POLITICAL relations between Britain and France have recently been under some strain, but such troubles cannot affect the feelings which the Catholics of both countries have for one another. In particular, many Catholics here have long looked to the Church in France for an example and a lead in thc development of the liturgical and social apostolate for contemporary times. just as they have enviously admired the fertility and originality of the French Catholic mind in the spate of first-class books and studies in all matters of Christian doctrine aid life.
On Sunday week. the French national feast of St. Joan will be solemnly celebrated in the heart of London's West End in the church of Notre Dame de France, and this is, as usual, an occasion for thinking of the growing Catholic entente between the two countries. In view of all this, we should like to associate ourselves with the prayers and good wishes that are already being heaped on Cardinal Feltin, Archbishop of Paris, on the occasion of his golden jubilee as a priest which will be celebrated on May 15.
AWHOLE page of the Catholic daily La Croix hes been devoted to an interview with the Cardinal, and it gives a most vivid picture of the heavy responsibilities that fall on the bishop of that great and popular city, where perhaps as nowhere else Christian enlightenment and fervour find themselves juxtaposed with worldly frivolity, sin, and clime.
The Cardinal tells us that in a city of six million people only 650,000 attend Sunday Mass. 11 seems a small proportion, yet no diocese in Britain, even if all its Catholics were fully practising, can approach the number under Cardinal Feltin's care.
His Eminence is the third of the great Cardinals of Paris (after Cardinal Verdier and Cardinal Suhard) to view the evapgelisation of the capital ga a commission to be undertaken with a wide imaginative scope and a fresh and free approach suited to unprecedented conditions and values. whether among the professional and middle classes, in which a reasonable percentage have remained practising Catholics, or among the workers, where the faith has been so largely lost.
It has been said that the efforts initiated by Cardinal Verdier would require at least a century for their fulfilment, and when we realise this we can only admire the immense progress already seen in a quarter of that time.
"Let us not think that Canon Law has to stifle the Holy Spirit," Cardinal Feltin said in the La Croix interview, and these words perhaps give us as good a key as any to the spirit of the contemporary French apostolate.
Speaking of the different aspects of the apostolate of the workers — an undertaking so much admired even by non
Catholics the Cardinal spoke of the "difficulties", which included the lack of understanding on the part of too many of the faithful themselves. Nevertheless, the workers' apostolate continues in constant adaptation through the lessons of experience.
Less well known is the great catechumenate work in Paris whose purpose is in some ways comparable to the efforts of conversion in this country. In Paris it is not the tenets of false religions that have generally to be overcome, but the lack of all religion which calls for adult baptism of those. who are drawn back to the faith of their ancestors.
As with us in this country, one of the Cardinal's great problems is the lack of priests, for, as the Cardinal says, the increase of Catholic Action, so far from being a substitute for clergy calls for more who can train and direct the lay apostles. We can take to heart in this country the Cardinal's words: "A Christian community — we must say this plainly — which cannot produce the vocations (Continued at foot of next ea)
(Continued from col. 2) needed is a community which is not corrying out God's destiny for it."
The Welfare State perhaps spares us here one of the great anxieties of the Cardinal of Paris, namely provision for the poor and the homeless. And His Eminence does not hesitate to indict the spiritual outlook of those who have more than they need while refusing to play their part in helping to ensure proper living conditions for their destitute brothers. His words, however. will not be without application in our own country, for no social law will ever be a sufficient substitute for the duty of loving and helping the less fortunate.
These brief remarks should be enough to enable us to appreciate the great work of the Cardinal, called to the spiritual rule of Paris just 10 years ago. and in the coming weeks especially to pray for the full return
of the Church's " eldest daughter". May our two countries work ever closer together in the promotion of the reign of Christ the King.