Given from the Catholic Broadcasting Station 2SM Sydney Australia
Choose a topic from Vol 1:
Certainly not in the case of the Catholic Church. She has always condemned injustice, insisting that men should be brothers in Christ
Certainly. In Catholic times, when the Church had power, the people of England owed Magna Charta, or the great Charter of their liberties against the royal tyranny, to Stephen Langton, the Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury, and Primate of England. In 1929 Lord Strickland tried to trample upon the rights of the people in Malta. He was endowed with the "Divine right of Kings" theory. The Church fought him. The newspapers distorted the facts in favor of Strickland and against the Church. But England appointed a Commission which found against Strickland on almost every count. This was not given the same publicity as the earlier anti-Catholic cables.Still later the Pope, notwithstanding all the concessions of Mussolini for the sake of the Concordat, fought him for the rights and liberties of the people, prepared to sacrifice the Concordat itself. Once more the newspapers tried to give the impression that the Pope was trying to interfere unjustly in political matters. But he was vindicating the elementary rights and privileges of the people.
The Church has always consistently used what power she has in the cause of the worker. With the very rise of the present industrialism Pope Leo XIII. insisted on the rights of labor in a series of almost revolutionary Encyclicals. He insisted that in justice the workers must receive wages that not only provide moderate comforts of life for themselves and their families, but enough to leave a surplus so that the thrifty may he able to save enough to provide for their future, and even to estah-iish themselves in business and become employers also. Each Pope since Leo has reiterated his protest against injustice, whilst defending, of course, fundamental rights to property. Pope Pius XL, the present ruling Pontiff, says clearly, however, "If anything, the workers need the assistance of the Church in the obtaining of their rights, not the wealthy in the conservation of their rights." And he gives as his reason the fact that the workers have less means of securing their rights because the wealthy have the control of the political machinery and of the press.
The concern of the Church is deep where the wrongs of the workers are concerned, and it has been uttered in anything but vague and general terms. Here are Pope Leo's words: "It has come to pass that working men have been given over, isolated and defenceless, to the callousness of employers and the greed of unrestrained competition so that a small number of very rich men have been able to lay a yoke little better than slavery itself upon the masses of the poor."
In every industrial dispute, in so far as the obtaining of decent conditions is concerned, the Church has given strong support to the cause of the worker. How? By her rigid denunciation of the absence of decent conditions, and her clear statements that social morality demands such decent conditions. Having given this correct teaching to the world, she has done her part. She has no means of forcing people to study her teachings, or to accept them and put them into practice when they have done so. You do not seem to understand the mission of the Church. Many men view her only in the light of their own troubles, and think that her chief duty is to remedy those. The sick seem to think that she is a success only if she proves to be an efficacious medical clinic. The starving man believes that she ought to be a universal soupkitchen. You seem to think that she was meant to be a Court of Industrial Disputes. But Christ established His Church for the salvation of souls, and to tell men what they must believe and do if they would attain eternal salvation. The Church condemns the unjust oppression of workers by capitalists and says to them, "If you go on like that, you will be damned." She has done her part, and they must save their souls for themselves. But you get a wrong notion into your head of what the Church ought to do, and then blame her for not doing what she was never supposed to do.
You take too much for granted. It is easy to say that modern industry under capitalism exists for profit and not for use. But it is not true. Industry produces things for the use of those who need them. The public pays for the value of the thing, and something additional for the trouble of making it. Portion of this something extra is distributed in wages, and portion is returned to those who have invested their savings in the enterprise. If you think that the portion returned to investors is always excessive, just note the dividends paid by the average business to-day. It is too sweeping to say that capitalized industry exists for profit and not for use. This is but a catchword which can impress only the unthinking, or those who want to believe it I am not denying that abuses exist. Some wealthy owners are unwilling to let their dividends decrease, and would rather permit wages to decrease. They are wrong and eaten up with self-interest. But wholesale condemnation is nearly always exaggerated. The present system as a system is a mixture of advantages and disadvantages. It has its uses and abuses. And the Catholic Church does not support it with unqualified approval. Yet, whilst condemning the abuses, she does ask us to beware lest, in washing the dish, we break it.
The Church says that it is a crime to cut down wages in such a way that the worker is deprived of the ordinary necessities of life and of its moderate comforts. She has no objection to the reducing of wages if the cost of living be reduced proportionately. But these two reductions must be practically simultaneous. To reduce wages first inflicts hardship on the workers; to reduce prices first ruins many a business which cannot afford the unreduced wage. If the rich refuse the justice demanded by the Church, the Church says that the state has the obligation to force them to obey in these matters of social justice.
By referring workers to state authority, the Church does not mean to any particular party which happens to be in power. But let workers unite, make use of lawful political influence, vote unjust governments out, and vote just governments in.
The Church does not say that strikes are forbidden. If the wrongs to be righted are serious and urgent, and ordinary means fail, then workers can have recourse to extraordinary means. A general strike is forbidden as morally wrong, because the evils it causes are nearly always greater than those to be remedied. But the workers in any given industry may go on strike, yet granted only that certain conditions are verified. They must be animated, not by a spirit of vindictiveness, but by a genuine desire to secure the justice due to them. They must not strike for trifling reasons, but for the remedying of a grave injustice. The evil to be remedied must be at least as great as the evil to the community and to the workers themselves which the strike will entail. All other just means, such as arbitration, must have been tried without success, so that the strike is the last resort. The strikers must rely on moral compulsion, and not resort to physical violence. Their demands must be such as not to destroy the business itself with resulting injury to themselves and their employers. And finally, the strike must have a probable hope of success, so that all the miseries and inconveniences are not caused for nothing.
That again is just untrue enough to give a perfectly false impression. The Pope says that the worker may and should do all that is lawful in order to secure the fair treatment due to him. But even after a man has done all that he can, there will always be some troubles, and the Pope rightly says to the worker as to every Christian soul, "Such trials as you cannot remedy by lawful means, bear with resignation to the Will of God rather than try to secure relie^ by unlawful means at the price of sin."
You are over-stating your case. The workers are not expected to be curs in any sense of the word. They should be reasonable enough to view the case as it is, instead of working themselves up into a fanaticism based upon fictitious and exaggerated description. They should be men enough to unite and labor by all lawful means to remedy such injustice as does exist. They should be Christians enough to accept with resignation to God's Will such trials as human efforts cannot remove. And as long as we are in this life there will be inevitable trials and difficulties to endure. Meantime, poverty does not necessarily result in filth; I have been into very poor homes which are models of cleanliness; drink is more prevalent amongst those who can afford it than amongst those who cannot, even though "society" drinkers avoid publicity; disease and insanity are not the special prerogatives of the poor; suicides occur in all classes; war is more often due to wealth than to poverty.
The Church does exist to save souls, even as Christ died for that purpose. But she does not lack interest in the social well-being of mankind. Moral law rules even man's social conduct, and since moral injustice can and does occur in the behavior of men towards each other in their social relations, it is the duty of the Church to give us correct moral principles covering such conduct. In addition to this, the Church makes very much of the corporal works of mercy, and the duty of Christians to benefit their neighbors even in the purely temporal order.
The text you have in mind does not refer to earthly life with its temporal comforts, but to eternal life—a far richer, fuller, and more satisfactory life than this world can possibly offer. He defined the life He offered when He said, "This is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ Whom Thou hast sent." He who secures the life of God's grace has life more abundantly than this world can give it. And to thousands of souls daily the Catholic Church gives this life. The workers who throng the Confessionals and the Altar Rails in the Catholic Church know that every absolution and every Holy Communion is giving them life more abundantly than this world ever could do.
It is not impossible for the strike-conditions I gave to be fulfilled and for a strike to be without sin. Every one of the conditions I gave is sensible and moral. The end cannot justify the means, and the means must be within the limits of moral law. Meantime, an employer has by no means a free hand. If it is manifestly impossible for him to carry on his business, he is of course free to cease conducting it. But if he is able to carry on his business, and normally intends to do so, yet closes it up temporarily, dismissing or locking out his workers, he commits a very grave sin before God, unless he has serious reasons to justify such a procedure. What are those reasons? We can say that he sins if he does so for any reason which would justify his workers in striking. That is in general. In particular, if he locks out his workers in order to compel them to accept less than just wages, he sins. If he, like all others, must beg grace from God to enable him to fulfill the duties of his state in life, and that, whilst laboring to rectify wrong conditions, he must learn to forgive past injuries in a truly Christian spirit.
Yes. Award wages are the legal price of the work to be done, and when a legal award is given, it binds in conscience. The Pope has condemned absolutely and most rigorously the conduct of those employers who exploit the evil of unemployment by inducing men to accept work at less than just wages. The legal award must be accepted as the measure of justice. Such conduct is unjust to the workers. Pope Leo XII says, "To defraud workers of a just wage is a great crime crying to Heaven for vengeance," and he quotes the strong words of St. James from the New Testament, "Ye rich men, ye shall weep and howl in the miseries that shall come upon you. You have stored up wrath against you in the last days. Behold the hire of the laborers, which by fraud has been kept back by you, crieth; and the cry of them hath come to the ears of the Lord of Hosts." Jas 5:1-4. Nor is it any excuse to say that the men have agreed to work for less than award rates. The employer, in suggesting it, but trades on the idea that they will be compelled by scarcity of employment to accept. It is but trading unjustly on the suffering of the workers.
Yes. For such a person, knowing the fact, is endeavoring to secure his building at less than the just price, and is an accessory in the unjust exploitation of the workers. I would like to see all those who let contracts stipulate that award rates must be paid to the workers employed.
Principles of just price rule this matter as any other commercial transactions. If a man is too poor to afford a motor car, he has to do without it. If a man cannot afford the ruling price for a certain type of building, he must do without it rather than force workers to give him their labor at a valuation which inflicts injustice upon them. That is simply a form of unjust robbery. A less pretentious building could be erected, or the man should simply decide that he could not afford to build just yet.
If work for the dole were meant to be an ingenious attack on wages and decent conditions for the workers, the Church would undoubtely declare it unlawful. But such is not necessarily the case. If, in a period of depression there be not enough work available to absorb all workers, the state cannot let her unemployed citizens starve. If individual employers are unable to engage them, the state has the social duty to provide them with at least the necessities of life, and this must be done from the general revenue. The choice lies between an unconditional granting of relief, or the creation of certain community works which would not otherwise be undertaken, and which are created solely in favor of the unemployed men. This latter alternative would be lawful if the motive be that some occupation is healthier and less degrading from the workers' point of view than idleness, or even that the contributions of the community were resulting in some community advantage. But if it were intended as the thin end of the wedge to lower normal wages and conditions below just standards in ordinary enterprise, it would be unjust and morally wrong.
You would make some headway if you could prove that she has been disloyal to God. However, as a matter of fact, the Catholic Church is the best friend the workers have ever had, and the vast majority of her most loyal subjects are workers.
Most of those whom you would call capitalists have their own anxieties and labors. Do not make the mistake of measuring all labor in terms of muscular power. A man's intelligence is capable of true work, and financial administration is not free from the sweat of anxiety. Meantime the Church declares that the worker must be adequately rewarded for his services, and condemns the injustice and even virtual slavery too often present in the social system today. Pope after Pope has insisted bare living is not a just return for labor. Every worker has a right, not only to a living, but to a reasonable margin of comfort, with means to provide for his future and that of his children. And the economic situation must be so reconstructed that this is possible.
It is not a fact. She stands for lawful, authority, but urges all men not to be dominated by mammon.
I suppose we are all slaves of life in some sense. The workers fears loss of employment; the employer, too, fears the loss of his business and the fruits of his anxious investments. We all fear to be deprived of food and the necessities of life, and God intends us to work to live. But in so far as injustice enters into the present social order, the Church condemns it, and demands that it be removed.
Not all do so. Many employers do not give a fair return for work done, and I have shown that the Catholic Church protests against such injustice. But the remedy is not to sweep the whole existing order away. Let us correct these abuses. In reality the world is suffering precisely because it refuses to live according to Catholic principles, both religious and social.
She cetainly tries to preserve her own children from the knowledge of evil. But she desires to hold from them no useful knowledge of all that is lawful.
She does not. She insists upon the rights and the true dignity of every man. But she certainly does teach respect for property, for lawful authority, the obligation of rendering an honest day's work for an honest day's pay. She teaches the worker that he, like all others, must beg grace from God to enable him to fulfill the duties of his state in life, and that, while laboring to rectify wrong conditions, he must learn to forgive past injuries in a truly Christian spirit.
Men very much need humility. Few are overburdened with that virtue. But you would teach men a still more foolish pride. Christ said, "Learn of Me to be meek and humble of heart." Meekness demands manhood. It is much easier not to be meek, but to give way to the first impulse which surges upon one, and to pour out the first rush of words which comes to one's lips. Humility, too, is a virtue which greatly becomes a man who has offended God far more deeply than any of his fellow men have ever offended himself. As for the disfiguring of human souls, the only thing than can do that is sin, and the Catholic Church labors day and night in her efforts to destroy sin, teaching her children to hate it, and urging all men to avoid it. For sin is that breaking of God's laws which alone renders a man a criminal before God.
It is inconsistent to demand that the rich share their superfluities with their less fortunate fellow men, and then to say that almsgiving is shameful. The Catholic Church teaches those who are endowed with this world's goods that they must redeem their sins by almsgiving, as God Himself commands. And there is certainly no shame in the giving of alms. You think that there is shame in the acceptance of alms. There is shame in merely human philanthropy, in which only too often money is thrown to the poor as a bone to a dog, the giver glorying in his superiority. But Christianity robs almsgiving of any element of shame. He who accepts alms given in a Christian spirit accepts what is really given to Christ and given by Him to His poor. Catholics are taught to see Christ in the poor and to give to Him in the persons of the poor. Such gifts are not thrown to the poor in any spirit of contempt, but are offered to Christ for the love of Christ, and are shared by Christ with his loved, though poverty-stricken friends.
The thousands of members in the Religious Orders giving their services to God in the Catholic Church without wages do so cheerfully and freely. The Church has no obligation to pay those who refuse to be paid. And this self-sacrifice of so many Religious is really sparing millions of workers further expense. Nor are these Religious scabbing on unionists, for they are doing no unionist out of a job that he wants.
I omit any reference to other churches. Catholic Priests may and do preach social reform. But they must preach social reform on Christian lines. No Catholic Priest may preach social reform in the socialistic sense of the word, according to the anti-Christian principles of, say, a Karl Marx. Any Priest who would do so, and persist in doing so, would be expelled from the Catholic Church. Socialism, in the ordinary sense of that word, is theoretically self-contradictory; psychologically opposed to the very nature of human beings; practically impossible from the viewpoint of production and distribution; religiously evil, and ultimately ruinous to social and individual liberty. A socialistic system is never likely to become universal, and sectional experiments in socialism have always failed.