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This is an Independent column and may not necessarily agree with the CRIMSON editorial policy.
The New Year is in at last, and at this festive time all the pronouncements of the clergy and of the scribes, not excluding the wise cracking of Mr. Westbrook Pegler are concentrated with considerable unanimity on the current extra-curricular activities on the Iberian peninsula. And with all the nations of the continent winning battles on the playing fields of Spain, with British battleships clearing their decks and with British statesmen expressing "concern", the Dagos are providing very sensational entertainment indeed.
And over in Italy, where the conqueror of Abbyssinia rattles his bayonets, the earthly representative of the Prince of Peace lies dying, Plus XI, at the age of 79, reaching the end of his uneventful pontificate, waits to be gathered to his fathers. The eyes of the world, or of such part of it as still believes in the importance of the influence wielded by the vicar of Christ on earth, watch anxiously for his successor.
Eugenio Cardinal Pacelli the Papal Secretary of State, seems to be the popular guess as successor to Plus. Just what kind of a Pope he will make remains to be seen--it may be too much to hope for a Hildebrand--but it is easily possible that he will outshine the dying pontiff, whose best known accomplishment at his time seems to be the encyclical "Casti Connubil", which weightly discusses short skirts, lip rouge, and the like.
Despite the fact that the Sixth Commandment would seem to dispense with the possibility, it is theologically possible to postulate a just war. But just as this has been overlooked by those who look to the Papacy to stop another world conflagration, so it would be of no weight in preventing the Catholic Church from cracking down on any belligerent. A great Pope could outlaw any nation or nations, if he saw fit.
This is an age of unbelievers, but it may well be that if the man can be found for the job, the Papacy will take back to itself much of its medieval power. Neutrality legislation included, no one seems to have much faith in any existing method of preventing the young men from following the dollar to war. If it can fulfill its utilitarian opportunities, the Church may well return to provide that civilizing unity which was its to give during the Middle Ages, which the profit motive supplied for the expanding capitalism of the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries, and which the League of Nations has failed to provide in our time.
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