—On Social Questions
SIR,—I would like very strongly to endorse the pleas for " more official guidance with regard to the practical bearing of Catholic principles on present-day problems " contained in a letter from Mr. Ralph De Saulles (November 19). The questions of a "living wage " and a " just war " are precisely such problems, and while the Catholic principles governing the one and the other are perfectly clear, their practical bearing has not yet been made a matter of positive teaching by Catholic authorities in this country.
And why? Because (or so I have heard it said) of the complexity of the subject, and the need for very specialised knowledge of all the circumstances governing wages, and wars, in particular cases. If this is so, it is surely unreasonable to expect an individual Catholic, with or without the advice of his confessor, to be sufficiently well-informed to decide such matters for himself.
What I understood your correspondent to desiderate was not an infallible definition by the Church of the exact amount of a living wage or the exact conditions governing a just war—an obvious impossibility as these things must inevitably vary in different countries and in different ages, and infallible definitions are declarations of doctrine contained in the original deposit of Faith and promulgated to the whole world—but practical action on the part of competent Catholic authority to determine what is a just wage here in England today and what conditions justify obedience to a call to arms in certain definite eventualities.
May I add that in your comment that " our correspondent should distinguish between moral principles and the application of those principles to the changing factual circumstances " you seem to have overlooked the words in Mr. De Saulles's letter which 1 have already quoted. To speak of " the practical bearing of Catholic principles on present-day problems " is to make a very clear distinction between principles and their application.
S. A. Buss.
16, Kenwyn Road, Wimbledon, S.W.20.