THIS is, of course, the greatest week of the war, and there is surely much consolation for Catholics in that the conquest of the first of the great peaks after the weary four years' ascent should be a genuine occasion for Christian joy. This cannot but strengthen us in the heavy and dangerous task, already begun, of scaling the precipitous heights which still bar the way to final The liberation of Rome has been written about from every angle. We may be left to stress certain aspects that are of special significance to those who try to keep the war in n truly moral perspective. In the first place there cannot be any doubt that this is a liberation. It is true that the great majority of the Italian people were wholeheartedly behind Mussolini's Fascist adventure, and for our part we can go a long way in excusing them. The democratic pollticians of Italy had in practice fallen far short of the ideals of the Risorgi mento, and an Italy despised by its own Allies, short of living space and a prey to political ideologists, had little hesitation in welcoming a strong and purposeful rule, both for internal affairs and for foreign policy. It is important to recall these truths. for there is no reason on earth why the same Sort of causes in the future should not bring about effects of essentially the same type. But such political adventures are always a heavy risk, and for some years the wiser Bakens have been rea
lising that the gamble was going to prove a failure. It may be that
Mussolini was driven into the Axis camp because of the continued failure of Britain and France to understand Italy's genuine needs, but the decision
must have been in any event fatal. It was highly unpopular with a people inheriting a rooted antipathy to the
Germans and their ways; it involved Italy's position as a permanent satellite, in the event of a Hitler victory ; it meant disaster, if Hitler failed. The Italians had no heart for the war, and, though fighting bravely as individuals, they never put their backs into it. In particular they were never free from the realisation that the adventure was totally out of keeping with the strong Catholic tradition (as it happened,
strengthened by the Fascist rule) for which the Holy Father so visibly stood in their own great capital.
Thus to-day the liberation of Rome not only symbolises the greatest triumph of Allied arms, but marks for the Italians themselves the release from a political adventure which began with great expectations but whose ultimate failure had long been fated.
In the hour of their deliverance the Italians may not concern themselves greatly with the future or they may indulge in wild speculations and hopes, but the future happiness of Italy and her future place in Europe must de pend upon the lessons of the last fifty years being thoroughly understood both by the Italians themselves and their liberators. It is true to say that in those fifty years the names of Leo XIII, Pius X, Benedict XV. Pius
XI and Pius XII have proved unfailing witnesses to the needs of the coun
try of their birth and in whose midst they exercised their great world-office. It is to be hoped that every use will be made by Messrs. Churchill and Roosevelt of the opportunity of taking the Holy Father into their counsels, however unofficially.
A Change of Attitude
THE deliverance of the Eternal City A and of the home of the Pope from the horretts and destruction of modern war is so great a blessing, especially in Catholic eyes, that we need say little further about it. It is, we are sure, the answer to many prayers. prayers in which, doubtless, millions from both belligerent ',idea were united. And to us it is a happy and encouraging thought that in the end the saving of Rome was an act in which both sides participated. For our part, we have no patience with the propaganda which would attempt to score from this victory for civilisation and decency. Let the words of the Holy Father stand : " Thanks be to God that Rome has been saved the horrors of war by both helligerents. We should show our gratitude by good works and charity and cease from hatred and rancour," In the present mood it is, alas, too much to hope that the saving of Rome, coincidental as it has been with some of the most striking words of the Holy Father, should cause a change of attitude towards the means of ending the war and of shaping peace on the part of the now victorious Allies. And yet who in a cool and reflective moment can honestly deny that the welfare and happiness of mankind (the people of the winning Powers included) depend upon such a reorientation ?
To-day the opening of the Second Front creates the high road (even though the journey be tough, costly and long) by which the great armies of liberation will clear Western Europe of tyrants and aggressors and prophets of false religions and persecutors and concentration camps and the rule of secret policies. In a fallen and too largely evil world these are evils that overtop in their ugliness and their influence the common run of pride, greed and self-indulgence. In so far, this is a business upon which all men of good will, whether openly on the liberating side or secretly and indirectly in the enslaved side, are United. It is a business which, from the Holy Father's own words, cautious as they must be lest there be misunderstanding, cm.tainly receives a Christian blessing. Need it be marred • and spoilt by
counter ambition e and political stupidities ?
The peoples of Europe, we claim, and rightly claim, have become the victims of these evils, and, even if it be the case that their own lack of awareness contributed to the success of their masters, such responsibility bears no relation to the guilt of those who deliberately sought for corrupt power and maintained it. by sub-human methods. Surely in these solemn arid decisive hours we can at length rise to the true moral quality of our task, the real crusading task to which His Majesty has again called us. That task is not to conquer Europe, nor even to conquer Germany. It is not to replace the imperialism and military ambition of the worst German types by a new imperialism and a new domination. It is rather to rescue and help to preserve against all aggressors and tyrant-dictators the nations and the peoples of Europe, peoples whose moral and political ways still spring from the great spiritual-personal liberties of a Christendom which fulfils the greatest revelation given to mankind, the revelation of God become Man to save every roan created in God's image.
That truth and that truth alone can give full meaning to our present pur. pose. It alone can compensate for the sacrifices being called for at this very hour. And that truth points, we believe, to a political purpose that differs notably from the present plans of the United Nations. It is a spiritual call to which Britain and the United States have it in their tradition and ideals to answer. It is a way sufficiently clearly indicated in the latest of the many appeals of the Pope of Rome,
Our Debt to Russia
IT is true enough, as hid recently A been underlined by American statesmen, that we could never have enjoyed the present opportunity but for the heroism and sacrifices of the Russian armies. Though there is Tittle reason to believe that this great chapter in self-defence owed very much to
any Soviet Russian sympathy with the Atlantic Powers, we certainly would not wish to avoid repaying to Russia the benefits which we owe to her.
But how in conscience is that repayment to he made? If there is any sincerity at all in our denunciations of the kind of overtopping evils to which we referred above, how can we be eatisfied with the mere strengthening of a rdgime in which also such
evils flourish ? Readers of the Church Times last week may well have been shocked, even in these days, to read the account of the Siberian experiences of a Polish correspondent, experiences scarcely paralleled as accepted Custom in any modern country, even though they may not be as bad as the cruelty of Nazi thugs. We cannot think that there can be any future peace of mind—or peace for the world—if the Western liberators of Europe to-day accept an international idealism shared on equal terms by all the Powers which arc moving towards the conquest of Hitlerism.
In theeend our debt to Russia can only be repaid by our firm and unqualified stand for the Christian tradition of spiritual-personal liberties wherever our effective influence may reach. Such a stand dots not preclude a coming to terms with Russia in peace as in war where such a coming to terms avoids worse things; but it does and must preclude our present pretence that Russia is a partner in a crusade against evils which still exist under the Soviet regime and our unprotesting acquiescence in acts of Russian foreign policy which are the negation of every international ideal for which we claim to defend.
Just as in the end it will be the prayers of good people for the conversion of Russia which will bring her again into the tradition of Europe, so for now and the immediate future it will be the moral courage and example of Britain and America, together with the characer of the future Europe they help to mould, which will do most to enable Russia to emerge as a nation purified and cleansed by her own sacrifices. Thus only can we truly repay our debt to a brave people whose great political experiment, while it has borne good Fruit, has also involved the growth of evils, fully as great as those of our common enemies,
THE FORGOTTEN FARMER
RE-ASSURANCE has succeeded
assurances to agriculture that it need have no fear of being betrayed after this war as it was after the last. A pledge as to the stability of prices for four years has been given, and farmers have ventured to hope that investment in land and stock may not be such a gamble as in the past. Their hopes are not altogether based on politicians' promises. Views formerly held as to the necessity for importing the greater part of our food have been exploded by our experience of what, under the pressure of war conditions, agriculture has been able to do in this respect. Our proven independence of supplies
from overseas once thought essential is a solid fact which farmers are right in interpreting as pointing to a change of policy.
But all this seems to be forgotten. The White Paper on Employment to which we referred last week is wholly concerned with manufacturing industries and the expansion of commerce. The primary producer as offering a market for labour is almost completely left out of the picture. Indeed, this document explicitly proposes thc continuance of a policy which, before the war, nearly put an end to British farming. Thus it is stated that " we must continue to import from abroad a large proportion of our foodstuffs and raw materials and to u greater extent than ever before we shall have to pay for them by the export of our goods and services." From the standpoint of agticutture, these are ominous words. Apart from the fact that other nations are increasingly supplying themselves with the commodities for which formerly they were dependent on us, the policy outlined in the White Paper seems in this respect to be the exact opposite of that implied in the promises given the farming community.
THE Interim report issued by the
Speaker's Conference appointed to investigate the question of electoral reform proposes no radical changes. It definitely rejects the system of Proportional Representation and leaves unchanged the present qualifications for the Parliamentary
franchise. This last statement, however. needs to be supplemented by observing that the same register will, if the Conference's proposals are given effect, serve for both Parliamentary and municipal elections This extension of the Parliamentary register to cover municipal contests will by abolishing the rate-paying qualification now necessary ,in the latter; mean the addition to the municipal registers of some 8.000.000 voters.
The redistribution of seats which it is proposed to undertake is of less importance than is the foreshadowing of " a permanent organisation to keep watch upon the growth and decline of
opinion in the constituencies." The Commissioners on this body, it is stated, will be expected to report upon the state of representation at intervals of not less than three and not more than seven years. In the present state of affairs this is of crucial importance. The White Paper on Employment issued recently has much to say on the mobility of labour and the need that will arise to distribute the industrial population according as this or that industry needs an augmented body of workers. The provision of pre-fabri. eated houses which can be erected at short notice will greatly facilitate this mobility. If the hints thrown out by the White Paper on Employment are taken seriously, we are likely, therefore, to see mushroom towns springing
up in a few weeks. The situation thereby created can be dealt with only by constant bringing up-to-date of the electoral map. Mobility of labour. Prefabricated houses and electoral reform are closely related.