Danger Of Holy Year Exploitation
By Michael de la liedoyere
wE must reckon with a most un
fortunate accidental consequence of Holy Year: its exploitation for news purposes by the world's press.
Religion for some time has been very much in the fashion with the papers and magazines Some of the causes of this phenomenon are good and worthy; many much less so. With the world divided into the sheep and the goats, the Catholic Church, and in particular the Papacy, stand out as the obvious spiritual and moral leaders of the sheep, and other religious bodies share in %resting degrees this leadership. In so far as the division between the sheep and the goats is based on genuine moral reasons. this consequence of religion's new-found
popularity is a good thing. In so far as the division is really based on a fear of Communism and a determination to hang on to the convenient old order, then the true religious ideal may be prostituted by its close association with the old material order.
Unfortunately. too. this present popularity of religion as a moral factor in the defence against Communism only too easily degenerates into something wholly unworthy and typical of our fundamentally irreligious times. When an age ceases to believe in God and a revealed spiritual and moral order, it always falls back into superstition. Sometimes the superstition may he concentra ed on j political leader or theory, sometimes on some man-made revelation, like science, and sometimes it is no more than a childish faith in portents. charms, the stars, what not,
Evidently in such circumstances a most exciting kind of superstition is the superstitious exploitation of genuine religion. And this is what
seems to have taken place. The press, realising that religion has become news. is intent on trying to give its readers the sort of religion they are eager to lap up: a religion conceived in terms of superstition.
What The Holy Year Is Not
Now' a phenomenon like the Holy Year very easily lends itself in irreverent, or even merely ignorant. hands, to superstitious exploitation ill order to tickle the jaded palates of a sensation-loving public.
A daily paper will headline: "Millions queue up for the Great Pardon." The picturesque ceremonial. divested of its real symbolism, is thrown on to the screen for the wonder. and too often mockery, of the seeker after an afternoon's entertainment. And not a few will hint that the whole thing is a very good financial racket for those in on the &Mind floor,
Happily, there is sufficient sincerity about to ensure a reverent treatment and accurate reporting in many quarters, and undoubtedly very many people will find themselves sincerely impressed and moved by what they will see and hear in the coming year. But we must face the truth that a great and prolonged occasion, symbolising for the instructed Catholic the outpouring of God's grace into hearts which have thoroughly prepared themselves in the normal way to receive it, will be idely exploited and interpreted as it Sind of primitive religious magic 1 ire ehich will automatically cleanse hose who perform a certain number of ritual acts.
Dare we say that not a few Catholic!, themselves will come near regarding the Holy Year pilgrimages in something of this spirit?
A certain amount of Catholic publicity, both in the world's press and in our own, on what the Holy Year is not. might be advisable if a great opportunity of edification is not to be converted into one of nearscandal.
The Meaning of " Pardon"
THEso easily exploited words " indulgence " and " pardon" are given their true meaning by the Holy Father in his Allocution. " Although the lord is ready to pardon, He dots not dispense the sinner from the necessity of sincere repent
ance and due expiation . Interior and voluntary repentance. together with expiation. are the indispensable prerequisites of every human renovation."
Such is Catholic doctrine today,
and such has been Catholic doctrine from the beginning. No journey to Rome, however arduous or however pleasurable, no participalop in ceremonies or rites, no indulgences. no Popes, will or can ever dispense the sinner from these inner conditions for the foreiveness of sins. And, on the other side, the non-Catholic reader of the highly-coloured accounts of what is taking place in Rome. though he is deprived of the act of forgiveness in God's name, and of the grace given in a Sacramental Confession, to be obtained, given the right inner conditions. in every Catholic confessional all the world over. will doubtle;s receive God's mercy and pardon, if he truly repents his sins and resolves to live nearer to God's Will in the future.
The test of the success of Holy Year will lie, both for Catholics and those non-Catholics who read of it, in its power to remind men of the need for that repentance and renovation for which Almighty God is always waiting.
THE GREAT COMMUNIST PUZZLE 1949 CAME to its close with a
very different kind of celebration, namely, the blaring of the Communist press and loudspeakers in honour of Stalin's 70 years, The world was supposed to believe that everyone behind the Iron Curtain—except a few miserable degenerates — was spontaneously acclaiming the most powerful and possibly the most ruthless tyrant in the world's history. The truth, we have no doubt, was very different.
But the deification of Stalin and the outward unity behind the cause of the Communist leader does present one very odd problem which has not been sufficiently studied. We can easily understand why no dissentient voice is heard where Stalin's writ runs. The recent trials in Budapest and Sofia can only have had one purpose—and that is to strike terror into the hearts of everyone subject to Stalin. They make it clear that no one under Moscow rule is safe unless Ito leads an abject life of spiritual servitude to the powers that be.
What needs explaining, however, is why the Communists of the rest
of the world are still ready to follow every twist and turn of the Moscow party line and to defend all the monstrosities committed in the name of Stalin. These Communists are free men. They have the opportunity of hearing and studying the free world's judgment of Moscow today. Above all, they have been given a wonderful chance of leading Communism back to its original ideals. Instead of this, they all meekly bow their heads and sell their souls. Why?
The Two COMMUlliSHIS
NO one will expect to find any de" I fence of Communism in these
columns. Yet, if they have read them regularly, they will know that the thoughtful Christian has a respect for Communism as a possible ideal and, at least, understands very well why Communism has grown in an era of general unbelief, moral decadence, and much injustice often upheld by the righteous in highly hypocritical terms, Communism in any shape or form cannot possibly prove to be the solm tion to the world's troubles because it is always based on the denial of religion and of human freedom and personality; but in its attempt to provide a genuine social ideal based on a common effort among equals to produce and share the goods of the earth so that they may be equitably enjoyed, serving the spirit of marl,
Communism is not without nobility, nor is it without a good deal that may be profitably learnt by its opponents.
But when we say this, we are talking about something that has no connection whatever with the tyrants who have exploited the Communist ideals to set up a modern version, with a technique unparalleled in former times, of the lowest possible type of human rule. Nor has a true Communist idealism any connection with the prostitution of justice and decency exemplified in the recent trials, the permanent slave camps, the denial to all of any rights, even of a measure of national pride and autonomy. And though we cannot believe– abstracting for the moment from religion — that Communism could ever succeed in the long run, it could surely produce something more secure than the Moscow vicious circle of a steadily increasing terror to contain a steadily increass ing hatred of the tyrant.
Have They No Leader? .9
TO the outsider, then, it would
seem that the Communist leaders in Britain, America. France, Italy and other free countries are , being given a remarkable chance of dissociating themselves from the horrors of Moscow — which they must in their hearts realise to be horrors, if they remain free men at all—of guiding Communism back to the good which it doubtless contains, and, after all, restoring Communism within their countries to a status which can make it once more an effective political factor against the " capitalism " they so loudly denounce.
One picks up the Daily Worker in the hope of reading between the lines some hint of such feeling, if only out of respect for leading Cornmunist personalities who in private life seem perfectly decent people— and sometimes even intelligent people. But each time one is doomed to disappointment. On the contrary, there is nothing to be found but the absurdest attempts to justify—or conveniently overlook— the utterly indefensible.
Why this should be to is a real mystery. Perhaps it derives from the lack of any Communist personality on this side of the Iron Curtain of sufficient stature and courage to seize an historic opportunity.