A NUMBER of events which have recently occurred serve as an indication to Catholics — and we should say to Christians and men of good will generally— that sooner rather than later the Leftward drift of Europe must provoke a spiritual crisis. For years now it has been the fashion to equate progress. intelligence and needed social reform with a tendency of thought most conveniently labelled Socialism. The causes of this go back into history and they certainly include the failure Catholics in m of Caany parts or the world to recognise and denounce social injustice as well as theirnarrowly-conceived attachment to the parties of Privilege. That is by no means the whole story, but let us leave it at that and take all the blame. Let us also go out of our way to admit the sincerity and uprightness of the many who came to believe that the social and cultural good of humanity was bound up with radical changes according to the prescriptions of the secularist Liberals and Socialists. But, whatever the moral quality of that great movement, anyone with eyes in his head can see to-day that something has changed. Europe is no longer evolving along the line of democratic Socialism at all. A new factor has come into operation. Since the Russian Revolution we have hero witnessing a determined bid, not to extend
thc range and depof social democracy, but to capture seculurist Liberalism and Socialism and convert it into the inetrument of what is quite simply Godless -totalitarianism or tyranny in the interests of a small minority of political adventurers out to destroy in their own interests every • religious, moral, humanitarian, liberal and democratic tradition. And very many%f those who from the first were much more interested in anti-clericalism than in evolutionary Socialism have now found their proper spiritual home in the ranks of tyrannic Communism.
It used to be part of the Communist th
gospel that e provocation of world war would he the best tactic for spreading the Revolution. We elle not ourselves believe that this war can be said to have been provoked by the Communists (though one could work out interesting arguments to show the parallelism between Communism and Nazism, arguments which would throw a clearer light on the whole cause of the war) but no one can doubt that the occurrence of war has in fact been the occasion of a spread of Communism beyond the wildest Communist peacetime dreams. Not only has it enabled Communist tyranny to establish itself in many countries, but it seems to have blinded millions so that they can confuse naked tyranny, naked Nazism under another name, with democratic liberalism and the. most progressive social reform.
Why It Persecutes
'MOW we must surely be clear about 11 the fact that whatever might have been said of the Socialist reaction to clerical obscurantism (allowing the latter, for argument's sake, to have been the chief cause of the former) there is nothing an honest Christian can say in defence of the police-State which to-day holds millions in terror in halfa-dozen countries of Europe. That is not Socialism; that is not democracy; that is not progress; it is simply a regression in modem dress to pre-Christian or savage despotism. It is the rule of naked fear and force. And this barbarism is far indeed from being unconnected with the persecution of all real religion which goes with it. We said it Was a regression to a pre-Chrishail arid savage rule. It must be that, for such despotism is utterly irreconcilable with, so to say, the smallest whiff of the breath of the Gospels, and it cannot be supported by anyone whet retains anything of the essence of Christianity within him. (We are not talking now of some of the economic reforms which are to be foupd iii Communism; we are talking of the ruthless tyranny with which Communism holds in terror human beings subjected to its sway.) Indeed .so far as genuine social and economic reform go, the Church, whatever its mistakes in the political and social fields in the past, has long since openly upheld principles and measures that are as revolutionary as anything seeularism has thought out. Our 'readers on another page can hear an echo of this spirit in the words of Canon Cardyn at the recent J.O.C. anniversary, and they have but to open many a pamphlet to study it at leisure in the words of the Supreme Pontiff. But, we say, there comes a time when the Church, which cherishes and protects the spiritual and moral truths that lie behisul all genuine political and moral progress, must find herself face to face with the direct attempt to destroy religion itself as the last barrier before the triumph of sheer, Godless tyranny.
The Spanish Pastoral
THE Pastoral of the Archbishop of Toledo, published this week, explains once again how.and why it. was that the Church in Spain felt itself obliged to uphold the resistance to the first attempt in a large and internationally supported scale irt Europe to destroy the Christianity of a nation. The Spanish Primate not only recalls some of the details of the, attempt (in Toledo itself, he tells us, 300, that is, half his priests, suffered martyrdom), but quotes Pius X1 in his support and goes deeply into the moral question of when revolt . is morally justified. No one, least of all the Spanish Hierarchy, pretends that that bloody Civil War was a pleasant or good thing, andowe who have just emerged from world war must understand well enough the unforeseen and apparently irremediable consequences of such tragic clashes of arms. The result must inevitably be a situation that is far from wholly consonant with what the Church would regard as an ideal order. Athd Spain, in addition in dealing with the immense loss of life and material, together with the legacy of hatred and spirit of revenge, was faced with terrible complexities and anxieties resulting from the world war itself. However much we, as Christians. may condemn aspects of the resulting Spanish situation, we must also, as Christians, surely remember that the aims of the Revolution— aims never given up—were the defence of Catholic and Spanish traditions. That cannot be the same for us as the aims of the tyrannies in the East (against which Spain rose): and we for our part have little patience with those who in abstract fashion are content to equate one dictatorship with another,' still less with those who single Spain out as the one kper in civilisation. Mgr. Pla in his pastoral reasonably and tactfully suggests the lines of constitutional evolution which the Church has always desired and which it is now high time to realise. These when accomplished will be the fullest justi lication of what took place nealla ten years ago. We hope that Franco fully appreciates this.
The Church and Italian Elections
NOTHER recent occurrence which
has already caused some scandal is the Church ruling in Italy 'about the coming elections. Because the Church bids the faithful vote for " those who will respect the observance of the Divine Law and the rights of the Church," she is accused of entering into politics. Well, so be id When politicians themselves turn politics into a matter of conscience, the Church as the rightful guardian of conscience enters the politicalHow could she do otherwise. Nor, be it remembered, is it just an academic question of choosing between avowed clericals and vague secularists. The issue, as we have seen and as it certainly was in Spain, is fundamentally between those who want to protect liberties that are the base of a civilisation founded in Christian values and those who arc openly out to destroy all 'such liberties in the interests of the self-constituted leaders of a class. Nor could anyone contend that the Church in Italy has been unwilling to step all the way possible along the lines of the new order. Just as the Bishops were prominent in affording aid to the Resistance, so has the Holy Father tolerated in the labour field fusions between Catholics and other sections in a way that Catholics elsewhere have not dared to follow. But if the real issue is forced, the challenge must be accepted. Peculiarly unpleasant is the activity of Laski who. coming from England where the real issue is felt, if never thought out in logical terms, and as a spokesman of the governing Party, advises the Italian Socialists to fight against the Concordat and the denominational schools. Arid he (hies this in the same breath as he takes the Socialist leader to task for his philo-Cornmonism. It is extraordinary how a man trained and paid to think in University chairs can be so mentally confused and so historically innocent as not to realise that in a country like Italy in present conditions the quickest road to Communist tyranny is to wage war on religion, the one serious defence left before the assaults of the instruments of this conspiracy against everything which the Englishman of all classes cherishes above everything, his personal, political and social rights. Hedge as we may and appease as much as we think prudent, sooner or later we shall have to face the truth that it is always a case of Communist tyranny against Christian liberty. Thi?, by the way, is a point that Russia never seems to forget.
U.S. AND U.S.S.R. IN FAR EAST
RECENTLY we declared that the defeat and elimination of Japan would bring Russia and North America face to face across the intervening sea. That state of. things has been now reached, but there are certain aspects of the subsequent arrangements made that accentuate the condition we anticipated. One of the most remarkable things about these is the attitude towards China which they reveal. Russia's recognition of the Chungking Government wines as a surprise to the many observers who thought that her support would he given to the North China Communists. Evidently Moscow ha, no intention of dieturbieg the regime of which General Chiang Kai-shek is the head.' The policy pursued in this respect is similar to that followed in more than one European country, where the native Communists have been ignored.
On the other band, Russia's determination to secure an advantageous position in Outer Mongolia and on the eastern seaboard is made clear. The former region is to be recognised by both China god Russia as independent. On the coast, the establishment of Port Arthur as a Russian base and of Dairen with its important harbour as a free port arc valuable gains. The southern half of Sakhalin, which Russia requires. though in northern waters, constitutes an important outpost, protecting the mainland and dominating Japan to the south. In short, the terms of the Russo-Chinese Treaty (including the cession to China of Formosa) are unexpectedlyfavourable to the Chungking Government, but, at the same time, strengthen Russia's eastern flank and give her, what she has long sought and really needs, access to ice-free waters. The U.S. also has strengthened her position in this quarter. The Philippines once more come under her control. It is the American intention undoubtedly to retain those* iumecous islands which formed stepping stones for their approach to the Japanese mainland. The results of the long and costly struggle which began with the disaster of Pearl Harbour give the victors a position in the Pacific that, whether regarded from the naval or commercial standpoint, will prove of high yalue, so long ah the world continues to organise itself in terms of war, rather than peace. If peace were really our object, the nee& of Japan would be more carefully considered. Significantly correspondents point out that whatever Japan may have lost she possesses plenty of the richest wealth a people can have, children.