'Church. in Distress' Congress
BEFORE 1945 no Catholic was to be found in whole districts of Middle Germany. In many villages no Mass had been said
since the Reformation. Today there is no village without a Catholic Displaced Person living there.
This is the outcome of the great post-war uprooting and displacement of millions.
But these millions are in great distress, and their problems confront the whole of Europe, if not the world.
" The Church in Distress" was therefore the subject of a three-day congress organised by the Netherlands Society for Spiritual Renewal and the Betgian society Help for Priests in the East, at the country house of the Netherlands Catholic Workers' Movement.
On the move
Among the representatives, who came from German y, Austria. Switzerland. France and Belgium. were three Bishops. Mgr. Hartz, representing the Vatican for the work among D.P.s, Mgr. Ferche, Auxiliary Bishop of Cologne, representing Cardinal Frings. and the Auxiliary Bishop of Osnabruck. Mgr. Von Rudluff. -Twenty to thirty million people have been on the move." said Dr. K. Hahn. secretary of the Netherlands Society. "and this great move of whole populations is gradually changing the social structure of the whole of Europe." As a result of the deplorable Potsdam agreement the end of 1950 saw 12 million D.P.s in Germany alone. This has brought about great social shifts in the population of Germany. Before the war there were 45 per cent. dependent employees, today the percentage has risen to 57.
In Western Germany there are 1,000.000 unemployed: 40 per cent, of these are D.P.s. Sixty-seven per cent, of the D.P.s have only a one-room dwelling for the family and 200.000 are living in camps. often in conditions which render the observance of the tea commandments almost impossible; 2.820 priests work themselves to death in an effort to provide spiritual care for the millions.
They have to say Mass with an eye on the watch on the altar table to make sure that they may celebrate a Mass in all the villages under their care.
In spite of almost superhuman efforts of these " diaspora " priests. numerous Catholics die without the sacraments.
Cardinal de Jong, Archbishop of Utrecht, prevented by
from attending the congress. sent a special message of encouragement to the congress: another was read from Cardinal Frings.