MONEY FOR MADRID'S ENGLISH ALTAR
Moorish Troops Controversy Disposed Of
SPAIN WAS THE SUBJECT OF A WILDLY ENTHUSIASTIC MEETING IN SOUTH LONDON THIS WEEK. THE AUDIENCE, LARGELY LOCAL, AND MOSTLY CATHOLIC, HAD COLLECTED TO HEAR FIRST-HAND ACCOUNTS OF THE SPANISH SITUATION FROM A BARCELONA PRIEST, FATHER CABANA, SUB-EDITOR OF A LARGE CATHOLIC DAILY NEWSPAPER OF THIS TOWN, AND FROM MR. ALFRED DENVILLE, M.P., WHOSE RECENT VISIT TO SPAIN IN SEPTEMBER AND OCTOBER OF LAST YEAR HAD GIVEN HIM A PERSONAL ANGLE ON THE SUBJECT.
The Catholic Herald's scheme for an altar in Madrid was received with acclamation throughout the hall. The Chairman of the meeting organised a collection, and in Len minutes £50 was raised.
Beginning at eight o'clock the meeting did not adjourn until eleven, and despite the fact that only two speakers were present (Dr. W. J. O'Donovan was unable to attend owing to illness), both tirelessly answered questions until long after their scheduled time.
Even then groups of people stood around in discussion outside the hall long after proceedings had closed. South London can rarely have witnessed such wholehearted expression of interest and sympathy with any cause—even municipal elections were forgotten.
250 IN TEN MINUTES
About a thousand people or more crowded into the Grand Hall of the Old Kent Road Baths on Tuesday evening. Interest in the subject of the meeting—Spain —ran high from the beginning, but under the influence of cheerful music provided by someone's bright little band, speeches, inspiriting by Mr. Alfred Denville, M.P.; thoughtful and measured by Fr. Henry Gdbana, and lyrically inducing by Chairman Councillor A. E. Egan, mere interest became wild and unrestrained enthusiasm such as the Englishman is seldom given credit for expression.
There was little question of lethargy, or even of mere lip-service to the cause of suffering Spain, among that Tuesday evening gathering. Their chairman rose to tell them of the Catholic Herald's plan to erect an altar. dedicated to the English martyrs, in a public square of Madrid when Madrid becomes, at last, Franco country.
This altar will stand as a token of the love and sympathy of English Catholics for their co-religionists killed in Spain. (Subsequently Fr. Gabena explained that Red destruction had left no altar in Madrid on which Mass could be celebrated, and that various Spanish provinces and European countries had planned similar erections— this one should be England's representation.) It was a tentative suggestion on the part of Councillor Egan that South London's quota to the subscription should be a third of the whole amount. " £150 is needed" and he explained that £45 had been sent to the Catholic. Herald last week " so can we add £50 tonight?"
Generosity is Contagious
He began by asking for one member of the audience to start the collection with a pound note. It was instantaneously produced. " Another? " Egan queried—and it came. And so followed others; stewards collected them from all sides; the audience cheered and generosity became contagious.
When £22 in notes were in hand, collecting plates went round and were returned heavily laden. Stewards retired to the counting-house and came back resplendent with smiles of pleasure all over their faces. The amount announced was 149 Zr. 1044. A member on the platform volunteered the odd shillings, and £50 was an actual fact.
The object of the meeting was set forth with clarity and directness by Councillor Egan, who introduced the speakers as those with first-hand knowledge. This meeting has been held, he said, to enable Catholic men to tell the Communist party that when it comes to Catholic Action we are going to be united over our Church and faith.
Ultimate Question " Some Catholic men cannot define the difference between politics and faith, and the only question to be considered in connection with the Spanish war is not whether Franco stands for Fascism and Caballero for Communism but which will save religion from extinction. And the only thing which we know for certain is that under Franco Catholicism will be allowed to live."
Each speaker in his turn denied that Franco was a Fascist.
Mr. Alfred Denville divided the Caballero side into Communists, Anarchists and Socialists. and the Franco side into Republicans, Socialists. and Carlists, those with 1 no particular political party and Fascists— and of these. the Fascist element, he said, was the smallest.
Fr. Gabana went even further on the' question of Franco's Fascism. There were no Fascists in Spain before the revolution was his contention, but it happened that the leader of the Radicals and the leader of the Popular Action have been subsequently called Fascists, hut " Franco has never been a politician but only a patriot and a soldier who wants to save his country:, He emnhasised that this fight was not between Fascism and democracy by repre
seating the Government of Spain as illegally elected and refusing to preserve personal security. When people revolted it was not against the law but for its preservation.
The subject of the Moors was another bone of contention which was explained very clearly by both speakers. Mr. Denville referred to them as " among the finest and cleanest living people in the world " who, after all, are themselves Spanish subjects. Fr. Gdbana compared Franco's use of them with the English use of Indian troops, which were brought in to fight the Germans in the last war.
He also explained how the Moors and the foreign. legion, represented the professional soldiers • of the Spanish army, and " Would -General Franco be so silly as to despise the best soldiers in his army? "
The Moors regard this war as their own religious war. They see in the Red forces an attempt to root out not only . the Christian religion but also all religions, theirs included. With their chivalrous worship of women they resent such horrors as are perpetrated upon the women of Spain by the Government soldiery, they would fight to the death for the honour of women.
Another question which Fr. Gdbana disposed of was that hard-dying, fabulous legend of the wealth of the Spanish Church which caused the poor to be defrauded. He explained that an act to dispossess the Church of its property had been passed as long ago as the last century, Now it is usual for a curate in a poor parish to re ceive from the State only per month for his maintenance, and he is unable to use church collections for his own personal use.
In conclusion, Fr. Gdbana thanked all those English Catholics who had so generously helped his refugee countrymen. " All these refugees have escaped from the Red side, which shows that people are not happy in Red Spain. Only under General Franco are law and order organised and personal security is guaranteed. May Spain once again become a great Catholic country! "