SIR,—.T do not wish to comment at length on Mr. Shane Leslie's criticism of the Sword of the Spirit which you quoted on the front page of a recent issue, though it might perhaps be said that the Five Social Standards of The Times' letter are not just " abstractions " and that, in so far as good intentions are the driving force behind good action, they are very necessary to a Movement of this sort. The point which I think must be corrected is the impression your comment leaves that the Sword of the Spirit has been severely hampered by ecclesiastical control, and that it would be doing better, had it been lay and " irresponsible." The Sword of the Spirit was, however, founded by His Eminence Cardinal Hinsley and whatever success it has had—which is by no means negligible—must be largely ascribed to the pre-eminent position which the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster enjoys in the public esteem to-day. The greatest blessing which has been vouchsafed to the Movement is thus eatirely an " episcopal blessing."
The need for ." irresponsible Catholic Action," for bold leads which catch the public eye and excite public interest is, after all, in part provided for by the Catholic Press—with more or less happy results. But in a sphere of action—the parish and the diocese—in which so much depends upon harmonious relations with the officials of the chisrch, a responsible policy is essential. It would, moreover, he most unjust to suggest that the Sword has received anything but the most understanding support and sympathy from many of the bishops of this country.
The Sword is a young movement. It is not much more than a year old. It is a growing movement, as those who are nearest to it can testify. And—as is proved by your notice of an official meeting between officers of the Sword and Anglican and Free Church representatives to discuss Christian co-operation, which appeared on the same page of last week's issue—it is a movement whose possibilities of development are tremendous.
108, Gloucester Place. London, W.1.
[We did nor of course mean to suggest that the Sword of the Spirit was hampered by ecclesiastical control, but that a movement (with social and even political intplications) so closely connected with the ecclesiastical authority and leadership of the Church must of necessity move very slowly —and rightly so. Yet—if we are right-there are perhaps ten million Christians In this country whose Christian values are politically and socially unrepresented, and this at a ante when many features of our public life give grave cause for anxiety. A priest recently wrote (referring to the Fribourg Committee of social moralists which was responsible for Rcrum Novarum): " The function of the Pope, bishops and learned bodies is not to head the laity and anticipate their thought, but to follow in the rear, there to pick up what Is best and worth preserving and synthetise it into a Catholic system. The laity's function is. therefore, according to that learned body of Fribourg priests. to do the thinking. even at the risk of a little heresy here and there. and let the Pope and bishops follow after to take their pick and cast the results into useful encyclicals and bulls."
It is precisely this less responsible pioneering thinking about Church and modern State, as well as civic initiative in Christian action, which is missing in this country, and it seems to us a pity—though probably inevitable—that the S.O.S. does not cover the gap. except through the fine writings of Christopher Dawson. Inducing this great layman to write more frequently and more popularly has been one of its finest accont. plishments.
The Catholic Press, hampered of course by its ephemeral nature and appeal. tries to help along these lines. lust as it does all it can to publicise the work of the Sword. This paper in particular has continuously given the fullest reports of its work and tried, at least, to comment helpfully and constructively " with more or less happy results."—EDIFOR. CH.]