10 DECEMBER 1937, Page 38


Tins "authentic biography," as it is called, is the second book to be published within the last few months centring on the life, character and achievements of the present Pope, and it appears in some respects to be intended as a reply to the first. It goes forth with a blessing from the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, and in due course the pulpits which cast their venom at Mr. Teeling will pour their honey on Lord Clonmore. There is good reason why they should. It is a good thing for the Papacy to establish good relations with the Italian State ; it is a bad thing when Communists persecute priests ; the world is very difficult ; to be a good Pope is one of the most difficult things in the world, and Pius XI is doing his best. All this is very true, and though at first sight it would appear to be almost incontrovertible, there are undoubtedly pious people for whom, as poor Mr. Teeling has found, any criticism is an irreverence ; and they need to be comforted. There are also stupid people who will reason that because the Pope did not prevent what has been called in these columns "the rape of Abyssinia" the Papacy is a bad institution ; it is possible that they require to be answered. For pious members of the Roman Communion, and stupid people outside it, Lord Clonmore's book has obvious values.

This is not to say that the book may not have an appeal in other circles. Because the book appears to have some serious merits, it is necessary to warn thnse who may intend reading it against some of its defects. That part of it which deals with the more personal aspects of the Pope's career is a little monotonous in its tone- of eulogy, though much of the material is interesting. That part of it which deals with its public aspects -quite rightly sets out the difficulties which certain problems involve, but the author's attitude seems to be : "These problems are not simple : no further apology is necessary." The chapter on Abyssinia is thin, it fails to appreciate the nuances- of the situation when Italy began her invasion ; and even an Irish :Catholic might be expected to be able to distinguish between the annexation of a territory and the protection of the North-West Frontier. Lord Clonmore's style is patchy ; he indulges in childish senti- ments expressed in a childish form ; and his frequent attempts at irony are all agonising.

There are two Lord Clonmores : one of them is a tiresome

fellow who reads the more fanciful flights of the more scurrilous section of -the "Roman Catholic Press and Illtes to see if he can outdo them ; he does not succeed, because the other Lord Clomhore is a cOtuleous, 'gentle; humane Man, not without the gift of wisdom or the Christian quality of charity. It is this other Lord Clonmore which may make his book of value to readers whose point of view may differ from his. The story of-the Papacy's relations with Nazi Germany and the history of its dealings with the Action Francaise both compel attention, if they do not contain much that is new. The account of the conversations at Malines forms on the whole the two wisest, if most saddening ahapters in the hook, though naturally they express many conclusions which Anglicans Viill question. The chapters on Spain, even when the reader cannot accept their conclusions, will, in spite of their con- taining some stale special pleading in connexion with Badajoz and Guemica, show him how a moderate-minded Roman Catholic, after balancing some of the salient factors in the situation, can arrive at a slightly qualified preference for General Franco. In view of the attitude of such publicists as Father. Woodlock and Mr. Douglas Jerrold, that is no • small