WE are sure that our readers will feel as exhilarated as we do when they reflect on Professor de Reynold's words which we print this week on another page. This paper has at times been criticised for apparent lack of patriotism in that it contains reflections on policies pursued in our own country as well as on views prevalent in it. Likewise, it is sometimes held that it advocates a " foreign " type of Catholicism, finding the Latin or the Irish always to be right at the expense of the British. Such judgments are the consequence of a hasty reading of a pacer whose function it is to underline Catholic truth in the face of contemporary errors and to provide news of the Church's life and struggles all over the world. Inevitably we are more familiar with what is going on around us, and therefore there is bound to be a special concentration on the divorce between contemporary life in this country and Catholic values, while we regard it as right to counterbalance the too often unfavourable judgment in the contemporary press about Catholic countries abroad.
But in fact we have no purpose more dear than to see the reconciliation between the British way and the Catholic mind, and we believe that if this could be effected the balance of thought in the modern world would be decisively altered. As we have time and again insisted, the permeation of our British society by a sense of basic Christian morality and by the fine British conception of law and justice provides the world to-day with one of its most precious assets, While we must hold that the history of religion in our country since the Reformation has in many ways been tragically superficial, it remains the case that it has so far prevented the bitter clash between clericalism and anti-clericalism that has darkened so much of continental religious history and deformed to some extent the rival parties. For this blessing we Catholics in Britain must always be profoundly grateful.
But to-day the whole matter has passed from the realm of the " desirables " -to that of " virtual necessities." The Continent of Europe, itself largely in a state of anarchy and misery, is threatened by forces as sinister and threatening as any .in its chequered past. And, as M. de Reynold points out, it needs, as never before, the moral, cultural, political and social leadership of Britain, just as it needs the spiritual and moral leaven of Catholicism, which is above all nations and politics.
Alas! while Britain preserves within her shores and through the Commonwealth much of the moral Christian inheritance, just as she preserves the priceless asset of political and social order, she is far from realising either the value of this inheritance or the imperative need for propagating it fearlessly and proudly to our own countrymen and to all men. Sadder still—for ultimately, in our view, all depends on this— the deep prejudice against Catholicism which endures in our island prevents any understanding of the truth that there is only pne impregnable defence against neobarbarism, and that is the rock of Christian dogma and moral teaching as revealed by God.
While our own country, " the last hope of Europe," is endangered by the spread of perilous and ill-based doctrines, the Britisher still retains a strange moral superiority because of which he judges others, not according to their fundamental convictions but according to their human weaknesses. Instead of looking to the rock of Catholicism, the rock on which the late Cardinal von Galen and the core of Catholics in Germany rested in their defiance of Hitlerism, the rock on which the martyrs of Yugoslavia and the Ukraine stand to-day in resistance to Bolshevism, the rock upon which alone a balance in Latin countries, like France, Spain and Italy, can be maintained, the Englishman will consider only the inevitable human failures and weaknesses of the Church which embraces so many millions and prides itself on being " the refuge of sinners."
Indeed, we make no apology for the weaknesses which are indeed excessive, but their existence cannot affect the rocklike quality of doctrine and practice which remains and is patent to all who search with unprejudiced eyes. For us Catholics in this island there is surely to-day an immense responsibility.
" Britain, the last hope of Europe "—the cry comes to us Catholics from the centre of tragic Europe. To respond to it fully the Catholic people of England, Scotland and Wales must become again apostles, loaders of thought and action, citizens of first-class quality.
But we shall not succeed by any appeasement, any compromise, any mere tact. Prayer and penance in the supernatural order, courage and intelligence in the natural— these, we believe, should be our watchwords.