THE Bishop of Chichester has courageously protested against those non-Catholics who are eagerly shouting " I told you so," now . that attempts at Christian
co-operation through the Sword of the Spirit have reached the rocks that everyone knew to lie ahead.
More than once in these columns we have drawn attention to the dangers and have suggested the way out—a way which, we hear, may yet be adopted.
The difficulty of making, progress by a process of what may be called a " growing together " of Catholics and non-Catholics is clear. Not only does the logical Catholic " all or nothing " claim make it impossible to work together " up to a point." but the suspicion of Rome on the part of extreme Protestants is bound to be aroused—as it has been in this instance.
But while we stand iselated from one another, it remains true and obvious that we can often join hands in pursuit of definite jobs that need doing. Our isolation and even our suspicion of one another—for which the only effective remedy is prayer to the Holy Ghost that " we may all be one "—does not militate against a large measure of agreement when it comes to dealing with the paganism and indifference of the nonChristian world.
We can and do agree about the need to defend the spiritual and moral rights of the human person and of the family as against the encroachments of an economicallybased State and about the need of social safeguards for these rights as, for example, proper housing. We agree that the country must return to an educational system which is based upon positive faith in God and the essential dogmas and moral teaching of Christianity and that it is for those who must to " opt out " of what should be the normal education. We agree in principle in the fight to secure justice for the ordinary man as against those who are rich and powerful enough to exploit his freedom and his labour, and in the fight against the dissemination of pagan. immoral and lax ideas by antiChristians or through the more subtle temptation to take as our sole standard what is commercially most profitable. We agree that a worthy victory can only be won if we defend Christian ends and protest against un-Christian means in the waging of war.
The only successful kind of co-operation between Christians will be practical co-operation in actively opposing, through the rights of our citizenship, these and other evils.
That is why we have so often suggested the creation of a new body, entirely distinct from the religious Sword of the Spirit, to be called a "Council of Christian Action." The work of such a body, equally representative of Catholics, Anglicans and the Free Churches, would not be religious or devotional, but—in the widest sense—political. It would be charged with the legitimate political defence, in the name of the millions of politically unorganised Christians, of Christian values in the State.
There would, of course, be no question of trying to form a Christian Party, since this would imply a positive and continuous policy and would in any event in this country be doomed to failure. Moreover we are lucky enough here to have avoided party divisions on moral issues. Its function would he confined to bringing pressure to bear on all parties in respect of antiChristian or non-Christian trends and policies.
The ideal plan would be the formation of such Councils in every district, each Council electing a representative for Provincial Councils, and the Provincial Councils electing the Central Council.
And among Catholics there could be no better organisation for establishing the Councils than the Sword of the Spirit itself with its many and invaluable contacts.
We suggest that the Executive Committee of the Sword of the Spirit plan out a scheme of this kind and submit it to Catholic, Anglican and Free Church authorities. It would not be difficult, once general approval has been obtained for a joint scheme, for the clergy and leading laity in parishes all over the country to set up (initially by nomination) Joint Councils which could set about immediately to study local problems. These would be reported to the Provincial Councils which in their turn would report their findings to the Central Council. This executive body would act, not only in the light of local suggestions but also with the general good of the country in mind.
So important would be this practical defence of Christian values, according to the spirit of democracy both in its own constitution and in its eagerness to take advantage of our democratic liberties, that collections to finance the scheme might well be made in churches all over the country.