TWO recent events remind us that joining the Common Market will have major spiritual implications. The first was the appointment of Archbishop Cardinale as Papal Nuncio to the European Economic Community. The second was the visit to London last week of Fr. Jean Weydert, Si., who runs from an office in Brussels the Catholic Information Centre on European Problems.
The function of that office is to educate public opinion in Europe on the need for the E.E.C. to cast itself in a universal role. It must not be a self-protective enclave in the world, but a force for reconciliation with Eastern Europe and Russia, and for the service of the developing countries.
The Common Market countries can do more for the Third World through their pooling of resources in an economic union than they could ever hope to do in the simple aggregate. But the attainment of this ideal requires that Europe should be prepared to construct her policies on the principles of social justice and to make sacrifices in the process.
To clarify the issues, the Centre studies and disseminates information on a range of questtions ranging from migration to industrial mergers, from education to the human and sociological implications of a united Europe. The basic question is : what sort of a society does Europe propose to create, and how does it see its duties to the wider world?
To take but one example : for Europe to produce not only the sugar it needs but even a surplus is to deny fair outlets on world markets for the sugar exported. by countries dependent on selling their primary products. Yet this is what is happening now, and the European producers show no signs of changing their policy in this respect.
As Pope Paul pointed out in Populorum Progressio, the whole of the world's economic structure requires a certain remodelling if a fair division of labour, resources, markets and the fruits of labour is to be achieved. Europe should be a catalyst in this process, and start by setting the right example.
It is in such terms that Britain must approach her proposed involvement in E.E.C., where her experiences of responsibility for countries overseas will give her a special right to point the way.
Pope in Philippines
POPE PAUL'S visit to the Philippines is
particularly appropriate since the problems of that country are of a kind he thoroughly understands, and it is a country where the Church is unusually well placed to affect economic and social change. There is, of course, deep social unrest and gross feudal inequality. The Church is divided but many people go to church, and the clergy include many physical and social scientists, some of them outstanding in their fields.
The Church has made a major contribution to the credit union movement, and played a useful part in local community development. Its weakness is a failure to "prophesy" sufficiently against unjust social structures, and to establish a national community sense. Catholic observers have pointed out that there is good material, and much open-mindedness, among certain sectors of the clergy, and of the academic, professional and business classes.
Such men should be bound together into what has been called a modernising elite, capable of mediating among the classes. As matters stand, these potential mediators lack a centre of unity, but this is something which the Church should be able to supply, having access, as she does, to influential people at all levels.