IT was confusing to hear a lay Catholic spokesman of "Labour" persuasion on television at the weekend telling us bluntly that, in the encyclical "Mater et Magistra" Pope John scraped the principle of the welfare stale.
We should have thought that, if there were one thing utterly rejected by this encyclical, it was precisely the notion of the welfare state, extended as widely as practicable in terms of a party political programme.
It is true, of Course, that. as usual on TV, the spokesman was given no chance at all to expand his thought. But this should be takea into account in the choice of words used.
While encouraging governments to HELP voluntary and local associations, the Holy Father plainly rejects any suggestion that the functions of the intermediary bodies should be gobbled up by the State, and he prefaces his own contribution to the Church's social teaching by reiteratinp Pope Pius XI's doctrine of subsidiarity.
Pope John, let us remember, said: "The State and the other agencies of public law should not extend their ownership except where motives of evident and real necessity of the eweMOO good require it."
That is clear enough, and surely cuts away any attempt to enlist the Church and the Holy Father to either the Right or the Left
The principal theme, which gives "Mater et Magistra" its special character, is Pope John's magnificent demand for the development of voluntary cooperative movements, particularly those which join the industrial worker and the agricultural worker in a common enterprise.
And His Holiness seems to pull out all the stops when he turns to the special social value of what he calls the family-size enterprise, which is to be protected by association with other such enterprises in a cooperative etructure.
It is in this way that the poor are to inherit the earth — and that Catholic efforts to transform the social order are to become every bit as productive, even in the material order, as Communist enterprise.
This is not to be done through a State paternalism dictating to a passive revolutionary community, but through a joint action into which every man involved can put, not only his toil. but also a piece of his I heart.