Page 2, 31st August 1962

31st August 1962
Page 2
Page 2, 31st August 1962 — CATHOLICS and COMMUNISTS

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Locations: Madrid, Moscow, Preston, London, Surrey


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SIR,-Professor J. M. Cameron's statement that Spanish Communists were not responsible for the murder of priests in the Civil War is quite inaccurate. Many priests were in fact told that their lives would be spared if they proclaimed their belief in Communism or blasphemed.

The men who put them to death were atheistic Marxists, whether they were duly registered members of the Communist Party or not. Full details are to be found in the History of the Religious Persecution in Spain 1936-39, by A. Montero (pub!. Madrid 1961).

There seems little point in the distinction that Professor Cameron makes between the Communists and the "Caballero Socialists", A Minister in Largo Caballero's government in 1937 sent a telegram to the Anti-God Congress in Moscow saying "Your se uggle against religion is ours. We have the duty to make of Spain a land of militant atheists".

Largo Caballero himself was made an honorary member of the Soviet League of Atheists. Liberal intellectuals of Republican sympathies like Unamuno and Maranon abandoned the Government side because they saw that what was at stake was C.ommunist domination of Spain. There is evidence that much of the "spontaneous" mob violence which resulted in sacrilege had been carefully planned beforehand.

Millions of Spanish Catholics fought the war as a crusade in defence of the Faith. Those who acknowledge and accept the truth of that belief are undoubtedly running counter to the general trend of secularopinion in the West. J. P. Donnelly. 26 St. Albans Avenue, • Weybridge, Surrey.

SIR,-In his letter (August 17) upon "Catholics and Communism" Professor Cameron, referring to the Spanish Civil War, states "In one notorious case, the destruction of Guernica by units of the German Air Force. the Catholic Press simply lied about the matter."

The above is a grave statement in condemnation of the honour of the Catholic Press.

I have before me a copy of the Corootic Humes of November 5, 1937. in which upon page 8 is described, under the heading "The Truth about Spain revealed inParliament". the experience of Wing-Commander James. M.P.. who had visited Guernica and testified to the fact that it was set on fire from within.

In a debate in the House of Commons Wing-Commander James. describing his second visit to Spain, stated that he was provided with a car by the Nationalist authorities and allowed to take a Spanish speaking English business man with him, and was accorded every liberty to go where he liked and to see what he wished without restrictions of any sort.

He concluded his speech v. ith the following testimony "A fortnight ago I went to Guernica. The fact is that in that part of the town which 1 did examine in gleat detail almost the whole of the destruction was done by deliberate sinerhaneous incendiarism from inside.

"Anybody who has spent part of his life, as I and other members of this House have, living in towns which were shelled and having seen towns burned. cannot possibly mistake the effect of explosives and burning."

There is no reason to doubt that Wing-Commander James spoke truthfully in the House of Cornmons debate upon Spain, and the CATHOLIC. HERAT D report upon this matter, to which I have above referred, is entirely innocent of the gross charge of deliberate lying made against the Catholic Press by your correspondent. Alexander de R. S. Redmond Major Huntly,

Bishopsteignton, S. Devon.

Regarding your Editorial on Anti-Communism (17.8.62), I would simply point out that, to defeat the parasitic influence of Communism in our own country, we need to consolidate.

To be continuously told that we should read the Papal Encyclicals, act as Catholics, and in general start a revolution that in the end will restore the King-ship of Christ on earth, is all very well, but we are. at the moment, badly organised and lacking leaders.

This is a fight and soldiers with discipline and a positive aim arc needed-Soldiers of Christ (remember our Confirmation), not disorganised rabble!

Joseph Cookson. Kirkby. Lancs.

SIR'-As one who first criticised Professor Cameron's article in "Search", may I be permitted a word in reply to his letter. The purpose of a Catholic newspaper is mainly that of a "corrective" to the Secular Press, so I have always understood. It is assumed that its readers are already familiar with the daily outpourings of Fleet Street, and want to know what the Catholic viewpoint may be.

During the Spanish Civil War the crimes, of Franco's forces were so fully reported in the Daily Press that it was quite unnecessary for

SIR .-Father Rope's letter has reminded us that papal teaching appears to be directed against the flight from the land-whereas Common Market policy appears to be rather in its favour.

I agree we should pay great attention to the Popes in this matter, though they do not, of course, speak infallibly on the point. It may even be strongly questioned as to whether the depopulation of the farms is a matter of morality-or of faith.

So that probably the responsibility for decision remains with the politician, the sociologist. the economist, and with individual farmers.

Father Rope goes on to argue that the Free Masons were in favour of a united Europe and the League of Nations some forty years ago.

On reflection, however. I am sure Father Rope will agree that this does not prove (or hardly even indicate) that a united Europe will be a bad thing today any more than does the fact that M.

p Chityakov, a Soviet emissary. has recently pronounced himself in favour of the Common Market.

While I feel, here again, that the Common Market has to be largely considered at the level of politics and economics, it is interesting to recall the words of Pope Pius XII in his Christmas Allocution of 1944: "Frrmi the decisions already published by international commissions one may draw the con the Catholic newspapers to repeat them. The Catholic Press courageously, and alone, supported Franco because his defeat would have meant the triumph of Communism not only in Spain but in Europe, with all the consequences that would have meant for us in England.

How the Professor Jthows who was responsible for what atrocity in Spain I do not know. but evidently he is willing to accept the word of his Leftist friends rather than those who are of the "household of the faith".

W. Corbishley. 27 Crookings Lane, Penwortham, Preston.

SIR'The argument between Professor Cameron and Sir Arnold Ltit111 seems only one more example of the almost total breakdown in communication between what one may loosely call the Catholic left and the Catholic right in this country.

As a leftish person myself, I naturally think my side the more advanced, humane, civilised, scholarly, liberal, and genuinely democratic. Yet how often we betray our own principles by denying to others the right to their opinions, or by impugning their honesty. Erika Fallaux 3 Garrick Street, London, W.C.2.

SIR,-I do not propose to continue this controversy with Sir Arnold Lunn. Perhaps you would allow me to explain why.

First, in his original article Sir Arnold accused me of criticizing the faults of right-wing regimes and keeping silent about the faults of Communist regimes. In my letter of reply I said this was a monstrous accusation and asked him to withdraw it. I-le does not withdraw it. He does not substantiate it. He does not mention it.

Secondly, he now makes another monstrous suggestion. namely. that M. Maritain's attitude to the Civil War in Spain was what it was because his wife was Jewish. I really believe Sir Arnold thinks that in controversy anything goes. M. Maritain's attitude to the Civil War in Spain differs from that of the Catholic Men pensants. Extraordinary. There must be some explanation. Ah, the poor man. He has a Jewish wife.

Thirdly, Sir Arnold thinks that if I write "preoccupied" and his typewriter commits "occupied", then this "in no way" misrepresents the point I was making, 1 leave this to your readers. I. M. Cameron Department of Philosophy University of Leeds.


SIR,---In her letter on the shortage of clergy, Miss R. Francis rightly states that the Church has always been opposed to women having any share in the sacred ministry. She is not quite right, however, when she states that women "are not allowed to take even the smallest part officially in liturgical workshi p". In convent chapels, the nuns. of course, sing all the parts of the Mass allocated to the Choir; but this is far from being the full extent of their liturgical activities: in orders where the Divine Office Is celebrated in Choir, the Nuns arc quite officially entrusted with the task of celebrating the eight Breviary Offices; and in Benedictine and Cistercian Convents, this includes the solemn chanting of the Gospel by the Abbess at the end of Mattins, and her solemn recitation of the Paler Nosier at Lauds and Vespers.

Moreover, the Nun in charge of offices for the week chants all the prayers which would be recited by a priest if one were present. As a matter of face anyone who has attended, say. Christmas Matins in a Benedictine Abbey of Nuns could testify that the service, which lasts a full two hours and includes hymns, psalms. lessons and collects, is celebrated from start to finish without a man in sight, be he Priest or Layman: the Priest and his servers only arrive for the beginning of Midnight Mass. Now there seems to be a lesson in ibis; if, as seems prObable, more English is to be allowed in the public celebration of such offices as Vespers and Compline, is there any valid reason why Nuns should not be entrusted with the celebration of these offices not only in their own convent chapels (as is the case at the present time) but also in parish churches?

It does seem that without altering in the slightest the existing regulations, much greater use could be made of Nuns and Sisters, and that without any suggestion that women should be taking any share in what properly belongs to the Sacred Ministry. M. Atherton-Lafrance.

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