I CONDUCT A 'RED WEEK' IN NAVAN
...RED WEEK" at the head " quarters of the Columban Fathers, in Ireland, has become something of an institution. For the third year in suecession I have been conducting at Dalgan Park a week's intensive study in the theory and Practice of Communism.
Taking the course arc, as usual, a score or so of newlyordained priests who will soon he working in the society's missions in various parts of Asia and in Latin America, plusa number of missionaries who are home on leave. These include men from Japan, Korea, Fiji, Burma. and the Philippines.
They have been joined this year by a group of Jesuits and a Dominican from Trinidad. All are likely. sooner or later, to be confronted by the problem of Communism; some of those from the missions are already having to deal with it. The purpose of the "week" is to ensure that they go into the fight prepared for what they are likely to meet. For this it is necessary to have something more than a text-book knowledge of Marxism. The latent good in the Communist and the warm aroneal of a living movement have to be understood; not just the cold. dry elements of Marxist philosophy,
MI HEN I was here at Navan last year I mentioned that this quiet, isolated spot in County Meath is as good a place as one could find for learning what is happening in almost every corner of the globe. It was here I learned, the other day, how strong is the Catholic influence in the African National Congress in Northern Rhodesia.
I had, of course, already noted that those commentators who are most eloquent in their condemnation of the African Congress in Nyasaland teed to sneak with more restraint of the one in Northern Rhodesia.
It is recognised as being both moderate and effective.
African lay Catholics there have. it seems, gone into the Nationalist movement, accepted responsible positions, and now exercise a healthy influence within it. It is African, It is eenuinely and militantly Nationalist, but it is not hateMotivated.
CATHOLICS are a powerful L-1 force in Northern Rhodesia. With some 500 schools. ,15 per cent of the country's education is in their hands,
The Irish Jesuits' missions there are firmly based on the African population, Their priests are close to the people.
With no record of colonialism behind them (rather, it is one of suffering at the hands of colonisers), the Irish missionaries are not identified with the Colonial Power in the African mind, nor with the Politicians of Southern Rhodesia. This is an enormous help to them in their work.
All over Asia and Africa today Ireland's tragic history is a pntent factor ill making Irish missionaries acceptable to Peoples now in the process of rejecting imperialism in all its for ma.
British. French, Dutch Portuguese, Spaniards. because of Past empire building, are all associated with "imperiaiism." Americans are often suspected of being the biggest imperialists of all today. But the Irish missionary comes from a country which was itself nut long ago a victim of imperialism. his people, also, had to struggle for their independence. He has no national record to live down. His country's past is a link with the people amongst whom he has gone to work, not a barrier to be overcome.
By a curious twist of history, past injustices have become present assets in the battle for men's souls. Oliver Cromwell is now a lay auxiliary in the Irish Catholic missions.