By a strange coincidence both the Catholic papers that I bought from the Church porch this week referred to Chesterton in connection with Hitler's treatment of the Jews in the second World War.
"Fatima International" quoted Chesterton's dictum that error is worse than crime for it begets crime to support their contention that a belief in polygenism can lead to the horror of the gas chambers, and you (May 31) actually imply that the logic of Chesterton's thought leads in the same direction too.
In fairness you add that Chesterton would be horrified to realize it, but I am afraid that you have sown in readers' minds the same smear with regard to Chesterton that the playwright Hochuth managed to apply to the late Pope Pius XII.
If your readers believe you, that innuendo will be sufficient to make sure that no one takes Chesterton seriously, which is what you recommend. A thousand Shames, for perhaps few other twentieth-century Englishmen have had such a profound appreciation of the Catholic Church as had Chesterton.
Chesterton understood the Catholic Church in all its glory: for him, if you recall "Orthodoxy", the Church was not one of the exhibits in a gallery of religions, but the very dome of the allembracing gallery itself. He was certainly not a "professional" Catholic in the sense that many of our contemporary busy-bodies on the various commissions are, forever displeased with the image of the Catholic Church as a run down 19th century Gothic chapel and wanting to emulate if pot amalgamate with the smarter
modern . buildings represented by the other "churches".
Chesterton would have found that kind of "professional" Catholic atmosphere unbreathable because for him the Church was the great Ark of Truth alone entitled to judge the many heresies developed by some of her children in different ages.
Today's "professional" Catholic, however, seems to be a different breed from what you have in mind. Now that you have used the term "professional" Catholic for the fourth time in recent weeks a negative picture is beginning to emerge of what you mean by the type. Sympathetic people like Christopher Hollis are not "professional" Catholics, and I don't suppose the Editor of the 'Catholic Herald" would like to be one either, despite his occupying a truly professional post in the Catholic establishment.
The "professional" Catholic apparently provokes disgust and irritation, which is perhaps why Graham Greene is said to resent being called a "Catholic writer". Not so Chesterton, who would have been humbled, not irritated, by the honour of being styled "Catholic writer".
Let us hope that the young will take your advice and read Chesterton, but take him seriously. As he himself wrote: "A man with a definite belief always appears bizarre because he does not change with the world."
Chesterton has become something of an embarrassment in the post-conciliar world, and he would vehemently deny its champions the right to be called "progressives" for: "Nobody has any business to use the word "progress" unless he has a definite creed and a cast-iron code of morals." (Heretics).
David Boyce 38 Greenwood Close,