Page 6, 2nd October 1936

2nd October 1936
Page 6
Page 6, 2nd October 1936 — LETTERS TO THE

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Locations: Madrid, Rome, London, St. Louis


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The Issue In Spain

SIR, — The substantial point of divergence between us is Fr. de Ztdueta's assertion that the civil war in Spain has " the character of a crusade." I deny that it has such a character.

In this I am supported by the Osservatore Romano, which, in an article of September 18, (unsigned, and, in accordance with usage, inspired by the Vatican Secretariat of State), writes as follows:

" In the Spanish conflicts, (plural, not singular), in the bloody civil war, which so greatly afflicts the heart of the Father, the position of Catholics is a position of defence . . . if we reduce all controversy to the facts, we note that on the morrow (italics mine) of a pronunciamento ' of a strictly military character (italics mine), which had broken out in Morocco, the subversive mob attacked churches, consummated sacrileges, sacrificed innocent victims, who obviously (italics mine) could have no connection with the political rivalries carried on to the plain of civil war."

(A very different appreciation from that of Fr. de Zutueta who writes : " Once again, this is a National and Patriotic movement, with the support of the army"!) The Osservatore continues : " What could Catholics do then (italics mine), to guard the natural rights

of their faith and worship? Defend and restore. Exercise the right of legitimate defence, defence of life itself, defence of the life of the spirit and of material life so atrociously attacked."

The Osservatore thus distinguishes three facts: I. The military " pronunciamento" and the civil war for political ends; 2. The rising of the subversive masses against churches, clergy and faithful; 3. The legitimate defence of the latter.

In respect of legitimate defence, the Osservatore, after repeating the Pope's words in his address of September 14, adds: " This fixes the reason and the limit of the action of Catholics in defence of their faith. The right of defence '—said the Holy Father a year ago on another occasion, has limits and moderations that must be respected in order that the defence shall be free from blame.' The same principle is to-day reiterated, while blessing is given to those who have shed and are ready to shed their blood (italics mine) for the faith. And not only these, but also those who through miserable blindness hate the faith, etc."

Father de Zulueta, to justify the idea of a crusade and of a holy war, starts from a standpoint opposed to that of the Osservatore. For him the movement is national and patriotic; the pronunciamento is to be justified as the exercise of a power possessed by the army to restore public order, even against the legitimate gOvernment, which had lost (before the pronunciamento) " its right to respect and obedience."

The traditional Catholic theory is absolutely contrary to this thesis. The famous Jesuit, Fr. Victor Cathrein, in his Philosophia moralis distinguishes between offensive resistance and defensive resistance to the political authority. The first is never lawful, the second is lawful in certain circumstances, so long as it " confines itself to a defence against actual aggressions."

(The italics are Cathrein's). He quotes Cardinal Zigliara, who writes as follows: In this case resistance is made not to authority but to violence, not to law but to the abuse of law, not to the government but to the injust aggressor in the act of aggression." (Philosophia moralis, Par. 55, 1886 edition).

All this is subordinated to a still more interesting condition, that, in Cathrein's words, " such resistance can be made without provoking greater evils for the collec tivity." This reservation in respect of greater evil is to be found in St. Thomas, S.T. 11-11, 9, 42, a 2 and 3.

Who can deny that the present civil war in Spain is such an evil, entailing such moral and religious (besides social and material) consequences, that it should have been avoided at all cost?

A few words to answer the other critics. The writer of the leading article of September 18 attacks my theory of patience and non-resistance, drawing a distinction between the position of the early Christians and that to-day. Let him read the Encyclical of Leo XIII already quoted, of December 28, 1878.

The same answer will serve for Mr. Dawson. Calvo Sotelo's warning certainly did not make the army pronunciamento lawful,. nor the loosing of a civil war.

Don John of Austria and John Sobieski, quoted by P. M. Northcote, vanquished the Turk in wars of defence, and have nothing to do with the insurrection and civil war in Spain.

As for the question as to if and in what manner the theories and practice of Fascism have been condemned, I will ask Fr. Webb to read and meditate the Encyclical of Pius XI " Non abbiamo bisogno " of June 29, 1931.


We doubt whether there is as great a divergence betwee U Fe. de Znineta and Don Sturzo as the latter ;could appear to think. While it may be possible to draw a theoretical distinction between the defence of the Faith (blessed by Mc Pope as Don Shirt° admits) and the defenee of the naticrnel society, iv practice the two will usually be rombined in fact. Mor,over Catholics are also citizens, and while the Pope nat+really refers in • the fight for the the ,irjl pietctisof"'t-thefiic.tondfiltile'l t ,t the Catholic citizen has to take up arms in the concrete fight for religion, country and order. In so far as such a citizen consciously realises that he is fighting to preserve his faith which in fart is externally linked up with the social order of his country, he ix surely entitled to call his fight a " crusade." The Defence of Europe against the Turks clearly implied the defence of European society and culture as well as European religion. Lepanto saved not only Christianity but Europe.—Ehmon..]

Christian History

SIR,—It scorns to me that the Catholic Calendar sufficiently answers Don Luigi Sturzo's contention.

St. Bernard preached the Second Crusade.

St. Louis fought at the head of the 7th and 8th Crusades—and died there.

St. Joan led Franceto victory against the English invaders — and died to seal her faith.

St. Pius V was the life and soul of the Holy League against the Turks culminating in their bloody defeat at Lepanto in 1571.

Was this accounted for unrighteousness to them by the Church? — or was it not among their just claims to glory?

As for the " horror " of military association with the Moors, that is an attitude almost peculiar to British Protestant culture. To the Latin races who have no traditional contempt for **coloured " men as such, it is unintelligible. Anyhow it can be conveniently forgotten when Socialism thinks opportune to drive Europe to war over Abyssinia.


37, Hollywood Road, S.W.10.

In Reference To Spain

SIR,—In his reply to Fr. Webb, your correspondent Mr. E. 1. Watkin rather confuses the issue by concentrating upon one saying of Mussolini as an argument against Fascism in Spain. Actually Italian Fascism has never been condemned in tow by the Holy Father although of course like all other political creeds and theories it has been criticised (vide Encyclical "On Catholic Action," page 35, C.T.S. Edition).

The Fascist dictum is " Deeds, not Words " and posterity will judge Fascism by its fruits rather than by the utterances of its pioneers.

Fr. Webb, however, referred in his letter to Spain and not Italy. Gen. Franco's trained troops, his bombs, and Moorish mercenaries may check Communism, they may preserve the status quo but they will not banish injustice nor re-build a blood-soaked and stricken Spain. That unhappy land needs a Leader to unite all Spaniards in a common bond of understanding; she needs an authoritarian government to carry out National re-construction unobstructed by faction or party, and enjoying the full confidence of the people; lastly she needs a Corporate system to permanently effect Social Justice.—In short Spain needs Fascism,—call it what else you will. Not Italian, German, or Austrian, but Spanish Fascism and quite conceivably deserving of the Church's blessing although like all human institutions open to her criticism and mayhap her censure.

H. J. NEW.

21, Knowsley Avenue, Southall, Middlesex.

Fascism and Christianity

SiR, Will you permit me to reply briefly

to Mr. Watkin's letter on Fascism and Christianity?

I have not had the opportunity of reading M. Maritain's latest work, but I do not think its quotation is entirely relevant.

In my first letter I appealed to facts. These facts still stand. I will repeat them.

(1) The Holy See has been prepared to enter into cordial relations with States founded on the Fascist ideal, and has done nothing to discourage Catholics from membership of the Fascist Parties in those States.

(2) The Holy See has repeatedly made it clear, and the point has been reiterated most emphatically by the Pope in his recent speech to the Spanish exiles at Castel Gandolfo, that Communism is of its very essence diametrically opposed to Christianity.

From these two facts I deduce that in the mind of His Holiness (I) Fascism is not necessarily incompatible with the Christian Profession.

(2) Communism is necessarily incompatible with such profession.

Mr. Watkin says that quotations which he gives imply that " the implicit atheism of this official Fascist teaching is not essentially different from the avowed atheism of Bolshevism." That is his judgment. He will, I am sure forgive me if I advise simple Catholics to wait until the Holy See endorses his conclusion since it is at variance with the clear implication of facts as cited above.

He concludes by saying " To regard the former (Fascism) as our protection against the latter (Communism) is a dangerous illusion." Again I appeal to facts. Fifteen years ago in Rome I saw Fascism save the Italian people from what Spain is now undergoing. I can assure him that we who lived in Rome at that time were under no

Should it ever be necessary for the Holy m'F'ather to address to Fascism words of censure such as he has addressed to Communism, I would obediently resign membership of the Party, but failing that necessity I shall. I trust, remain with many of my friends, Italian and British, both Catholic and Fascist.

(Fr , j G. W. H. WEBB.

The Catholic Presbytery, Thetford, Norfolk.

[The writer of the original letter was Mr. E. I. Watkin. The name " Walker " was a printer's error.—Eanoa.]

Our " Leader " Defended and Attacked

SIR,—Let me thank you very sincerely for your excellent leading article "Christian Pacifism." It is the most helpful thing I have read for some time.

Perhaps you would allow me to subject to public criticism an additional idea that has long been in my mind. This extreme pacifism besides contradicting the distinction between the counsels and the precepts savours strongly of Eastern fatalism. Now in contrast to this defeatist mood of the East, Christianity has always been full of the fighting spirit from the primordial story of St. Michael and the soldiery of heaven round about him to the support given by the Church to the Crusades. This support was not given by worldly prelates but by altogether unworldly ones like St. Bernard and St. Pius V.

Hence I suggest that any encouragement of extremist pacifism is a greater evil than the possibility of concurrence in wars of mere aggrandisement for the former leads to a servile surrender to Communism, unemployment and industrial slavery while the latter may lead to the lesser horrors of war.


St. Mary's Convent, Lowestoft.

" C.O." But Not Pacifist

SIR, — I am not quite sure what " Christian Pacifism " is, but if your leader under that heading this week is directed against all intransigent war-resistance by Christians it must be pointed out that your arguments only apply (in so far as they may be valid) to those who profess the false doctrine of the intrinsic unlawfulness of all war and/or choose the rough path of absolute non-resistance to evil as a way of personal perfection.

But there are plenty of Christians and others who do neither of these things, who repudiate the label " pacifist," and yet, here and now, are war-resisters and " conscientious objectors." Their point of view is very ably summarised by Mr. E. I. Watkin in the current number of Colosseum. It may be summed up roughly as the contention that the nature of contemporary warfare and the circumstances of contemporary life and war are such that the use of war between nations at the present time is immoral and cannot be justified even by the most worthy ends.

Such people are " conscientious objectors " not as a matter of the counsels of perfection but of ordinary humdrum right behaviour. They would agree with you that among a man's duties " is ordinarily the farmed] defence of those social institutions by which we are ourselves protected" —but it is that word " ordinarily " that makes all the difference.


Plea for Reflection

SIR, — May I suggest to your many readers who are interested in the replies to Don Sturzo's article on politics and morality that they should, clearing their minds so far as possible of all preconceived notions, re-read any one of the four gospels, with particular attention to our Lord's " spirit " and " general attitude " as displayed in His words and actions and their circumstances.

Then, still with open minds, attentively re-read Don Sturzo's article and the five letters about it in this week's Catholic Herald.

And then, calmly and quietly and unemotionally, form an opinion as to which, the article or the correspondence, is more in accordance with the spirit of Christ.

I am not suggesting that either Don Sturzo's article, on the one hand, or the letters about it, on the other, are unChristian : but I am suggesting that one of them is notably more Christian than the other.


Unconstitutional Election

Six,—The statement, reiterated everywhere, that the Madrid Government of February last was constitutionally elected is FALSE. That Government seized the reins of power by terrorism and violence. Full evidence of this is available.

The mass murders of peaceable people, clergy and nuns among them. is easily explained. For years, a law prohibiting private possession of arms without a licence has existed in Spain. Five years ago, this law was tightened up, and all arms, so held, were confiscated. Yet, soon afterwards, members of extremist Workers' Organisations, e.g., the " U.G.T.," the " C.N.T.." and the " F.A.1." were found to be well supplied with arms.

To-day, while no respectable citizen may possess arms, or have a licence to possess arms, for the protection of life or property, any little gutter snipe, boy or girl, may have arms and ammunition for the asking. Such is " Democracy " in Spain.

As I write, the air is filled with allegations of aid from Italy and Germany to " Rebels "; but of France's flagrant assistance to the Madrid gang — there is no word!


Slairehampton, Glos.

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