" Don't Do As We Did—Do As
We Say "— Fr. McNabb
(Speaking For The Older Generation)
The Young Christian Workers (English equivalent of the J.O.C.) appeared in public in London for the first time on Thursday (November 4).
The meeting was " The Church and Social Justice " at St. Dominic's Priory Hall, Haverstock Hill.
Thirty young men, in grey trousers and white shirts and wine-coloured ties affirmed their faith in chorus at the end of the meeting.
Ten years ago there were Soo Joeistes in the world; today there are 500,000.
Today 3o demonstrate in North London. Tomorrow . . . Who knows?
The meeting seemed moved by the presence of this youth, and, though not a monster meeting, the quality of the speeches and the spirit of the attendance made it more notable than many larger meetings.
SICK OF TALK
The Dominican Provincial, Fr. Bernard Delany, O.P., was in the chair. His opening words stamped the whole character of the meeting. " We have heard about Catholic Action till we are sick. I hope that after this meeting we shall see Catholic Action."
He summarised Communism by quoting from a Communist poster : "Jesus promised the workers paradise after death. Lenin promised the workers paradise on earth."
Then he stressed the need for Catholics to play as large a part as possible in the political and social life of the world. It was a mistake for Catholics to withdraw, disgusted, from contemporary affairs.
Have We the " Guts "?
This point was also emphasised by R. P. Walsh. the editor of the Catholic Worker.
Mr. Walsh had come from Wigan, where the misery of those trapped in a depressed area made obvious the urgent need of Catholic Action. At the same time action without knowledge was useless, and it was the duty of the Catholic Press to supply that knowledge, and of the Catholic public to absorb this knowledge and apply it.
The Catholic Press was doing its duty. " The Catholic Herald is developing a strong policy on the social question, and the Catholic Worker pricks our conscience so that we go and study Catholic teaching and try to live Catholic lives."
But were the readers doing their part, were they trying to put the principles drummed out week after week in our Press, into practice? He reminded us that " the Roman Empire was converted by men who lived up to the Sermon on the Mount." True we must study the social principles, and the Catholic Social Guild was doing a tremendous work in facilitating this study, but at the same time as we study we could do practical work. We must do practical work among our fellow workers, by making known to them our Christian ideal, by practising them. " There is something for us to do, if we've got the guts to do it."
Don't Do As We Did
Father Vincent McNabb, O.P., begged the pardon of all the young people there, for speaking to them, because he was one of the old people, and the old people had left a frightful mess. To the young people his advice was "For God's sake don't do as we did—do as we say." He admired his old parishioner, Karl Marx, he also admired the Devil—both for their enthusiasm and perseverance. He suggested that Catholics should learn parts of Rerum Novarum by heart so that they would
always be able to quote the Pope In argu
ment, and so speak with authority. In the Soviet constitution there was a clause for which Fr. McNabb had tremendous admiration : " If a man will not work neither let him eat." It was pleasant to see that Lenin agreed with Saint Paul on one point at least.
Mr. J. L. Benvenisti then outlined a positive economic programme drawn from the Encyclicals; he said it was perfectly clear from the Encyclicals that the excessive accumulation of capital was an economic evil, and was recognised as militating against the common good (it was the main cause of instability); moreover, the organisation of industry into excessively large units made proletarianism inevitable, and it was proletarianism that the Holy Father wanted to see abolished. To correct this tendency through ordinary constitutional and legislative means was perfectly possible and constituted a perfectly concrete plan of action; all depended upon how ardently the voting public desired the tendency to be corrected. It was not true to say that parliamentary democracy could never reflect the general will; it was unfortunately true that it sometimes did so very effectively. indeed, it had forced the jettisoning of Sir Samuel Hoare over Abyssinia, which in his opinion was a great pity. You, said Mr. Benvenisti, who have the energy and enterprise to come here this evening, are just the people who will have the energy and enterprise to make your Member of Parliament wish he had never been born.
Finally E. Crocket, of the Catholic Workers' College and Social Guild, offered the means of learning the Catholic social principles: the study circles of the Catholic Social Guild. From them, he said, men with real training and who can answer questions and explain, got out into Unions, Local Government, all organisations where the doctrines can be brought into effect.
Several questions were asked. The most important was from members of the B.U.F. (who seemed to he well represented).
The meeting ended with a demonstration by the Y.C.W., a Creed and a song. followed by " Faith of Our Fathers " and " God save the King."