Page 2, 2nd May 1941

2nd May 1941
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Page 2, 2nd May 1941 — WAR AND PEACE Letters On The Situation
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WAR AND PEACE Letters On The Situation

SIR,—The Christian attitude to war has been frequently discussed and theologians have detailed the principles by which an individual may decide the justice of his country's cause. No more need be said about that. But what about Peace — what is the Christian attitude towards the idea of Peace? It seems to me that this most important matter has been almost completely overlooked.

Both those who feel bound by conscience to take part in this war and those whom conscience directs otherwise: both alike seem to apect this war to end eventually in peace. Peace resulting front the material exhaustion ..or eliminatiOn of one or the other of the combatants. And while war is regarded even by those who engage in it as something evil, min if a lesser evil, peace is looked forward to as something necessarily good. No one seems to stop to consider or doubt for one moment that peace will come and will he a good thing. I am trying to write from a Christian viewpoint I see this war as a materialised expression of wickedness of the world. It is the spiritual wickedness that primarily interests the Christian, And when this material manifestation we call war has ceased what are the chances of the cessa

tion of spiritual wickedness? No better, surely.

What distresses me is the apparently almosi complete preoccupation of the Christian, Catholic as well as Protestant, with material issues. We admit theoretically the primacy of the spirit : in practice we deny it. Christ says, " My Kingdom is not of this world ": " Fear not him that bath power to kill the body and after that hath no more that he can do ": " I came not to bring peace. ." " My peace l give, not as the world giveth " Christian teaching everywhere and at all times directs us neither to demand nor to expect in this world. Nevertheless in glaring contradiction of this doctrine we find a persistent expectation and complacent assurance of " peace around the corner."

Will it be peace when this material warfare is ended and we can relapse either into indolent self-indulgence or energetic selfaggrandisement? As we have no right criterion of peace so we cannot appraise the position of war in world affairs. We look on war as a calamity, something &wending upon us from without, something foreign to our usual way of life. Why?-1./hy, indeed, but because we obstinately persist in judging by materialist standards. 1 contend that, for the Christian, this war should have no more interest, except for its magnitude and its widespread contingencies, no more intrinsic interest than a street brawl. Both are examples of the materialisation of spiritual wickedness, the one in " hielt places," the other in low. He must bear it with what equanimity he can while it lasts: for material warfare is not really his chief business he being primarily a spiritual being. And however it goes with the world at war or at peace the Christianwarfare must go on : the peace of this world is not for its : we would be fools and blind to expect it.

CECIL GILL.

115, Corporation Road, Cardiff.

Moral Theologians

en, SUN; I am not the only one of your readers who would like enlightenment on your statement that '' there would appear to be general agreement among moral theologians that in a just war all bonforne whose aim is the weakening of the enemy war-effort is licit," Surely you must oc mistaken? For this gives free rein to deliberate attacks, not only on residential districts, but also on hospitals, churches (where people go to seek spiritual strength for their war-effort), Red Cross trains, and so forth. Is this in accord with the spirit of Christ? Is this a deterrent to " the dangers of a return to barbarism "? Is our righteous indignation at Nazi deeds under this head mistaken?—an ebullition of sentimentality or of self-righteousness, a muddle-headed failure to argue logically?

The " ordinary conscience " (has a moral theologian then got an " extraordinary conscience "?) does not find such conclusions merely " horrible " (which may be a wholly emotional reaction): it can, starting from the same principles as the moral theologian, give reasoned grounds for their being wicked, sinful.

The Archbishop of Birmingham either disregards the "genera! agreement" of moral theologians or understands them differently: for your front page quotes his words in which he calls such activities by the plain word " murder." But assuming you interpret the majority of professional moral theologians (certainly not all of them) correctly, we may well remember that they do not have the last word : not only is there the conscience of ordinary Christian people, but I ant reminded of the observation of Archbishop Ullathorne tot was it his editor, Abbot Butler?) on the Vatican Council, that the closely argued views of theological experts were often rejected with considerable brusqueness by the assembled bishops.

DONALD ATTWATER.

[The leader in question was written under the influence of two recent articles on the subject In the "Clergy Review." No more than our correspondent do we like the conelusions but we thought It right to set out, as fairly as we could, what seemed an authoritative opinion. Space did not allow us to make the point that positive conventions between the belligerents. such as those covering the work of the Red Cross, prohibit the bornbin of certain objectives— and this answers one part of our correspon dent's objections But we would welcome any refutation or qualification from an expert moral theologian Let us also remember that a condemnation of night bombing, as at present practised. would surely place Catholics in a grave 'norml position in regard to the war.—Eorroe. CIL) Stalin Avoids " An inconceivable Mirror" SIR,—Anatole Baikaloff would find it very difficult to approve of any action on the part of Stalin. Over a quarter of a century personal experience has taught me that such is the normal attitude towards each other of the several schools of revolutionaries who have come out of Russia. But, that characteristic trait notwithstanding, it is surely running prejudice to the point of phantasy so to complain because Stalin has given formal recognition of the situation as it exists in the outlying provinces of what was once the essentially acquisitive Empire of China.

Anatole Baikaloff is opposed to Stalin in religion and in politics. but that does not in itself justify him in charging the latter with " double-dyed treachery " because he has closed the account of the past with Japan. It is a bold bid for peace, not, it is true, for the custodians of cut-throat finance capitalism, but for the millions of workers and peasants otherwise liable to be called up to fight and die in quarrels not their own in the Red Army.

Stalin is not to be blamed because, relieved of the terror of Communism, such is the corruption and chaos within capitalism, that every other Government must

forthwith fling its workers and peasants at each other's throats in what the Holy Father called on that same Easter Day, " an atrocious war that threatens to become an inconceivable horror."

Stalin is not to blame for the irreconcilable antagonisms of Britain and .Germany, of the United States and Japan. Those arise out of the miserable incompleteness of their Conservative, Liberal and National Socialist rulers to find any es-it from the economic and moral impasse other than production for destruction and death For my part, I hail the Soviet Union for standing aloof from the universal bloodbath, and so to become the hope of the common' people of all countries deceived, invaded, abandoned, devastated by those who light anywhere but on their own property this second imperialist war for the redivision of the world.

WALTON NEVVROLD.

University Union, Manchester.

[For our readers' information we recall that Walton Newbold was a Communist M.P. in 1922-23, but resigned successively from the Communist Party and the Labour Party in 1924 and 1931. We understand that in recent years Mr. Newbold has been in very close touch with Catholics.—EDTTOR, C.11.1

Support for Stokes

Sie,—I feel great indignation over the reception given to Richard Stokes, M.P., whose admirable truth and words in the " House " should not be so ignored. If they are going to continue to be so, then the ideals for which we're fighting may as well be given up. Why has no comment upon the Pope's Peace Points been given, and why can we not demand it? Ask those who are continually suffering from air raids and bombardment. We have put up with a very great deal for the " Ideals " we are fighting for, and still willing to continue for a Just Peace. What use is all this wanton destruction on both sides? (I have an evacuee, whose " night nerves " are pitiful through all this wickedness.) I am myself from the bombed areas, and have experienced this wicked bombing. What good is it going to do? Only fill the lunatic asylums after the war, on all sides. If we are fighting, as we understand, for justice, then let us have it in Parliament first, and let all Catholics rally round and back up Richard Stokes, and let him know his admirers are many (even if' we cannot clap him in person).

Speak up, Mr. Stokes. Carry on the good work, and all others like you. God give you courage and strength to keep speaking up, and shame the ones who try to silence you, and let us have some satisfaction in knowing what we're up to, and if we are fighting for justice and freedom.

A BRITISH CATHOLIC.

The Papal Lead

Sig.—The utter detestation of this war which the Pope has expressed should make us thoughtful.

We have loudly proclaimed the justice of our war-cause. Ought we not now to say with equal emphasis what are the ffinits which Catholic doctrine imposes on our war methods? From our present attitude non-Catholics do etre I am sure, realise that there are any limits to what we consider permissible.

Bombing railway lines running through wstricts closely packed with " unarmed women and children. the sick and aged "— whether in Bristol or Rotterdam—looks very like the kind of infringement the Pope has referred to.

From the Holy Father's various pronouncements regarding the present war I am convinced that, if we wish to please him, there is a minimum course we should take —" Pray for an armistice " and work for one by supporting Mr, ft. Stokes, M.P., in his campaign to make an early peace by negotiation easier to attain.

LESLIE DIARINGTON.

Yeomans Orchard, Wrington, Somerset.

Intentional Bombing

Sie,--Intentional bombing of workers and the civilian population of Germany was made part of the offensive operational plan of the Supreme War Council in January, 1918. All this matter was brought out very well by Marcus Samuel, M.P„ in a letter first published in the Wandsworth Borough News of July 1, 1938, and later in other

papers.

The matter, no doubt, is within your memory at a time when it was " Franco the baby-killer," and we had ridiculous Commissions sitting in Barcelona and Alicante.

It ill befits us to whine now when our cities go up in flames.

D. J. O'Cotestoe 27, Hatton's Lane, Liverpool, 16,

We Owe it To Bombing

SIR.--But for our bombers the invasion of England would have been an accomplished fact long ago. Also our losses at sea would have been very much heavier than they are. Because the Germans bomb civilians the people who want bombing stopped would rob our forces of the only effective weapon we have against the Germans so far. We have not yet deliberately bombed civilians. The idea of asking the German Government for any undertaking. is ridiculous.

P. Runsearroao Assuan, 82, Southgate Rqad, Potters Bar, Middlesex.

P.S.—Perhaps, like King Saul, we are suffering for not having destroyed Agag after the last war. The kings and children of Israel were frequently made to suffer for sparing their enemies when they were told not to, so it cannot be good always to spare one's enemies. See If Kings xii, 31 for treatment of enemies apparently approved of.




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