Charity : The Watchword of Christian Workers
Contrast With Socialism
The celebrations of the Golden Jubilee of the foundation of Christian Trade-Unionism in France, which took place last Sunday in Paris, were a manifestation to the world of the principles and practice of Christian Labour.
In fifty years of gradual deehristianisation and materialism of the Labour ideal, French Catholic Trade Unionism has grown from 17 members to over half-a-million.
At the High Mass in an open-air stadium with a congregation of 25,000, the Bishop of Lourdes said that charity was the watchword of Christian Labour and that the clenched fist was the betrayal of love.
The coincidence of these celebrations with the industrial and financial troubles of a France that has rejected Christianity as an inspiration of its secular activities emphasised the loss to the world of a spirit and programme that can yet save it.
A FIGHTING REPLY TO MARX
From Our Own Correspondent
In 1887 Christian Trade Unionism, four years before Quadragesimo Anna, was begun in France by 17 young men. In 1896 the first Congress was held in Paris. Last Sunday, June 27, 1937, 25,000 people, of whom 1,500 were delegates, celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the foundation of a Christian Trade Union movement which includes more than half a million members and nearly two thousand unions.
Such has been the fighting reply of the workers of the Eldest Daughter of the Church to the increasing tre-ehristianisaLion of the country and the corruption of the true working class movement by means of the Marxian materialist philosophy.
Two Ideals The enthusiasm manifested last Sunday confronted the world with a glaring contrast between a labour ideology which in seeking for purely material, selfish and class ends has incited capital to fight against it instead of co-operating with it, and so brought France to the verge of bankruptcy with all the distress that means, and possibly even to the verge of revolution.
As one looked at the serried masses of workers, each with his silver badge, either assisting at the open-air Pontifical High Mass or at the secular spectacles of the afternoon, one could only sadly reflect upon what a different France and what a. different Europe they would be part of, if only their spirit and their voices had been allowed their fun weight in the councils of the nation.
Last Sunday France had a treasure in its heart, a treasure infinitely more valuable than the remains of its gold— but the treasure lay unnoticed except by the few understanding.
High Mass It was a perfect cloudless day, as the crowds poured into the great stadium whose seats ranged round the altar draped in garnet-red and white. Miners from the North, girls from Alsace, could be distinguished by their dress, while the gay standards of the different organisations, especially the J.O.C. and J.A.C., future hope of the Catholic Workers, added to the charm of the scene.
As the Mass began the loud-speakers carried the solemn tones of the Gregorian chant of the Proper, while a more festive note was given by the modern music of Gounod's Mass of St. Cecilia.
Mgr. Gerlier, Bishop now of Lourdes and Tarbes, was the preacher, and in vigorous language he made " charity " the watchword of the Christian working man. After describing the difficult beginnings of the movement and the incredible opposition it had met with he showed how justice was imposssible without charity.
Condemning with power the oppression of the workers by employers, he emphasised with equal stress every illegality committed against the latter. A loyal collaboration was required, one which recognises and proclaims the rights of truth. But the Christian workers knew that only love, faith and charity could lead to truth.
The Clenched Fist
" Go confidently," he concluded, " to plant the Cross at the summit of the tower, by being good workers of the Trade Union Movement, by persevering in your efforts and by being faithful to what you believe. The greatest evil of our time is that charity is everywhere betrayed. The clenched fist saddens us because we see in it these treasons towards love. For your part, in this solemn Mass follow the example of Christ on the Cross and, without deviating from true doctrine, keep open your arms to embrace all men, even blasphemers."
In answer 25,000 voices sang the Credo together and at the end of the ceremony
praised and thanked God with a unanimous Te. Deum, In the afternoon the crowds reassembled to sing the Marseillaise, the song of France and not of any political party, and to enjoy the shows, circus turns, music and singing arranged in an attractive programme.
The Humble Understood
In the second part of the programme leaders of the Christian Trade Unions spoke.
M. Pauwels, Vice-President of the International Confederation, explained how the Church's social reaching had been first understood by the humble and not by the theorists. In France, employees, in Belgium, textile workers, in Germany, miners. Hence the movement had taken root in conditions that were hardest and the root could not he eradicated.
In reply M. Zirnheld, the President of the C.F.T.C., spoke of the future. "Why fear it?" he said. "In fifty years we have shown that we can assume duties and responsibilities. We do not want the people to be everything, that it should replace one hated tyranny by yet another equally hateful."
On the day preceding the celebrations the work of the 18th Congress took place in the Palais de la lqutualite to discuss its problems that can be summarised in the words : "Free Trade Unions in Organised Trade," In its manifesto it once again reiterated that the social bases of society are the family, the city and the trade, it hoped for a widening of collective understandings under public authority; it demanded economic and social organisation by means of councils of employers and workers in a spirit of understanding and collaboration and not under the power of one class moved by violence and hatred; and it claimed for all workers entire freedom in choosing its syndical organisation.