Given from the Catholic Broadcasting Station 2SM Sydney Australia
Choose a topic from Vol 2:
The material conditions of the present economic order are not alone to blame for social discord. The psychological factor of selfishness enters largely into the question. But the faults and the injustice of the present economic order do occasion immense distress, and the peace of all is not possible whilst things remain as they are. Let me quote to you Pope Pius XI. In his Encyclical on Labor and Capital he writes, "The immense number of property-less wage earners on the one hand, and the superabundant riches of the fortunate few on the other, are an unanswerable argument that the earthly goods so abundantly produced in this age of industrialism are far from rightly distributed amongst the various classes of men. Every effort must be made that a just share only be permitted to accumulate in the hands of the wealthy, and that an ample sufficiency be supplied to the workers." The Pope then goes on to insist that there must be a reconstruction of the present social order, thereby clearly indicating that peace is not possible in the present social order. He rejects the program of socialism, and lays down the moral principles which must govern true social reform, demanding the mutual co-operation of all men, whether employers or workers, together with the just intervention of State authority. But his chief point is that the laboring classes have genuine grievances, which must be remedied in accordance with all the principles of social justice.
If all the professors in this world who have devoted their lives to the study of political economy have failed to devise such a technique, why should Church leaders who have to devote their lives to another matter altogether succeed where the economists have failed? You might as well ask why the leading members of the legal profession have not devised a technique for the immediate destruction of cancer throughout the world.
It is not possible to give here an adequate answer to so general a question as that. However, I can give a brief indication of the direction along which genuine reforms should move. I would suggest a Co-operative State, with vocational groups carrying on all present necessary works and businesses, and taking over many of the functions the State has taken upon itself. The State should give more time to regulation, and less to enterprises it has tended to assume and control. A redistribution of wealth is necessary by lifting wages from their actual condition to those necessary for a decent living, with opportunities of comfort and culture. Wages must not be sacrificed to profits—profits must, if anything, be sacrificed to wages. The first charge of an employer should be the persons of his employees. The business should be run for the employee as well as for the employer. State authority, and the functions of capital and labor, will have to exist, of course, in any form of society. But, in the "Co-operative State" all three would undergo modifications in the direction of a better distribution of this world's goods, a greater respect for human personality, and general contentment and happiness.
The basic principles upon which any sound policy of reconstruction must rest are clearly set out in that Encyclical.
A solution based on the principles of the Pope's Encyclical would be more practical than an attempt based on the doctrines of Karl Marx precisely because the Catholic solution is Christian and adapted to the full requirements of human nature. As a matter of fact the principles of Karl Marx can never lead to a solution of social evils. They can end only in causing greater social evils than those they are intended to remedy, for they are based upon a wrong interpretation of history, an erroneous philosophy of human nature, and a fatal divorce from God, the very Author and supreme Master of the human race. Such fundamental errors cannot but vitiate a system built upon them. And those who are not blind can detect the evil effects already manifest where attempts have been made to apply the principles of Karl Marx.
Father Martindale expresses that opinion. He absolutely denies the truth and value of the Communist theory, of course. It is based on wrong premises, and ends in disastrous results. But, granting that its views of life in terms of the material, mechanical, and complete irreligion, are false, it is true that the wrong theories of Communism have been more carefully elaborated than any other non-Catholic philosophies, and more fervently reduced to practice. Others scarcely know what they want, and still less how to get it. Communists know what they want, and are not in the least undecided as to the means they should adopt. But they want the wrong thing, and in any case will never realize their own ideals, erroneous as they are.
The Catholic interpretation of life insists on full recognition of all the elements making up the human personality, material, intellectual, and spiritual; it declares that the end or destiny to be attained by man is not temporal and confined to this world only, but eternal and linked with the very happiness of God in heaven; and it demands that man should take the means both for his temporal welfare in this world, and for the attaining of his eternal destiny in heaven.But, as the eternal is more important than the temporal, heaven above earth, and the intelligent soul nobler than the material body, so all earthly concerns must be subordinated to eternal and spiritual principles, and regulated in the light of those principles. Christ Himself put the great question which is fundamental in the Catholic interpretation of life, "What doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his own soul?" Matt. XVI., 26. And St. Ignatius Loyola gave the practical application when he said, "Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God, and by this means to save his soul. All else on the face of the earth is to help man attain this end. Therefore man should use things insofar as they help him to this end, and avoid them insofar as they are a hindrance."Whilst men, then, must bestow reasonable attention upon the problems of this world, they must not exclude attention to the more important religious, spiritual and eternal principles. If they do, they will not attain even the purely earthly happiness they seek.
They contain the principles of a new social order, but when it comes to a question of hours of labor, rates of wages, economic planning and similar matters, there are all kinds of practical applications which remain to be made. But the work of adaptation won't go on until people become familiar with the principles laid down by the Pope in order to apply them for the regulation of both rights and duties in domestic, national and international life. In a recent discourse M. Van Zeeland, the Prime Minister of Belgium, said, "I do not know any doctrine which by its coherence, definiteness, and adaptability gets to such close grips with reality as that of the Encyclical "Quadragesimo Anno." After a careful and detached study of the leading economic and social doctrines elaborated in the last century, I have reached the conclusion that none of them keeps abreast of the facts, or is sufficiently broad to satisfy aspirations which, one after another, the nations experience today. I do not pretend that in the Encyclical you will find a literal solution of all our economic and social difficulties. Far from it. What I am convinced of, however, is that the general indications it contains give us the most reliable guide and the most coherent body of doctrine at present existing in the world." Those words of the Belgian Prime Minister are well worth our attention.