Page 6, 26th July 1940

26th July 1940
Page 6
Page 6, 26th July 1940 — EVEN SUCH IS TIME irrel
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EVEN SUCH IS TIME irrel

(By an unlucky chance last week the quotation from Saint Thomas More instead of coining at the end, happened to get inserted into the body of the text of this infinitely less distinguished writer. This accident will have made nay of the sense of the dialogue on " Mary and Her Dowry" for many read7rs; to whom " Ark? " herewith tenders his sincere apologies, Even such, alas! is time!)

THE SILENCE OF THE PAPACY

FEW years ago I was lucky enough to

know—as well as a youngish man can know one of many years and great experience—Gerald Fitzmaurice. Fitzmatiriet —as some of my readers may remember, of Constantinople: where as Dragonian he had earned from the Germans a nickname that highly delighted him, " the Jesuit Fitzmauricc."

This remarkable man is dead now these, two years. Ile was a profoundly convinced Christian Catholic: neither talking his head off in a Pall Mull window-seat, nor making books of the strange memories that shrewd old head was full of, he spent his retirement, until he grew too decrepit for it, carting buckets of coal up and down backstairs of places near Limehouse Docks as a Brother of Saint Vincent de Paul.

The Cathedral's Benefactor

Much of his fortune he expended during his last years on the chapel of St. Patrick at Westminster Cathedral.

This devotion to Patrick was the attraction of like to like: the two Irish ascetics shared many a secret and many a love. Fitzmaurice had with terrific trouble discovered how many churches dedicated to St. Patrick there were in the world.

The grand total is 1,337 (tip to Saint Patrick's Day, 1935); and Irishmen may be interested also to know that there are nineteen cathedrals dedicated to their apostle.

fell to thinking of Fitzrnaurice while turning over in my head a problem that is exercising the minds of many of us this week : " What is the Pope's mind?

Fitzmaurice's View

It is a cold day, and stamping along up the street I see old Fitzmaurice again blowing up his neat white moustache and clanking his stout walking-stick on the pavement.

" Hello!" His greeting is genial, unsentimental. " H'm "—looking at my shirt" I see you've taken to the same fashion as myself."

He is wearing a blue collar with a plain striped shirt. " Don't dirty so easily, do you find?"

I confess to having bought mine because I like blue shirts, feeling suddenly abominably vain.

Fitzmaurice says: " 1 saw in The Times yesterday the Italians are going to do such

and-such. Just met old So-and-So (men

tioning a rather too prominent Catholic). He tells rue they're getting up a petition to send

to the Pope about it at the Club." Fitzmauricc pauses for a moment: his brilliant blue eye spies after a thrush darting across the square.

then he turns back to mc—" Funksters!" A sudden smile, disavowing malice, he is off down the road again.

The Pope and Our Cause

It is a pity that so many of us to-day should see our Holy Father's position from so obliquely selfish an angle. English Catholics have sue . a horror of being misunderstood by their fellow-countrymen and tarred with the Italian brush that they seem to expect the Pope, in pity of their plight, to take out British naturalization papers. Well, let us make no bones about it: that cruel suspicion of treachery is the cross the Catholics of England have always had to bear ; and it is by their bearing it to the end that England will return to the Faith.

Cardinal Hinsley says, and there can be no doubt that what he says is true, that we Catholics " stand wholeheartedly for the defence of our country against the tyrarny ot a philosophy which seeks to impose by violence a pagan slavery on the world." Let that be enough for us, then: our patriotism is not in serious question.

I want now to say a little of my own mind on the very delicate question of our Holy Pathel's view of this war. It is a purely personal view, but I hope it may be of some value to the vexed consciences of people who accepted too simply a Press campaign which lasted from the cleclaiation of war down to Italy's entry into the struggle. Its object was to produce the impression that Pius XII had deserted that absolutely political neutrality which is the ideal of the Papacy in time of war: in fine, that he had taken the side of the Allies.

He Never Did So

I do not say, and 1 do not know, that His Holiness' views are these or those: what I do most emphatically assert is that he has never disclosed them.

When Holland. Belgium and Luxembourg were invaded the newspapers and many over-sanguine Catholics made much of the fact that he despatcheu to the rulers of each nation telegrams containing messages of sympathy and condolence that their will and right—that is, their desire for, and right of, neutrality had been violated.

Can these messages be interpreted as a general condemnation of the Axis cause? I must most ardently insist that they cannot. They certainly involve a hitter protest against military action taken by one belligerent, but they cannot be twisted to commit His Holiness to making common cause with the other side. I say that wherever they lie he cannot, will not, and has no concern to express his sympathies. There is absolutely no question then, as a certain sensational weekly has alleged, of the Pope having changed sides. Ile was never

(Continued in next column).




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