The National Catholic Review

As we recall the 100th Anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, it is interesting to see how editorials in magazines and papers, and how religious leaders originally interpreted the tragic event. Most commended the bravery of the crew. Some blamed the ship company for reckless speed. One spoke of “the love of money and the passion for luxury as diseases of our civilization.” Another of the “accurst altar of the dollar.” Many admired the faith of the survivors. All agree that it “produced many searchings of heart.”

One interesting response is found in the pages of America, one month after the disaster (May 11, 1912):

One Lesson More

In the well merited tribute the press has been paying the heroes of the Titanic tragedy who observed so chivalrously “the law of the sea," little is said to explain how “Women First” became the rule of conduct in such disasters. The omission should be supplied. For it is to the Catholic Church, which has taught from the beginning what sacred claims the week and helpless have upon the strong and powerful, that the world is indebted for such high examples of self-sacrifice as those witnessed on the Titanic. So enduring, indeed, and so thoroughly mastered has been this lesson that it is still the heritage, as we see, of those the Church no longer numbers among her children.

That respect and reverence for womanhood, moreover, which also shone out brightly amid the scenes of the wreck is likewise a precious gift which Catholicism has bestowed even on modern unbelievers. The Maiden Mother of Our Divine Lord has given every woman a share of her honor. Those that went down with the Titanic acquitted themselves like men because, unconsciously, they were imitating the medieval knight who saw in every woman a sister of Our Lady. “God fulfills Himself in many ways.” Even in this dreadful catastrophe that befell the Titanic the discerning can find witnesses to the power and beauty of the Church.

Peter Schineller, S.J.

Comments

david power | 4/11/2012 - 12:41pm
That is funny to read.Basically saying that any virtue those dirty Englishmen have is a leftover from what we gave them.
The option for the weak ,"Slave morality", is as old as Abraham. 
The Torah is full of this care for orphans etc and that predates the Church by about a millenia.
It would have been better to attribute any good found onboard to the goodness God implanted there.Instead the catholics wanted to get their grubby hands on anything superlative.
In a study done some years ago they asked men  of all cultures "if they were in a boat in the middle of the sea and had their wives,mothers and newborn babies onboard and it capped over who would they save?".Some cultures said the baby and others (including catholic Europe) was split between wife and baby .It was left to the Mohameddans to answer to a man that they would save their mothers.
No doubt a strain of catholicism.