By DOUGLAS BROWN
From Anathema to Dialogue by Roger Garaudy. with replies by Karl Rattner S.J. and J. B. Metz (Collins 25s.).
DIALOGUE. in the fashionable meaning of the term, involves not only trying to understand one's opponent's point of view but talking to him about it with due humility. Here we have the prince of French Marxist theoreticians, a member of the Politburo, engaged with two distinguished
Catholic theologians in donnish. courteous argument. Ten, perhaps five. years ago this could not have happened. Mutual anathemas would have been hurled instead.
Two things have helped to cause the change, The first is what one may call the higher humanism adopted by the Church under the inspiration of John XXIII and the Second Vatican Council, by which she seeks to enter a more fruitful partnership with the world of men. The second is the increas mg realisation on the Communist side that under the present balance of nuclear terror it is impossible to maintain the old Marxist dream of the inevitable advent of the classless, secular paradise. For some time now discreet contacts have been made, on the philosophical level, between influential representatives of both camps. Recently, as the columns of the CATHOLIC Heaton have shown, these contacts have been more open.
Professor Garaudy's monograph, indeed, appears to he an expansion of a paper he read before the Teilhard de Chardin Society recently at a packed meeting of Christians, humanists and Marxists in the St. Pancras Town Hall. He is concerned that the dialogue should not be idealised and conducted only in ivory towers, but should become part of the ordinary man's way of thought.
None of the contributors to the present volume is a popuTenser. but the essays arc well worth sharpening one's wits on. Christians await the Second Coming; Communists expect the withering away of the State and the appearance of a terrestrial utopia. We can have a better idea of what the former means if we make a real attempt to understand the latter.
The earthly future of mankind, as Fr. Rahner points out, approaches more and more a situation in which each will be neighbour to all. This may not be Communism, but. when it happens, Christianity will be divorced from particular nations and cultures, and will be everywhere; but it still may embrace only a part of mankind.
There is thus an intimate relationship. and an inevitable tension, between Christian and materialist ideals, Since the Church will continue to the end of time she had better learn to sympathise with the probable development of the society she has been created to sanctify. in which intellectual Marxism is certain to play a part.