Page 3, 17th May 1957

17th May 1957
Page 3
Page 3, 17th May 1957 — CATHOLIC SOCIAL THOUGHT

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Fr. Andrew Gordon. S. J.

THIS excellent introduction to Catholic social teaching is better for the University student than for the ordinary

study club member. *

Bishop Lucey of Cork, formerly professor of philosophy at Maynooth, opens with an essay on " The Social Problem in our time."

" The Social Problem," writes Mgr. Lucey, " is, in ultimate analysis. the problem of providing the mass of the population everywhere with the material basis for good living without doing violence to their human nature ...

" The modern worker lives well as compared with the worker of half a century ago. But for all its material advantages, he does not find it a satisfying life. The whole tendency of modern organization is to disregard his dignity and needs es a person and treat him rather as a puppet."

" This is the age of officialdom, planning and controls." It is complete in the totalitarian countries; outside them " it varies according to the degree in which orthodox socialism holds the field

. .. But not all the subjecting is

done by the State.In Great

Britain, for instance, the trade unions " mother and smother the individual as thoroughly and as impersonally as any State department." Even so " the most popular policy is still the policy promising more welfare and more equality (regardless of desert) via more planning."

The Great Enemy

IN the realm of ideas,

Materialism is the great enemy." With such a philosophy both rulers and ruled will measure human welfare "wholly by material requirements." and "there is little hope that they will look for the rights and responsibilities proper to their stature as persons."

We have summarized Mgr. Lucey at some length, because the essays that follow his are a more detailed statement of the problem and of the application of the salutary principles which he enounces for its solution.

" Towards a reformulation of the subject-matter of economics " comes from the pen of Francesco M. Vito, Professor of Economics of the Catholic University of Milan.

The great contemporary question still remains unresolved as to "the respective advantages of the economics of competition and the economics of a collectivist system."

In the former, what goods are to be produced, is to be decided by the interplay of the forces of supply and demand : in the latter. by the deciding factor of the State. But the State can never discover what consumers really prefer. So it is bound ti make mistakes, and on a large scale waste already scarce resources. Nor can it unleash to the full the human( seetion of those resources because or the very imuersonality of itself.

Professor Vito, while refusing to accept the Colectivist thesis, admits the need for a re-formulation of the old classical definition of the subject-matter of economics, which has been too individualist in its epproach.

Man is not merely "economic ";

he is also " social ". The object of an economy should not be maximum profits, but the betterment of man internationally as well as nationally. This is a truth

Penetrating in its Analysis Orthodox in its thought It heartens us considerably

that economists should always hear in mind, otherwise they will think in a closed and sterile circle.


CLLECTIVISTS, on the other hand, fail to realise that man is not only " social "; he is also an individual person. Too much planning by the State is bound to fail, because it has no means of judging the multitudinous needs of its subjects.

It has, however. its dutiful part to play in encouraging, restraining and broadly directing the economy. and in relieving poverty.

But State-Welfare economics cannot be a substitute for the unequal (yet fruitful) activities and multiple preferences of millions of human persons.

Modern economists have begun. and must continue. to think and work more and more along these lines.

Michael P. Fogarty. Professor of Industrial Relations in the University of Wales, writes on "The Christian synthesis and the process of social growth."

The nineteenth century saw the Age of Competition. the first half of the twentieth century has seen the Age of Direction. and apart from " the backwoods of the U.S.S.R." we are now passing into the Age of Human Relations.

This has produced the need for " general practitioners " in social science, those who are trained with a broad background of philosophy, Psychology. sociology, cultural and social relationships, economics and pouties. Their minds must be synthetic rather than analytic and, above all. applicative to local

So far so good ! But here as in all such things the Catholic is concerned to see that Christianity prevails in this new Age of Human Relations.

How is he to ensure this '?

By confessional organization, by each group that calls itself Christian working on its own or by all such groups working together ?

Even the latter will not prove strong enough, it seems. They must collaborate to some extent or work in with still wider " political " and " industrial " groupings. How far and in what manner of ways this may be done, is suggested to the reader.

National Income

FR. R. E. Mulcahy, S.J., Professor of Economics in the University of San Francisco, discusses " The Concept of National Income."

What constitutes the national income ?

Economists disagree according to their concept of the national et onomy. Fr. Mulcahy states that because national income is for man and not vice versa, it includes the full value of all the goods and services claced at the disposal of consumers during the year, plus the net additions of intermediate goods and excluding those harmful to the community on ethical s:andards.

Amintore Fanfani. Professor of Economic History in the Catholic University of Milan, has chosen Preliminary Considerations on Christian Social Economic Reform."

This sets out the basic principle that the would-be social reformer must always bear in mind-chiefly he must be a realist and know his facts (economic, etc.), and being a Catholic he must he guided by the social teaching of the Church. In the latter he must have supreme confidence.

Professor Fanfani gives an admirable account of what might he called the history and current

tendencies of social reforrh. He gives excellent advice en how to deal with revolutionary and extremist minds and then summarizes very simply the whole

programme of Catholic social ef orm.


FR. Valere Fallon, S.J., formerly Professor of Philosophy and Social Economy at the University of Louvain has written on " The Family in Social Evolution."

He gives a short history of the attitude of social reform to the institution of the family and shows that in this connection it is only of recent years that the importance of the family nes begun to come back into its own. "The individualist idea was (i.e. is now) being replaced by that of family resources."

Here we are provided with most interesting and practical reading, as Fr. Fallon argues the case for the special relief of the family man and his household and the good that such relief brings to the welfare of the whole community, Taxation, wages methods of family allowances, housing, industrial and municipal reform are all reviewed and discussed against the French and Belgian backgrounds in a very enlightening way. Guido Fischer. Professor of Industrial Relations in Munich. presents us with " Christian principles of human guidance in industry and commerce." This

might be called a special aspect of industrial relations, and it is surely the one that must appeal most strongly to the Ca`holic.

It concerns immediately the development of the human person in his work-a-day life. Therefore it recognizes the human rights and dignity of every worker relating these to the principles of subsidiary responsibility. solidarity, social justice and love rejecting both Individualism and Collectivism.

" Its aim must be to develop the personalities of as many coworkers of a concern as possible, but this can be achieved only if gu;dance is applied to character as

well as to expert skill." Plainly it must not " be forced upon an uninterested staff, but the necessary conceptions and measures should come from the staff itself and from the internal structure of the undertaking."

" The loss of identity in the mass. the menacing malady of our time and our technical civiliza tion " is certainly a fact. How it can be overcome and how there can be restored to the worker " the joy of labour which is bound up with the personal work performance and the necessary will to work." is the illuminating instruction of Professor Fischer.


ANDRE Boca, Professor of Political Economy in the Catholic University of Lille, deals with " Unemployment and Professional Organisations."

We have here an appreciation of the different kinds of unemployment and their causes together with the current remedies for their prevention and cure.

Fr. John F. Cronin, S.S., formerly Professor of Economics in St. Mary's Seminary. Baltimore. contributes an able essay on " Strikes and Lockouts."

He deals with the nature and types of industrial disputes. the general and political strike, their causes and remedies. the morality of such conflicts, and the constructive part that Church leaders can play in all such affairs. He writes with a sympathy and understanding that come from much study, discussion and practical experience.

BUT this article is far from being merely critical. It explains very clearly the aims and methods of different taxation policies, and examines their economic and social effects and the morality of their principles.

" Hence," writes our author, " both for reasons of principle and effectiveness. taxation is not preeminently suited for the social task of redistributing income and wealth."

Yet he does not leave the matter there. but goes on to propound the middle way between Individualism and Collectivism, which is now being carried out in Holland and " is a very heavy responsibility, for failure at the present juncture would make State-Socialism almost inevitable."

It would seem that Holland is the first nation to come close to taking this salutary advice, and it is painfully obvious that in this country we need to study what the Dutch are doing and to try and follow their lead.

Many will think that of all the stimulating essays in this symposium, this one by Professor Groeneveld is the most applicable and helpful for themselves,

Fr. Renato Cirillo, Professor of Sociology in the Archbishop's Seminars'. Malta, and editor of our symposium. concludes it with " The Christian Concept of the Right to Private Property," which. needless to say, is an able exposition of the Church's teaching on the rights and duties of property owners, and the function that this institution ought to play for the common good of all.

NATIONALISATION, monopoly, unchecked competition, co-partnership in industry and the wider distribution of ownership all come up for review. The thing is well done.

All in all. this international symposium makes a confident and

cheering book. It is penetrating in its analysis and very constructive and orthodox ie its thought. Moreover, it heartens us considerably by showing implicitly that here exists across the " Western " world a lively, erudite and powerful school of Catholic economists and sociologists, who are daily educating thousands of s' udents (not excluding the clergy in their seminaries) on the living lines of Catholic social teaching.

*CATHOLIC SOCIAL THOUGHT-an international symposium-edited by Rev. R. Cirillo, D.D., M.Sc. (Econ.), etc. (A. C. Aquinas' & Co., Malta, 15s.). Obtainable through thickens, 140 Strand, London, W .C.2.

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