seems to have fallen victim to the "either-or" fallacy. It would seem that wc must EITHER persecute Protestants OR adopt the other extreme Of religious indifferentism.
I do not myself think that we need be involved in either extreme. The Irish seem to get along happily enough with their Protestant minority while remaining loyal to the Church. Whether their pattern can be followed in Spain or In a converted England turns largely, I imagine, on national characteristics and on the nature of the minority activity, Even St. Paul wrote of some men "whose mouths must be stopper, 1 here have been several Popes since Gregory XVI, One of them, Pius MI, on December 6, 1953, made an important speech on the subject. The speech cannot be reproduced here but it will be found in "Catholic Documents" No. 15 of September, 1954. If I may briefly summarise. the Pope points out that white God reprobates the sin and error in the world, He tolerates them. So that it cannot be immoral, absolutely and unconditionally, for states to tolerate them. The duty of repress ing moral and religious error cannot be the norm of action. Tolerance of error for a greater good may he the better policy. At the same time the Pope does not admit any theoretical right to propagate erroneous and Immoral doctrine. The guiding principle on which statesmen should act must he to promote the common good and the Catholic statesman must soberly judge if this condition is verified in the concrete situation. aided by the judgment of the Church.
1 expect Mr. Knowles is familiar with the allocution. Cart he provide a le tter solution? We of the C.E.G. are continually meeting the question and would he very glad if your correspondent can help us in framing an answer in such a way that our irrevocable loyalty to Catholic principle will not be a stumbling block to intelligent inquirers. If that is not possible, then we must put up with the odium. For the Church does not claim the right to teach on any "liberal" principle but on a divine charter.
Ronald Flaxman Banstead, Surrey.
SIR,-Mr. Knowles seems surprised that Error has no rights, yet in secular matters this is in practice acknowledged. In vain would d clerk whose accounts were false, a seller of poisonous drugs (which he imagined to be wholesome), a musician who taught false notes, plead good faith, They would find their liberty considerably restricted, and normal people would not call this tyranny. Now the truths concerning the soul and its eternal destinies and the rights of God, arc of even greater importance. Their denial or distortion is by no means a mere amiable difference of opinion, as Liberals would have it, even when made bona fide. No wonder if Gregory XVII's repudiation of this was vigorous. St. Augustine's was no less so. "This heresy affirms that all heretics are on the right path and that all teach the truth. This is se monstrous an absurdity that it seems to me to he incredible " (De Haeresibus, No 72).
Mr. Knowles will find his questions answered in Leo
encyclicals on "The Christian Constitution of States" and "Human Liberty". "While not conceding any right to anything save what is true and honest", the Church "does not forbid public authority to tolerate what is at variance with truth or justice, for the sake of avoiding some greater evil, or of obtaining or preserving some greater good . . . But if, in such circumstances, for the sake Of the common good land this is the only legitimate reason), human law may or even should tolerate evil, it may not aid should not approve or desire evil for its own sake; for evil of itself, being a privation of gond, is opposed to the common welfare which every legislator is hound to desire and defend to the best of his ability . . . Wherefore if sues tolerance would he injurious to the public welfare, and entail greater evils on the State, it would not be lawful; for in such case the motive of good would he wanting". ("Human Liberty"). I have not space for more. For obvious reasons the powers of Antichrist seek to disrupt Spain and Portugal. It is amazing that they should find Catholic abettors who fail to grasp the rights of truth and especially those concerning the rights of God.
Rev. H. E. G. Rope Pallotti Hall, Macclesfield.
SIR,-This correspondence is
beginning to deal with the much larger question of the Catholic Church's attitude to freedom of conscience and religious toleration. Mr. Knowles risks giving scandal as unnecessary as it is grave through sheer lack of knowledge of his subject. It simply is not good enough to give R scrappy little quotation from "Mirari Vos" out of its context and without any regard for the historical circumstances in which it was written. I suggest that Mr. Knowles, and any of your readers whether Catholics or members of other Communions, who may have been distressed by his letter, should read "Conscience and its Right to Freedom" by Fr. Eric D'Arcy, and "Vraie et Fausse Tolerance" by Fr. Paul Hartman, Si. Both of these books carry the Imprimatur and lead to quite different conclusions from those of Mr. Knowles.
As for the situation in Spain, the civil authorities are right to slop public blasphemy and gross insults to the religious beliefs of the nation: the English police would do as much here. It is equally their duty to stop acts of hooliganism directed against the Protestant minority.
Irene T. Jordon
SIR,--As an Anglican of pretty Romanist views, I must say that I could find nothing offensive in the letter of your correspondent M. D. Browne, although some of your other correspondents seem to have accomplished the impossible. But by what divine authority does Fr Rope claim the right to assert, in effect, that every conversion from Catholicism is made in had faith? How on earth does he know?
In addition, has it not occurred
to him that belief might itself have evaporated: in which case, how can one be committting mortal sin by turning one's back on something which is no longer there'? Of course. Fr. Rope is begging the question when he speaks of "an instructed Catholic"; the point being that although the teaching Church may be infallible, the teachers themselves rarely are. It may be assumed that the problem of "lapsation", causing so much concern in England, is partly the result of inadequate instruction in the faith, and there is no reason why the situation in Spain should be any different as regards this aspect.
And instead of clamping down on Protestants because they are making converts, Catholics might ask themselves whether it is any lack of putting the faith into action On their part that is to blame.
Besides, Fr. Rope and his fellow correspondents are hardly fair to the Protestants if the latter are seeking converts. Any Protestant who thought his country was in the grip of a deadly heresy would surely do his best to rescue it, just as any Catholic would (1 hope).
With regard to Spain, one finds another popular fallacy current: that every Catholic is a good Catholic, especially if he is a political dictator. I am sure that General Franco and his regime is a bulwark against Communism and a thousand times preferable to a Communist regime; but that doesn't automatically turn General Franco into a paragon of every Christian virtue -or does it?
To sum up: it appears to roe that it is only one step from saying that a conversion to Protestantism must be made in bad faith to saying that to he a Protestant is equally to be in bad faith. Then we shall really he back in the 16th century.
C. Pittard Walsall, Staffs,
SIR'Recent letters in your columns have suggested that Catholic Doctrine must ultimately oppose (a) democracy, and lb) freedom of religious practice aiming non-Ca I holies. Although some correspondents seem politically naïve (one wonders, for instance, what kind of society Mr. Stoddart favours and how many of his fellow Catholics would be willing to suffer it, they claim that Church teaching supports them.
I am a non-Catholic married to a Catholic. I have attended many excellent day classes for nonCatholics in addition to receiving the usual instruction. From this instruction and from Catholic literature I concluded that the Church itt modern times accepted political and religious freedom within the limits generally tolerated in the established Democracies. More than one priest flatly denied that the Catholic Church was anti-democratic or out to suppress other religions.
1 would certainly like Catholics to speak with the "common honesty" to which Edward Knowles refers but hope that his view of what such honesty would reveal can be authoritatively denied.
C. A. Lane Epsom, Surrey.