By Fr. PAUL CRANE, S.J.
Secretary of the Catholic Social Guild
l'IWO or three years ago 3,000 of Singapore's 50,000 Catholics turned out triumphantly to say their Rosary with Pr. Peyton and listen to his words. A year or so later—earlier on this year— mobs of strikers, Communist led and inspired, swept through the city. One of their victims was a young Chinese student who was murdered in the hall of a local club. So great was their fear of the Communists who had done this lad to death that his friends dared neither to give evidence at his inquest nor to attend his funeral.
In order to show that I am not exaggerating, I quote from the letter of a priest resident in Singapore, well informed and well acquainted with events there. The letter is dated May 13 and was written shortly after the riots to which I have just referred. Here is the significant passage : " We have had riots for the east two days with thousands of "Kiddie School students backing A small group of strikers (the Chinese vernacular schools have been collared by Red influence). However, if Marshall fails, there will be nothing to do except to suspend the new Constitution. as happened in British Guiana, because the chance of free elections in the present atmosphere is nil, e.g., a Chinese student was murdered in the hall of a club a few weeks ago and not only can the police find none of those there to give evidence. but his fellow students did not even dare to attend his funeral since it was no secret that the murder was the work of Reds."
Tim CONTRAST MR. MARSHALL, thank God, has not failed; but that is not the point I Wish to emphasise. The point to notice is the contrast between the triumphant Catholic turnout for Fr. Peyton on the one hand and, on the other, the triumphant Communist leadership of Singapore's mob.
We are brought right up against something which strikes the writer as the great present failure of missionary Catholicism; it is not to have recognised even now the significance of social, economic and political problems in the missionary lands, so many of which. at the moment, are busy turning themselves into new nations. And those nations—because of our failure to huild up in each a native elite capable of assuming the leadership in the trade-union and political world—have either fallen or are on the point of falling into the eager hands of those whose only equipment for this task is a rootless secularism imbibed as " Western culture " at the Godless universities of Great Britain and the United States.
WHETHER this secularist native leadership will remain as such or advance a step further to Cornmunism is, perhaps, not quite so open to question as it seems at first sight.
One thing, however, seems certain and it is this —a revolution is in process in Africa and the Far East and it looks like passing us by.
All over that vast area of the world's surface, missionaries who have spent their lives building churches, caring for the sick and plugging the weary round of their out-stations, are waking to the fact that theirs is a world in change and that those in charge of that change may sweep away in a moment themselves and their work.
What I mean, in fact, is that the Church in the Far East may soon be an underground Church. I am thinking of a rather desperate letter received only a few days ago from a priest in Indonesia : " We are having a hard time to keep up with the pace at which things are developing in Indonesia. It is absolutely necessary that we start training capable young men to become leaders in the fields of politics, trade unionism, journalism, etc. At the moment I am trying to work out some scheme for emergency training. With no new missionaries allowed into the country at the moment, we are all overburdened."
STE1 I ESN HAla the training of that elite been put in pro
cuss 25 years ago that letter might never have needed writing.
Too f re(' uent1}% the same applies to missionary territories elsewhere. Much, however, can still be held provided men can be found with the ability, initiative and dedicated energy to throw everything they have got, even at this the 25th hour, into the building up of a hand-picked native elite at key points in the missionary territories.
Numbers are quite unimportant in this context: what is essential is that the quality. of those chosen for training should be absolutely first class and that they should be prepared to lead lives of consecrated self-sacrifice.
Nothing less than this will do if these young laymen are to succeed in their objective, which must be to infuse into the trade union and political leadership of their countries that calm steadiness in welldoing which is, at one and the same time, the expression and condition of peaceful social advance.
HELPING WORDS Y way of postcript, I might add that evidence exists of a move in this direction already and of its gathering impetus.
From the Oxford headquarters of the Catholic Social Guild we send our literature all over the
world and in increasing quantity to what you might call the trouble spots in the missionary lands.
I have quoted already from letters received from priests in two of them. But we are in touch with many others. C.S.G. literature is asked for increasingly by priests and laymen as far away as Mauritius, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Singapore. Malaya, India, Kenya, Uganda Gold Coast, Nigeria, British Guiana, British West Indies and so on.
'Irrespective of whether the literature asked for can be paid for or not. we do our utmost to meet the demands and the same applies to our correspondence courses. which are taken by people as far away as West Africa and Malaya.
Money, it seems to us. is of no account when so much is at stake. Our one desire is to help and, thanks to the support of generous friends at home who share our views. we have built up a fund for the purpose of providing the missions with all the help we can give them.
THIS is the 25th hour. The stakes are very
high in the missionary lands: they are worth everything we have.
Should any missionary or friend of a missionary read these lines and need help in the manner indicated, will he write, please, to the Secretary, Catholic Social Guild, Oxford?