Page 4, 31st December 1943

31st December 1943
Page 4
Page 4, 31st December 1943 — A MIDDLE-GENERATION ARCHBISHOP

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Locations: Teheran


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IT is reported that Bishop Griffin was selected by the Pope to succeed Cardinal "'Insley because of the urgency and complexity of the problems that are likely to face the prelate whose position inevitably makes him the virtual head of the Catholic community in this country during the coming years. A younger man and one belonging, as It were, to the mid-generation upon which will fall the main responsibility for clearing up the mess left by the war was indicated. In these matters, the motives for appointment are mere guesswork. Nor is it altogether seemly to greet a new Archbishop by any attempt to read his character and to tell him what he ought to do. However, it is reasonable to note and say that i

Bishop Griffin is indeed a man at the height of his powers He is easentinily of the generation which during the years of " phoney " peace watched older men failing to tackle or even appreciate the big changes coming over the world and consequently allowing the world to drift into war. He is now called upon to take a very highly responsible role in preventing a repetition of the tragedy. Of that generation, the inter-war generation. it may at least be said that its painful experiences of the failure of a generous idealism through the inability of its elders to understand the post-war forces have given it a very deep sympathy with the unanchored and disillusioned youth that is to-day fighting the war and making the sacrifices. It may even be that its mistake in the days to come will be through failing to uphold and teach those universal, and unchanging moral principles in their intelligent application to current anxieties. The maintenance of these principles in no way denies the need for radical change and their loss must inevitably mean a further stage of disorder with its accompaniment of further and greater suffering. On the moral courage of this generation—a moral courage to do and say what it knows to be right in the face of unpopularity and jeering—and on its wisdom —a wisdom that will enable it to see that we must break with the capitalism, nationalism and doctrinaire liberal-socialism of the last century —depend the hopes of peace.

The New Leadership DESPITE the too common loss of faith in the dogmatic teaching of Christianity and the apparent weakness of the 'Church in its relation with the world of politics. economics and culture, there are many who see a great opportunity for the Faith in the midst of the chaos and the wrestling with immense technical problems in a spiritually and morally

uncharted country. Already one may note the steadily increasing prestige of the Pope among all who are able to think for themselves instead of falling for either war propaganda or the various types of political extremists. After the war the Pope will stand alone among international figures as having steadily kept before the world the ideal of charity and justice and as never having allowed any end to justify unworthy means. And the Pope, while having fostered a wide co-operation between Christians of all Communions and others of goodwill, has also stood as an inflexible witness to the truth of the dogmas and moral teaching of Catholicity. preserved and lived in the Church of Christ. He has shown that from these dogmas spring the only idealism and the only order upon which men can find agreement and the hope of discovering again that unity of outlook which marked the age of Christendom when the seeds of all our humanitarianism, democracy, freedomarights of man were plahted. The Pope, finally, has already shown the way, in the numerous applications he has made of Christian idealism, to the vexed problems of international politics, of class disputes, of economic security, of education, of youth-training.

In every country there is to be found at least a substantial minority which professes spiritual allegiance to the Vicar of Christ. In our country that minority is still comparatively small, but it has in it the makings of great enthusiasm and

great generosity. It is its fortune and its responsibility to be the Catholic minority of a nation whose future weight in Europe and the world must be great and immensely important if only , as the counterweight to traditions whose origihs are neither so European nor so Christian.

The 'effectiveness. spiritual and material, of this British Catholic body (linked. as hope it will be, with the Catholics of the United States) would he no small factor in the shaping of the future. And we have little doubt that the new leadership (chosen by the Pope) of our Catholic community in our own beloved country will prove a potent help in rallying us all around our common Father and enabling us to stand together as courageous co-workers in the plan for peace and happiness for which Christianity to-day stands.


THE fifth New Year of war sees its " prolongation beyond the duration of the first world war and takes us, so to speak, into unknown country. Instinctively we have taken the first war as a sort of guide to the likely duration of this one, and the general hope that 1944 will sec the end of the war in Europe owes something to this instinct. It must, howeveia be confessed that the prospects of this are not so rosy as they were in the days of the easy conquest of Sicily and the rolling back of the Germans in Russia. Since then the bombing offensive has developed, but what exactly the effect of this blind and cruel form of attack on the enemy still remains anybody's guess. The defensive toughness of the German Army on both fronts does not indicate any imminent collapse, though the latest news from Russia is once again very good. Now we found our hopes more on the results of the Teheran Conference and the expected grand assault in the West and /or in the Balkans. Perhaps the safest prophecy would be that if the war is not over in the next eighteen months through the accumulating weight of the Allies, it can last any time—even another five years. In fact the military situation will then have become one of stalemate. There is a limit to the number of surprises that can be thought out. The enemy went all out in the early days of the war and

failed to achieve victory. We are going all out now, and if we fail also. it is hard to see what can happen. We talk of exhaustion, but we are usually thinking of pre-totalitarian -lays. The war organisation and leadership are so tight that we seem to have entered a new phase of civilisation (if the word may be allowed) and one does not see how it will Crumble of itself. More likely in some form of political division--on the German side between the Nazi bosses or between them and the Army, on our side between the nationalist and socialist forces or between the great Powers involved. At any rate it should be remem bared that a military stalemate cannot be ruled out as a possibility. Therefore political plans should be made to meet such a situation, else something very unplanned may occur. Happily all this is unlikely, but wise leaders should take the possible as well as the likely into account. Meanwhile, we can see how much depends on the progress of events during the next three or four months.


THE appointiment of generals to a take charge of the different sections of the " grand assault " and the wide publicity attached to the expected developments are in contrast with the reticence and secrecy which has hitherto marked military plans: It looks as though Stalin had persuaded d greater h l his colleagues weight to the pWa geasnt dtao.

The Russians have always blown plenty of trumpets and' they have chosen rousing tunes capable of inspiriting their own men and siren songs with which to appeal to the enemy. Unfortunately music is not enough. If Stalin has sold propaganda, Churchill and Roosevelt have sold policy. There appears to be agreement about unconditional Sur-. render and a permanent scheme of keeping •down the German people. while the victors remain armed to the teeth. All this is calculated to induce the enemy to continue resist ance until the last man. Nor can anyone blame them. It may be that the German leaders are' not sorry to see their toughest job performed for them by their enemies. So long as the war lasts, accidents can happen and they can continue to breathe. They might well have been puzzled to know what to do if Teheran had ended with an offer of peace to the German people on reasonable terms. It seems however that while the quantity of propaganda can be increased and variations on the main theme worked out. the Allied leaders cannot be induced to make such changes in policy as would enable its quality to be improved. We can go all out in appealing to a band of Communists or semi-Communists in the Balkans as though they were the peoplerbut we have nothing to offer to the middle-classes, the honest worker and the sturdy peasant on whom the future of the Continent Will anyway depend.

FEARS IN POLAND AND THE BALTIC STATES THE international conferences and

the progress of the war on the Eastern front are not allaying the fears felt in many quarters about the fate of Poland and the Baltic States. The Polish Prime Minister has seen Mr. Eden and reported to his Cabinet. As a result, he has felt obliged to cross the Atlantic to talk in person with President Roosevelt. This cannot be interpreted as a hopeful sign.

But scarcely less concern is being felt among Poles and the peoples of the Baltic States at the prospect of a

Russian military occupation which may take place at an early date. For this the Russians themselves are to blame. Cruel as has been the German occupation, there was not a great deal to choose in 1939 and 1940 between the behaviour of Russia and Germany. It is reported that many Estonian and 'Latvian women and children are attempting to escape to Finland and Sweden. In Poland, too, there is a westward evacuation which, however, is doubtless caused in part to German pressure.

This fear is due to the memory of the deportation of 150,000 civilians from the Baltic States into Central, Asiatic and Arctic Russia under indescribable conditions. Nor should it be forgotten that Russia still, holds at least 150,000 Polish deportees to whom Polish or Red Cross relief has been forbidden. • These deportees. also, were terribly treated and their present fate causes the greatest anxiety.

When President Roosevelt and other leaders utter holy words about Christmas time. one wonders how their tolerance of these barbarities can be squared with their conscience. Soviet Russia does not profess to celebrate Christmas or to express a Christian spirit in its national and international cause. This, at least, is honest. But when Stalin enters into the concert of the great civilised Powers of the world, he could surely review this unpleasant business and tell the world that his troops have received orders to treat as friends and free and independent allies the populations of neighbouring lands who also have suffered heavily in the common cause. We believe he would do this, if his friends pressed him hard enough. We wonder whether they bothered.


NOTHING thrills us so much as a " successful naval action. It is in our tradition. But there are deeper reasons. At sea professionals fight. Each man is engaged in a pursuit he has personally chosen and in which he has made himself an expert. Brains, not brawn, count. Both sides have a sporting chance of success. On the outcome very great things depend. All this is in contrast with totalitarian war on land or the destruction of civilian cities from the air. It takes us back to the days when fighting still possessed some romance and remained predominantly the business coraf ftthose who had made it theif The sinking of the Scharnhorst was a gallant, skilful and human affair. An action lasting a few hours did much to tilt the balance of the war. All praise to those who, having defended our shores day in and day out without reaping spectacular glory, were enabled to prove to the world that the Royal Navy still remains a decisive instrument in maintaining a balance of power in the days to come. It is a pity that our sailors do not have a greater

responsibility for deciding . the nature of that balance.

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