Communists' new move THE Communist weekly
review Comment has launched an attack on Archbishop Heenan of Liverpool. The attack takes the form of an article by Leo McGree on " Unity regardless of creed or colour ".
It numbers the. Archbishop among the "many forces at work today, who, by their sectarian propaganda, consciously or unconsciously are used by the press lords of this country to divide the ranks of the organised workers, and strengthen nonunionism".
The article rebukes the Archbishop for "an unwarranted attack" on Communist shop stewards, for condemning unofficial strikes, and for praising "two national trade union officials who arc Roman Catholics".
It goes on to ask: "Why does Dr. Heenan so eagerly join the Moral Rearmament 'Saints' to condemn the Commenist shop stewards? And why does he uphold the most reactionary trade union leaders because they arc Roman Catholics'?"
Mr. McGree traces. the history of Catholic and Protestant antagonisms over the years in cities like Liverpool, Belfast, Glasgow and Cardiff, and supports fair play for both sides. He concludes: "I am sure that Dr. Heenan will agree with me that anti-Semitism, colour prejudice and religious bigotry are the symptoms of a sick mind. May I suggest that antiCommunism is likewise not an indication of a healthy mind?
"Workers of all political Views, of all religious beliefs (and those without any beliefs) must be united to defend the working class, work for peace and Socialism and freedom for all, irrespective of colour or creed."
Hugh Kay writes: Mr. McGrec's article, while apparently a plea for the Communists. will serve in effect to fan the suspicion that Catholics want to "take over" the trade union movement. This in turn will help to split the anti-Communist vote. Nothing could suit the Communists better.
Archbishop Heenan's personal record makes nonsense of any suggestion that he supports Catholic trade union leaders simply because they are Catholics. Nothing could be more out of character in one who has helped to pioneer the ecumenical movement here.
It is essential for Catholics in the unions to make their position absolutely clear. If they have the mind of the Church it will he as follows: Reds attack
good in partnership with rightminded men of all creeds and none; that is to say, with all men whose approaches are consistent, even if not wholly identical, with the Christian understanding of human dignity.
2. We are never to support a Catholic just because he is one. We may sometimes have to back a non-Catholic ligai nst a Catholic candidate. In dealing with rightminded candidates, the only -test z. who wilt do the job best from the point of view of the common good?
3. We cannot support those whose avowed intention is to use industrial action as a means to political ends. On the other hand, mere anti-Communism can contain sins of omission. We have, first, to offer a policy for reforming social conditions in the right way (e.g. the co-operative as opposed to the collective economy). and nothing could be of more current urgency in the bankrupt state of all the political parties,
Secondly. partly because they are simply men. and partly because they have to be offered a new vision, we should all be trying to get to know Communists on a man-to-man basis, quite informally. They don't wear horns or tails, and it is a poor commentary on the Catholic community that so few of us have ever really talked to a Communist. Over a generation, these contacts might make a dent. even in the absence of organised dialogue.
Finally. the reason why, in spite of underlying currents. many Catholics hold high posts of responsibility in the unions is simply that each of them has won the confidence of his non-Catholic colleagues by sheer integrity and ability; in other words. simply by being a good trade unionist.
If a Catholic formation helps to
this end, everyone ought to he pleased. There is no reason why, the moment a Catholic becomes a eeneraT secretary, his name should he dirt on his own bishops' lips, as Mr. McGree seems to expect.
A Catholic's duty in the Unions is to work for the common