Demobbing of General Anders' Army Raises Problem for Catholics
A very large proportion of the 160,000 Polish troops to be demobilised will settle in Britain, Most of them are Catholics.
In view of the opportunity of strengthening the Catholic community here and in view of the great Christian debt owed to these exiles from their homeland for which they fought for six years to defend from barbarism, a Catholic Herald reporter has made various enquiries about what can and should be clone by Catholics to help them.
Trade unions and industry, the position of undergraduates and graduates, religion and social welfare, these are some of the topics which require clarification with regard to the Polish exiles. Our reporter has discussed them with the Anglo-Polish Catholic Association, Mr. Bernard Sullivan, Trade Union leader, the Vicar-General of the Polish forces, officials of the Newman Association and a spokesman of the Arciszewski Government.
The latter revealed that many of the men are married and are bringing their wives and more than 20,000 children with them to this country In a leading article on page 4, the wider aspects of the resettlement are discussed.
By W. J. IGOE
General Anders' Army is coming to England.
The heroes of the Battle of Monastery Hill, 100,000 Catholic men who have already 60,000 of their Polish comrades in this country will make the largest influx of Catholics ever accepted at one time in Britain.
They are going to be demobilised. They are then going to be enrolled in a Resettlement Corps and trained to take places in British civilian life. They are Catholics. Can Catholics in this country help them?
I have just toured London putting this question to persons and institutions which might be considered fit to express an opinion on the subject. For the sake of clarifying the problem I made my first call on an official of the Arcizewski Government. I asked him what sort of craftsman would predominate among the incoming Poles.
" Before the war," he replied, " most of these men were agricultural workers. There are among them a considerable number of miners. The farmworkers have, during the past six yea's, acquired new trades.
The Second Corps was highly mechanised. Thousands of Poles were, therefore, trained as automobile engineers. A great number are drivers. Then there are very highly skilled radio technicians. We have men who can construct wireless sets, repair them and assemble them. All these army-trained craftsmen are highly skilled and accustomed to working under difficulties.
TWENTY THOUSAND CHILDREN "We also have a large group of intellectual workers and ordinary office workers. These will provide, I imagine, special problems. The professionals, university graduates and undergraduates will probably be treated under a separate scheme."
One last and most important point was made by this spokesman. " Many at our soldiers," he said, " have mar ried during the past six years, With the Corps there are now 20,000 chil dren. Things will be very difficult for these—many of them are little more than infants. I think their welfare is something that will have a special appeal to Catholics."
How can a Catholic workers' leader advise on the problem? I went to see Mr. Bernard Sullivan, Catholic Trade Union leader and one of the most active Catholics in England in social affairs.
" The problem," said Mr. Sullivan, " calls for special study, in different areas throughout the country. In the past it was the policy of the Governments to allow workers to follow the movements of employment. Now it is the Government's wish to bring work to the people.
OPPORTUNITY FOR TRADE UNIONS " Here, then, is an opportunity for the. trade unions and the Ministry of Labour to study the areas where certain workers are required and attempt to fit our Polish allies into work where they will be valuable to us and will be able to make lives for themselves.
" It is obvious that many of them could find a place for themselves in the mining industry. And here in London I am sure they would be invaluable in the building trade. In my own union we have a shortage of handicrafts' workers for the West End tailoring trade. We would be prepared to train some of these Polish soldiers and find them employment within our ranks.
" But there are special points on which the Catholic worker must realise his responsibility for these his Polish fellow-workers. There will possibly be agitation against them by political bodies, notably the Communists. Catholic trade unionists must ask their organisations to give the Poles special consideration. They must ensure that their Union hear the true case for the Polish soldiers.
" There are other ways we can help. These men must be absorbed into our parochial life and the ways we can
help them there will be a test of that life. In the old days when the whole Catholic life was integrated in the parish with the church and hall as centre it would have been easy. But we must make an effort.
Local and national groups such as the C.S.G. and C.Y.M.S. could do much to help teach our friends the British way of life and show them the procedure of our trade unions and our social ways. Catholic workers in Britain can help in many ways: 1 have indicated a few. They have a duty to the Catholic worker of Poland ; they will surely not forget it."
On to the Vicar-General of the Polish forces, whom I asked what arrangements had been made for the spiritual welfare of the men. Were enough priests available to give them the assistance required for a full Catholic religious life?
WELL SUPPLIED WITH CHAPLAINS "The corps was well supplied with chaplains in Italy," I was informed. " And these priests will travel to England with their charges."
A scheme was in progress of being worked out with regard to the eventual settlement of men in this country. It would involve taking into account certain circumstances not yet fully established. For instance, the number of chaplains who would be recalled to Poland by their religious superiors was not yet clear. In the meantime Polish chaplains were available.
Many of the Poles are former members of universities, graduates and undergraduates who will want to continue studies interrupted or terminated by the war. Can anything be done for them?
I took this question to the Newman Association, which has gained a great deal of information on the subject since the outbreak of war.
Already, I was told, a scheme is under consideration which may be developed and extended to the newcomers. The problem is peculiar. It might be necessary to open special university hostels for the Poles. The possibility had been envisaged and dis cussed. All aspects of the general problem were being studied with the cooperation of Veritas, the Polish University organisation in England. The present scheme was prepared to advise students before entering a British university, and to give them assistance and advice during the whole term of their course.
My last call was on the Anglo-Polish Catholic Association, where I was told by officials that " This association will try to open new branches where the Polish Resettlement Camps are set up, so that our members may take up the duty of introducing the Poles to British life and try to make them feel that they are not alone.
" The association is eagerly expecting to hear more details of the proposed arrangements, namely, those concerning the vocational training of the Polish soldiers, prospects int work in normal civilian life, plans for the resettlement of soldiers' families, the education of their children and university studies for Polish undergraduates.
" Good conditions for their spiritual life are our main concern.
"The Anglo-Polish Catholic Association is also specially considering ways and means of helping in the most effective ways the 20,000 children who will be coming to England with the army."
By decree of the Coneristatorial Congregation a semi-public oonsistory giving final approval of the canonisation of Blessed John de Britto, S.J., Blessed Bernardino Realino, S.J., Blessed Elizabeth des Ages, Foundress of the Daughters of the Cross, and Blessed Frances. Xavier Cabrini, Foundress of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, will be held on June 13.