Page 4, 31st March 1944

31st March 1944
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Page 4, 31st March 1944 — ATTACKS ON THE VATICAN
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ATTACKS ON THE VATICAN

SO far this year a rather unusual amount of attention has been paid to the diplomatic policies of the Holy See. In America a statement issued by the unofficial body, the U.S. Foreign Policy Association, set the ball rolling. This was taken up and distorted by hvestia, and the Americans are to-day happily in possession of the facts through the timely publication of Camille Cianfarra's book, The Vatican and the War. And now one deeply regrets that the newly-elected Moderator of the Free Church Council in England, Dr. Henry 'Townsend. should have taken advantage of his inaugural statement to make a vulgar and in one point actually mendacious attack on the Vatican. One of his complaints is that the Vatican failed to denounce the invasion of Norway, Denmark. Holland and Belgium. May we remind Dr. Townsend that in regard to the Scandinavian invasions the Osservatore Romano commented immediately as follows: " The territorial neutrality of two more countries has been violated. Those who have defended against all and sundry the sacred rights of neutral territory cannot but view with the most profound sorrow this sudden and dramatic extension of the war." In the case of Holland and Belgium, the Holy Father personally addressed telegrams to their respective sovereigns deploring their countries' cruel fate and expressing the wish for " the complete liberty and independence " of their countries. It is truly intolerable that a Christian minister holding so high a position as Dr. Townsend should thus libel the Holy See on a point the facts about which be could have ascertained by the simplest inquiry.

Dr. Townsend's other charges. concerning Abyssinia, Albania. Greece. Spain and Fascism in general, require a more extended defence, and one which has often enough been made. but we can conveniently retort at the present time by asking whether this highminded Churchman has favoured this country with his Christian protests against his own country's quiet acquiescence in the rape of the three democratic Baltic States by removing the names of their London Ministers from the diplomatic list. And have we heard him indignantly protesting against plans to divide the lands of an honoured Ally into two parts, one part to be swallowed up by another of our Allies? And have we heard him expressing his Christian views on the deportation of Poles and Balls, on the tyranny with with the Russians are ruled in the interests of the Party, on the long story of persecution which his Christian brethren have suffered at the hands of Lenin and Stalin ?

It Would Be a Criminal Blunder

TO anydne who is not a moron or who is not blinded by a disgusting bigotry the rile of the Vatican in the coming settlement of Europe must be seen as one of the greatest importance. The recent testimony of General Carton de Wiart that to-day the Pope is the most popular man initaly should be sufficient alone to open people's eyes. And the fact, of course, is that from Lithuania and Poland in the north-east right round Europe. including much of Germany, to Portugal in the southwest there is an immense body of perplexed and suffering people for whom the Holy Sec means help, consolation and support. And outside this European area millions in the United States and

the Dominions likewise believe and know that ultimately the best chance of a peaceful new order depends upon enlisting the impartial and deeply spiritual advice and support of the Holy See.

It is perfectly legitimate (even for Catholics) to criticise this and that action, this and that omission, in the diplomatic policies pursued by Piux XI and Pius X11. Infallibility or anything like does not apply to the Holy Father's increasingly important function as a kind of moral arbiter and adviser in the midst of the moral chaos to which post-Christianity has been reduced; and it is childish to expect that Popes, with the myriad cares and responsibilities which they have to consider, should not take steps which subsequent events show to have

been ill-considered. But none of this touches the central truth that the Vatican to-day stands alone as a spiritual and moral focus to which millions upon millions of all nations, belligerent and neutral, can look ; none of it affects the obvious fact that in the clash of nations, ideologies and parties, the Vatican alone is in a position to apply impartially and disinterestedly the teachings of Chris! and the traditions of Western civilisation.

In what exact way the Holy See can best give its aid, now and later, is certainly a difficult question, but for the nations to disregard the question altogether and to refuse to consider the spiritual and moral part which the Holy Sec can play would be a stupendous and criminal blunder for which posterity will certainly hold them responsible. Pius XI may well have made a mistake in greeting the peace which ended the Italian campaign in Abyssinia. but this was a small matter as compared with the conduct of responsible Christian figures who at a time like this can go nut of their way to discredit with lies that moral support and authority between and above nations wh'ch stands firm as witness to the teaching and traditions of Christianity.

ROME AND MORALITY

THE sense that the destruction of Rome or grave injury to it from air attacks would be an

absolutely unjustifiable act of war is growing—or, at any rate, as the danger of such a catastrophe draws nearer,

more and more people are impelled to

express openly their feelings. The appeal of the Australian Hierarchy is the strongest that has yet been made, but it is clear that the Bishops of the United States also share their feelings

and are ready to say so. And we are

particularly glad to notice that the Australian Bishops do not phrase their appeal in such a way as to suggest that the case of Rome is wholly exceptional. They see the danger to Rome as a climax of a war policy endangering the people and the monuments of Europe.

Mr. Cohn Brogan in a recent speech has very rightly pointed out the fallacy on the part of Christians in being ready to compromise with highly doubtful secularist policies and then protesting when such policies are used against what is particularly dear to Christians themselves. Just as we immensely weaken our defence of Catholic schools by yielding to educational totalitarianism where others are concerned, so we find it harder to make our point for the protection of a city like Rome when we have too easily acquiesced in the destruction of Hamburg, Lilbeck or Berlin. It is none the less true that it often takes the logical conclusion of a series of lesser compromises to open our eyes to the true nature of a policy,

and this is because that logical conclusion is in fact something that no man of sense can stand for. In the last war we reproached the enemy as a barbarian because in a raid he bad injured a painting in an Italian church. To-day we can contemplate military actions which may well mean the razing of Rome to the ground I It is an appalling descent, and for our part we are satisfied that the risking of this final disaster is in itself absolutely morally indefensible and that its possibility throws considerable light on the whole moral problem of aerial warfare and even on modem warfare itself. We know of no moral view that " military necessity " justifies any behaviour. The Christian knows well enough that the preservation of life itself cannot be invoked as a justification for telling deliberate lies or practising birth-prevention. Are we then to be surprised at the truth that even " military necessity " has on occasion to give way to the moral law of spiritual beings ? That is our view, and we feel we must state it. Naturally, we speak in this matter for ourselves and without any sort of spiritual authority

AMERICAN LEADERSHIP

MR. Wendell Willkie has been

trying to persuade his countrymen to revise their ideas of sovereignty " even to granting that as a matter of principle the United States cannot refuse to arbitrate in international disputes which arise from domestic policies." That utterance indicates how far from the isolationism which, in the early days of the war, gave President Roosevelt so much trouble America has travelled.

There are several reasons for this change. One of them is, of course, that the earth has shrunk bringing near to the United States, so far as communica. dons and transport are concerned, courtesies that once seemed remote. Another factor is to be found in the part played by Japan. Pearl Harbour revolutionised the American outlook in the matter of isolationism. For to the people of the United States Asia means more than does Europe; there they have a sphere to which geography gives them a certain prior claim. But their attitude towards European affairs is different, too, and the cause of • this difference is interesting. The American objection to entanglement in European quarrels was that it meant being " dragged at the heels of Great Britain." Now that the United States is able to take the initiative and is in no danger of playing second fiddle to any other Power, the old objection has ceased to count. To march on to the world stage as the chief character is quite a different thing to playing a rale subordinate to John Bull. Hence we find Mr. Willkie persuading Americans that, even as memhers of an international organisation, they will " still be leaders, by virtue of the strength and ingenuity of our people. To use this leadership for our own enrichment and that of mankind will not be to weaken the sovereign power of the American people; it will bo to widen it and make it more real." The boy who won't play in his school team can he sometimes induced to do so by being offered the captaincy.

HOMES AND SCHOOLS

PARTLY as a reaction against what is felt to be the growing tendency for " Cabinet Government " to override Parliament, there has been evident in Westminster a markedly critical spirit, and the Government has been made the object of some plain speaking. The small majority—only 35--secured by the Government on Mrs. Cazalet Keir's amendment to insert a clause in the Education Bill fixing the time for raising the school-leaving age to sixteen was symptomatic of a certain restiveness in this respect. The amendment had for its object the entrusting to Parliament rather than to the Government the decision of deferring the date, should that prove necessary. The opposition has to be taken in conjunction with the misgivings aroused by what is regarded as official delay in the matter of town and country planning as a prelude to house-building on a large scale. Between these two questions there is an important distinction which should make some difference in the time allowed respectively for the fulfilment of the Government's housing and education policies. Not only is it an impossibility to provide at an early date the additional schools and teachers necessary to make practical the change advocated, but the change itself is not, however desirable it may seem, such as to claim priority in post-war reconstruction, whereas the provision of decent homes is an elementary necessity. It needs to be pointed out also that the more building material and labour are employed in the erection of new and larger schools, the less will there be for the building of homes. Even &am the point of view of educaion (viewed in the larger sense) it is more important that children should be able to live under conditions that make possible a happy domesticity than that the fifteen-year-olds should continue their schooling another year. Lord Wootton as Minister for Reconstruction might well use his judgment and authority in this case to secure priority for the home over the school.




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