A Council of Christian Action ?
Interest is at fever-pitch among members of the Sword of the Spirit and among non-Catholics wondering how far they may be admitted to active association with the Movement, and attention is this week focused in the correspondence columns of the Church Times.
It will be recalled that at the recent annual meeting at Westminster it was decided that though non-Catholics might join as associates with limited rights, efforts were being made by the organisers to find a means acceptable to all whereby Christians of all denominations might continue to work in common towards the establishment of a New Order,
DR. BELL'S PLEA'
The Church Times in its issue of a fortnight ago voiced the natural disappointment ol many non-Catholics. Last week's issue, however, carried a letter from that champion of Christian Co-operation, Dr. Bell, Bishop of Chichester, in which he pleaded with readers
" not to rush to the conclusion that the hopes engendered a year ago are all in
vain . . Difficulties exist, but it would be a mistake to take it for granted that no way through can be found... Given patience and a full understanding on all sides, there seems to me to be no reason why there should be any retreat."
A letter seeming to point a way put of the impasse came from a Free Church reader of the same periodical, who suggested:
a. The imperative need is for some form of United Christian Council-an ad hoc body, equally representative in numbers and authority of the three communions, the Church of England and the Roman and Free Churches."
" VERY MUCH FURTHER" Not least important of the contributions to the correspondence was a letter from the Chairman and Joint Hon. Secretaries of the Sword of the Spirit which went to the extent of revealing the nature of the delicate discussion now taking place between them and the non-Catholic Christians. It said : "Conversations at present in progress between representatives of the different Cornmullions are directed towards a result that shall go very tutu-h farther titan co-operation by co-option; a result that shall be organic rather than co-operative, and shall embody full reciprocity.
"CATHOLIC HERALD'S" SUGGESTION
Pressed to elucidate the point, Mr. Beales, one of the Hon. Secretaries of the Sword of the Spirit, regretted to one of our reporters that he could not supply dit utter information at this stage, in view of the delicacy of the negotiations. It is understood, however, that considerable attention attaches to a leading article that appeared in the CATHOLIC HERALD on April 10, entitled " A Council of Christian Action", where the Editor makes the following comments: " The movement (Sword of the Spirit) has two intimately related, yet distinct aspects. It is in the first place a spiritual movement and. in the second place, it is a movente»t of concrete action working on a secularist society.
" As a spiritual movement the difficulties of interdenominational co-operedion are obvious, and it is well that, as far as Catholics are concerned, the Sword of the Spirit should stand out as an independent Catholic body, inviting such co-operation 0.s others are ready to give and the Hierarchy approves.
" But as a movement of concrete action in the secular field, it should be possible to organise a far more powerful national body than the Sword of the Spirit can claim to he. a body of action, a • Council of the Christian Action,' representing all Ciwisilans and responsible for the defence in the political, social and economic fields of Christian moral teaching and values as they apply to all aspects of our public life.
" Many questions. it is true, fall somewhere in between the specifically spiritual and the practical work, but there would be obvious possibilities of joint action between a wholly Catholic body like the Sword of the Spirit and an interdenominational ' Council of Christian Action.' "
Given the good-will and undoubted determination of the promoters of the Sword 4 the Spirit, as well as of non-Catholics working towards the same end, to achieve and finally cement Christian Co-operation, this week's hopeful news and the sympathetic, if non-committal, editorial comments of the Church Times in last week's issue, should augur well for the efforts of those engaged in propagating the aims of the most unique organisation in the history of English Christianity. (See Leading Article, page 4.).