New Order For The Workers
A Bath Of Blood That Can Purify Us
THE Holy Father's long and meaningful silence since Italy entered the war and the steady exacerbation of the conflict had led one to expect that this year's Christmas Eve Allocution would have been framed in more general and more purely supernatural terms than last year's. On the contrary; the Pope has not hesitated to speak to the warring world in exceedingly plain fashion. One's almost instinctive reaction to a speech of the kind is to look for evidence which shall justify ourselves and indict our enemies. This is indeed permissible. As Christians, however. it is our first duty honestly to seek where we fall short of the Pope's ideal, for while we can only very indirectly improve our enemies, we can, if we will,
very directly and very completely improve ourselves. Our Lord, moreover, in repeated injunctions instructed his followers to seek out their own faults before they undertook to pass judgment on their neighbours.
THE NEW ORDER THE Pope in the first place recalled the famous Five Points put A forward by himself last year as " essential requisites of a peace which would conform to the principles of justice, equity and honour." and stated that these have lost none of their truth, factualness and
moral force, despite the inevitable delay in their application. But immediately after he made a statement which would appear at first sight to clash with the first of those Points. In referring to the almost universal opinion that pre-war Europe and its political structure were undergoing a radical process of transformation, he said : " Europe and its system of States will not be as they were before." In view of the fact that one belligerent side is insistent upon what it calls the creation of a " New Order " and that it clearly conceives this new order in terms of a radical alteration of frontiers in favour of itself, it may easily be argued that the Pope admits the necessity of this change. Actually, however, the Pope, while agreeing that a return to former conditions is neither possible nor desirable, makes only two points characterising the new order. The first is that the weaknesses, defects and deficiencies of the past should give place to something new. better, more advanced, organically more sound, freer and stronger; and second that the changes should be in the interests of " those who live by manual labour and in peace and war suffer more than others the bitter results of economic dislocation, internal and international."
It would seem fair to deduce from this that the Pope, when he speaks of a new order, has primarily in mind a radical reform of the social and economic structure of Europe. more particularly in favour of those who have suffered most in the past from economic nationalism and international capitalism. And while it may be desirable that certain frontiers should be changed and that certain —or perhaps all—States should yield something of their present sovereignty in order to make such a new order possible, the principle of the Pope's first Peace Point remains valid.
The practical conclusion from this part of the Pope's speech would appear to be threefold. First, it is clear that the Pope, when he thinks of any new order, is mainly interested in one thing, namely that this order shall benefit human beings, and not the so-called interests of States and Empires. and that the welfare of the poorer and less economically secure human beings should be the first call on the future peace-makers. Secondly. the Pope indirectly but very evidently rejects the Bitlerian new order, which sins against the first of the Peace Points and is intended primarily to benefit one race and one national ideology. Thirdly. that any idea of being able to set up the old order, however disguised. should be given up; we. no less than the Germans, are called upon to plan the future in radical and realistic terms. for the old order with its injustices and maladjustments is not worth preserving.
A PRESCRIPTION FOR NOW AND THE FUTURE
TN the second part of his speech the Pope added to his five Peace Points five indispensable conditions which must be fulfilled if any new order, whether set up by the Germans or by ourselves. is to have any chance whatever of securing the happiness and welfare of our
generation. When the Pone looks around him and contemplates " the present bath of blood " he can see no sense in it at all unless it proves through God's mercy to be the means of purification so that the whole of humanity and every nation in particular will come out of it " more wise. more experienced, more mature. able to distinguish with a clear vision truth from deceptive appearances. and will turn an attentive ear to the voice of reason, whether pleasant or not, and turn a deaf ear to the empty rhetoric of error."
This purification will not miraculously come about on the day peace is declared. If it is to come about it will be the result of the lessons being learnt on each and every day of the war. It is perhaps too much to hope that the nations as nations can learn their lessons while concentrating on winning their wars, for with them everything yields to the need of victory. But with the people themselves it is different. Already in this country one notes a growing sense of resolution that, while we shall and must go through with this, we shall not let it take place again. You cannot see death and injury and homelessness happening all around you every day without growing more serious. more determined. harder. The kind of world in which such things happen is a bad world. and few of us warconditioned men and women will shrink from facing anything which may seem necessary to overhaul the leadership and the principles that resulted in this blood bath. We do not doubt that in Germany and Italy the same resolution among the people will be found deep down. for all the tyranny and propaganda of totalitarianism.
But the great danger is that this new grimness and hardness will look in the wrong direction for help and guidance. To avert this disaster no better prescription could be found than the instruction of the Holy Father in the five conditions which he has enumerated this Christmas.
TRIUMPH OVER HATRED EACH of these conditions is described as a " triumph." Each, that is, is something at which to aim from now onwards so that in time we may come to triumph over a persistent and powerful temptation, a temptation, we may add, continually put in our path by those to whom we should look up.
The first is " the triumph over hatred." Though the degree in which artificial hatred has been fostered by the enemy as an instrument of war is unfortunately plain enough, our job is to guard ourselves against imitating him. We confess that we have been happily surprised both in conversations with other people and in reading reports to find how little hatred for the enemy peoples there appears to be. The worst haters, in our experience, are to be found among the older generation. and hatred is oftener found among the civilian population than among the armed forces—and that even before the bombing started. And while it is also true that leaders and politicians have on the whole been careful to use restrained language, one can sense here another sign of the difference of outlook between the ordinary people and the more privileged classes. ' Unfortunately certain popular newspapers have done their best since the war began to see if they could lower themselves to a more abject level than Goebbels himself. And the press as a whole could do the country and itself a service by remembering the Christian injunctions to love and forgiveness. We do not think that the old-fashioned hate propaganda pleases or convinces readers, and we are certain that, while it does not bring victory any nearer, it opens the widest path to losing the peace once again.
As for Germany, we simply refuse to believe that a people in which Christianity and Catholicity are so well-founded and so widespread can have swallowed a great deal of the more disgusting Nazi propaganda. We only wish that those of our broadcasters and writers who confound the Germans with the militant Nazis would recall some of their own past liberal faith in the human person. if they cannot recall the enduring Christianity of the enemy people.
TRIUMPH OVER MISTRUST MORE serious perhaps than hatred these days is mistrust, triumph over which is the second Papal condition. Mistrust of Germany's leaders is certainly not baseless. and to many this matter will seem like,. an unscaleable blank wall. Yet without wishing to excuse that repeated breaking of the pledged word which the Pope himself has so often condemned. we may in charity recall the fact that unjust or inequitable arrangements cause grievous temptations to despise all legal and honourable sanctions. In agreeing with the demand for a new and better order the Pope indirectly condemns the old order, the order of Versailles. Had everybody kept their word and tried to carry through the Versailles order in the spirit of the Pope's fifth Peace Point, all would have been well. But the victors mistrusted republican Germany no less than the Kaiser's Germany. The net result was a European arrangement that was meant to be radically and perpetually anti-German. Had Germany always kept her word she would have perpetually acquiesced in an order which almost every German deemed humiliating and unjust. Such conditions could not possibly have conduced to a state of affairs in which a high regard was paid for the plighted word.
The moral is obvious. If promises are to be kept and laws observed it is necessary first to institute reasonably equitable international and national orders. And since men and conditions constantly change, no order can be equitable if it does not allow for necessary alterations.
We can only triumph over mistrust when we have created conditions in which mutual trust works for the best good of all. But meanwhile we can work towards this end, by refusing to dwell exclusively on the sins of our foes. considering instead how both in international and national life we can so re-arrange matters as to give trust a chance.
THE LAST THREE CONDITIONS OF the last three conditions, the fourth takes up again the point made in the Pope's references to the new order. There must be a " triumph over seeds of conflict in the field of world economy" so that every State may acquire the means of ensuring " a proper standard of living for its own citizens of every rank." In the third the Pope repeats once again the truth which he has so often inculcated, notably in Divini Redemptoris, the truth if utility is made the basis and law of right, all international relations become unstable and might becomes right. But here once more it must be recalled that utility and therefore might will always rear their ugly heads unless law and right give their high moral sanction to equitable arrangements that reasonably satisfy the needs of nations and persons. To seek to enforce and perpetuate an unjust law is to mock morality and to degrade it hypocritically to the level of might and utility. provoking forceful reactions on the part of those who consider themselves unjustly dealt with. But there is a proportion in these matters, and the excuse cannot be carried to any lengths. And the Pope clearly has certain historical events in mind when in the same point he condemns attacks on those nations which, " because of their traditional loyalty to peaceful methods or their lesser capacity for war, would not, or could not fight." He also specifically defends the right to use force when definite rights are violently attacked.
The fifth condition, the " triumph over the spirit of cold egoism" which violates " not only the honour and sovereignty of States, but also the righteous. wholesome and disciplined liberty of citizens," has only one obvious application. Let its fearless pronouncement by the Holy Father encourage us to work for that triumph not only by bravely doing our duty, but by earnestly endeavouring to live through the war and after it in the full spirit of the Christian counsel of the Vicar of Christ.