Given from the Catholic Broadcasting Station 2SM Sydney Australia
Choose a topic from Vol 1:
She does not do these things. The Catholic Church defends law and order, and human rights. She is ever ready to denounce injustice, whether of the government, or of any private individual. If a wealthy Catholic did not pay just wages, and were seriously defrauding his employees, the Catholic Church would be the first to condemn such conduct, and warn him that, if he continued in such conduct, he would risk eternal damnation. On the other hand, if an employee accepted good wages, and did not render equivalent service, he too, would be condemned by the Church. The Catholic Church neither denies nor approves present-day miseries. And since the world will not listen to her principles, she turns round and tries to relieve all the misery she can by every possible kind of charitable organization.
Some may be, and then they sin, and are condemned by the Church. But not all rich men are criminals. A man can lawfully acquire property and wealth, and build up a legitimate stats in life by his diligence and ability.
The right of private property is a natural right and has always been held by the Church. When God gave the commandment, "Thou shalt not steal," He acknowledged that men could acquire property to which others had no right.
The Catholic Church agrees with St. Augustine in this matter, and declares that all who possess superfluities, that is, goods which are over and above that which is necessary for the upkeep of their state in life, are obliged under pain of sin to share their superfluities with their less fortunate fellow men. The hundreds of orphanages, hospitals, and other works of charity established by the Catholic Church are supported by contributions from such superfluities, as well as by contributions from Catholics who are sacrificing much that they could legitimately retain.
I hold no brief for the defence of rich men. But we must talk common sense. Income may be derived from honest sources or from dishonest sources. If from dishonest sources, the Catholic Church denounces it, and orders restitution to those from whom it is dishonestly derived. But a wealthy man's income may be derived from perfectly honest sources, and in that case you have no right to say that it has to be provided by others as if it were wrung from them against their will and their just obligations. If a man's business thrives, his income is honestly come by, provided each individual transaction is honest. And if, when he dies, he leaves his wealth to his son, that son honestly inherits his father's wealth.
They may have given that service in the past. You overlook that service, and see only their present wealth. But what obligation does civic service involve? A man is obliged to preserve the individual life God gives him, and if work is necessary for that, he is obliged to work. But if he is already provided for by lawful means, he is not obliged to engage in lucrative or productive labor. For his own individual good, of course, he should avoid idleness, which is a source of many evils, and find some occupation. Where the social good is concerned, whilst he must practice the social virtue of charity, he is not obliged in justice to undertake personal labor. Personal work and productive activity are of great importance to the social good; but the obligation to render such service is a general obligation, and does not fall necessarily upon this or that individual. The majority of men will be compelled by individual necessity to contribute such labor as the common good requires. And do not forget that, even by living in the country, wealthy men render much social service by paying proportionate income taxes for the upkeep of public services, and by circulating money spent on personal requirements and in giving some measure of employment to others.
No. And the Catholic Church says that a man who has superfluous goods, knows that some given man is starving, and lets him starve, commits a mortal sin in God's sight, the fruit of which will be hell for all eternity, unless he receives a singular grace of repentance for such evil conduct before he dies.
The Church certainly denounces unscrupulous capitalism. But not all capitalists are unscrupulous. No one has ever spoken more strongly and soundly on the abuses of capitalism than Pope Leo XIII. He upheld the rights of labor, denounced the injustice of many amongst the wealthy classes, and laid down rules which men can refuse to follow only so long as they refuse to follow the dictates of conscience itself. Meantime, the Church justifies her faith in her Founder by holding fast to all His teachings. She imitates His wisdom when the world tries to entangle her. You will remember how His enemies asked Him concerning the payment of taxes. If He said, "You must pay tribute," they hoped that the Jews would curse Him. If He said, "You must not pay tribute," they hoped that the Romans would arrest Him. Jesus therefore replied, "Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's." The Catholic Church says, "Give to the working man all that to which he has a right, and to owners all that is theirs." Every man has his conscience, whether employer or worker, and the Church tells men that they must be faithful to their conscience. If they will not, even God will not force them to obey His dictates. How then can you expect the Catholic Church to succeed in making them do so?
Christ did not die to save men from their earthly masters. The Jews rejected Him precisely because He did not offer to save them from Roman tyranny. If He had died to deliver men from earthly masters, be sure that the Jews would have been delivered from the Roman oppressors. Christ accomplished that for which He died. And He died to give all men the means of eternal salvation, if they have the goodwill to use those means.
Although Christ was crucified between two thieves, He had friends amongst the rich, and often dined in the houses of the wealthy. If the rich to-day are unjust, and violate God's laws, Christ would condemn them according to the measure of their iniquity. He would not condemn them otherwise. He never condemned riches as such. When Job was a rich man, he was commended by God, and loved by Him. God does condemn the bad use of riches, and orders all men to be poor in spirit. Every man must be prepared to sacrifice all his earthly goods rather than commit sin to retain or increase them.
No. The main function of the Catholic Church in relation to all classes of society has ever been to teach them that the main purpose of their existence is to know, love, and serve God in the duties of this life, and thus to attain their eternal destiny of happiness with the God who created them. As regards temporal affairs in the meantime, the Church says that all injustice and want of charity is opposed to the serving of God, and that those guilty of such injustice, whether peasants or princes, are in danger of losing their souls.
National religions have often been so abused. The Catholic Church as a Church has never been a party to such injustice, but has fought sedulously for the rights and dignity of the poor. That some Catholics individually have tried to use religious influences wrongly I admit; but that was their individual crime, not the fault of their religion which they abused.
I am not speaking on behalf of any Church other than the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church is the one true Church, and the greatest of all the Churches in this world. But her position is not due to her possession of wealthy members, but to the vast number of those who belong to her, chiefly from the poorer classes, each member of which gives a little regularly towards the support of a religion which every Catholic regards as his greatest consolation. St. Paul could write to Catholics to-day even as he did to the Corinthians. "See your vocation, brethren, that there are not many among you wise according to the flesh; not many mighty; not many noble; but the foolish things of this world; the weak things of the world; the things that are contemptible in the eyes of the world hath God chosen."