MORE than 25 years ago, Charles Diamond's CATHOLIC HERALD was taken over by a group of Catholics who felt that there was room in this country for a popular Catholic weekly that concerned itself more directly than was then customary with all aspects of international as well as national news and views. It was also felt that if Catholics in this country were to become more alive to Christian issues at home and abroad a greater degree of free discussion was desirable in the Catholic Press.
Those were the pre-war days when great issues of vital importance, not least from the Christian spiritual and moral angle, were the subject of universal concern and debate. Mussolini's Abyssinian war; Hitler's bellicose ambitions; Communism and the Popular Front; the burning debate over Franco and the Spanish Revolution: the abdication of Edward VIII; the great encyclicals of Pius XI against Com munism and Nazism, the latter unpublishable in the ordinary way and having to be secretly distributed in Nazi Germany. If ever there was a challenge to Christianity, understood not only in the more narrowly religious sense, but in its widest ideological sense, it was then. Hence the feeling that a Catholic paper should be vitally concerned, not only in terms of giving world news. but through every facet of its work : reader's letters, articles. reviews of books, of radio and indeed of all values at home and abroad.
HOW far this paper was successful in the task it sought to undertake is not for us to say; but it may be of interest especially to younger readers today to be reminded of the quality and number of contributors who found in this paper the chance of expressing their views and their concern. These included G. K. Chesterton, W. R. Thompson. F.R.S., Archbishop Mathew and Fr. Gervase Mathew, Eric Gill, Alban Evans (now Fr. Illtyd Evans), Alfred Noyes. Douglas Jerrold, Fr. Martindale, Christopher Dawson, Dorn Bernard McElligott, Aodh de Blacam, Fr. Francis Burdett, Donald Attwater, David Jones, Peter Anson, Joan Morris, .1. L. Benvenisti, Robert Sencourt, Bernard Wall. Frank and Maisie Sheed, Fr. Thomas Gilby, 0.P., Fr. Brodrick, Fr. Humphrey Johnson, Algar Thorold, R. R. Stokes, M.P., Fr. Martin D'Arcy, Stanley B James, Godfrey Anstruther, C. G. Mortimer, Fr. Vincent Rochford, Fr. Corbishley, S.J., E. I. Watkin, Archbishop Goodier, and many others. It is perhaps of particular interest today that some 25 years ago, contributors to the paper, such as Fr. Martindale and Fr. Rochford, were anticipating in detail most of what has since become so familiar to us in liturgical changes. Then came the war with all its special difficulties and problems, and here again it is interesting to note that the approach of war brought a letter from Donald Attwater in which he wrote : " It is a matter of individual conscience whether one can join in a war carried on by indiscriminate bombing which we all agree will be the main feature of the next international outbreak." With this, in another context, we might couple Fr. Rochford's words : " We ask the older generation, so often mentally ossified, to stand back and not to damp the generous heart of Catholic youth and to be tolerant of a little recklessness if only the work is done."
THE younger generation of those days has. alas, become the older generation of today. The scene has changed. While the Catholic Press in general in this country has greatly widened its scope and range, responding in this matter to the lead given by Pope Pius XII and our present Supreme Pontiff—yet rather more cautiously than today is common on the Continent—one asks oneself whether our younger Catholic generation shares the enthusiasm and excitement of the late thirties ?
"FP it does not. there are many reasons for the fact. One reason .1is that since the war the Catholic outlook is a good deal closer than it used to be to the general outlook of the West. The free world has today only one ideological enemy : Cornmunism. Yet it was Bruce Marshall who said that the Church is never in greater danger than when it finds itself allied with the world. If so, it is a danger not easily defined, but one which nevertheless may obscure the many issues where the Church is not and cannot be allied with a world whose spiritual values are so different from ours.
Another reason is that in an era of prosperity and full employment. with cheap recreation and distraction in abundance, a sense of personal concern with the great problems of religion and life may be weaker.
Yet today, despite appearances, we may be more ready than In the thirties to compromise with a triumphant materialism the sins of which do not always lend themselves to the classifications of the commandments, though they hardly square with the great values of the Gospels.
An announcement elsewhere in this issue will explain the reason for these valedictory lines in an article that has always been anonymous. The future will bring many problems with which this paper is sure to concern itself. May it continue to do so with something of the enthusiasm and excitement of the days that are gone.
The problems and tensions of today, though far less easy to see in perspective, are, of course, far greater. The scale of the great world issues has vastly increased; but man has not grown wiser. Rivalries and hatreds grow. Utter disaster remains possible. Only the Gifts of the Holy Spirit can truly help us: wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, fortitude, piety and the fear of the Lord.