From Our Own Correspondent
The spring conference. of the University Catholic. Federation took place at Nottingham last week-end.
High lights among the speakers at this successful gathering included Pr. Vincent McNabb, 0.P., and Professor A. C. F. Beaks, of King's College, London. Academic High Mass was sung in the Cathedral of St. Rarnabas in the presence of Archbishop Godfrey, the Apostolic Delegate.
Professor A. C. F. Beales opened a discussion with the graduates on Catholicism and world order, with reference to the Pope's Encyclical of October last and the five points of the Christmas Eve allocution of Pope Pius XII.
Mr Beales stressed the fact that the present state of the war was•a challenge and an opportunity for the expression of a Catholic contribution on matters international. He went on to point out that opinion generally on the matter ranged from the isolationist extreme, represented by the British Fascists, to the opposite extreme, in which some French University thought would forcibly dismember the Reich at the end of the war. Between these two extremes laritieh opinion seemed to be crystallising round the only two points about which men were already up and
doing, namely, " Federal Union " and Mr H. G. Wells' " Rights of Man."
Mr Beales then threw out for discussion three questions: ,(1) Is there a Catholic teaching on international relations and world order?
(2) Is It possible to prepare an agreed statement of the Christian basis of world order?
(8) Is it possible and desirable to create a world-wide Catholic popular movement in support of the last statement?
These three questions were discussed. and in reply to the discussion it was announced that work on all three questions was already far advanced, and much more would be heard of it in due
It was then decided to hold the summer meeting of the federation in Exeter in a week of the August holidays, during which time Professor Beales' subject, "A Catholic Basis for World Peace," would be the main discussion topic.
The Guild of Mendel and Pasteur, who met on Sunday. at Nottingham, also decided to attempt the organisation of a Catholic Summer School of Biology at Exeter about the same time, but in their ease to allow for a stay of from two to three weeks in Devon's capital so AS to permit those attending to do field work as welt as take part in indoor discussteins. Professor L, P. W. Renouf, of Cork University. and Mr Joseph Lauwerys, of the Institute of Education, will take part, and it is also intended to extend invitations to some distinguished Continental biologists.
First Free Learning
Before the conference was open the Apostolic Delegate, Archbishop Godfrey, was received at the Council House. Nottingham, by the Lord Mayor of Nottingham, Councillor Wallis flinch. The Archbishop was accompanied by the Bishop of Nottingham, Mgr. John McNulty, and by Mr Clement Pitman, Nottingham Art Director.
The conference delegates, who, on the Friday night, had attended an informal gathering of welcome to Nottingham its the Cathedral Hall, College Street, attended a Missa Recitata at St. Barnabare Cathedral, Nottingham, and a breakfast at the Albert Hotel before assembling in the old college buildings in Shakespeare Street for the opening session. Mr F. X. Aylward, Ph.D., of Liverpool, took the chair, and introduced Fr. Vincent McNabb, 0.P., who wittily defended "Universities and Freedom."
Universities were, said Fr. McNabb, one of the first attempts to put learning on a free basis. They started as free groups of teachers and taught. "Universities in those days did not teach you how to get on in this world so that you could get a cushy job. They were more concerned with eternal things. One of the first problems of Catholic groups at universities was the problem of freedom in education."
Cabinet Ministers Should Confess
Fr. McNabb laid special emphasis on the importance of confession. To go to confession regularly was a declaration of independence and an assertion of one's individual freedom. " For the purpose of safeguarding human freedom the ballot box is not to be compared with the confessional box," he declared. Although he was no politician, he thought that it would he a good thing for Cabinet Ministers to confess their sins.
" You are never safe from a person who won't acknowledge his sins," he said. Yet he had never known a politician who had gone out in sackcloth and ashes and confessed his sins. In fact, some of them used their failures in one post as qualifications for another. (Laughter.) Almost the highest act of intelligence was the act of knowing who was to be your teacher, " because," said Fr. McNabb, " you must be taught."
A Catholic group at a university had El view of reality that others hod not. The Catholic Church some time ago was the only institution in the world that insisted on the doctrine of human free will. He did not think the universities did. When others were being absolutely misled by their physical and mathematical studies into a denial of freedom, the Catholic did not do this.
World's Great Mistakes
What, asked Fr. McNabb, was our first duty to God and the people? Our first duty was to acknowledge tba‘t we had free will; the next thing to do was a practical acknowledgment of it by confessing our sins. That would be a valuable contribution to the complicated politics of to-day.
The intelligentsia must realise that they were in some way responsible for the present state of the world, and they could not divorce themselves from that responsibility, for the great mistakes of the world were only possible to those of intelligence. Stones did not make mistakes; pigs did not make mistakes; little people never made mistakes; it was the intelligent who made the great mistakes. Finally, Fr. McNabb told his hearers that their defence of human liberty lay in the strength of the home and the family.