YOUNG CHRISTIAN MR. LUNN RETURNS
TO THE CHARGE
Stn,—I do not, as some of your correspondents imply, regard the British Government as infallible in matters of Faith and Morals, and I agree that it is the duty of the Catholic Press to criticise Government pronouncements which are inconsistent with our professed object to be fighting for the values of Christian Civilisation. The. Church has to-day immense possibilities for influencing opinion. No Catholic Bishop., since the Reformation, has commanded more general tespect than Cardinal Hinsley. There are Catholic papers which never subordinate Catholic to national interests and which are, none the less, read with great attention by influential non-Cethce tics. The CATHOLIC HERALD has no such influence. That is not because it eriticises the Government, but because there is such a marked contrast between the academic chill which descends on it when it is defending England. and the enthusiastic glee with which it criticises fellow-countrymen. The paper is supposed to have a special appeal to those disgruntled Catholics who invariably put the worst possible construction on anything which England does, and who have us don a white sheet before sallying forth to do battle against the enemy of all the ideals in which they profess to teclieve. Of course, their own contrition is vicarious. One never sees these critics of England in is white sheet.
There is SO Mile in the CATHOLIC HERALD which encourages us to endure the dark days; and so much that will delight Catholic critics of England in other countries. And it is only England which is criticised. I do not remember any criticism of the Irish Government. I do not, for one moment, question its patriotic intentions, hut I cannot endorse Commander C. II. Kerr's uncritical praise of it as a paper engaged in "excavating the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth." One of your correspondents is cross because I have attacked Petain. 1 did not attack Petain, but in view of the saintly language that Petain uses about the Church, the facts about his own Catholic life (and all the facts have not yet been told) are relevant to the problem as to whether his preaching of Christian resignation is a mere mask for defeatism. And yet those facts and the facts about Darien, both of which are of great importance for an understanding of contemporary France had to be "excavated." Again I see no flair for getting at the whole truth in the paper's attitude to the origins of this war. That Hitler has a contempt for conferences, that he aims at nothing short of' the enslavement of Europe, that he is a deadly foe of Christianity, and that he has treated the Poles more brutally than any conquered people have been treated in Europe since the coming of Christ, these things are as certain as anything can be. But the paper still seems to feel that Hitler is not as bad as he has been painted, and that it might still be possible to COME to some arrangement with him. On the other hand, it accepts with uncritical faith the Nazi view of Versailles, and forgets that the worst features of that Treaty, the financial clauses, have never been carried out, for Germany paid out less in indemnities than ' she received in loans, all of which she has repudiated. It is the French not the Germans who have a real grievance against Versailles, for the Treaty offered France are Anglo-American guarantee as a substitute for the Rhine frontier and failed because of the refusal of the Americans to cooperate.
Now the paper is certain of the Iniquity of Versailles, but adopts an attitude of philosophic doubt about the unqualified iniquity of Hitler. Its certainty about debatable points is balanced by its capacity to doubt clear points, and, in both cases, the explanation is its desire not to be swept away by war fever, but a man may become feverish in his anxiety to avoid fever.
As an example of the kind of thing which destroys the influence of the paper with reasonable non-Catholics is a remark in the last issue which suggests that there is nothing to choose between the British and the Nazi presentation of their respective cases. "Words, words everywhere, and not a drop of truth." Yet another example to qualify Comm. Kerr's uncritical tribute. The Editor offered to publish an article stating why I liked and disliked the paper, I ant glad he did not publish the article I sent him, because our private correspondence has modified some of the statements expressed in it, but I am surprised to discover some eulogistic remarks of mine quoted in an advertisement in Blackfriars, which would convince those who had never read my letters that I was wholeheartedly in sympathy with the policy of the CATHOLIC IHRRALD which is very far from being "the whole truth."
[We are perfectly ready to leave our readers to decide between Mr. Lunn and ourselves. But two or three points require comment.
(1) We have already dealt with the charge of criticising England, but Mr. Lunn disregards our defence and repeats the same charge for the third or fourth time. Again we leave it to our readers to say whether there is any particular "glee" in our criticisms when they have to be made. As for Ireland we could say much. But Mr. Lunn may examine in our files a letter (22/1/40) front a well-known Irishman holding an itnporlant Catholic office in which it is said: " That pursuit of English interests is frequently very evident in your paper, and has been the source of adverse comment to me by several MTh Bishops . . . 11 is not the attitude that serves Irish interests or the attitude of a paper which wants to secure an Irish circulation."
(2) We agree that Commander Kerr was over generous in his praise. No one who has any knowledge of the running of a newspaper, the speed at which it has to be published, the obvious fallibility and imperfections of the very ordinary men and women who run it. the inevitable dependence on financial and business considerations, a disregard of which would force it to dose down immediately, would ever make such claims for any newspaper. We imagine that Commander Kerr was taking this as obvious and saying in rather hyperbolic language that this paper did not seem to him half so bad as Mr. Lunn wishes to paint it.
(3) We still do not see any particular grounds for digging up the private life of Marshal Main. His public record, as far ay we know, has always been Cat/to/k. and to-day we are content to judge him by his professions and by his practice. If any correspondent had made a prima facie case to show that his private life in the past was relevant to his present work we should not have hesitated to publish the letter. Nor for that matter have we criticised Dr. Berms for being a Mason (if he is one). We have merely objected to a secularist and a Mason being publicly called a Catholic. About Dr. Renes we recommend an extract from Mr. Lurtn's own book Come What May. In it he quotes with approval the views of the Minister of Czechoslovakia: "But it is no use advising Benes . . The trouble is, that Benes relies on the Freemasons. He is confident that they will see him through."
(4) The reason why we underline the iniquity of Versailles (though we are quite unaware of having failed to underline the iniquities of Hitler) is the very simple logical reason that it Ls more useful to concentrate Off CRIISCS rather than effects. There would have been no Hiller, we believe, but for the mistakes of Versailles: there will come an even worse than Hitler if we repeat those mistakes.
(5) Finally. as regards the advertisement. If Mr. Lunn will look up his letter printed in the CATHOLIC HERALD of July 4 he will find his own words exactly as they appear in the quotation. We wonder whether the publishers of Mr. Lunn's many and excellent books have always scrupled not to quote words of praise front reviews that also contained words of criticism, and whether Mr. Lunn protested if they did. This was Mr. Lattn's first letter, and throughout a very friendly one, and we did not of course realise at the time that he was working himself up to a letter like the present one.— EDITOR,