Page 3, 2nd May 1941

2nd May 1941
Page 3
Page 3, 2nd May 1941 — This Statesman Wants To Make His Country the Greatest Spiritual Force in the World

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People: Salazar, Hitler
Locations: Oporto, Lisbon, Estoril


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This Statesman Wants To Make His Country the Greatest Spiritual Force in the World

Last Monday, the birthday of Dr. Salazar, was celebrated in Portugal with special ceremony as a tribute of gratitude and trust in the great Prime Minister who has made modern Portugal and guided her through these anxious times.

For Portugal, as for every other smaller country in Europe, the future is anxious, but in Dr. Salazar, who professed his faith last week in " the triumph of the things of the spirit," the Portuguese can boast of the greatest statesman of them all.

In a special article the Catholic Herald surveys the career and work of Portugal's leader.


all restrictions on exchange and the circula tion of capital. He restricted imports of machinery to the precise amount required to meet actual production. so that there was no surplus of idle machines,

At the end of his first year of suprente power, Salazar produced a surplus of over two million pounds, and he has gone on doing so ever since.

CATHOLIC COMMON SENSE But while Salazar is an economist of the first rank, it is not of this that I now write.

No true conception of the man can be gained without reference to his sayings, which arc steeped in ordinary common sense illumined by Catholic tradition. " I have always been in favour of a policy of plain good sense, as opposed to a policy of magnificent plans, plans so vast and magnificent that all our energy was spent in admiring them and there was no strength left to carry them out. . . . We wish to inculcate a sense of duty and self-sacrifice, of justice and charity, in the methods of government, as a clear affirmation that morality must inspire all human actions, and inspire them the more intensely the greater their influence or ascendancy over social life."

He has clear-cut views on the nature and limitations of State control. " No one here," he writes, " would think of regarding the State as the source of morality and justice without submitting its rules and decisions to the decrees of a higher justice. No one here would dare to proclaim might as the source of all right, without regard for individual conscience and the legitimate liberties of the citizen and the purpose inherent in the very existence of man. The State must be strong, but it must be limited by the demands of morality, by the principles of men's rights, by individual guarantees and liberties, which are the first and foremost condition of social solidarity."

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GERMAN AND PORTUGUESE DICTATORS Those words show the striking difference between the Portuguese Dictator and the German one. Salazar recognises God's creation as human beings whose interests must come before the State's. Hitler places State first and human beings far behind. Yet Salazar is no blind worshipper of unqualified democracy, and he sees its weak nesses. He holds that Portugal's recent experiment in democracy afforded no sure guarantee for the safety of individuals, or public liberties such as meetings and the Press which were, in practice, subject to the interests of a Government clique with the aggravating circumstance that a great gulf was fixed between the law on paper and the actual facts, and that the right to judge the legality or not of any action was not vested in tribunals or count; of justice, but in the mob as the supporter of the Government.

About the latter he declares: " We need not believe that the origin of power resides in the mass of the people, or that the justice of laws is derived from mere numbers or that the Government can be undertaken by the multitude and not by an elite whose duty it is to direct it and " (here is the crucial point) " to sacrifice itself for the common good." Other dictators and their supporters appear to take the view that government is intended to prosper, not to sacrifice, the rulers.

TOLERATION GONE TOO FAR The recent Concordat is the working out in practice of Salazar't. maxim-" Wide as may be our toleration towards differences of doctrine which divide men on many subjects, we arc compelled to state that we do not admit liberty against the nation, against the common interest, against the family or against morality."

In other words, truth is absolute, and while toleration is a Christian virtue, it must not be abused till it becomes licence for anyone to act against Christianity merely because lie believes such a course to be proper. The danger of British democracy is its liability to tolerate errors harmful to the nation.

This strong Christian moral note, that runs through almost everything that Dr. Salazar says, does not make the old Puritan mistake of separating religion from life and regarding it as solely an affair for Sunday. " By the balance of our Budget," he declares in a sort of Credo, " by the stabilisation of our currency, our ordered economy, the social significance of our corporative organisation, the progressive improvement of the conditions of labour, the education of the people, the reform of the State and the subordination of its activities to the supreme principles of morality and right ; in strengthening the authority of the State without injuring the independence, dignity and liberties of the individual in the consistency and dignity of our public life, the calm affirmation of our independence and of our inalienable rights as a great colonial netion, we have not sought to give a lesson but merely an example."

SECRET OF HIS SUCCESS There lies one of the secrets of his success: he does not seek to force his system down the throats of other nations, for he realises that the form of government must be adapted to the genius of each particular nation.

The Concordat of 1940 makes an Englishman sigh with envy. It is more than a superficial agreement between Church and State: it is a fusion of their mutual efforts towards a goal corresponding to Portugal's vocation in the world and its main course

of action through history. With the increasing power of the modern State in its control of the lives of its people comes the danger of the State raising itself to the status of a god, with the inevitable corollory of the crushing of the Church, which represents a higher moral authority.

It is to guard against this that the Concordat was made, and to recognise the rightful place of religion in the national life.

in view of what the Church is having to put up with in the other dictator States, the clauses of this Concordat are striking.

WHAT THE CONCORDAT ALLOWS Thus, the Holy See may publish any ordnance relative to the government of the Church and communicate with the faithful without previous permission front the State. There are to be no restrictions upon communication with the Holy See, nor upon bishops in relation to their people similarly. The State will recognise as legal all religious associations certified by the bishop, and they may acquire and dispose of property, under the direction of ecclesiastical authorities: but where these associations regulate other than religious aims (e.g., legacies, trusts, relief) they must rightly be subject to the State legal requirements. The Church may freely collect offerings inside and at the doors of churches.

The thorny subject of church buildings and property is very justly treated. The Church is acknowledged owner of the property which originally belonged to her and is still in her possession (churches, bishops' palaces, presbyteries, seminaries, convents, vestments, etc.) except items used for public services or which are " national monuments." These latter remain State property, but (and it is a big but) they are for the use of the Church in perpetuity : the State must maintain them and repair them by agreement with the Church authorities, while the Church for her part must guard the property and attend to all internal arrangements, such as the hours of visiting, about which a State official may intervene.

Chun. objects in State hands must always be available for religious use in the churches to which they belong, providing the latter are in the same localities as the museums in which they are kept. Moreover, property of the Church now in secular hands (not the State's) may be transferred back to the Church without fiscal charge within six months of the Concordat.

Recalling what damage has sometimes been done by State interference with ancient monuments (e.g., in France and Scotland), the abOve safeguards of restoration are wise, as also the clause that churches may not be destroyed or applied by the State to other purposes except by previous agreement with the Church authorities. Indemnity may be granted, and no such property can be appropriated until deprived of its sacred character.

Relief from taxation is given to churches, seminaries, religious notices on church doors, and the clergy in their official capacities.

Trouble has arisen in parts of the world over the non-national prelate. Bishops, parish priests, directors of seminaries and Church institutions must in future be Portuguese citizens. The Holy See must communicate to the Government the name of any proposed bishop, the State being allowed 30 days within which to object to such nominee.

Ecclesiastics may not be interrogated by magistrates, etc., on matters which they have learned in the course of their religious duties. Priests are only liable for military service as chaplains, Persons forbidden to wear ecclesiastical dress by ecclesiastical authority are punishable by the State if they do so. The Catholic Church may freely practise all religious acts in public or private so that, e.g.. pilgrimages and processions cannot be prohibited by the State.

OPPORTUNITY FOR RELIGIOUS DUTIES Hospitals, schools, prisons and other State institutions not having their own chaplains, shall give free access to the parish priest in lieu. An Army bishop is to be provided. All Catholics in State employment may have the oportunity to fulfil their religious duties on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation.

Religious education is the subject of two clauses. The Church may freely maintain its own private schools, subject to State supervision and, where required, subsidy; nor does the religious education therein require State sanction, though the names of text-books on non-religious subjects must be reported to the State. As regards the State schools Article XXI enacts; " The teaching . . . . shall be guided by the principles of Christian doctrine and morals traditional to the country, therefore the Catholic religion and Catholic morals will be taught in public elementary schools to pupils whose parents or guardians have not lodged a request to the contrary." In State asylums, orphanages and reformatories, the Catholic Faith will be taught without option. In all such teaching by the State, the text-books employed must be passed by the Church authorities, and they are to agree with the State all teachers.

" in no case shall religious instruction be ministered by persons not approved by the ecclesiastical authorities."

Catholic marriages are confirmed by the State, which will keep a compulsory register of such, and while civil marriage can also be had, those who are married by the Church cannot take advantage of civil divorce: they must apply to the ecclesiastical courts for nullity decrees.


The Concordat speaks for itself as a masterly treatment of all those issues where Church and State are most likely to clash. With such an agreement in force, a regime such as Germany's would be impossible.

Social matters arc receiving careful thought. Special attention is being given to the improvement of roads for the betterment of trade, motoring and tourist traffic, notably in Madeira, and in 1940 a new coastal road was made from Lisbon to Estoril.

Railways, formerly under State 'control, have been handed to private companies, resulting in better working and new lines. The ports of Lisbon and Oporto have been given greater depth and docks and better security, while the navy has been strengthened " without hurling defiance to friends in time of peace," as an official pamphlet puts it. On the colonial ports of Angola and Mocambique, Lobito and Lourenco Marques, large sums have been spent.

Portugal is mainly agricultural, and a series of " workpeople's halls" has been instituted to co-operate with the Government in water supply. drainage, sewerage. local town planning and road-making, but these halls have more than a material aspect, and nobler aims are included. It is intended that the rich shall help the poor in their mission of peace and work from which all benefit.

Public health was extremely bad, and numbers of contagious and infectious people were allowed at large, thus spreading disease still further. In strengthening the hospitals and health services, and in compelling the unhealthy to receive treatment, numbers have been taken off the road, thus confining the danger and raising the standard of public health.


Minute attention to detail is shown in the order that everyone must be shod : though this roused the opposition of the peasants at first, they are now reconciled to it, as they realise it is in their own interest. In the early days, country folk would carry their shoes, hastily putting them on when a gendarme appeared, and as quickly removing them as soon as his back was turned I

No account of Dr. Salazar would be complete without reference to his grasp of finance.

I. Since the dictatorship no external loans have been contracted, nor has any national enterprise been financed to any appreciable extent by foreign capital.

2. The foreign floating debt has been discharged.

3. Several public works have been permitted to be carried out by foreign contractors and new warships have been built in England.

4. There has been a large decrees, in interest and dividends on Portuguese investments abroad-money is now being invested in Portugal itself.

5. All foreign liabilities have been met without delay.

6. The State now holds deposits in foreign currencies, instead of this being the other way about.

7. Banks with former debits now have credits.

8. The Bank of Portugal's gold reserve has increased.

9. The annual Budget has always balanced and shown a proflt.

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