'Firm stood thy throne ere ever the world began; from all eternity thou art' (Ps. 92) OUR 25 YEARS
By Michael de la Bedoyere
THIS year, 1959, the new CATHOLIC HERALD celebrates its Silver Jubilee.
On Monday, February 19, 1934, Charles Diamond, who had founded the CATHOLIC HERALD fifty years earlier, died. On June 2 of the same year, the directors of "THE NEW CATHOLIC HERALD LTD.", who had bought the old paper, issued their policy statement for the "Rejuvenated Catholic Journal".
By one of those oddities of history—or should it be called in this case Providence?—the transition between an Irish nationalist Catholic weekly, run by a tough and fearless journalist of the old school who seems to have offended everyone by always speaking his own mind, and the new policy of a group of converts and so-called intellectuals was far less revolutionary than might have been expected.
The New Look
THE reason was all to the credit of Diamond in his old age. He had realised for some months that the old Irish political CATHOLIC HERALD had outlived its usefulness. His last months on earth were therefore spent in planning his own new policy.
"Our Programme for 1934" Was published by Diamond a month before his death and it contained the names of new contributors who would help to make the paper into a Catnolic weekly aware of the great political, social, cultural issues within which post-war Catholicism in Britain must grow, develop and strengthen itself.
I N July the "new" CATHOLIC HERALD published a whole page of illustrated potted biographies of its new writers. It is interesting to note that five names were common to both lists: Fr. Martin D'Arcy, Douglas Newton, Charles Barry, W. R. Titterton and the present writer.
The name of Fr. Bede Jarrett, 0.1'. was also common to both lists, and that great Dominican,
who died so suddenly on March 17 of that year, was in fact the spiritual inspirer of the old and the new. He had advised Diamond about his new policy and he happened also to be a friend and adviser of the group which planned to take the paper over after Diamond's death. This was indeed a strange, but also, surely, providential coincidence.
To Charles Diamond and to Fr. Bede Jarrett this paper will always owe a great debt, though the services of both were accidentally marred—Fr. Bede's by the tragedy of his death just when he could have helped so
greatly: Charles Diamond's because he was the kind of man who made a good many enemies. For a long time the new paper's association with him was an adverse factor.
the files of 1934 and 1935, one is struck by many interesting points. One is the amount of reading-matter in a I6-page paper carrying hardly
any advertisements. There was, too, a strange solidity about the appearance, due no doubt to the inexperience of the new and young team. But there can be no question but that the policy of the new enterprise was well and truly carried out — the best available writers dealing in regular issues with all that is relevant to a truly Catholic mind.
More or less regular writers included Don Sturzo (social questions), Robert Speaight (the theatre), W. R. Thompson (now F.R.S.) (science), E. I. Watkin (the saints), H. M. Gillett
(Marian shrines), a well-known priest writer under the name of Celluloid (films), Cyril Crabtree (music), Wilfred Rooke Ley (radio), Fr. Martindale (diverse topics).
And the list of occasional contributors seems to include the names of almost every Catholic writer of the period : G. K. Chesterton (two of his last journalistic articles, I suppose), M. (2. D'Arcy, Christopher Dawson, Douglas Woodruff, Christopher Hollis, Archbishop Goodier, Donald Attwater, Mary Ellison, Stanley B. James,
Continued on page 6. col. 1
THE NEW 'CM.' IS 25 YEARS OLD
Continued from Page I Lord Clonmore, Eric Gill, Francis and Osbert Burdett. G. M. Turnell, Algar Thorold. George Bennigsen, Bernard Wall, Bob Walsh, F. R. Hoare, Desmond Morse-Boycott, Mgr. Duchemin, David Mathew, J. M. N. Jefferies. Fr. Prince, Fr. F. H. Drinkwater, Arnold Lunn, James Monahan. A. A. Parker —not to mention Denis Tegetmeier's splend and hard-hitting cartoons. So many of them are still with as twenty-five years later and still, it seems to me, forming the main thrust of Catholic writing in an age when too few younger people find time for writing, if we add the later convert writers.
THE cult of the weekly "column" was less marked then, and it was nearly two years before the first "column" (Jotter's) started. On the other hand, efforts to establish a correspondence column got going from the start, with many topics still under discussion, the "leakage", for example, appearing very early. But there, too, it took a year and more to establish the regular full feature. Space available made it possible to have a very thorough weekly treatment of foreign affairs at a time when perhaps more obviously than today foreign affairs loudly cried for Catholic comment.
Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, the delicate situation in Spain, Abyssinia (a wonderful subject for Don Sturzo), and Communism from any and every angle — all these clearly called for regular and informed treatment.
To those who expressed surprise at a Catholic weekly filling columns with political affairs at home and abroad, we answered with the slogan "The Paper which will not mind its own business", with specific reference to the dictators who held that religion in their countries should mind its own business,
THE new paper quickly established itself as something of a revolutionary force in Catholic jour nalism in this country, incurring much criticism and receiving much praise. It may be recalled that those pre-war years under Cardinal Hinsley with Europe in a turmoil and heading for war were lively years for Catholics in this country. Catholic publishers were seeking fresh ideas from the Continent; new controversial magazines and literature were appearing; new ideologies and political clashes abroad were putting Catholics in this country on the defensive — a good position for skirmishing and counter-attacking and even quarrelling among the defenders I It is pleasant to discover that those were the years when the proportional number of converts to the Church was at its highest. As Bruce Marshall, I think, has said: the Church is never in greater danger than when no one has any quarrel with it — the position today?
CONDITIONS enabled the paper to enjoy a circulation which permitted it to reach most of the interested and active-thinking Catholics, at any rate in the south of England. That sort of circulation, however, was not enough to keep the paper in its exciting first incarnation. Its appeal had to be broadened as post-war costs rose. Moreover, an economic size together with a more popular presentation have greatly reduced the amount of reading matter in each issue, in this paper as in all others. But anyone who looks through the files of twenty-five years will see the continuity of policy and the persistence of the original aims to' help Catholics in this country to be aware of all that is of Christian relevance in the world of politics, social affairs, culture, education, etc., while also receiving information and comment on the affairs of the Church, at home and abroad. Not least, too, the policy then as now is to encourage Catholics to think for themselves, to discuss, to relate their temporal affairs to their spiritual beliefs, to realise (however they may see their personal vocation in practice) that Catholicity and apostolicity necessarily go together.
I N the early days many of the matters which today have become part of the picture of the Church, such as the use of the vernacular and other liturgical changes to help the Catholic worship with his mind and whole being rather than he a merely passive observer, were discussed in our columns. Such discussion was not always approved. Today the Church has accepted far more than the laity then felt it to be suitable to propose. Today we are entering a new age — perhaps a more difficult one when the Church enjoys a popularity and respect a good deal greater than in the late thirties. Complacency and personal self-congratulation are the danger.
But the world outside is less Christian than ever,
The CastatotOC HERALD still sees the times as a challenge — to Catholics as well as to nonCatholics. In a quieter way perhaps—for a price has to be paid for "establishment"—we still see it to be our job to remind ourselves and others that smugness, self-satisfaction, a sense of personal spiritual comfort are not good enough for those who, by God's grace, are members of the most revolutionary creed in the world.
To be a Catholic and yet possess no sense of an informed, alert, intelligent apostolic call still seems to us to be a contradiction in terms. We hope it always will.