Page 9, 26th August 1938

26th August 1938
Page 9
Page 9, 26th August 1938 — PEACE CONGRESS Germans Feared Reprisals

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" Basis Of International Order"


The Congress sat for four days in private, and afterwards issued its conclusions.

It was regretted that there were no official representatives of Germany or Italy. There were, in fact, no representatives of non-democratic countries who could have put forward the viewpoint of Catholics in the " Totalitarian " countries.

The German bishops, it is thought, were afraid that it was not worth risking the consequent Nazi reprisals if they sent representatives.

The Italian Catholics also failed to send representatives. The last time they came it was found difficult to secure co-operation between them and Catholics from the democracies.

Don Luigi Sturzo, the exiled leader of the former Catholic " Popular" Party, at present living in London, was at the Congress. So also was a young exile from Germany.

Below, Mr. John Eppslein, Assistant Secretary (Political) of the League of Nations Union, and Honorary Secretary of the Catholic Council for International Relations, gives an account of the work of the Congress.

The Conference, which was attended by Catholic theologians, University professors, writers and politicians, was confined to about fifty members having a certain competence in international ethics.

Fr. J. B. Kors, 0.P., Professor of Theology at the University of Nijmegen, presided, and the Vice-Presidents were Mgr. John Ryan, of the Catholic University of America; Mgr. Beaupin, head of the Catholic Commission of Intellectual Co-operation; Fr. Muller, S.J., Director of the great Commercial College of St. Ignace at Antwerp, and Fr. Leo O'Hea, S.J., of the Catholic Social Guild, who led a delegation of the Catholic Council for International Relations.

Members of the Conference were welcomed on their arrival by Mgr. Van der Truijn, Dean of the Hague, at a reception offered by the Dutch Catholic Employers' Association, and entertained to luncheon on Monday by the Dutch Catholic Workers' Association. A reception was given in their honour by the Burgomaster and City Council, and on Sunday they assisted at a Sung Mass, offered for Peace according to the Holy Father's intentions, in the splendid Church of S. James at which a special sermon was preached by Dr. Kors.


By JOHN EPPSTEIN The general subject of the conference was " The Foundations of International Order." The first group of conclusions were concerned with political causes of the existing disorder and their remedies. Peace —"the proper object of statecraft "—is first defined thus: —

" Peace is neither the maintenance of the status quo—which may include injustices—nor the result of an individualist order in which the peoples might live without conflict but also without collaboration. It is the tranquillity resulting from a state of society, in which men and nations are assured a life conforming to their natural and Christian destiny through their participation in the common good."

It follows from this amplification of S. Augustine's definition of peace as " the tranquillity of order," that:

Diversion of Statecraft

" Any fact or any doctrine which diverts statecraft from the realisation among the peoples of the world of a juridical and fraternal order based upon the unity of the human race, the equality of nature and the solidarity of mankind, must be regarded as a remote or proximate cause of international disorder.'

Thus while the conference " accepts national feeling as one of the moral bases of the political order," it concluded that " to subordinate the whole of human life and social life to racial or nationalist ends is to reverse the order of essential values."

The totalitarian state in which public power is captured by a particular group in the name of the nation, the race, or a single class, sees only in man " a national or a producer, or a carrier of racial germs" —not a spiritual person, bound by the duties of brotherhood and universal charity. " Once this point is reached there disappears from among states and peoples that bond of equality, of fraternity, of right and of law which is necessary for the peace of international society."

As to the remedies for this evil, there is no short cut. " These causes of injustice which engender hatred have all, in the last analysis, a spiritual and moral basis; they almost all came from the same origin—the failure to recognise the value of human personality. . . . Catholic doctrine however exalts the dignity of man as an intelligent and tiee person . .. endowed with immortality and called to a divine destiny: it therefore contradicts at its very source any principle of international disorder."

Mgr. John Ryan and Fr. Delos, 0.P., were the Rapporteurs on this subject.

World Economics

These principles established, the conference turned to economic questions, upon which papers were read by Professor Van der Valk, of Breda University and Professor Bit, of Toulouse University.

The conclusions, under this head, recognised that which political and economic appeasement are inextricably linked, an improvement in the political situation is a necessary condition of economic progress. " The excessive isolation of national economics is one of the essential ctuses of the world-wide disorder and impoverishment."

The conference recalled the fact that the Encyclical, Divini Redemptoris (para. 76), iecornmended " that in the mutual relations of the peoples an urgent effort be made to suppress the artificial obstacles to economic life which are the effects of mistrust and haired and that it be remembered that all the peoples of the earth form a single family of God."

Catholics were consequently advised " to oppose tendencies of autarchy whereby each people directs its own economy solely in accord with its own interests arbitrarily determined by the state without regard to the international common good." . Greater freedom in the circulation of goods, in the exchange of capital and in migration was advocated, together with a series of " economic agreements signed in the first instance between those states where economic structures are similar and relatively supple.

Organisation of International Society The conference considered the whole of these political and economic problems in relation to the central notion of a common good and a state of society necessarily existing among nations. This notion and its implications were developed in a report by Fr. Muller, S.J., vigorously supported by M. Janssen, the Belgian Minister of State, Mgr. Beaupin and others. The conclusions reached begin by laying down the proposition that: " There exists a natural society of states, iesulting from the brotherhood and natural sociability of men; this society of fact can only accomplish its providential task effectively if it is provided with juridical organs adequate to the fulfilment of its mission." The existing League of Nations was commended as a " first and praiseworthy attempt to organise juridically the natural society of states " and Catholics were urgei " to refrain from purely negative criticism of the League which implies condemnation of the principles of natural law incorporated in the Covenant."

The resolutions of the conference end with the prayer contained in the Collect of the Mass of Christ the King,

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