T. receipt at our office of a copy of Principles for Peace affords another opportunity of referring to the Pope's leadership in the later stages of the war and during the critical years of reconstruction that will follow it.
Principles for Peace is a 900page volume consisting solely of extracts on the subject of peace from the writings of Sovereign Pontiffs since Leo XIII, with a preface by the Archbishop of Chicago. (It is not as yet published in this country.)
This monumental work is published at a moment which is most appropriate—and most awk
ward. It is most appropriate because it is the eve of a second peace-making by the Powers which had their first chance twenty-five years ago, and it is not often that history gives men a second chance. It is most awkward because we Catholics in particular are now being presented with an opportunity of standing for the application of Papal principles in practice, instead of sitting back after the event and deploring the blindness of others who some time in the past proved not to possess the courage of their convictions.
But first let us clear away one or two common misconceptions about the role of the Papacy in this matter.
When Catholics look to the Pope's leadership in these international questions, the world leaps to the conclusion that they are doing so for vaguely
clerical " reasons. They owe the Pope obedience. They want to raise the status of the Roman Catholic Church. They distrust the people and wish to make the world safe for the privileged, if not for the dictators themselves. In a word, it is all a species of dark reaction.
Naturally Catholics begin with a deep respect for the Sovereign Pontiff to whom, indeed, they do owe obedience in matters pertain ing to Faith and Morals. But Catholics are well enough instructed to know that there have been periods in civilisation's history when the Popes' leadership in international and political questions was unwise and far too heavily weighted with purely temporal concerns. They know that m such periods many a good Catholic was ranged in opposition to the Popes when it was a case of politics, while remaining willingly subject to them in spiritual affairs. Again, throughout history and even in present times' many excellent Catholics have been deeply critical of ecclesiastical policy in political and social questions when that policy emanated from clerical leaders in various countries. Cardinals and high prelates (though they generally have more reason behind them than may appear at first sight) can he reactionary, class-conscious, nationalist, collaborationist and a dozen other things, and where this is the case there need be no scruple on the part of Catholics in saying so and in acting according to their own view.
A New Factor
So there is no compelling cause whatever why Catholics as a whole should rally round ecclesiastical leadership in these " mixed " questions where temporal policy forms an important ingredient, nor even round the highest ecclesiastical leadership that comes from the Holy See. But this volume alone is proof of the existence of a new factor.
Whatever we may say of the temporal interests of the Papacy at certain periods of history, it is hard indeed to deny that the afflicted and uneasy world of modern times has been blessed with a number of Sovereign Pontiffs altogether outstanding for their wisdom and their holiness. Whether it be in international or political (in the broadest sense of the word) or in social and economic questions, the counsel of these Popes has been of an extraordinary quality. Apart altogether from theirauthoritative position in "Faith and Morals," these Popes have given to the world a guidance the supreme value of which can be recognised by .anyone who cares to study it on its own merits.
In their writing one cannot escape the realisation that they are expressing a great tradition and experience at its best applied to a profound understanding of the nature of the world's ills. There is no need to be a Catholic to realise this; and there is no need to be the sort of Catholic who accepts everything uttered by a cleric as semi-inspired to reach the same view that the modern Papacy stands on its own. And surely in the light of this, we may well hold that there is something Providential in this special guidance to distracted post-Christian generations.
And without going so far as this, the average man of commonsense might well consider whether there is not some very special light and help to be derived in a world divided against itself and echoing with propaganda and counter-propaganda from the one world figure of acknowledged spiritual and moral pre-eminence who by his very mission stands above it all and has but one object, which is to restore the peace of Christ in matters spiritual and temporal.
These are considerations that should be sufficient to refute the suggestion that to look to-day to the leadership of the Pope is to be a man of ecclesiastical party or a reactionary or an enemy of pro gress. The soberest reasons of prudence and commonsense suffice to suggest the wisdom of so doing.
The Coming Test
But Catholics in particular, having seen these things for themselves, have of course specially compelling reasons for taking up a very positive line in the matter. When to the evidence of unique wisdom and experience is added the knowledge that these indeed are " mixed " questions wherein " moral " considerations play an increasingly important part, Catholics all over the world should surely be prepared to rally to the Holy Father's leadershiand set an uncompromising example to their fellowmen. And they may do so with all the greater devotion in that they know that, by Catholic teaching itself, this loyalty to a wise and saintly Pontiff cannot in any way interfere with the Christian teaching of loyalty to country where country's claims are just and natural. If this is so, the coming months of the world's history will surely put our consciences—and our commonsense, for that matter— to the test.
We shall be drawn by many currents—by claims of patriotism, by specious arguments, by rival ideologies, by the snobbisme of being in the front rank of reformers, by our own unpurged emotions of hatred and revenge, by worldly wisdom, perhaps even by fear of offending those who have power over us.
Can we honestly say now, while the hour is still comparatively cool, that these currents are to he compared with the guidance of the Sovereign Pontiff expressing and applying the principles that this great volume we have considered teaches?
If not, our own course is surely set, and we can move ahead confident of being able to help ourselves, our country and the world If we move together, three hundred million of us and with many others following, we can ensure for the world the tranquillity of order.