Perplexing ays For
How Will The "Catholic" Party Survive?
National Bank Scandals
From Our Own Correspondent The Belgian Prime Minister's resignation has taken place exactly a year after the spectacular prevention of Degrelle's great Rexist meeting. Degrelle had denounced the politico-financial corruption of the regime.
M. Van Zeeland, alone of Catholic statesmen, enjoys a perfect press throughout the world. Why?
The question of the " Catholic " Party in Belgium will become more acute through the Prime Minister's resignation under such circumstances.
ANTWERP, October 25.
The Prime Minister of Belgium, M. Van Zeeland, resigned this afternoon. His Cabinet thereupon tendered their collective resignation to the King. It was accepted. For Belgian public opinion has undoubtedly been troubled by the regime of high finance in matters political.
1 have listened to the complaints of Catholic Belgians who have been hurt that these things should he done under a Prime Minister who bears the name of Catholic, even though M. Van Zeeland may be an innocent victim of a system.
Resignation was the only course open to M. Van Zeeland. Recent revelations in the Belgian Press—and not merely in the special " presse ii scandale," but in the Catholic press and particularly in the Libre Belgique—rendered resignation imperative.
A sequel to these revelations in the matter of the National Bank scandals is the action taken by the Public Prosecutor of Belgium in setting up a judicial investigation into the National Bank procedure and practice in which M. Van Zeeland is personally concerned.
It was not fitting that a Prime Minister be subjected to an investigation by the Public Prosecutor. Hence the Prime Minister's resignation became essential.
Many recall that it was on October 25, 1936, exactly a year ago, that Van Zeeland manned the streets of Brussels with troops and armoured cars to prevent the meeting of Leon Degrelle and his Rexists.
Leon Degrelle's real crime, in Government eyes, was that he soundly denounced the corrupt politico-financial regime of Belgium.
It is curious that Van Zeeland, a Catholic, should enjoy an almost unblemished reputation in the foreign liberal and even socialist press, and thus be an almost solitary exception to the present revilement of Catholics in the Left press of the world. There appears to be an international " mot' cl'ordre " to favour Van Zeeland. Why?
Catholics and " Catholic " Party
The Prime Minister's resignation, under the present circumstances, must necessarily re-awaken the crisis in the " Catholic " Party.
That party is not what it used to be before the war, when the Schools question in particular caused all Catholics to rally round a party, Catholic. in essence as well as in name.
The present state of Belgian politics, with the Schools and other specifically religious and moral questions reasonably settled, does not admit of a clear cut division between Catholics and others. Hence the gradual reduction of the " Catholic " party to a mere political party, tending to compromise the name " Catholic " at home and abroad.
While it is true that the Hierarchy still supports the party and tends to condemn Flemish Nationalism and Rexism, the simple fact is (and it is useless to hide it) that hundreds of thousands of Catholics, whether rightly or wrongly, are not convinced by the Hierarchy's arguments, Sympathy with Hierarchy No good Catholic will fail to sympathise with and support the Hierarchy's desire to see Catholic religious. moral and social interests defended by the united action (political when necessary) of all Catholics; the present trouble of many, however, is that they cannot see how the " Catholic Party," as it exists at present, can perform.
this function. It is a difference, not of principle, but of application of principle.
The resignation of the Catholic Prime Minister, under such circumstances, cannot but increase the perplexity.