Page 6, 2nd January 1953

2nd January 1953
Page 6
Page 6, 2nd January 1953 — THE POPE'S WARNING

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Depersonalisation throws man into his agony

Continued from page 1 Is a reason for legitimate human pride. But, he warned : "We must deny that they can be used es a model that is universally applicable for the shaping and ordering of modern social life."

The Pope went on: "Ordinary wisdom tells us clearly that all real progress depends on being able to fit new discoveries to the old, new goods to those already obtained. Briefly, we must be able to profit from experience,"


Man is depersonalised rrHE Pope continued: "The prob1 tern which faces the world today is this: Will a world which only accepts the economic shaping of a giant productive organisation succeed also in influencing, with equally happy results, social life in general and the three basic institutions in particular?

We have to answer that question by insisting that the impersonal character of such a world is in opposition to the wholly personal characteristics of those institutions which the Creator has given human society.

"Marriage and the family, the State, private property—these by their very nature tend to shape and develop man as a person, to protect him, and make him capable of contributing voluntarily and in a responsible way to the maintenance and growth of social life in its personal aspects as well as others.

"In many countries the modern State is becoming no more than a giant administrative machine. Its band stretches over nearly the whole of life. Under its administration falls the whole ladder of political, economic, social and intellectual departments from the cradle to the grave."

Waiting in vain

The consequence of this, the Pope explained, is inevitably to weaken the sense of the common good in the consciences of individuals and to cause the State progressively to lose its fundamental character, which is to be a moral community of citizens.

"Thus we see the origin and the start of the evolution which throws modern man into his agony-depersonalisation.' Man has been deprived in large measure of his appearance and his name. In many of the most important activities of his life he has been reduced to a mere object of Society.

"If anyone doubts the truth of this let him look at the masses of those in need and let him ask the different types of those who are in want what society normally has to give them, now that its tendency is to ignore the person. "Let this question be asked of the needy man on the roadside, deprived as be is of all help—the needy who, alas, can be met as often in the towns as in the countryside.

"Let this question be asked of the father of a family, who depends so regularly on social assistance and whose children cannot afford to wait for the distant days and vague chances of a golden age that is always yet to come.

"Let the question be asked of peoples living at a low or very low social level and yet invited to take their place in the family of nations with their brothers who live in ease or even in abundance.

"From one conference to another, such peoples wait in vain for a bettering of their lot.

"And what answer will society give to the unemployed who goes to the Labour Exchange in a mood to receive—perhaps from sheer habit—a fresh disillusion, but not yet resigned to the idea that he is a useless person?

"In all these cases the same answer is constantly given. Their special case cannot be dealt with as a personal or individual matter—the solution must be found in an order of things that is yet to be established, in a system which will cover everything and which, without injuring essential lihcrty, wall unite men and things in an ever-growing and ever-better-united system, thanks to better technical progress."

Sincere promises

The Pope said he had no intention of suggesting that these answers are invented excuses to cover an unwillingness to give help.

"We believe, rather, that they are true and sincere promises—but it is difficult to see on what serious grounds can be based the faith which they inspire, seeing that experience so far is bound to make us feel sceptical rather than otherwise.

"The truth is that, though the intention is to assure full employment and an ever-rising standard of life, the situation actually poses anxious questions about how far present tendencies ca-n continue without provoking disaster and. above all, causing mass unemployment."


Conscience in action

HE situation, the Pope said, presents the spectre of an insoluble contradiction.

We shall never escape from the vicious spiral if we continue to depend on the single element of high productivity. The time has come to think of values like the standard of life and employment as human values in the fullest sense of the word rather than as purely quantitative factors.

Every plan should be inspired by the realisation that man—as the subject, guardian and promoter of human values—stands above things in themselves and above any applications of technical progress. 1 he first need is to preserve the basic forms of the social order from an unhappy depersonalisation. The social order must be used to initiate and develop human relations.

"It is on the basis of such principles that we invite men to build modern society.

"This society demands the abolition of obvious and irritating disproportions in the standard of life of the different nations.

"To realise this urgent purpose we must prefer to external faults the efficacious action of conscience. Conscience knows how to set limits to luxury living, and it will help the less fortunate to concentrate on what is necessary and useful, and then to save the rest—if there be anything left to save."


New forms of employment

THE Holy Father then emphasised th e economic 'importance of "using every means to maintain all present employments and to create new forms of employment."

Those in a position to invest capital should consider the common good and ask themselves "whether they can in conscience refrain from investing such capital within reasonable economic limits. in the right proportion and at the right time. rather than refrain out of considerations of vain prudence.

" Public action

"On the other side, such people who. against their consciences, selfishly exploit their own chances. cause others to fall out of work and become unemployed.

"When private initiative slackens or proves insufficient, public authority is obliged, so far as possible, to make jobs through undertaking public utility work, and to give advice and other help to enable those who seek work to find it."

Emphasising that his preoccupation with the means of strengthening the sense of solidarity among men extends also to nations as such, the Holy Father said:

Parallel advance "Let every nation do what it can to further all opportunities to a parallel advance among less well endowed

countries. • "Though it would be difficult to ensure even through the realisation of the most perfect possible international understanding any absolute equality of peoples, it is none the less true that such understanding should be sought at least to the extent of being able definitely to modify the present situation, which is very far from being reasonably harmonious.

On higher level

"But this will not be achieved through any merely mechanical system. Human society is not a machine and it must not be turned into one even in the economic sphere.

"On the contrary, the contribution of the human person and of the individuality of different people must be constantly used as a natural and fundamental factor which serves as the point of departure for the public economy—that is to say, to ensure the permanent satisfaction of material needs and services. These in their turn rripst be related to the higher moral and cultural religious leveL"


State 'mechanisation'

TUkNING from economic difficulties to difficulties of conscience, the Pope continued :

"Conscience, which should be entrusted in large part with our social cure and salvation, is being condemned to inner anguish by those who support an impersonal conception of the State. And perhaps it is here that we are today moving farthest from the Divine Model when we try to help mankind."

Because of its mechanical conception, modern society, trying to foresee and organise everything, puts itself in conflict with life. It comes up against those rights which man exercises in accordance with his nature and under his own personal responsibility. The person is the means of the creation of new live! of which it remains the principal gnardian.

Undue influence

"These inner conflicts between the social system and conscience are hidden under names like the birth question and the emigration problem.

"When husbands and wives mean to keep the laws of life established by the Creator, and when, to safeguard that fidelity, they try to free themselves from the bonds holding them to their own country, they find no solution but that of emigration.

"In other days this solution was often suggested by the desire of gain, but today it is more often imposed by the state of misery, "Deciding to emigrate, these husbands and wives are faced by measures taken by organised society which, in a spirit of pure calculation, has already decided how many mouths a country can and ought to feed, now and in the future.

"Once this line of preventive calculation has been accepted, the attempt is made to mechanise consciences also.

"Hence public measures for birth control; the pressure of the administrative system called social security; the exercise of undue influence on public opinion; and, finally. the misunderstanding or practical annulment of the natural right of the person to the liberty of emigration or immigration.

Wrong solution "We have received many letters which reveal the suffering of good and serious Christians whose consciences are tormented because of an inflexible society's complete incomprehension. This society is moved only by calculation, like a machine, which crushes without pity and passes by problems which personally and profoundly touch moral life.

"We shall certainly not deny that different parts of the world are suffering from a relative over-population. But to try to get out of the difficulty by the axiom that the number of people should be regulated according to the public economy is tantamount to overthrowing the order of nature and that whole social and moral world which is bound up with it."


Man with a price label

THE Pope continued to point other ways in which human conscience today is subject to social constraint.

"Parents have the educators of theirs children forced upon them, against their convictions and against their will.

Getting work or to one's place of work is made dependent on belonging to certain bodies or to organisations inspired by the interests of the employers.

"Arrangements like these show how inexact is the idea of the function and purpose of trade unions, namely, the defence of the interests of the wage earner in the midst of our present ever more anonymous collectivist society.

"What is in fact the true end of trade unions if not the practical affirmation that man is the subject and not the object of social relations—if not to protect the individual in the face of the collective irresponsibility of anonymous owners; if not to defend the person of the worker against those who would view him as a productive force with a definite price label attached?

'How, then, is it possible to accept as normal that the defence of the personal rights of the worker should rest more and more in the hands of an anonymous collectivity which acts through gigantic organisations tending to a monopoly?


"Thus wounded in his personal rights, caught in the wheels of an immense social machine. the worker should feel in a specially painful way how his liberty and his conscience are being oppressed."

The Pope insisted that his words applied also to "that part of the world which is called the 'free world.' " First the real war and then the "cold war" have moulded social relations in such a way as inevitably to prevent the exercise of liberty itself.

"This is the beginning of the phenomenon which in another part ef the world has fully worked itself out to its ultimate logical effects."


'Only half the truth'

rr HE Pope then described again the sufferings of the Church and of Christians behind the Iron Curtain.

"What will remain of these ancient and new Christian Churches when the end of the tribulations for which we constantly pray comes? That is the good God's unfathomable secret.

"Meanwhile, the book of life registers everywhere in that world of misery the exploits of strong souls and the innumerable heroism& inspired by the Holy Ghost in the defence of God's Kingdom, the Name of Jesus, our one salvation, and the honour of His holy mother."

"We are not idealising the situation," said His Holiness. "There are —now as always in times of persecution—cases of weakness, surrender and treason which, though often understandable, are inexcusable.

"However, the information spread abroad tells only half the truth, and sometimes distorts or completely ignores the truth. In this way the bitter struggle of Bishops, priests and laymen to preserve the Faith is withheld from public knowledge.

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