Page 12, 18th December 1936

18th December 1936
Page 12
Page 12, 18th December 1936 — JOINT PASTORAL of the HIERARCHY of ENGLAND and WALES

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Apostolate Of The Laity



THE social injustice which has for so long been the scourge of Europe, if not of the world at large, has brought Christian civilisation in this generation well-nigh to the verge of destruction. Fifty years ago Pope Leo XIII foresaw the outcome of the inequitable conditions of the industrial system of modern

times. In his encyclicals he warned the nations of the chaos which threatened from unchecked competition, and of the impending ruin of a society propped up on bayonets and on the virtual slavery of the masses of the people. Wealth, he said, has been concentrated in the hands of the few, and the many have become " proletarians." When the working classes are called proletarians they are represented as mere productive machines. Leo XIII proclaimed them to be what they are: immortal souls with an eternal destiny, created a little less than the angels, to win through labour the happiness which is their due. He insisted on the right of the workers to organise themselves into unions for the protection of their interests so as to ensure proper conditions in their factories and proper wages upon which their chance to live a full life

depends. Wages should be sufficient to enable a labouring than to maintain himself and his family in decent comfort, sufficient also to ensure the physical, moral, and intellectual well-being of the family. Seeing clearly the evils of greed and selfishness in so much of what is called the capitalist system, he urged that the security of labour should be based on a wide extension of small ownership.

Our Holy Father Pius XI, reaffirming the warning and the teaching of his great predecessor, has again and again spoken, notably in the encyclical "Quadrage.simo Anno," on behalf of the workers and the poor, those multitudes at the mercy of the money-market manipulations, those who are either unemployed or are fgrced to work under inequitable conditions. " The immense number, of propertyless Wage,-, earners," he says, " on the one hand, and the superabundant riches of the fortunate few on the other, is an unanswerable argument that the earthly goods so abundantly produced in this age of industrialism are far from rightly distributed and equitably shared among the various classes of men. Every effort therefore must be made that, at least in the future a just share only of the fruits of production be permitted to accumulate in the hands of the wealthy and that an ample sufficiency be supplied to the working-man." (Quadragesimo Anno). The Holy Father proceeds to explain that by an " ample sufficiency " for the workingman is meant sufficient for the support of himself and of his family "; " sufficient to meet adequately ordinary domestic needs "; sufficient to enable him " to bear the family burden with greater ease and security "; sufficient to free him from " hand-to-mouth uncertainty " suffisient " to support life's changing fortunes "; sufficient to make " sonic little provision for those who remain after him "; sufficient " to acquire a certain moderate ownership."

In this country we must acknowledge that much progress has been made in social reform. But we are far from the recognition of those Catholic principles which we have been taught ought to be applied in order to remedy the ,poverty and misery of so large a number of our fellowmen and brethren. On social and allied questions we Catholics in England and Wales have not been able to influence to any great extent the economic fife of the country and the system on which it runs. We are not of course responsible for the system, but perhaps we could have done more to change it and to influence people of goodwill throughout the country had we been less fearful of proclaiming papal teaching and more anxious to practise it ourselves, even on the limited scale which must necessarily be ours. The defects and injustices of the system are so great that there is a constantly rising tide of hatred against it and against all who seem to support it. • Falsely the Communists arc teaching the working-man that the Catholic Church supports the systern of industrial capitalism, and not merely the Catholic Church but all religious

bodies. By this means they are able to draw into their ranks and into their militant atheism many suffering poor workmen.

We therefore your pastors in the tradition of our predecessors, and notably of Cardinal Manning, publicly raise a united cry against injustice, and against the oppres• sion of the poor and of the workers, against the exploitation of the helpless. But while we protest against the injustices of the present system of industrial capitalism, we are bound by the duty of our pastoral office to state clearly and unmistakably the dangers of the crisis before us. The real alternatives with which we are faced are, either atheistic Communism, or the full acceptance of Christianity. " Then only will it be possible to unite all in harmonious striving for the common good when all sections of society have the intimate conviction that they arc members of a single family and children of the same heavenly Father." (Quadragesimo Anno). If Christian teaching is not accepted, then atheistic Communism will surely come.

Conamunism threatens to overran the greater part of the earth. Communism is the remedy, worse than the evil, proposed for the injustice of Mammon which stalks through the world. Knowing too well that there exists a fertile ground for the harvest

of Communism, we cannot keep silence as to the true character of the deadly growth.

Communism is a political system which aims at establishing not a democracy, but a dictatorship of the proletariat; and that not by constitutional means, but by violence and terrorism, with class-warfare as its essential basis of action. Certainly it has for one of its objectives the removal of grave social injustices, but by methods calculated to create others equally grave. It is above all a philosophy of life grounded on sheer materialism. Denying the existence of the world of spirit, it contemptuously rejects the idea of life beyond the grave and the whole supernatural order. It proclaims that the one and only reality is matter, and that man's whole concern in life is with the manipulation of matter to

his earthly advantage. It is not merely negatively materialist in outlook, it is positively atheistic and aggressively andreligious.

The abolition of religion is a fundamental tenet of Communism; and between Catholicism and Communism there can be no compromise. A Catholic cannot be a Communist, a Communist cannot be a Catholic. In its ceaseless warfare against the Church, Communism does not hesitate to make unscrupulous charges against her, pillorying her as the ally of capitalism and the enemy of the poor. The teaching of Leo XIII and of our present Holy Father Pius XI, already quoted in this pastoral, shows that the Popes have denounced the very social evils against which Communism professes to be fighting; and the ideal set up by the Church is surely far higher and nobler than that of the slavery imposed on workers by the tyranny of soulless Communism.

The abolition of religion advocated by Communism is a preliminary step to the destruction of the foundations on which human society rests, namely, man's duty to God and his neighbour, and, man's rights as an individual, as a member of the family, of the civic community, and of the state. All these are threatened by Communism, which, says Pope Pius XI, in his encyclical on the Social Order, " teaches and pursues a two-fold aim; merciless class-warfare, and the complete abolition of private ownership; and this it does, not in secret and by hidden methods, but openly, frankly, and by every means the most violent. To obtain these ends Communists shrink from nothing and fear nothing; and when they have attained to power, it is unbelievable, indeed it is portentous, how cruel and inhuman they show themselves to be. Evidence for this is the ghastly destruction and ruin with which they have laid waste immense tracts of Eastern Europe and Asia; while their antagonism and open hostility to holy Church and to God Himself are, alas, but too well known and proved by their deeds."

TO counteract the general menace, in the words of the Holy Father, " it is necessary that we unite all our forces in one solid compact line against the battalions of evil, enemies of God not less than of the human race." (Caritate Christi cotnpulsi). Against the organised forces of Communism the Holy Father calls for an organised apostolate of the laity. The times and circumstances in which we live call for united energy. Anti-God forces are sapping and mining the foundations of society. Never before was the apostolate of the laity so necessary, and never before was it so insistently summoned by the visible head of the Church in the name of Christ, his Master and ours.

There is nothing political in such an apostolatc. It is based on the sanctification of its own members; it relies on prayer and sacrifice. The lay apostles will acquire a sound knowledge of Christian principles which they will endeavour to apply to the problems of everyday life. Knowledge will be translated into action, principles put into practice. As a further antidote to the false principles and doctrines of the day, we desire that in accordance with the regulations of Canon Law ((Tn. 711, §2), the Christian Doctrine Confraternity be established in every parish. To enable our wish to be carried into effect more easily we have approved a small " Manual of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine " for general use throughout the country. We trust that the Confraternity will flourish and that it will become another powerful aid to Catholic Action. The aim of the apostolate is to establish the Kingdom of Christ in individual souls, in families, and in society at large throughout the world. Such an aim demands organised action; and the detailed organisation of Catholic Action necessarily depends on the needs and requirements of each country. In England there are urgent problems concerned with the leakage of Catholics, the spreading of the Faith, and the social question. Already we have many Catholic societies which in their different ways deal with these questions; and our present needs are (1) a larger membership of all these societies, more and more active Catholics who will take their part in the work of the existing societies; and

(2) a co-ordination of the activities of these existing societies so that all may collaborate without losing their distinctive characteristics, each keeping its own particular objective and its own special appeal;:all smiled in the common cause of furthering the interests of Christ and His Church.

The National Board of Catholic Action will consist of the members of the Hierarchy with the Archbishop of Westminster as President. The Hierarchy will appoint a small National Committee of laymen with an acting lay president, and one of the Bishops as Ecclesiastical Assistant. The personnel of the diocesan boards of Catholic Action will be chosen by the Bishop

of each diocese. The full national plan will naturally require careful consideration in order to avoid confusion or unnecessary disturbance of the work of the existing Catholic societies; and an announcement of it will be made during the coming year. Success will depend on the generous cooperation of the clergy and laity working together for the achievement of one common aim, the restoration of all things in Christ.

As a practical example of Catholic work in which all the laity can co-operate, we urge a far greater support of the Catholic press than is given to it at present. The Catholic press should be one of the most useful auxiliaries in Catholic Action. The press includes not only the weekly newspapers, but the Catholic publishing houses and all Catholic periodical literature, of which there is an abundant variety. We must give special mention in this regard to the Catholic Truth Society, which was founded to be a useful antidote to error and a means of instructing our own people and the public generally in the history, teaching, and practice of the Catholic faith. We make a special appeal, however, in this pastoral for much greater support of the Catholic newspaper press. We have The Tablet, The Catholic Times, The Universe, The Catholic Herald and The Catholic Worker, all of which have merited well of the Hierarchy and the faithful of the country. If they1 received from every Catholic family the support which those families give to the ecular press, they would each have at least double their present circulation. We make a special point of the newspaper press because it is our first line of defence when any attack is made on religion, and the usual first source to which our people look for an answer to current objections and difficulties. We are anxious for the newspaper press to prosper and develop, and we are equally anxious that the Catholic Truth Society, the publishing houscs, and the Catholic press generally should be supported as a most vital branch of Catholic Action in this country.

We should like to see our Catholic pressmen and all our Catholic writers banded together under the patronage of Saint Francis of Sales, pledged to a holy crusade for Catholic faith and morals. We desire that one Sunday in the year be appointed in each diocese and in each parish, at the discretion and by the direction of the Ordinary, as Press Sunday, when sermons should be preached on the importance of the Catholic press and the duty of the faithful to give all possible support to our Catholic writers and journalists who are doing the work of Catholic Action and counteracting the poison of Communistic and other immoral literature. On that day also at each church door should be a display of Catholic books, of the Catholic Truth Society and Catholic Social Guild literature. and of Catholic papers and periodicals.

We, therefore, exhort you, dearly beloved brethren and children in Jesus Christ, first and foremost to unite in fervent prayer that the divine assistance may be granted unto us in the struggle with the spirits of wickedness, and then to arm yourselves for the fray by solidarity of action in combating the evils of the day, in the full confidence that the Church which has triumphed over so many and so powerful enemies in the past shall attain once again to victory through Jesus Christ Our Lord.

Given at Westminster, and appointed to be read in all the Churches and Chapels of England and Wales on the third Sunday of Advent in the year of Our Lord nineteen hundred and thirty-six.

011 ARTHUR, Archbishop of Westminster. 41 FRANCIS, Archbishop of Cardiff. 4. RICHARD, Archbishop of Liverpool. 01.4 THOMAS, Archbishop of Birmingham. 1•11 PETER, Bishop of Southwark. •k WILLIAM, Bishop of Portsmouth. 44 ARTHUR, Bishop of Brentwood.

• THOMAS, Bishop of Middlesbrough.

Bishop of Lancaster. ok THOMAS WULSTArl, 44 THOMAS, Bishop of Salford: PI4 JOHN, Bishop of Plymouth.

▪ WaLutm, Bishop of Clifton. Pk AMBROSE, Bishop of Shrewsbury. 41 JOHN, Bishop of Nottingham.

LAuRENcE, Bishop of Northampton. 4. MICHAEL, Bishop of Menevia. 011 HENRY JOHN, Bishop of Leeds.


Capitular of Hexham mid Newcastle.

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