CARDINAL Ciriftin's plain
speaking on the subject of so-called mercy-killing or euthanasia (kind death) may strike some Catholics as not so opportune and pertinent as we have come to expect his public statements to be. In fact, however, they come at a most opportune moment and, unhappily. indeed, arc most pertinent. The 24th Annual Meeting of the Mental Hospitals Association, which met in London last month, and which is a body having great influence both with the Board of Control (the old Lunacy Commissioners) and with the Local Health Authorities, raised this very question in respect of incurably mentally defective children. In discussion on one of the papers read at the meeting, " Alderman E. Turner (Middlesbrough; North-Eastern Counties Joint Board for the Mentally Defective) said there were children born into the world to-day who it was known at birth would be of no use to themselves or to the nation, and he thought it was a shame that they should be allowed to continue in that kind of existence when nothing could be done for them. There was a general attitude of cowardice in dealing with this problem, and the question of -sterilisation was shelved
year after year. If it was not a practical proposition to help these children, he submitted that the question of euthanasia should be considered and a national verdict given upon it."
THIS mixture of sentimentalism and utilitarianism, which is the noisome weed that springs up in the minds and hearts deprived of God and supernatural truth, is in no way to be distinguished either in its logic or in its effect from the Nazism which we so recently fought to destroy.
If the only criterion of usefulness, or the only justification for life is " whether there was any possible chance of such children becoming of any .good to anyone in this world," as a speaker at the same meeting said, commending Alderman Turner's courage for " saying what many people thought," then indeed there is no logical escape from the conclusion that sterilisation aud/or euthanasia, or if you happen to have slipped a httle further down the same scale, Buchenwald and its gas chambers, is the proper course. Care and pity and mercy and charity and love arc all so many midnight madnesses. Unless man's supernatural destiny is firmly held, only his usefulness "in this world" or his "usefulness to the nation.are to be considered. Unless the truth that God alone is the Author of life in general. and the particular Creator of each individual soul for a supernatural destiny, is firmly held. the care of the sick and " useless" is a matter. of sentiment and all the logic and realism and fact facing and courage is with the advocates of sterilisation
and mercy killing. Our duty is clear—to know our Catechism and a bit more and to face these tendencies and meet them with the supernatural truths of our religion with as much courage as the Alderman showed and much more persistence all the time the mass of our fellow countrymen enjoy the culture of their residual Christianity.
Congress llaste—A Warning
DESPITE advocacy by the C.I.O. and the A,F. of L.— America's two most powerful labour organisations—the American Legion of war veterans, the National Catholic Welfare Committee as a whole, many individual American bishops, as well as Protestant and Jewish organisations, the Stratton Bill was not made law before the 80th Congress dispersed
last week. Most of the named organisations and the State Department advocated the admission of 400.000 European D.P.5 into America. The Bill, which has hogged down in committees, proposes 100,000 a year be allowed to enter America. This is an example of the working of the kind of mind which will be dealing with the Marshall Plan in January, and should prove a useful pointer to the over optimistic of the kind of trials that measure may meet. Powerful-support from even traditionally opposed sections of American opinion did not serve to hasten this Bill introduced in April and in July the subject of a strong appeal by the President for immediate consideration.
Where Austerity Begins RARELY has a holiday season
occurred at a time less propitious for the cultivation of the holiday spirit. Parliament adjourns in an atmosphere of grave disquiet fully justified by the circumstances under which it takes place. It is,. indeed, something to have an expression of the Government's view of the situation and an outline of its proposals. But courage in facing ugly facts and good intentions as regards the means of meeting the situ
ation are only a beginning. Not, even the most authoritative statement issuing from the highest levels can ensure that these good inten tions can be realised. Unfortunately, neither here nor in the United States can the official element make sure that it will be able to command the co-operation of the electorate it is supposed to represent. The industrial world has shown how wide the gap can be between properly constituted authority and the rank-and-file of the workers. That gap it is possible may reveal itself in the political sphere. It is one thing to lay down plans for austerity in consumption and hard work in production, but another thing to secure these highly desirable and even necessary responses. The measures needful in order to sec us through our present difficulties demand a new spirit and outlook on the part of the nation as a whole. And it remains to be seen whether these can be created.
The conjunction of the holiday season and this cruel necessity is, therefore, unfortunate. If it is true that the British people take their pleasures sadly, it is also true that they like to meet grave emergencies in a sporting mood. There are few of our national traditions we cherish more fondly than that which tells how Drake, with the Spanish Armada almost in sight, insisted in finishing the game of bowls which he and his captains were playing on Plymouth Hoe. But that attitude is difficult to recapture. These Elizabethan seamen lived at a time when the country was in an expansive and adventurous mood. Its wealth and its power were on the up-grade. It had abundant confidence hi itself. A few minutes more or less before going on board their craft would make little difference.
We can reckon on no such tide in the affairs of men. Under these circumstances, the adjournment of Parliament and the holiday exodus generally may be taken only as an excuse for forgetting what we cannot bring ourselves to face. If the sporting spirit shows itself, it may take the form of hoping that, while we are-at play, some happy chance may come to our assistance and make our postponed austerity less than we feared. Perhaps, we tell ourselves, after all, something will turn up to solve our problems for us. The temptation to relax with a reckless disregard for what may happen in the future, is strong. After us the deluge. It is in fighting this temptation that austerity must begin. We shall tighten our belts gladly if we have first girded our minds. Holidays afford an opportunity not for abandoning unfinished tasks to chance but for getting down to those basic principles and that reservoir of strength which alone can enable us to emerge from the present crisis victorious. In short, economic, commercial and political survival de
pend on spiritual factors, • That, of course, is a trite observation. But this is an hour in which commonplaces, frayed and soiled though they be by repetition, acquire an unwonted value and appear as startling novelties. It may be that our salvation depends on our ability to heed the "commonplaces" of traditional Wisdom.
ONE thing emerges from what is
at present known of the Government's intentions. Apparently it is prepared to discount American aid and to depend rather on our own efforts. We cannot dismiss the thought that this independence is dictated less by belief in the Tuition's power of self-recovcry as in confidence regarding the efficacy of Socialistic planning, even if such planning rouses opposition in the U.S. and prejudices the prospect of receiving help from that source.
To say this is not to discourage the attempt to find in spheres under our own control whose potentialities have been insufficiently tapped, the
means of righting the ship. The crisis will not have been in vain if it makes us conscious of overlooked assets.
And first among these must be put the possibilities of an agricultural revival that would make us less dependent on food from overseas. And let us be clear as to the reason
why, as a calling, agriculture fails to attract the manpower necessary for its efficiency. The housing difficulty, the provision of urban amenities and the raising of prices and wages will not solve the problem. The prosperity of the countryside cannot be brought about by a series of bribes either to farmers or their employees. It can lead only to demands for further bribes. The plain fact, however unacceptable, is that we have, in the most literal sense, to get down to earth. However you look at it, our present civilisation is top-heavy. We have got so far away from the primary sources of production as almost to have forgotten our ultimate dependence on them. Processing takes precedence in our minds over the things processed. And this is only a symptom of the still deeper disease from which we are suffering. For there is a close relationship between the measure of our soilconsciousness and that of our Godconsciousness. In both cases, it is awareness of the foundations on which society ultimately rests which is in question. Let no one say that we are taking the matter too seriously, or that our business is with the problem on lower levels.
THE time has gone by for dealing with symptoms. If we cannot bring ourselves to face boldly and clearly the ultimate issues, we shall find. in the near future. that our opportunity has passed What at other times might be considered impractical counsels arc now the only practical wisdom available. But there is a larger sense in which we have to help ourselves. As an Empire in the old, Victorian sense of the term the process of disintegration has commenced. As a Commonwealth of Nations, it may be that the history of this people is only just beginning. The losses suffered in the one direction can find compensation in the other direction. The more we lose of territories in parts of the world where our sovereignty is maintained by strained relationships involving heavy commitments in military force, the better able we shall be to cultivate and deepen relationships with peoples overseas who are our kinsmen and whose co-operation is on a voluntary basis. This used to he called " littleEnglandism." but that to-day would be a misnomer. For the alternative to imperialism is not a narrow isolationism confined to Great Britain but an alliance, economic and spiritual, binding together a wide and potentially rich commonwealth represented in all parts of the world.