Three great figures dominate the Belgian scene; and the names of the three are King Leopold, Cardinal Van Roey, Archbishop of Malines, and the now interned Canon Cardijn, founder of the Jocists (Y.C.W.).
This was the pith of the report on Belgium given to a Catholic Herald reporter by M. Delfosse, Catholic Belgian Minister who recently arrived in London after a hazardous escape from Belgium, followed by a no less perilous trip across the Continent.
These great Belgian Catholics and patriots stand together for the defence of Christianity and the integrity of their native land. Strictly legal, according to the letter and spirit of international law, in their relations with the occupying Power, their leadership, example and instruction keep the people of Belgium, save for a tiny minority of collaborationists, in a spiritual resistance, despite the appalling physical hardships suffered by that people twice in less than thirty years.
By a C.H. Reporter
Quiet, silvery-haired Monsieur Delfosse, newly-appointed Belgian Minister of Information and
newly arrived from the Continent, welcomed me when I called upon him at the week-end.
He told me nothing about his escape, although he reached London only a matter of days ago following a hazardous trip across the Continent that summorted every ounce of his courage ittld hardihood. But about the internal situation in Occupied Belgium he gave me a picture strong and firm in outline, Three great figures dominate the scene. Like M. Delfosse, they are Catholics to the tips of their fingers. And the names of the three men are King Leopold, Cardinal Van Roey, Archbishop of Malines, and the now-interned Canon Cardijn, founder in Belgium and France of the world-renowned Jociste (Young Christian Workers') Movement.
ANOTHER MERCIER Monsieur Delfosse was loud in his praise of the unflinching stand of the Cardinal Archbishop of Malines.
'2 The Germans have come to realise the force of character of the man, and the spiritual power that he wields. Cardinal Vto Roey is another Cardinal Mercier. The entire Belgian nation knows it; the Germans know if too. As a matter of fact, the Germans themselves any of him: ' _Mercier only barked, but Van Roey bites.' And bite he does. His spiritual strength is the strength of Mercier. Like Mercier, he carries a united nation with him. The difference between them is a difference of temperament: Mercier the Walloon, diplomatic and subtle; Van Roey the Fleming, inflexible, static, tough."
" Give me an idea of the rallyingpower of Cardinal Van Roey," I said.
He sounded the bell on his desk and presently put into my hands the hrst complete copy to find its way to England of Van Roey's. famous pastoral
letter commenting on the Pope's Christmas (1941) allocution. M. Delfosse smuggled it out of Belgium on his person.
COST REAL COURAGE Said M. Delfosse: " Look at these extracts! They are proof enough." The first was on page one, introducing the Belgian people to the Papal discourse: " This remarkable document deserves to be studied by all: we charge you to read it in its entirety and not to content yourselves with cut and tendentious accottects,''
" It cost the Cardinal some real courage to say it so boldly. And I can tell you now that the effect was very great indeed. From three to four hundred thousand copies were distaibuted throughout thc country before the Germans realised its import and banned it. They're still trying to undo the damage done."
As I read on, one point in the Pastoral stood out more than any other: it was the insistence on the right and duty of the Church to speak out fearlessly on social questions (and in particular, here and now, on the questions of Peace), which are regarded by the majority of our contemporaries " as' though belonging to the exclusive domain of politics, economics and military art."
The Cardinal told his peOple that the Pope was speaking " as Supreme Doctor of the Moral Law—because the peace we long for is an enterprise for the common good requiring the cooperation of Christendom."
BELGIUM WILL DECIDE ,
And further on (dealing with national integrity in the first of the five principles essential for peace and a prosperous international order), Cardinal Van Roey came down to very brass tacks: " As regards Belgium, this first condition of the new order includes the restoration of our country in its independence and integrity. It will be for Belgium, and for Belgium alone, to decide what role she will play in the new Europe."
Said I to Delfosse: " What was the reaction to that harnmerblow?"
" A wave of consolation and resolution swept the country. Belgium, as you know, is vigorously Catholic, and the Cardinel's unmistakable message put the movement of legal resistance to the invaders on a Christian footing. Anger and consternation on the German side has taken the practical form of measures repressing more and more Belgian Catholic Action. At the time I left (in May) all meetings were banned."
CARDIJN'S WORK And that brought us to Canon Cardijn, known to Catholic Youth in every part of the globe 'as the founder of the Young Christian Workers' movement, the story of whose arrest and confinement appeared in recent issues of THE CATHOLIC HERALD.
" Of the tremendous work done by Cardijn since the occupation," said Delfosse, " I can obviously say nothing. But his influence Was very real. Stupor seized the land when the news of his arrest in May leaked out."
But of the youth Canon Cardijn had schooled in the profound ideals of the Y.C.W. movement, Delfosse spoke with open feeling: " There are saints among them," he said " They will carry on.
" You must not forget that Belgium boasts just on a million men and women, boys and girls trained the Jociste way. Their patriotism is as admirable as the principles of Christianity on which ii is fed. When the Pope spoke last Christrnas1 and ar las; the Cardinal could deliver theta the full text untainted by propaganda. each of them felt His Holloess was uttering what he or she felt deco down." The activities of these Christian enthusiasts, says Delfosse, is now limited lorgely to the home and fatally sphere.
THE KING " And finally," I said, " what about the King?"
" He is, as is known, a prisoner. From the beginning—ever since the occupation in 1940—he has maintained his dignity. The whole nation looks to him with affection. There has never been the faintest hint at collaboration in any shape. His prestige in the eyes of every true Belgian has become greater than ever it has been before."
Before I withdrew, M. Delfosse completed the picture of Belgium, " bloody but unbowed." " I think Belgium can confidently expect much of the future. As in every section of the Allied camp, hope of great social changes is abroad. But if our workers are strong and the war has had the undoubtedly good effect of bringing together employer and employee as they have not been brought together in the past, the chief reason for