0 N his feast-day the Holy Father, for the first time, spoke personally about the great diplomatic efforts which he is making to save the peace of Europe. The Pope's words are reproduced in this issue, together with a full account of their import as it is understood to be by our Roman correspondent. At the same time we have heard from Australia of the magnificent way in which Catholic Action in Melbourne has responded to the efforts that have been made in these columns to mobilise the efforts of Catholics throughout the world in the cause of the only peace worth having, the peace which, in the Pope's words, flows from the securing of justice between the nations.
Our original purpose to plead for the holding of an international conference entered into without commitments and with the sole purpose of seeking the good of the ordinary peoples of every country has now been dropped. But this has solely been done because of the subsequent announcement that the Holy Father himself was personally engaged upon the task of making smooth the path that might bring the contending parties together again.
The Pope might not have chosen to take such momentous steps, but Pius XII, it is amply clear, is a Pontiff who will never allow any sort of danger or breach of precedent to prevent him from doing everything within his power to save us all from the calamity of war or the scarcely less serious calamity of prolonged and ruinous tension. Given this Papal lead, it is clearly the duty of every Catholic to work with all his might to second the efforts of the Holy Father rather than seek his own way. Hence our peace effort (which has not been without notable response) falls into line behind the clear call of the Pope. It becomes none the less urgent because of this. On the contrary, whereas before we might have been working towards an insufficiently clear end, we can all now be certain that the path is right and the end attainable.
And there is plenty to do about it. We have only to contrast the present atmosphere of the negotiations for a triple alliance which is to include Soviet Russia with the tone of the Holy Father's speech and the comments on it which our Roman correspondent reports. The difference between them measures the work which lies before us. Somehow we have got to get our countrymen to see Europe as the Holy Father sees it, not merely because of the Pope's spiritual leadership over the faithful, but because all common sense goes to show that the Pope in his central and impartial position is infinitely more likely to know the truth and the way towards real peace. That was so amply proved by Benedict XV in the last war.
There have been reports of sections of the Catholic Press becoming ton pro-German. The answer to any such charge (which is dealt with in the adjoining article) is to be found in a study of the Pope's words and efforts. It will be found that there is little difference between what we have said and proposed and what the Holy Father is expressing. And this becomes all the clearer when we compare the outlook of the Vatican with the outlook of Downing Street and still more of the Opposition and restive Conservatives.
M. Molotov's speech last. week left little doubt about Russia's intentions. They are to serve her own ends at whatever cost to possible friend or foe. Gone are the days when M. Litvinov played the sweet air of the League and Collective Security to mesmerise the Left. Russia to-day declares herself to he what she has always been: an Eastern Power uninterested in Europe except for the pickings. The Left, which hoped to woo her, has been as much deceived as the Right, which feared her.
If we accept her terms we shall openly trample on every pledge and principle we have ever made—if we refuse them we shall be left high and dry with perilous commitments which we never dared to make when we were relatively three times as strong. The truth is that we have fallen victim again to our historical mania for saving the righteous peace of the Continent by a coalition of semimercenary Powers. That policy has made Britain the leader in twelve great Continental wars in 235 years! We who were persistent prophets of peace when the Government followed the policy of appeasement (which the Vatican is still following) are to-day prophets of another war, the thirteenth great Continental coalition war. The righteousness of British Whiggery and Liberalism is once again leading us to a conflict that has no serious purpose. And in this case victory is far from assured.
Between this ghastly end and our present actions there lie only the efforts of a few discerning leaders, and, we hope, the generality of Catholic opinion. Luckily, all the information at our disposal goes to show that the Government itself is well aware of the danger. But it needs evidence of public support if it is to hold firm against the pressure of the forces that once again wish to destroy Europe for the sake of the Pax Brittanica, the Pax that has kept Europe at war for two centuries.
Over against this suicidal policy stands the Holy Father working to ensure an international justice that falls within the framework of the Fax Christi.
Religion and true patriotism can indicate but one course for us.