Sixteen Countries (Neutral
The first International Catholic Press Conference to be held during the war took place in London on Saturday and Sunday.
It was also the first Conference of the kind ever to take place in Great Britain.
Representatives from the following countries took part in the work of the Conference: Great Britain, Holland, Canada, Switzerland, Poland, France, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Jugoslavia, Belgium, Norway, Malta. An Irish representative, though unable to be present personally, sent a message.
The Conference was in two parts. On Saturday there were three sessions held in private. On Sunday, after a special Mass in Farm St. Church, at which the Conference preacher was the Bishop of Northampton, the afternoon session was held in public.
Between 150 and 200 writers, journalists and students attended the meetings, the organisation of which was in the hands of the International Section of the University Catholic Federation of Great Britain, assisted by the weekly Catholic papers.
A resolution was passed unanimously to send a message of congratulation and filial devotion to the Holy Father on the occasion of his Silver Jubilee.
News of the Conference was broadcast to various European countries by the
A leading article on The Conference appears on page 4,
The public session of the International Catholic Press Conference consisted of a discussion, in which representatives of many countries took part, on the subject: The role of the Catholic Press in Post-War Europe.
Opening the discussion on the role of the Catholic Press in postwar Europe, and invited by the Chairman to speak of his relevant recent experiences in America (which was unrepresented), Mr. Arnold Lunn concentrated on the role of the Catholic press in wartime Europe, and confined his remarks to the role of one British Catholic newspaper.
" We do not want Catholics," said Mr. Lunn, " to echo the Ministry of Information; on the other hand, we do not want the mentality that depreciates one's own country while seeing nothing to criticise in Petain and de Valera." Rather than that he preferred the attitude of " My country, right or wrong.'' " Abroad there is a certain respect for English Catholicism and eome of our papers have done an extremely good job," he added.
Reading an extract from a short secondary note in a nine-month-old issue of THE CATHOLIC HERALD, Mr. Lunn quarrelled with the phrase: " War is a dirty business at best," and amended it to: " War is a glorious business at be.st." lie also stated that the Christian Middle Ages constituted a fighting, rather than an intellectual, civilisation.
" In this war," said Mr. Lunn, " the fortunes of our country coincide with that of the Church. The only thing that matters is to win this war and to win it decisively.
" I have lived a great deal of my life abroad and in countries of Catholic culture, but there is no country, in my opinion, with a higher ethical standard than England to-day."
Mr. Lunn then pointed out that the war refuted the nineteenth century heresy that it did not matter what a person believed as long as he behaved himself. The worship of evil in Russia and Germany was the result of bad doctrine. If we ceased to believe, we ceased to behave.
Referring again ICI THE CATHOLIC HERALD, Mr. Lunn denied that any sort of idealism could explain the Communist and Nazi revolutions. Their appeal, he said was to the evil in man.
[The Austrian representative had prepared a statement which, unfortunately, he was unable to deliver. We give, howeler, a report of what he would have said.—EDITOR, CIL] Count Strachwitz, describing the d ifficult historical conditions, including those of false security. under which the Church progressed, explained why the daily Catholic press only developed slowly. " The Catholic dailies were slow to realise that a daily paper could not be run on the lines of a glorified parish magazine," he writes. Despite the distressing post-war circurnatances, the daily Catholic press did make progress. and the leading paper was the Vienna Reichpost, under Dr. Funder, last heard of in a German concentration camp.
There had been more real life in the weekly Catholic press. " If the Austrian peasantry remained through all the troubled years between the end of the first World War and the German invasion the main support of Church and State and the most reliable and stable element of the population, it was due to a large extent to the work of the Catholic weekly Press.
" Some of those unpretentious papers were edited by men of outstanding journalistic qualities. I remember one of them, a simple curare who, living and working in a tiny room in a tiny Tyrolean village, edited the most popular weekly in his province. Ile may have had up to 100,000 regular readers. His weekly reviews of world affairs, written in the simplest possible language, were among the best I have ever seen. To read them attentively might have done a lot of good even to the world's leading statesmen and to the editors of the world's largest news
papers. That priest has been reported among the first whom the Germans assassinated after the invasion,"
DR. L. JACOBS
'' I wish to pay tribute to the Lnglish Catholic press for the high standard which this press has kept up, its living faith, outspoken courage for truth and
justice," Dr. Jacobs began. " We Catholics from other countries now present in England only regret is that it is not aS yet certain that the achievements of the English Catholic press are a promise for the future, and also in the reconstruction of Europe."
Speaking of a New Order, Dr. Jacobs Said that if this war was a war for freedom, let the peace also be a peace of freedom. " If we arc to have retribution let us not have vengeance but justice and charity.
" I hope that when we hate been able to bring some order into European matters we shall again be able to extend our hands to our Catholic friends of all countries without exception. We must have a 'Iasilive faith. If IS not enough to be against evils. we HMS, he for something and we must believe. We must build for a Catholic Order which means we must have in the forefront a respect of human personality. We don't always practise this."
Would there be a Catholic press after the war, he asked? Decidedly there would be. Would we need money? Yes, of course we would, and we would find it because we would find among Catholics people willing to make any sacrifice because they knew that if they wanted their children to be brought up in Catholic schools Catholic schools would remain in existence if the Cathotic press was able to fight for them.
FR. J. K. MacISAACS (Canada)
Having described the present state of the Catholic press in Canada, the speaker said " Our first need is to promote mutual understanding and unity of purpose. French-speaking Catholics and English-speaking Catholics do not understand each other. French Canada is completely misunderstood by the non-Catholic population. If the Catholic press can establish that their essential interests arc the same this would lay an indispensable foundation for worthwhile work."
The speaker also stated that in the U.S.A. Fr. Coughlan had done a good
deal to dispel mistaken ideas. He was very much in disfavour at the moment, but the judgment of honesty might be much more kind.
" The Czechosiovak press was guided in the past by the old Czech Catholic slogan—service to the Church and to the nation," said the Czech speaker, " and this slogan remains the programme of the Czechoslovak Catholic press for the future."
The speaker then enumerated some of the tasks that would face the Catholic press after the war. They included: Service to the nation within the framework of the Catholic ideology ; keeping step with the development of the political. social and economic conditions of post-war Europe : the solution of the cardinal problem of nationalism and internationalism by a democratic international authority which would ensure peace, justice and security for all nations, great and small; to face the economic problems of post-war settlement ; the insistence that there be more justice of distribution than existed before the war.
" We in Czechoslovakia," the speaker concluded, "did our best to carry out a genuinely popular policy but we were handicapped to a great extent by our isolation. It is very difficult to introduce social and economic reforms in a small country. It is difficult to herald international solidarity when other peoples and nations are sceptical and practise national selfishness."
CAPT. J. NEUROHR
Discussing the problem of Catholics in post-war France, Captain Neurohr said that he was perfectly certain that in his own country the Church would have to weather some kind of social storm and it would not Sc very easily weathered by Catholics. " Unless the Catholic press has some very clear ideas of the principles that must underly any future social reconstruction, it will not prove effective.
" It will not be sufficient to copy on page 1 art extract from an encyclical and on page 3 to condemn in practice anybody who tries to apply it. or on page 4 to consider as a great Christian statesman one who actually could not contribute to page 1."
" May 1 suggest that different Catholic authors and writers might meet—perhaps under the sign of Pax Romana.—in order that they may know what is actually happening in their respective countries and become able to give the news which is not to be found in the daily press, because papers have no time to give the real background."
After referring to the dangel of Communism and ultra-nationalism, the Maltese speaker said: "Picture to yourselves what effect a united Catholic front would have on Europe. It could present a united outlook, with perhaps some minor modifications adapted to the individual countries, and it could also help to popularise the newspapers I hrough the volume of interesting maternal that would come from the system of co-operation that has been proposed.
" We all know that if a paper is to be regarded as a necessity it should cater for all tastes ; it should have its news presenterl in as interesting a way as possible and its news service should be of the best. Not only co-operation but exchange of news is important."
The speaker described the happy position of Malta, with a 100 per cent. Catholic population, but *even there there might be difficulties.
" After the war, the problem of educating the people in the understanding of various issues will be hard. You know how shocked my people have been and will remedyt for a long time after seeing the de,strucdon of their priceless churches and by the fact that filth destruction was the work of a Catholic country."
(Norway) " The situation of the Catholic press in Norway and its possibilities in the post-war reconstruction can he stated in a few words," said M. Wright. " as there are only three thousand Catholics there out of a population of about three millions, We have only one weekly newspaper, Sr. Olav, which is the name of our famous king and martyr, who died in 1030 after having given the country the Christian faith.
,. Whatever Cantonc press we will have in Norway it must keep in mind the old Christian ideas which the Pope has put before us in the famous encyclicals. In this way we will be able to take part in that reconstruction of Europe; a reconstruction useless unless it is built on Christian principles and ideals so that in the future arbitration and not war shall settle the quarrels between nations."
Paying a tribute to the English Catholic press. the Polish speaker said: " When practically all the Continent of Europe is submerged by the Totalitarian Powers, Great Britain—except for Switzerland and Poland—has become the only European country where Catholic thought can be cam essed freely. And this. free Catholic voice is to-day the greatest comfort for all the oppressed Catholics on the Continent."
The speaker compared the role of the .Calholic press with the ideals of the secularist press. " Journalism," he said, " for the last fifty years at least was almost exclusively ruled by the ideal of speed." The consequence of thi.s was the need for gigantic capital to finance newspapers' technical needs. It also resulted in the impossibility of serious and thought-out commentary.
" Here, once more, the Catholic press," the speaker concluded, " must substitute for the materialistic ideal of speed a higher and more spiritual ideal of veracity, exactness and of a free creative mind. We must set the right taste in good tournalism."
(Continued on page 5)