CATHOLIC LEADERS MOVE TOWARDS CENTRE
On Sunday next, June 2, General Elections are being held in Italy and France. A survey of the pronouncements of the responsible Catholic leaders in both countries shows that they are moving into a centre position. We publish below an analysis of the general political outlook in Italy and a shorter article on the directions given by the French Episcopate to Sunday's voters.
By a Staff Reporter The election struggle in Italy has reached its culminating point. The walls of the cities are covered
with political posters of every size, shape, colour, and party affiliation. Loudspeakers sound through the cities, towns and hamlets as every commune of this historic peninsula is being stumped by electioneers.
Ships in harbour are being searched for the missing body of Mussolini. Bombs are being thrown at Christian Democrats by Communists. Monarchists are trailing their mats at demon
strations all over the country. The police are locking up young " neofascists." One new party is asking to be returned to Parliament on the grounds that parliamentary institutions are out of date. Another is demanding that Italy should join the United States of America, become the fortyninth State. The Black Market is •the only flourishing institution in the country. Hundreds of thousands of Italians are starving; more suffer from malnutrition.
THE ATTITUDE OF THE CHURCH As always, the Church is not pre occupied about political loons. But she is rightly interested in safeguarding those God-given rights and liberties which belong to her by reason of her real supernatural mission among men, and those rights and liberties which natural law, revelation and Christian culture cooler upon Catholics. This has been the clear and concise attitude of the Church throughout the election campaign, notwithstanding the conflicting allegations and claims arbitrarily made by various contesting parties whether left or right.
"The Church is not opposed on principle to an), form of constitution provided it is chosen for the common good and recognises God as its source of authority." So Cardinal .Schuster, Archbishop of Milan, in a letter addressed to the people of Lombardy, writes.
The Cardinal adds that if the Church leaves to the faithful the liberty of choosing a constitution which pleases them, she demands that their decision he dictated by concern for the common good of the country and not by partisan interest.
The Italian Catholic Action has formulated clear and precise directions, These have been published in Quotidian°.
These directions were of the same tenor as those issued in Sicily by Cardinal Ruffini, Archbishop of Palmero, which arc reported by Reuter as follows;
1. No one should tinder any excuse abstain front voting. 2. Persons who vote for a party which consistently professes materialism and the class struggle become renegades to the principles of the Christian faith and are guilty of a
mortal sin. Persons voting for a party which does not openly and consistently base its programme on the principles of the Christian faith are not exempt from grave guilt.
CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATS' CHANCES •
The Christian Democratic Party looks like emerging with a lead at the polls. It:, policy of agrarian reform is sound. It intends to limit the ownership of land in a just and economic manner. The foreign policy of Signor De Gasped is shrewd and is calculated to extricate Italy from the Peace Conference with as much of her pre-war ter. ritories as possible.
On the question of a douhle-chamhered Government, the Christian Democrats take their stand with the Socialists, Liberals, and the newly-formed National Democratic Union. The only party for a single-chamber is the Communist.
Trieste and the colonies are the points on which the Communists have become most unpopular. And their home policy of applying the magic word "nationalisation " to industries which are destroyed, and agriculture which is promised by sae Christian Democrats to the Conservative peasantry, is not popular either.
The parrot cry on the lips of the Communists, of anti-king, has become a battle-cry on the lips of a substantial minority of the Liberals and the majority of the Christian Democrats.
As the position seems to stand at the moment, the major struggle will be between the Christian Democrats and the Socialists. The most valuable speech from the Socialists was one made on May 5 by Signor Ignazio Silone, veteran Left Wing intellectual, novelist and playwright, and uncompromising opponent to Mussolini,
" The essential principles of any real democratic reconstruction," said Signor Saone, are : Firstly, that the supreme value of the individual person is the real end of any political and economic adjustment. Secondly, the protection of property and all technical resources must be for the material and moral benefit of man: and thirdly, society is infinitely wider than the State and is an historical product of the State." The famous writer then went on to state that the Church, trade unions, co-operatives and autonomous bodies must be able to live independently of
the State, and that it is right that these should be provided with sufficient means of effective resistance to the abuse of the authority of the State."
AND IN FRANCE
Cardinal Suhard, Archbishop of Paris, has issued a reminder to be read in all churches of his
archdiocese that all eligible persons of both sexes are bound in duty to vote in the elections on Sunday next, June 2, and that an individual's failure to do so would be regarded as " a serious desertion." Similar instructions were given prior to the constitutional referendum on May 5.
Cardinal Lienart, Bishop of Lille, has issued a notice of the same character.
Without taking sides in the matter of political preference, Cardinal Suhard asked Catholics to insure through their vote " a respect for the rights of human beings and of the family, a safeguards ing of the interests and the dignity of workers, a defence of civil and religious freedoms for the individual, and the continuance in France of a spiritual ideal consistent with the genius of the nation."
The French electors on Sunday will vote for a Constituent assembly whose main task, apart from carrying on the day to day business of government, will be the drafting of a new Constitution.