THE depth of evil to which our world has descended could hardly be better illustrated than by the present state of affairs in Korea. We say "evil ", because evil is not the same as " wrong ". The problem of Korea necessarily presents itself to statesmen and generals as a problem of right and wrong. We on our side have no doubt at all that ours is a right position, while the enemy's is wrong. And though it is always a risky business when one is an interested party to claim to be able to judge impartially, there can have been few issues in history when the rights and wrongs seemed more clearly determined.
Evert the abortive armistice talks indicate that General Ridgeway is following aLl precedent in insisting on an armistice line which recognises the previous balance of force and secures, so far as possible, the holding of the territory which has been recoilquered.
Yet behind these abstract issues, where practical and utilitarian considerations are necessarily mingled with law and morals, there lies the far deeper concrete issue of good and evil.
It is an absolutely evil thing that the fate of the people of Korea should he the pawn, and the almost forgotten pawn, of the contending parties whose real concern is movement for position in a world tension and conflict.
Having suffered for many months, as few have suffered, these tragically situated people, human beings exactly like ourselves, wait dumbly on the sidelines uncertain whether they are to be butchered again or spared. That a civilised world should have reached the point when this terrible situation can be tolerated is a measure of the evil to which it has sunk.
Nor is it adequate to lay the blame on the opposite party. Evil is something which corrupts all who come within its influence. And when considerations of right and wrong lose contact with the very thing they should be seeking to maintain and increase, namely the good, then we can be certain that something has gone radically wrong somewhere, however hard it may be for the party which seems to be in the right to see where the root of the evil lies in itself, as well as in its opponent. In such a situation as the present one, which appears almost symbolic of the state of the world, it is surely the duty of those who make the highest claims both of rightness and goodness to take a fresh initiative on the highest level to save the people of Korea.
We claim to be saving the world —hut the world is the world of human beings who live in it. And the Koreans arc also human beings. In this world, alas, there is no guarantee that good will prevail save where the world adheres to God, and therefore there can he no guarantee that the best efforts we make will save the people of Korea from further agony. But we dare not, surely, refuse to make those best efforts. We dare not, surely, be satisfied to sit back and let present matters take their course.
From the great chancelleries of the Western world a fresh and imaginative effort to save the Koreans should be made—and, who knows' such a return to the realities of good and evil might create the detente which could release the leaders of both sides from the blind-alleys of policy in which they are now imprisoned.
THE weight of Mr. Christopher Dawson's learning and judgment has been given this week in support of those who oppose the movement to introduce the vernacular into the liturgy. This is undoubtedly a blow to the reformers. But we hope they will not be too
Mr. Dawson's point would seem to be relevant rather to the case of the extremists. Few of those who believe that a greater permissive use of the vernacular would be useful envisage or want an all-vernacular liturgy, still less a compulsory one. Nor, surely, is it even likely that the Church's acceptance of a degree of change in this matter could ever lead to her loss of her common language of liturgy and sacred learning.
This being granted, the question is whether the spiritual lives of the millions today who know no Latin and never will know Latin (save perhaps in so elementary a way as to make the language little more than a series of new words with a rough relation to the words of their native tongues) would not be notably helped by praying with the Church in the language which not only has a full meaning for them, but which is associated with their daily lives and work.
Moreover a gradual introduction of the vernacular into those parts of the liturgy which immediately concern and teach the individual would surely conic to have the effect of making the ordinary Catholic understand better the Latin form when it is retained. Having become familiar with the words and prayers of the priest in the confessional, he would know what a priest using Latin was saying. A use of the vernacular in this way might well help the cause of Latin.
And we must confess our surprise at Mr. Dawson's argument that because the use of Arabic prevents Islam from being a sectarian activity within a secular culture, the retention of Latin among Catholics would have the same effect. Sacred Arabic, a root language, closely related to the living languages, still binds the mass of Moslem peoples together. But in our case it is surely the dead Latin language which tends, if anything, to make the Church seem a sectarian and remote activity within a living society.
Clearly there are arguments on both sides, and the controversy, to be conducted always with a full sense of submission to the Church's authority, is certainly worth pursuing.