Side-by-side advance in the colonised lands
A WARNING and appeal by Vatican Radio last week
about colonial problems and racial prejudices came on the eve of the final debate in the British Parliament on the Bill which for the first time gives sovereign independence to a British territory in tropical Africa—the Gold Coast.
Later in the year Malaya will also become independent. At the same time constitutional evolution bringing more selfgovernment is going forward in a number of other British territories — in, for example, Nigeria and other African territories, including the proposed Central African Federation of the Rhodesias and Nyasaland, and the Caribbean.
The new State of Ghana (the name of an ancient African kingdom) composed of the Gold Coast, Ashanti. the Northern Territories and Togoland—will celebrate Independence Day on March 6.
By chance, one of the Ciosernment spokesmen for the Ghana Independence Bill in the House of Lords on Tuesday is the first Catholic Member of a Conservative Government since the war, Lord Perth. the new Minister of State for the Colonies.
Vatican Radio said last week that " the political emancipation of peoples who have been colonised present certain difficulties concerned with principles to the Christian conscience."
it recalls that the Bishops of Madagascar in 1953 issued a statement—later followed by 20 similar declarations by groups of Bishops Ill Africa and elsewhere—saying : " We recognise thc legitimacy of aspirations towards independence and also all constructive efforts made to arrive at it."
Vatican Radio also recalled that the Holy Father in his 1955 Christmas broadcast. speaking of the relations between " Europeans and those non-Europeans who aspire to full political independence," said : " At any rate, let not those ,people be denied a fair and progressive political freedom. nor hindered in its pursuit."
Then Vatican Radio spoke of the danger of racial prejudices— a problem " sometimes totally independent of the colonial system "— and remarked that against this even a police force is only a "fragile rampart."
" Easing minds and hearts is the condition of peace and reconcilia tion. The moral prestige of the political chiefs and of the religious authorities may help to obtain this." •
In a grave matter affecting many millions of people—and in the face of warnings from the ultra-conservative and over-cautious — the Church has in fact been showing the nations, on the religious and spiritual plane. the way to true. sound self-government.
In a recent pastoral letter, a French Bishop in Madagascar.
Mgr. Rolland, said : " It is necessary to have faith and courage, foresight and daring. The future of Madagascar will be what we all make it together, Madagascar people and Europeans." Many people will say that ,, faith and courage, foresight and daring " can be seen in the Holy Sec's determined action in elevating " missionary " territories to full ecclesiastical status by the creation of Hierarchies—and particularly in the appointment of young nonEuropean Bishops.
When the present Holy Father was elected in 1939 there was not a single African Bishop of the Latin rite. But already there are 17.
The first of these Bishops is in British territory. Mgr. Joseph Kiwanuka. whom the Holy Father himself consecrated in October 1939, and in 1953 made first Bishor of Masaka, Uganda. in the newly established Hierarchy in British East Africa.
Bishop Kiwanula was 40 when he was appointed. But other African Bishops consecrated since have been considerably younger. For example, in Rome last Sunday, in the College of the Propagation of the Faith on the Taniculurn Hill. the Dean of the Sacred College, Cardinal Tisserant. consecrated 34year-old Mgr. Bernard Gaudin, Auxiliary Bishop of Cotonou. French West Africa. Younger still is Mgr. Maurice Otunga. who a few weeks ago was named Auxiliary Bishop of Kisumu. Kenya.
Since the war the Holy See has also appointed the first Zulu Bishop, Mgr. 'Mabathona. of Leribe. Basutoland. and the first Sudanese Bishop, Mgr. Ireno Dud. Altogether. about 130 Indian, Japanese. Vietnamese, Ceylonese, Korea n. Siamese, Burmese, Chinese, Pakistani, Indonesian, and African Bishops have been consecrated since 1926.
For the 22,000,000 Catholics and catechumens in Africa the Holy See has in fact since the war created a whole series of Hierarchies in British and other territories.
The first outstanding development after the war was the establishment of three archdioceses and 10 dioceses in British West Africa, the Cameroons and Togoland. This was the biggest step forwards in the development of the Church on the African continent this century.
Incidentally, it has meant that Accra. the capital of the new State of Ghana, has a Negro Bishop, Mgr. Joseph Bowers, who comes from the West Indies.
Mgr. Bowers comes from the diocese of Roseau. in the British West Indies. In that region, in the Caribbean, a new Hierarchy, preceding the proposed Federation.
was established last year. The latest of the Bishops of these newly established dioceses is Mgr. Justin Field. an English Dominican who, as stated in THE CATHOLTC: HTRALD last week. was born in the Gloucestershire village of Down Hatherly and became a Catholic when he was a schoolboy.
In such ways the Church—in a tradition now nearly 2,000 years old — has been encouraging and helping European Governments and nations to guide "colonial " peoples towards self-government and at the same time encouraging and helping men of many races to co-operate in truth, justice and charity for the welfare of the one human family.
In the House of Lords in January, the Earl of Perth, speaking of the attainment of selfgovernment by territories within the British Commonwealth. said : " '1 his is not the break-up of Empire : it is its greatest achievement."
The Holy Father, in his words on the aspirations of non-Europeans towards self-government, said : " To Europe . . . they will give credit for their advancement. to that Europe without whose influence, extended to all fields, they might be drawn by a blind nationalism to plunge into chaos or slavery."