Poor Support For Catholic Press
Speaking to C.Y.M.S. delegates in the Cathedral Hall on Easter Sunday afternoon on " Retreats, Book, Job," Fr. Martindale, who had only just returned from his visit to the Philippines, explained how he had been impressed during his travels with the way the words " Catholic Action came up again and again everywhere.
The task of Christianising what was nonChristian was being carried out everywhere and in the most unfavourable places. Nevertheless, one was even more impressed, he continued, by the width and strength of the work of anti-Christ crusaders, — contradictory terms, yet full of meaning since they were determined to uproot that cross which the word " crusader" denoted.
Communism. and Buddhism
He had seen what progress was being made by Communists. especially with Buddhist communities, for Buddhists, not believing in personal immortality or a personal God. were easily persuaded that there was no essential difference between their outlook and that of Communism.
His experience showed him that what Catholics needed if they were to make progress in this fight between Catholic Action and Atheist Communism was formation. "No word recurs more often in the documents concerned with Catholic Action, though I cannot remember its recurring often in anything written in this country."
In this process of forming a Catholic mind he instanced three things—retreats, reading, and doing some active work.
Retreats and Photos
Stressing the importance of week-end retreats. he said that he had it from the Holy Father himself that week-end retreats were to count as full retreats, a statement that had sometimes been denied.
Typical of his practical outlook was his advice on retreats. " Feed the retreatants well. Make sure that a photograph is taken! This always creates interest and goes far to ensure permanence. The series of photographs would make men ashamed to allow the series to be broken or that any retreat should fall numerically short of the others."
Reading In regard to reading, Fr. Martindale did not instance any particular kind of reading. Catholic history gave flesh and blood to
Catholic abstractions. We should try to be educated about everything and anything. Communists had never made the mistake of narrowing their appeal. They have always educated. Their propaganda covered everything and their followers knew about everything.
As a warning of what will happen if this formation of the Catholic mind by hard study is not made, he related the enthusiasm he had witnessed in a certain church in Central Europe, where the giving of Holy Communion on a feast day lasted for hours and the church was packed even to Fvery corner, to every confessional box, even to the pulpit.
Congratulating the religious authorities on these scenes, he was told: "Yes, they are still fervent and enthusiastic, but what will happen to the next generation?" Catholics today were up against a hostile training and propaganda that could not be compared with anything previous, and it had to be met in kind by the same depth and hard work. " Every Catholic enterprise should in some sense be an educational one.
Concluding, Fr. Martindale pointed out the advantage and need of some definite work to do for the Church. a job, so that he could be trained and habituated to definite Catholic work which would lead him in time to public work with a Catholic mind.
Co-operation Between Clergy and Laity
He asked whether there were always the full co-operation needed between clergy and laity, whether the hard-worked clergy were not sometimes too impatient with the efforts of the laity and their desire to share in their work lest they obtain too much power? There was a danger that the clergy might in this way be out of touch with what was happening in the world.
Though only the devil and Satanism could fully explain the outburst of hatred against the Church in a country like Spain, some weight had to be given to the fact that the Church had tended to get out of touch with the world. He reminded his audience of the question put during the French Revolution to some priests: " Black men, from I what hole are you coming out?" Equally, 'certain sections of the laity remained out I of touch with reality, and living lives that differed in no way from non-Catholics. In fact, Catholics were behind others in social work. Did not a priest who once read out of the pulpit a summary of Quadragesinzo Anno receive a number of protests from the congregation that he was preaching Communism?
The Pope's Lead
Much the same note was struck by Count de la Bedoyere, the Editor of the Catholic Herald, who spoke an the Catholic Press. He contrasted the spirit and lead of the Pope with the response of the Catholic community.
The Pope, he said, who was the most upto-date, frank, and courageous person in the Church today, distinguished between the devil and fallen deceived men.
He did not look down and despise the works of the world, but was determined that they should be used for the greater glory of God. For that reason he was always distinguishing between the amateur, the dilletante, and the professional.
Catholics were the only professionals left in religion, but the Pope wanted us to be professionals, hard workers in other spheres, whereas the Catholic was too inclined to think that because he had the truth in religion, he could leave it at that, He was apt to be obstinate and little-minded, putting forth freakish, personal, and unthought-out ideas for reforming the world, without doing the hard work needed to understand the technique of the world, so that he may help in re-orientating it. A Catholic starts a film-society and thinks he can undermine Hollywood, takes to amateur farming and thinks he can change the current of our industrial development, plays at the study of a little economics and thinks he can reform the City,the speaker said. " That's the sort of spirit which, reading between the lines, I feel that the Pope despises as amateur and dilletante."
The Catholic Press
Applying this to the Catholic Press, Count de la Bedoyere said that on the whole the Press had tried to share the virile realistic outlook of the Pope, but that the Catholic public • had 'not.
Too many Catholics eithoil-despikied the Press because it was not as smart as the world's Press-or loved it because its reports of Catholic news enabled them to purr with self-satisfaction.
As to its actual achievement in this country, he turned to the evidence of a convert who had worked fOriiy6a11t, on the secular press, and read a letter' to the Catholic Herald, written by Mr. W. J. Blyton. (The letter is printed on page 6.)
Concluding, the speaker appealed for the co-operation of the delegates in raising the standard of interest and taste among the Catholic public, in teaching them that Catholic news was not merely ecclesiastical news or reports of open persecution, hut the " news of the world, seen, studied, and rectified by Catholic minds."
The public was not wholly to blame for in the past the Catholic Press had set too low a standard, prospered on it, and was now imprisoned by it. All the more need, therefore, to make the press worthy of the Pope's lead and instructions and capable of playing its part in the world-fight of today.