AN EXPERT ANALYSES THE TERM "POISON GAS"—AN ITALIAN ASKS WHETHER HIS COUNTRY CAN BE CALLED CATHOLIC
FR. MARTINDALE ON HIS ARTICLES
PAT MR. BEVERLEY NICHOLS
The Catholic Herald has always been glad to offer a large portion of its space to its readers so that all the important questions of the day should be freely discussed among ourselves. In view of the very large number of letters received and in order to maintain the great value of this weekly OPEN FORUM—the only one of its size and type in Catholic Journalism—we would once again urge our correspondents to express their views in short, pithy letters of between 50 and 200 words. Letters must bear a name and address (not necessarily for publication) or they will be Ignored.—Editor.
A Chemical Expert's Analysis.
Snt,—The difficulty in answering the question of your correspondent: "Can it be possible that such use of poison-gas is within the limits which the Pope once stated that legitimate defence must not overstep ? is the confusion which exists in most people's minds about "poisongas."
This is due partly to unwise and quite inaccurate propaganda of the past and to the regrettable failure of those responsible for framing the Geneva Gas Protocol of 1925 to define their exact purpose and to state the case for that purpose in unmistakable terms. But I will try to make the matter clear.
"Poison-gas" may refer—and does in fact in the Protocol—to many different kinds of gas. Roughly, these may be grouped as follows: (1) Lachrymatory and knock-out arsenical gases.
To call these especially inhumane is nonsense. They are used in many countries, including the U.S.A., to control civil riots and disorders. They have little or no military value.
(2) "Mustard-gas" type.
"Mustard-gas" is a liquid but is highly poisonous in both liquid and gaseous states. Its main action in war is to cause a high number of minor casualties. But it must not be assumed for a moment that that fact acquits its use of especial inhumanity. Both the liquid and the gas in high concentration can kill and in killing cause great suffering; they can also blind both temporarily and permanently. Unfortunately it has very high military value.
(3) True poison-gases (such as chlorine and phosgene which were used freely in the Great War).
These—in sufficiently high concentrations—kill. They do not kill quickly but fairly slowly and the sufferers from poisoning by them suffer the most extreme agony. Against people equipped with modern respirators their military value is not high; against those not so equipped high concentrations will cause large numbers of deaths and severe casualties. But it is not easy to get these high concentrations unless the terrain and weather conditions are favourable to their employment.
I think it would be fair therefore to assess their military value as of a medium or low order depending on the state of defence of those attacked.
Clearly there is no case against (1), an overwhelming case against (3), and a strong case against (2). These are very crude generalisations.
Your correspondent will I think realise that to make out a strong case against "poison-gas" is less easy than is generally assumed, and that an early revision of the Geneva Gas Protocol with a view to making it more effective is highly desirable.
P.S.—May I, as a non-Catholic, say that in reading the Pope's statement it never occurred to me for a moment that he meant more than joy at the coming of peace and relief at Italy's emergence from grave peril.
56, Lissenden Mansions, London, N.W.5.
" THE ABYSSINIAN MENACE" Sift,—Mr. E. Boulton asks your readers to regard the Abyssinians as a " nation who wish to live in peace in their own way."
May I be allowed to quote from the Annual Report on Native Affairs, 1934," published by the Kenya government las' February, , and obtainable from H.M. Stationery Office, price 3s. The report says:— " Living in close proximity to Abyssinia, and continually confronted by an almost entire lack of willing co-operation in even the smallest of matters affecting both frontier administrations, it is difficult to adopt an impartial attitude, or to attempt to visualise with fairness just what progress the Ethiopians have made during 1934.
" As is usual in every year up here. there have been stock thefts, bickering over the free use of the frontier wells and grazing, and incursions by Abyssinian soldiery into areas which have
been recognised for years as British territory.
" During March over seventy camels and numbers of sheep and goats were stolen from unarmed British subjects by armed raiders from Oddo. Nothing was ,done by the Abyssinian authorities, in spite of repeated requests, until nearly eight months afterwards, when twentynine camels were taken by force from the Kudagen Degodia and handed over to us.
" The officer in charge and the district commissioner went to Mega to confer with the Ras for three days over out standing frontier incidents. Promises were given that investigations would be made into several of the matters discussed, but in actual fact nothing was done. Ras Desta promoted some of the officials who have been causing this Administration most trouble on the boundary."
Sir Edward Grigg, M.P., late Governor of Kenya, in a letter to The Times points out that the Abyssinians have raided Kenya regularly for years, and when the opportunity occurred have taken men, women, and children back to be slaves. Between 1923 and 1935 the Abyssinians made fifty-one raids and attacks on Italian territory.
The report also says that the year 1934 " was remarkably free from bloodshed." Writing as an old Kenya resident, I can assure Mr. Boulton that both whites and blacks in the Colony and Protectorate are relieved that the Abyssinian menace has been ended.
F. W. G. CLINTON. Coast Hill Cottage,
IS ITALY A CATHOLIC NATION? From Professor Crespi
SIR,—More than once I have seen Italy mentioned in the Catholic Herald as a Catholic nation. May I, as of Italian origin and having been in touch with the best and the worst aspects of Italian religious life, raise the question whether such a statement is correct.
First of all, I demur to any state or nation being legitimately called Catholic, for the same reason that I would make against any state, nation or society as such being called artistic or philosophical. Even Athens and Florence had their barbarians and I hesitate to say that any modern nation is to-day in its average standard of life Catholic or Christian; most surely not contemporary Italy.
During the whole nineteenth century the best Italian poetry has been decidedly pagan. Catholic poets such as Manzoni, Pellico, Tomasseo, Guisti, Pozzone, Fogazzaro are quite obscured by the eminence of such pagan poets as Foscolo, Leopardi, Carducci, D'Annunzio. Even Pascoli was only a sympathiser with the religious standpoint. The only really great Catholic contributors to modern Italian literature have been Manzoni and Fogazzaro with their novels.
There is nothing in Italian literature of the last hundred years worth comparing, in bulk as well as quality, with the best religiously inspired poetry of Coleridge, Tennyson, Cristina Rossetti, Masefield, Robert Browning, Coventry Patmore, Francis Thompson. Manzoni's Pentecoste, in my view, decidedly remains far behind, in mystical elan, to the Hound of Heaven.
You certainly could not make an Oxford Book of Italian Mystical Verse as interesting and of such high quality as the Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse.
Moreover, it is not by chance that it is in Italy that we have had lately, from Croce and Gentile, the most anti-religious, purely immanental humanistic well thought out philosophy, rooted in the pagan, naturalistic strain of the Renaissance. Even in the case of positivism, it is not in France—in Comte, Littre and Taine—nor in England—in Mill, Spencer, Alexander—but in Italy, with Roberto Ardigo, that we have it purged of any admission of any Unknowable.
Finally, a nation that has acquiesced in fascisni, as it has been defined by the Duce in his own contribution to the Enciclopedia Italiana (explicitly professing state supremacy even in spiritual and cultural matters, denying natural individual rights, denying that the state and society exists for the individual and not vice versa) and that acquiesces in fascism as it expresses itself in unashamed defiance of signed agreements and in triumphant happiness in aggressive war, has simply ceased to know what Christianity means and to be religious, even according to the best pagan Roman practice; whatever its outward doings and its clergy may say.
They have no king but Caesar. It was from people deeming themselves good Italian Catholics that already last August I heard that Italy, in order to settle peasants in Abyssinia, shouldn't hesitate, if necessary, to shoot all Abyssinians. Yes, sir, there are even now, in Italy, scattered here and there, as a faithful remnant, good Catholics; but Catholic Italy is a sheer myth.
Woodend, , Abbots Langley (Herts.).
[Our readers may he interested to compare Professor Crespi's analysis with the impressions of a convert recently returned from Italy on another pare.--,EDLTOR.1
SIR,—The sentences you quote in your note below my letter depend for their meaning on what went immediately before in the gospel, and therefore cannot be considered by themselves. St. Peter attacked the servant and our Lord promptly told him to stop, explaining that the use of physical force against others is futile, because the one who uses it perishes (not in body, in soul). But granted that St. Peter did not know that truth, there were yet two reasons why he should have known better Clan to resort to violence, and these Christ expressed in the sentences you quote. First, if physical force against others were any good and not futile, did St. Peter think that Christ could not get all the force he wanted from his Father? Then again, St. Peter knew and believed the prophecies about Christ, and therefore that the work of Christ was to be accomplished without . force or violence. How then did he suppose those prophecies were to be fulfilled if force and violence were used?
Our Lord did not say, nor did he even imply, " that his Father would send him twelve legions of angels . . . but for the necessity of the prophecies being fulfilled. . . ." That interpretation not only ignores but makes nonsense of the pronouncement about those that take up the sword, and also suggests that God was anxious to conform to the prophecies, instead of the prophecies conforming to God and being of worth only in so far as they did so.
SIR,—"Vermiculus" and those like him ignore the very obvious fact that our Lord's words about "They that take the sword" cannot possibly be taken literally, because they are manifestly untrue in their
literal sense. Thousands of people that have taken the sword have died perfectly natural deaths. Our Lord's real meaning was that they will perish by the sword who put their whole trust in material force, and forget that their strongest (but by no means their only) weapon is the grace of God . . .
This is the interpretation of a learned and saintly priest, whom I have consulted on this matter and who entirely supports me . . . .
SIR,—I cannot agree with the sentiments expressed by many of your correspondents advocating pacifism.
Firstly, I would point out that our Lord himself had nothing to say against soldiers. St. John said to them that they should do violence to no man. In the course of their duty in war time, soldiers naturally do violence, and St. John was evidently not referring to that. He referred to violence outside the commands they received, violence used outside of actual fighting. The centurion again was one of the few on whom our Lord bestowed special praise . . .
It is the duty of the State to defend its citizens and as long as it is not clear that the state intends aggressive action, it is the duty of citizens to support her. That does not mean that in a democratic country they do not have a duty of watching state policy.
The idea of holding meetings to get citizens to pledge themselves to refuse loyalty to the state is an action that seems wholly subversive of discipline and order. We have to render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's. That is obedience to all laws that are not obviously and scandalously against religion .
The energy that is wasted in fighting for peace would be much better used in fighting against injustice. In the years since the war there have been crying in*stances of persecution all over the world. Our daily press in a few instances has taken notice when the people oppressed were in public favour. Other instances, especially when foreigners were the sufferers, have been condoned by silence. Party spirit is supreme. Socialist papers will condone acts of oppression by communists.
Narrow nationalism is a powerful cause of war and this spirit has obtained even greater power since the war. This spirit has still far too much power in our own country. We remain indifferent to what happens to foreign people.
Again at the present time no action would make more for peace on the Continent than our country having suitable military forces. The fact that we are entirely against aggressive action would then have some influence for peace.
Striving for peace at any price is a most dangerous phantom and will only end in permitting worse evils to come about than those we wish to avoid.
[The Subject Matter of the above three letters is referred to in Notes and Comments on page six.—Evirr0R1
" THE FOOL HATH SAID" From Father Martindale
SIR,—Thanking you for printing the articles on The Fool Hath Said, and regretting their inadequacy, may I agree with you that something of the sort was " in place." Criticisms were to the effect that Mr. Nichols's book was unsubstantial because " emotional " and expressed the sentiments of young men and women who were themselves emotional, and so not worth bothering about. Shocking deduction!
What of it if they are characteristic of our period?
(i) They exist, and we have our duty towards them, as to God's creatures.
(ii) They are very numerous, and what they feel, think and do matters within our country and the world.
(iii) They are sincere, arid so deserve our respect.
(iv) They are both exasperating and lovable, and we ought to concentrate on the lovableness, and not fractiously give in to moments of annoyance.
(v) They are—as their recent predecessors were not—almost passionately anxious (when they take stock of themselves and their future) to find out why and•how they can believe in life, God, Christ, and morality.
Are we speaking to them? I know of no Catholic book that does so. Mr Arnold Lunn speaks, just as he should, to a slightly older generation. Mr. R. A. Edwards in his Jack, Jill, and God speaks to these younger men and women, and they will certainly listen, tentative though be his apologia. Mr. J. B. Morton again speaks to rather older people; but Mr. E. Waugh, in his way, not to mention Mr. A. Huxley, have spoken so fiercely to a still more sophisticated audience than Mr. Nichols chooses that they have almost terrified them, though I can answer for the constructive effect of Mr. Waugh's books—even the earlier, somewhat smugly criticised ones.
Mr. Nichols's book has sold in very great numbers. He is, for thousands, a " leader." We hold that he does not reach the goal. But he takes those thousands in the right direction. At a given point, we feel, he sits down and gesticulates, but does not walk. Are we such curmudgeons as to say forthwith: " That settles him! The emotionalist! The individualist impressionist! ?" I sincerely hope not.
The articles in the Catholic Herald may here and there have hurt him. I am sorry for that. They were not meant to. They were sincere; but as St. Francis of Sales said: " A truth that is no charity is no true charity." May it be realised by your readers that we Catholics are speaking to but very few inhabitants of this island. We talk, God knows, volubly enough to one another, but not to " tits rest." Hence, apart from our lack ot sanctity, our failure. He talks to those others. May we become able to talk with him.
C. C. MARTINDALE.
114, Mount Street,
Grosvenor Square, London, W.
SIR,—In the Catholic Herald of May 22 Father Martindale says: " I agree thoroughly with Mr. Nichols when he says it is . . . idle to spend time discussing capitalism and communism. Both systems can be applied by bad men, and then both will work out badly. If they were applied by thoroughly good men, it would make no odds which system was in vogue."
Surely the point about all this is that, given a certain amount of intellectual perception, neither of the systems mentioned would be applied by good men. What few people seem to realise is that the external shape of any social body is determined almost solely by the nature of the principle on which it potentially justifies itself. It should suffice to say that the inward will of both Capitalism and communism (and for that matter nearly all existing social orders) is not Clvistian, and that therefore it is not to be expected that their practical expression should result in a Christian order.
As Father Martindale says, a change of heart is more vital than a change of the economic system, but a change of heart would presumably bring with it a manife:.tation of that charge, and not a mere attempt at the exorcism of immorality.
M. W. RICHEY.
68, Cadogan Square, S.W.1.
SIR,—The comments on behalf of the C.E.G. by Archbishop Hinsley, and the encouraging reference in a pastoral by Archbishop Williams, should normally have been of great benefit to the C.E.G. And all Catholics who heed the Holy Father's words that the layman is to be a vital force in Catholic Action should endeavour to acquaint themselves with the work of the C.E.G. There would not then arise the statement that the C.E.G. is at a standstill. The true reason is that the C.E.G. is not getting sufficient support from the laity.
Further, the present members are working to the fullest, on the platform, in the parishes holding classes and in catechising. Now all, we know, cannot become platform speakers; nevertheless many could assist in answering the repeated call to us from priests to help in instructing converts. Apart from these activities there could be improved the social side, which would bring greater support to the guild and thus help the speakers to carry on with the more important work on the platform.
H. C. CURLEY,
Hon. Secretary, Birmingham Diocesan Catholic Evidence Guild.
26, Bristol Road, Birmingham.
"THE SYLLABUS AND PEACE" SIR,—"Agricola" with a little effort on his part can get a translation of the syllabus not only in English, but in all European languages and a few more besides. It was promulgated with the definite intention that Catholics, all over the world, could know to what they are committed.
The syllabus is not a declaration of articles of faith. It is a collection of 80 condemned errors or propositions divided into 10 sections. Propositions 24 and 25 have no relation to peace and war, and are meaningless if read apart from the other condemned propositions under section 5. This section deals with the rights of the Church as a perfect and independent society. Can "Agricola" point out a single society which does not use some sort of coercive measures?
Propositions 77, 78, and 79 refer to liberalism in religion which the Church has always deplored and condemned. By implication in these three propositions the Church condemns the public practice of all other religions in Catholic countries because such so-called liberty is bound to lead in the end to corruption of morals and religious indifference.
Surely "Agricola" must know that the Soviets have done much more than condemn religious freedom?
HENRY RUGEJA, O.P. St. Sebastian's Priory,
THE BISHOPS AND THE REFORMATION
SIR,—I am much obliged for your reviewer's point that Paul IV condemns by implication rather than by name the new Ordinal of Cranmer. My point was that the implication was so strong and so direct that it was tantamount to naming it. There was a choice between two things only in the year 1555; the old and accustomed Rite of the Church and the new Rite, which was actually submitted to the Pope for his judgment. What the Pope condemned as invalid can only refer then to a single compilation—the Edwardine Ordinal. Of course, we have tried to give detailed evidence for this in our book on the English Bishops, page 38 foll. This evidence is, we believe, conclusive.
C. G. MORTIMER.
Blackmore Farm, Kidmore End, Oxon.
COMMERCIAL TRAVELLERS AND HAWKERS
• SIR,—I must protest against the indiscriminate use of the appellation "commercial traveller," not only in your paper, but also in others. The term is so loosely applied as to tend to bring into disrepute this honourable profession. • The definition of a commercial traveller is "a person who transacts business as the accredited travelling representative of a trading-house to other tradinghouses" (including, of course, retail pre
mises). Therefore, I maintain that the person selling tea in the case referred to is merely a hawker, and I understand that such a person selling goods from door to door on a cash basis requires a hawker's licence.
CHRISTOPHER J. PRESCOTT. 8, Avenue Road, Norwich, Norfolk.
CATHOLIC TEACHING AND USURY
SIR,—In your last issue " Michael" wrote as follows: " About a hundred years ago certain famous decisions of the Holy Office, applying particularly to usury but also to unnatural gain of all kinds, said that the consciences of Catholics who, pending a further pronouncement by the Holy See, practised in good faith what the law of the land permitted were not to be disturbed. The further pronouncement has not yet come."
Surely this is not quite accurate. Since the replies to the queries of the Bishop of Rhedan to which " Michael " is presumably referring, and which are, unless I am mistaken, considerably less wide than his paraphrase suggests, the Church has formulated Canon 1545 which permits the taking of moderate legal interest even in the absence of an extrinsic title.
How far this covers present-day financial and banking practice depends on the interpretation of the word " moderate." A rate of interest that is moderate on a
loan between individuals, where the loan is meant to be repaid and so to disappear, is not necessarily moderate if charged on a sum of money out at perpetual interest. Moreove,r, in order to be "moderate" the rate must have some relation to the service rendered and to the conditions under which the loan is made. If it is covered several times over by security which can immediately be liquefied, and if, as in the case of most bank advances, it is recallable at will by the lender, it is to my mind highly debatable whether the customary five per cent. is not grossly exorbitant.
Finally, the wording of the Canon is purely permissive, and states that " in lending a fungible thing it is not illicit" to contract for the payment of moderate legal interest. It does not say that opportunities for such profitable lending may be freely sought, or that it may deliberately be entered into professionally for purposes of gain, and one is, I think, entitled to hold that the tradition of the Catholic Faith which forbids professional gainful money-lending has never been repudiated by the Church.
J. L. BENVENISM
THE LEGION OF MARY SIR,—The Legion of Mary is most anxious that every parish priest should establish a branch in his parish. May I suggest reasons why many priests are unwilling to do so. Legionaries at work in this country deserve the highest praise. The idea is inspiring, but in practice the Legion suffers from defects which, if not corrected, will inevitably lead to trouble.
(1) According to the Legion Handbook there must be "complete co-operation with the priest." This is obvious. The Catholic Church is built up in and by the parish. The parish priest, who is responsible to the bishop, must control all parochial organisation. But there is, and will be unless checked, a tendency for Legionary authorities to dictate to branch members what they are or are not to do irrespective of the desires of the priest. This is contrary to Legion constitutions and of course would not commend itself to a parish priest.
(2) Legionaries as legionaries may not raise money for their own parish, however poor, nor may they assist any destitute people they visit. Yet they are constantly urged to raise money in their own parishes, by various schemes such as whist-drives, collections, raffles, etc., to supply Legion headquarters with funds.
(3) Legion headquarters claim that Our Lady is guiding and protecting the Legion! Is this not an astounding claim? Former Legion policy was humility. Our Lady would make the work known, if and when she desired, but there was to be no self-advertisement.
(4) The Legion asks for men. The obvious organisation for men most valuable and most tried is the S.V.P.
The Legion is an entirely new movement, and will have to suffer many years of growing-pains before it proves itself. We sincerely hope it will.