CATHOLICS AND THE WAR The Duty of the Catholic Press
Sta,—Perhaps it is unnecessary for anyone to intervene in your defence against the implied imputation of Mr. Lunn that the editorial policy of the CATHOLIC HERALD is calculated to weaken our national war effort. I may say, however, that I am a constant
reader of your stimulating and thoughtprovoking leaders and comments and I fail to see how Mr. Lunn finds any justification for the charge.
It must be pointed out, however, that a Catholic journal has a duty to perform— the promulgation of Catholic principles. To be silent when the necessity for this arises would be a dereliction of duty. This surely is incontrovertible.
Mr. Lunn must remember that it is one thing to criticise (nay, even castigate) certain tendencies in certain groups and parties of one's fellow citizens but quite another to be guilty of weakening the general war effort. I submit, for instance, that the highest loyalty is compatible with the strongest condemnation of such broadcasts as we have had from a former Minister of Information and a former high servant in the Foreign Office. Both broadcasts breathed a spirit which might well be called utterly un-Christian. But, even more, there is perhaps sound ground for thinking that they were (quite unintentionally, of course) detrimental to our effort, which at the moment is bent on winning the war and weakening " the will to victory " of our opponents. I have no means of knowing what use Do Goebbels made of those effusions, but, if I am any student of psychology, I have a shrewd opinion that they could well be used against us to bolster up the morale of his dupes and align them the more strongly behind their leaders.
Would Mr. Lunn criticise a reproof in such instances? Or has he such an obsession of being " out of step " that he would advocate, on the plea of " being all togetber," the condonation and silent acceptance on the part of a Catholic editor of every expression of hate and vituperation which to-day may be expressed by irresponsible persons and self-seeking groups against any and every national in an " enemy " or neutral country?
I do not accuse him of such madness. But 1 fear he has gone a certain step towards leaving himself open to the accusation of failing into the error of the mesmerised " Yes-man." He seems to need reminding that whilst British, he is also European and Catholic and that war is not a perpetual or natural state. We must piepare for peace; and, as the Pope has truly said, " Peace is the fruit of Justice." We British Catholics hope that in the present struggle our arms shall prevail against the tyranny of Naeism, which the CATHOLIC HERALD most certainly has always held up as being the antithesis of our Faith and our sense of moral values. But, at the same time, we wish (and here again the CarlsoLte HERALD has always been insistent) our victory to be such that it will still render possible a peace of at least sonic permanence. Thus it is that Catholics (and herein again, I submit, the CATHOLIC HERALD is tight) need no lashing by outbursts of hate or nauseating repetitions of a smug recital of our historic and national blamelessness to spur us in our determination to tight for victory. On the contrary, we realise that from time to time we do need a serious examination of national conscience, lest we fall into the sin of the Pharisee and deserve national damnation.
And so Mr, Lunn must not be scandalised, If many of us approve the efforts of the CATHOLIC HERALD to disprove the cynical remark that " we learn from history that we do not learn from history." We must learn from history to avoid our historic mistakes. And, if from time to time, even during this war, there arise within our midst those who arc blind to our mistakes of the past and who seem bent upon leading us as a nation down the same slippery way of the same ghastly errors to the perpetuation of the same diabolic hatreds, then I take it that the very duty of a Catholic editor is to point the danger and utter the timely warning. And that duty has called more than once in recent weeks.
We must learn from history, otherwise we
shall deserve (and experience) damnation, nationally no less than personally. Through history we can share the God-like capacity, even for creating; that is, we can create a better future for Europe by learning from the errors of the past. We will disregard this truth at our peril.
But probably Mr. Lunn would agree with
all this. 11 so, I would say merely in conclusion that the task of a Catholic editor today is no sinecure and certainly a somewhat thankless task. May I, therefore, suggest that we of the rank and file might help to make his job less lonely and somewhat less thankless?
W. J. GRANT, M.D., F.R.C.S. Shrewsbury.
Defence of Catholic Interests
Ste,—I find it depressing that a Catholic of Mr. Arnold Lunn's eminence should disperse energy attacking Potain—who in any case is relatively remote from our pressure and control—when there are forces nearer home and unquestionably more hostile.
The sensitiveness of the British Press to Communist Russian opinion was never so clearly shown as at this hour, The feelings, apprehensions, and instincts of self-preservation of the millions of Catholics in the British Empire, cut absolutely no ice with these organs. Witness the recent " Internationale" pother.
Witness to-day's Daily Sketch ("Inside Information.") " B.B.C. blimps will not appreciate the Soviet's objection to the White Russians proposed as operators of this (London Broadcasts in Russian) service. Thus Russia is being deprived of valuable British propaganda." Did the Daily Sketch exhibit similar sensitiveness over the choice of Spaniards broadcasting to Spain?
National self-preservation requires that we join with any nation fighting the common enemy and it would be an advantage to our government to get the (no doubt limited) collaboration of Spain as well es of Russia. Is this likely with our Press carrying on as it does? We have just had the spectacle of Press and House enjoying themselves over the " Internationale " question. The fact that this contains an implicit threat to
religion — No Saviour from on high deliver " received no mention in any paper read by me. What sort of impression are these things going to produce on the Catholics Oppressed by Nazidom?
We Catholics have much to learn from the Jews in the matter of oiganieed selfdefence. We need, in particular, the organisation of effectives on the Press Front, Mr. Lunn, as a persuasive and skilled Merely intellectual, should he in a position lo assist. Until something is done, the British Press will continue to flout Catholic opinion in the Empire and in Europe.
Are we going to put up with it indefinitely?
A. P. GIANELLI.
20, Lisson Grove, Marylebone, N.W.1.
Ste,—One thing appears to emerge from the interesting sabre-rattling of Mr. Arnold Lunn and the editor of this journal.
The CATHOLIC HERALD is a newspaper, and endeavours to carry out its true functions of " giving reliable information," of providing its readers with facts, of excavating when and where possible the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
It follows this policy with laudable inflexibility, sometimes no doubt a painful process, but it is almost unique among its secular and clerical contemporaries in so doing.
When occasions arise which compel it to purvey dishes unpalatable to the British Catholic palate, including, doubtless, that of the Editor himself, the CATHOLIC HERALD does not shrink or swerve from its appointed task. Exposure of the true facts is, in the long view, better than their suppression, Fiat justitia runt cekelum, it refuses to be deflected from its course by sentimental considerations of expediency or of prejudiced national propaganda.
As a reader of some years standing, may I add that the CATHOLIC HERALD has also consistently exhibited the virtues of modesty and humility? Hence its Editor may feel that she advertisement columns of its competitors is a more fitting location for this overlong letter than would be the correspondence page of his newspaper.
C. L. KERR,
48, Castle Hill Avenue, Folkestone.
SIR,—I must apologise to Mr. Baikaloff for not having been aware of his revolutionary past, to which he refers in his letter in your issue of July 25, and for having, unwittingly, appeared to suggest that he was an aristocrat (the type of which he writes became extinct in Russia over one hundred years ago, but of whom I have at least one example among my Russian acquaintances).
Your correspondent's suggestion that my well-known pro-Soviet sympathies made it more easy for me, than it apparently was for him, to hear and to understand Stalin's broadcast speech seems to provide, perhaps, the real explanation of the difficulty which he himself experienced in doing so. I have sot yet read his book, to which he refers me, but I have some recollection of the articles he mentions by Messrs. Spencer Williams and John Scott. These did not, however, create any lasting impression upon me, heceitse they were so blatantly in contradiction with my own observations, made when / was in the U.S.S.R. in the summer of 1939, the general correctness of which has been confirmed by events and by the testimony, quoted by me in my last letter (on July 18), of the Times. h is interesting to note, however, that Mr. John Scott's later contributions to the News-Chronicle, made when that journal had changed from an anti-Soviet to a pro-Soviet attitude, conveyed an impression very different from that which he had previously sought to create— the change suggested that his views are not entirely objective.
While I cannot profess to know, any more than can Mr. Baikaloff, why political commissars have !seen reintroduced into the Soviet armies, the explanation given by an anonymous writer in the Tablet, quoted in your correspondence columns on August 1, would seem to be more likely to be correct
than that advanced by Mr. Baikaloff. If there were any truth in the yarn broadcast from Stockholm of' alleged " roast arrests and executions throughout the Soviet Union,"
feel sure that we would have heard something about them from such reliable British reporters out there as Mr. Werth and Mr. Philip Jordan. It would seem hardly likely, moreover, if the truth were as suggested by Mr. Baikaloff, that the Soviet Navy, Army and Air Force would now be dealing so successfully with the Nazis, and even less likely that guerilla tactics such as are used by the Soviet peoples against their opponents could be adopted with any hope of success.
Mr. Baikaloff suggests, in his letter to which I am now replying, that "the criterion by which we may fudge whether any political or economic system is an irTilartt to those whom it affects is the testimony of those over whom it h exercised." He may read every day in our newspapers the answer to his implied question, given by the Soviet peoples themselves, and that answer gives the lie direct to his allegations, based on I know not what unreliable testimony.
EDGAR P. YOUNG, Commander, RN.
28, Gloucester Place, London, W.I.