant to my point: I don't blame our English fathers for winning the War hut both sides for having it, and even that I only do, as a check, when they say things likely to cause another. If I am asked if we should have done any better in the same circumstances and avoided the War, I answer: if it was circumstances that were responsible, then the people perhaps are not to be blamed, but they are to be blamed for making provocative statements today instead of trying to create safer circumstances.

Real Evidence

Of course these same people obstinately refuse to believe that Nazism has had any economic success. I visited Germany at Easter this year and was assured by ardently anti-Nazi priests that one would have to be blind not to see such success, that pauperism and unemployment have disappeared completely, that workers have no legitimate grievances except the one they share with the rest of the country—religious persecution. That this testimony is true is proved by the fact that the priests warned me that what they had said to me about Nazi leaders personally gave me the power to land them all in a concentration camp. But before 1 have time to get this proof out I am interrupted by the explanation that my informers dared not speak otherwise.

And I wish the over-forties would stop calling ours a pampered and spoon-fed

generation. Will they kindly ask themselves who is responsible for the faulty upbringing?

Lastly, the " C.H."

My final grouse is with the CATHOLIC HERALD, though I hasten to add that this is the first fault I have been able to find

with you. It is that even you are now taking part in the extremely popular modern pastime of insulting and calumniating Japan. The Japanese Catholics thanked the Catholic press abroad for their reserved attitude towards the present conflict. In your issue of October 28 you speak of her " reckless waste of her substance and the sacrifice of the spirit of her people to militaristic aims in a gamble for wealth and empire." I quoted this to a Japanese subdeacon, who, incidentally, is constantly in touch with his brother, a priest in Tokio. He said such bosh (he speaks English well) was really not worth answering. I should not object to your making such charges if only you gave arguments in support of them but, as with the rest of the mud-slingers, that is just what you fail to do. (This present grouse goes for the C.S. Guild too, who have published a pamphlet defending China but have not, so far as I know, published the manifesto of the Japanese Catholics.) We have both Chinese and Japanese at the seminary. I have argued at some length with both, putting to each side all that 1 could gather in favour of the other. I have read the literature lent to me by both. In spite of all the propaganda with which the whole of the Western world now reeks. I have yet to hear a single solid argument in favour of China.




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