Page 4, 2nd October 1953

2nd October 1953
Page 4
Page 4, 2nd October 1953 — CATHOLIC HERALD

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BY her defence agreement with the United States, Spain is now in fact fully restored to the comity of the free nations who are engaged together in resisting the aggression of Communism. It is true that face-saving, both in America and still snore in Europe, limits the pact to the sheer hard facts of planning and conducting effective defence together against possible eventualities, but agreement over this concedes all that is material to the essential military needs of the West, while powerfully aiding Spain to restore and strengthen its political and economic position.

Surviving anti-Spanish sentiments in certain countries of Europe, in Britain and in America are now made as meaningless and stupid as is the Russian reaction to the agreement.

Moscow. which has forcibly appropriated for aggressive intent the free and Christian countries of Eastern Europe, complains that the United States has forced Spain into an open military alliance and to being part of the war bloc in Europe. This despite the fact that the prolonged period during which the negotiations have been going on, as well as Franco's well-known stubbornness in the tradition of Spanish independence and pride, amply prove that the final outcome represents the completely voluntary act of Spain.

In the West, the persistent haters of the new Spain will no doubt be relieved in their hearts that this agreement enormously strengthens European defence, thus helping to save their own skins; but outwardly they will continue to maintain that their political purity cannot be soiled by any willing contact with "Fascism."

The truth is that political hypocrisy alone explains the reactions of the critics of the agreement, both in the East and the West, and that the United States and Spain are to be heartily congratulated on a realism and courage which cuts through the fog of self-deception and misunderstanding that still survives the Spanish Civil War.

CATHOLICS in general are now little affected by socialist and liberal criticism of Spain, yet any Catholic editor is aware through his correspondence of the way in which Spain still turns up so regularly as a "bad mark" against the Church to which Catholics cannot find a convincing answer.

The reason is that we are usually unable to make the effort of imagination required in order to understand what the new Spain is about. If we could do so, we should easily be able to turn the table on the critics.

While we have become more and more accustomed to invoke Christian principles and essential human liberties as the spiritual core of our resistance to Communism, Spain has for nearly 20 years been resisting not only Communism, but all that leads to Communism, in the name of Catholic teaching and moral principles.

She has sought in her own Catholic tradition of discipline and order to develop a political society in the contemporary world which is proof against the moral, social and political disintegration which has so terribly weakened the free world in the face of materialist values.

She has done this in her own Spanish way, and there is no call on other nations with very different traditions to imitate her methods. But so long as countries like France, for example. remain impotent in the face of a moral, political and social decadence which plays right into the hands of the enemies of all freedom and true humanity, they are in a very poor position to criticise the infinitely greater Christian responsibility and courage of Spain.

THE time may yet come when the defence of freedom will be widely seen to rest in the last resort on a closing of spiritual and moral ranks in countries where Christianity is still invoked as the ultimate defence of free man.

Britain's Christian-democratic tradition, if the phrase be allowed, though much shaken, remains a reality, and consequently Britain remains a vital factor in the defence against materialist tyranny. America in a simpler and more emotional way can still integrate her strong military and political position with genuine and high Christian ideals as Mr. Dulles's recent speeches have well shown.

The new Germany, in her own way, is developing a strong and industrious Christian democracy, to which the free West is likely to become more and more indebted. Nor is it surprising that Spain. feels herself perhaps more in sympathy with the new Germany than with any other European country.

It is the moral vigour of these countries, then, which are likely to prove the backbone of the defence of freedom in future, whatever military, economic and political developments may emerge from the maze of negotiations at official conference tables.

Britain, with the Commonwealth behind her; the United States; Germany; and Spain. It is with these that persistent moral and material strength will be increasingly found to save the whole world from the consequences of modernist decadence which has reached the very eve of causing the total destruction of man, as Christianity has made him.

Each of their traditions are different, and it would be another form of the same decadence to strive to reduce them to an abstract common level of paper liberty, equality and fraternity. Let them understand one another and the special contribution which each can make from its own special historical tradition.

Though the American-Spanish agreement is nominally a purely military one, it may also prove a great step forward in the moral understanding and integration of those on whom the burden of the defence of freedom and man mainly rests.

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