CARDINAL Griffin,,ike Mr. Churchill, has succeeded in bringing the international situation to a sharp focus with a few startling words.
" I do not feel," he said at his reception in Westminster Cathedral, that I am unduly apprehensive if I say that world affairs to-day are in a. more perilous posilion than they were before Munich."
Cardinal Griffin noted that matters to-day are worse than before Munich. In what respects ? . For OUT part we see it this way.
While it is doubtless true that strong measures against Hitler's Germany, taken early enough, might have postponed or even altogether prevented the second German war, there were many who took a radically different point of view.
They held that the seeds of the new war were sown at Versailles where a defeated Germany, converted to the democracy for which the war had been fought, was treated as harshly as though the defeated imperial Germany had survived. After that mistake, the only real chance of averting war was a radically new deal towards the German people, but as the years went by any initiation of a new policy became increasingly difficult since the Germans worked themselves up into a determination, under Hitler. to seek their own salvation and revenge, while the others, watching the change, grew increasingly mistrustful of the new (or, as they called it, the old) German spirit.
The only advantage of recalling these past controversies lies in comparing them with the present situation.
This time there has been no sort of question of suspecting or defy
ing Russia On the contrary, under Mr Churchill's leadership Soviet Russia' has been taken to our hearts. Without asking anything from her except her continued presence in the fight, she has been granted everything that we have had to give, not to mention a great deal in Eastern Europe and in China that was not ours to give.
The result we see to-day, Soviet Russia threatens the whole world, north, south, east and
west. Any further concession would be suicidal; indeed, Russia's most recent actions are visibly tipping up the heavily overweighted balance which our policy of appeasement has conceded.
It is in that sense that matters are .much worse than before Munich There is no longer anything on our side that we can do. Everything now depends on Russia.
And it is this truth which forces us back to examine why the policy of appeasement never worked and why this future has long been written in the events. The question goes beyond politics, for in both the cases of Hitlerism and Stalinism we are dealing with something more than political aims ; we are dealing with a quasi-religious faith.
The full truth now revealed about Hitler's Germany certainly makes it doubtful whether any change of policy during the last four or five years before the war would have saved the peace in the long run We now know that in the Nazi programme the evil overbalanced whatever might be excusable or explicable Hillerism was not satisfied to restore Germany ; it was determined to destroy the heritage of Christendom Soviet Russia has never really attempted to disguise the fact that it shares the same ambition. and, given this philosophy and aims, the reason for this is obvious enough The Christian heritage is a heritage of freedom. Every word in the Gospels proclaims the freedom or emancipation of men, brothers of Christ and sons of the Common Father, ' from the tyranny of power, wealth and dead convention Christ's Gospel was not a political one in the sense of inculcating rebellion against the civil power. but in preaching the right of every human being to be spiritually free, it condemned all material shackles that could enslave man's soul.
Stalinism, like Hitlerism, must destroy this gospel of Freedom if it is to succeed in making men Into the blind instruments of a new technocratic State tyranny And it is because this is its avowed aim that there can be no.appeasement with it, so long as Soviet policy undergoes no radical change The matter is fated.
And for us Catholics, the question whether war itself is ultimately inevitable or not is not the most important issue.
What is overwhelmingly important is the quality in future days of our personal witness to Christ Who gave the world the !rue meaning of freedom whence our liberties, our democracies, our ceenstiUitions, our civilisation have derived.
Whatever may happen — and may God spare the world the iwful fate of further war ! — we must stand fast for One thing : the liberty of the sons of God.