SI11,—Why this almost interminable controversy about a thing which should be obvious to anyone? Surely it is as clear as daylight once you make a distinction between revenge and the revengeful spirit. They are two very different things. The latter is always wrong: the former, being a judicial act is not necessarily so. But as the
whole matter is so lucidly discussed by St. Thomas Aquinas, the prince of theologians, almost with an intuitive vision of the present situation, perhaps 1 may be allowed to transcribe his words in full.
Asking whether vengeance is lawful, he says: " Vengeance consists in the infliction of a penal evil on one who has ginned. Accordingly, in the matter of vengeance, we must consider the mind of the avenger. For if his intention is directed to the evil of the person on whom he takes vengeance, and tests there, then his vengeance is altogether unlawful, because to take pleasure in another's evil belongs to hatred, which is contrary to the charity whereby we arc bound to love all men. Nor is it an excuse that he intends the evil of one who has unjustly inflicted evil on him, as neither is a man excused for hating one that hates him, for a man may not sin against another just because the latter has already sinned against hint, since this is to he overcome by evil, which was forbidden by the Apostle, who says (Rona XII, 21): ' Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil by good.' If, however, the avenger's intention be directed chiefly to some good, to be obtained by means of the punishment of the person who has sinned (for instance, that the sinner may amend, or at least that he may be restrained and others be not disturbed, that justice may he upheld and God honoured) then vengeance may be lawful, provided other due circumstances be observed." (Summa. ii ii, Q. evil', Art. I.)
[The above letter Is from a priest.—EptioR C.H.)
Slit,—As a bombed Londoner I should like to express my appreciation of your courageous criticism of the Premier's County Hall speech. In addition to being immoral and un-Christian, tevenge bombing seems to File to be a psychological mistake, also an unwise way of spending public money. I should vote against the bombing of all cities if an opportunity of doing so presented itself. The loss of all my worldly goods makes me conscious that such a wrong should riot be inflicted on possible innocent persons in an enemy country.
A. CARLYON. Grosvenor Hotel, Malvern, Worcs.
A Job for the Sword of the Spirit
SIR, — A recent letter referred to a new society for the Christian combating of the growing hatred that is being infused into our war policy. Surely though this is a job for the Sword of the Spirit, which with its prestige and organisation, is in a particularly good position for inoculating, or attempting to inoculate our people againstthe spirit of revenge which must frustrate any post-war attempts at a Christian peace.
Does the Sword of the Spirit intend to do anything to counteract the encouragements to hatred and vengeattee made by our representative rulers? Are such pronouncements as the following, to go unanswered and unopposed by the organisation which has done so much, so well to make people aware of the urgency of basing international relationships on Christian ethics? Sir Reginald is reported as saying: " I am not one of those who believe that when this war terminates it would he our duty to forgive and forget. I believe that our was is not against Adolf, that grotesque figure, but against the whole German people, even women and children, and I believe that we shall never have peace in Europe until we have ground them down with a severity which will be 100 per cent more brutal than the severity they have meted out to the nations they have conquered. . . For me no truck, no forgiveness, but a bitter hate against the whole German people."
These words were, according to the Surrey Comet (26/64l) greeted with enthusiastic applause. It is not enough to dismiss the speaker as a victim of hysteria, or as an unintelligent fanatic. He is OBV of our elected rulers. His words evoke support (in their frank appeal to animal instinct), and they have their counterpart in other speeches by persons no less responsible, and in our newspapers. What action, and lf ask in no spirit of querulousness, will the Sword of the Spirit take to nullify this dangerous spirit of Nazi primitiveness in our midst?
21, Grange Avenue, London, S.E.25.
THE STATIONS AT LAMPETER
SIB,—Wc should all congratulate the pastor and the congregation at Lampeter on the establishment of the new church in that area as a welcome sign of expansion.
1 imagine, however, that a good many Catholics, who denounce Hitler and Hitlerism as much as I, will be not a little shocked at the artist's depicting Hitler as " the man with the upraised hammer who nails our Lord to the Cross."
I know all the countries overrun by the Nazis (except Russia); I have intimate friends in them all (including Russia); and I know the butchery and sacrilege perpetrated by the Nazi hordes have been enough to incense the Catholics of those countries—especially the Poles and the Czechs. Nevertheless, 1 doubt if it is right for a Catholic artist to depict, or for a Catholic pastor to display in a picture, or a carving, that is not only lasting but used in a regularly practised devotion, any living being as Tim roan who hammered in those nails. To a newspaper cartoon, to serve a passing purpose, it might be all right ; but is is right in what is intended for liturgical use in the Church?
I understand the common teaching of the Church to be that mankind as B whole, including the artist ;Ind me, air. lent a hand in nailing that Victim to the Cross. IS it right for a pastor to allow an artist to commit even Hitler to perdition so long as the Lampeter Stations last, regardless of the state of soul in which Hitler may yet die; and to allow the same artist to exalt himself, so long as the Stations last, as the benefactor who helped to lessen the burden of the Cross?
Perhaps some of your readers may put Lampeter, or me, right on this.
J. A. FLANNAGAN.