Given from the Catholic Broadcasting Station 2SM Sydney Australia
Choose a topic from Vol 2:
That is not a fact. The Church has many of her clergy devoting their lives to sociological study, who are experts in such subjects. They are neither ignorant, nor in the least unwilling to abandon out-of-date ideas. But they insist upon weighing new ideas on their own merits and if they oppose some of them, they but seem to be opposing wise ideas to those who have not sufficiently studied the matter.
The capitalistic system as such is not sinful. In some form or other capital and labor will have to co-operate. The present form of capitalism has developd in certain evil directions, and those evil tendencies must be corrected. The inequalities, poverty and suffering of many today have resulted from lack of due control of the capitalistic system; and these sufferings have certainly been the occasion, though not the cause, of crimes and of violence. Your estimate that 75% of the crimes of the world are occasioned by evils due to a badly regulated capitalism is probably excessive, but it would be very difficult to give any precise estimate.
Of some of them—yes. For example, no one has any right to prevent another from breathing the good fresh air that nature has provided for the use of all living creatures. In other cases, it is not true that all men have equal rights to the use and enjoyment of the elements provided by nature. At most, they have equal rights to acquire by a just title such natural goods as their capacity and initiative render possible. Once a man has acquired property, equal rights of others to that property are excluded. At the same time, the use and enjoyment of property by those who possess it are not unconditional. The exercise of the right of private ownership is limited by the duties of justice and charity to one's fellow men, and by the right of the State in certain cases to safeguard the common good.
That is not true as it stands. It would be too sweeping an assertion. For a thing could be produced by a man's labor from goods owned by another, and even with the assistance of capital provided by others. In some cases, however, one's own labor could give rise to a just and exclusive title of ownership; in which cases, ownership would be subject to the conditions I have already mentioned as regards the use and enjoyment of the goods in question.
No. The Church was born poor, has ever honored the poor, inspires the love and practice of poverty in hundreds of Religious Houses, and teaches that riches are rather a hindrance than a help to salvation.
Christ Himself was born in poverty, and ever loved the poor. Yet often He dined with the rich. The Church, like her Master, is all things to all men. All have souls to be saved, and the Church appeals to all to fulfill their respective duties.
I would certainly deny that. She is most anxious for a social reform which will result in the betterment of the poor. But you cannot expect the Church to give her blessing to social theories which preach a false materialistic doctrine of life, and which urge rebellion against the natural rights of man as well as against God and religion. Reform in favor of the workers which restricts itself to social economy within the limits of justice and charity will meet with nothing but encouragement at the hands of the Catholic Church.
No. They may refrain from unlawful measures. But their Catholic religion and their belief in a future life do not hinder them from lawful prudential measures in this life. In fact, they know that God expects them to use their faculties, and make suitable provision for their earthly necessities as long as they are in this world.
In the modern industrial conditions these countries may be suffering as others are suffering. But prior to the industrialization of the world, the workers of Catholic countries were not in a deplorable condition. For example, the guilds of operative masons were entirely Catholic in origin and were protective measures for those stone workers. These guilds have no connection whatever with speculative masonry as embodied in the Masonic Lodges.Again, with the rise of industrialism, Pope Leo XIII. was one of the first to demand favorable conditions for the workers, and he was regarded as an innovator and attacked right, left and center by the capitalist world of the day. That world is at last beginning to see that he was right. If Catholic principles were put into practice, the lot of the workers would certainly not be deplorable.
Yes. In the preceding case you have a foreign nation invading a country not theirs and evicting people from their own homes. In this present case, you have legitimate authority in our country evicting people, not from their own homes, but from houses lawfully owned by others. If you think these cases parallel, you have a strange idea of similarity.Again, your imagination insists on supposing that the landlords are wealthy people. There are many people who have saved just enough to own one other house besides the one they live in. The rent is often their only means of support, and they have a right to that revenue. They cannot be obliged to allow a family to live in their house who will not, or who cannot, pay, when they can let the house to others who can. And the law protects their rights—a law citizens must uphold, not resist.If a thug wanted to sandbag you and rob you of your personal possessions in the street, you would be glad enough to secure the protection of the law and the help of near-by police. Yet the owners of a house have as much right to the rent as you have to your watch and chain, and to your loose cash.I admit that it is the duty of the State to make suitable provision for the families of workers who, through no fault of their own, cannot secure work or sufficient remuneration. The State can do this, either by paying the rent, and leaving the poor in the homes they at present occupy, or by providing them with other accommodation. But private owners of houses have no obligation to make provision for those who wish to occupy homes rent-free; and there is no justification in attacking the police who fulfill their duty, and who are not responsible for the laws they have to apply. To forestall a further difficulty, let us suppose that the landlord is already a wealthy man who does not need the rent. If the tenants cannot pay the rent, is he obliged to allow them to occupy his house? And we can make the case as black as possible by supposing that, if he turns them out, he will be able to get no other tenant, the house will remain unoccupied, and the evicted people will have nowhere to go. Even here, he is not in debt to those people, and is not bound in strict justice to allow them to remain. It is the social duty of the State to provide for them, not the duty of an individual owner. I would say this, however: If the owner knows that the State will make no provision for them, and that the evicted people will actually be left in dire straits, then he would sin, not against justice, but against charity, did he refuse to allow them to continue in a house for which he had no other use himself, or the rent of which he could easily do without for the time being.
Not everyone who owns a house is a capitalist by any means. The Church asserts the principle of justice to all, and insists most strongly upon justice to the workers who have less means of defense than those with wealth at their disposal. Your talk of the growing belief among the workers is a general assumption on your part. If it be the growing belief amongst some workers, that belief receives no reasonable confirmation from the doctrine I have given.
You are begging the question in your every utterance. The Church does not command workers to defend their oppressors against an invading foreigner. If a people desire to be incorporated in the invading nation, they may submit without resistance and be thus incorporated. But the Church says that they are not obliged to do so, and may as a nation defend their right to independent existence. In this case, workers do not defend their oppressors against the invader. They defend themselves in union with all others also contributing to national defense.Again, you wrongly assert that the Church forbids workers to protect themselves in time of peace against their capitalist oppressors. She does not. She urges them to unite, and make use of all lawful means to better their lot. She has ever been in favor of unions and combined action. She does forbid the use of any unjust and morally wrong means, but that is a totally different thing.
The Church certainly says that human authority is of God, for St. Paul tells us very clearly, "Let every soul be subject to higher powers: for there is no power but from God: and those that are, are ordained of God." Rom. XIII., 1. But this applies only in the case of the just exercise of authority. To all the just laws of a de facto government, whether it be monarchial or republican, we owe obedience in conscience.But does the Church say that it is sinful to rebel against a constituted government? The Church says that it is certainly lawful to resist any unjust and tyrannical exercise of authority. Even rebellion is lawful as a last resort. But this is such an extreme measure and productive of so much evil, that it is lawful only on the following conditions:(1) If the government is habitually and continuously tyrannical, pursuing a selfish object to the manifest detriment of the people.(2) When all legal and peaceful measures have been tried in vain, by published criticism, meetings of protest, and deputations to the authorities.(3) When there is a reasonable hope of success and the rebellion will not cause greater evils than those to be remedied.(4) When the judgment of the government's injustice is not merely a private or party judgment, but that of the majority of the citizens.Granted these conditions, rebellion would be lawful.
If a law is manifestly opposed to the law of God, citizens do not owe obedience to that individual law. But if a law passed by a government for the common good entails some hardship upon a section of the community—that section may take all just means to secure some amelioration. They would not be justified, however, in organizing a rebellion. Not all workers agree that they are oppressed. Many are quite comfortable. Those who are in unfortunate circumstances should take all lawful means to awaken the public conscience, and secure some amelioration of their conditions. But the conditions I have outlined as being necessary to justify armed rebellion are certainly not verified in our country. Workers are obliged to submit to the just legislation of the present government, and organize to pull their full weight for the abolition of such legislation as they feel to be unjust. But they must proceed by constitutional means.
Karl Marx does not deny State authority by any means. He says that the Capitalist State is a machine for the oppression of the worker. He advocates class struggle, the overthrow of the Capitalist State, of religion, family and school as at present constituted. The proletarian State, with collective ownership, is to follow, with its own rigid discipline and authority.
The most reasonable explanation for the workingman as for every other man, is the Catholic explanation. If workingmen unite and work by constitutional means to better their conditions, they won't come into collision with authority. They will mould its legislation. But if they refuse to pull together, and small groups break out into spasmodic rebellions they will accomplish nothing, and force the government to take all necessary measures for the preservation of public order. Meantime, whilst some impulsive workers may overstep the bounds of lawful procedure here and come into conflict with State authority, in Russia the workers are in an infinitely worse plight. The Soviet's own official figures admit over a million and a half executions during the past ten years, chiefly of starving workers who have taken collectively-owned food to keep their bodies and souls together. The gun, the baton, and the boot prevail in Russia as in no other country in the world.Conditions generally under our present form of government do not warrant the Russian experiment here.
The Catholic Church teaches honesty, insisting that dishonesty is always sinful. She does not teach equality in this world, though she does teach that Christ died equally for all men.Yet she does not teach deference to the rich calling it loyalty and religion. Wealth as such is no title to deference. True virtue is, and also lawful authority. Loyalty dictates the duty of respect for authority, and it is dishonest to refuse. Religion dictates respect for virtue. I have immense respect for the poor man who is a good man; none whatever for the wealthy man who is unjust and depraved. But not all poor people are good, and not all wealthy people are evil. Anyway, wealth as such is not a title to any particular deference.