SI R, Thank you for your editorial on Mater et Magistra. Repeatedly in the encyclical the Pope urges and insists that Catholic Social Doctrine must be translated into action. He says, "Formal instruction. to be successful. must be supplemented by the students' active co-operation in their training. They must gain an experimental knowledge of the subject, and that by their own positive action.".
In the same issue (2017/62) you give a report of the good influence of the encyclical. There, and in other reports, we read of positive action in Chile, Brazil, India, and elsewhere.
Here we have the splendid job of the C.T.S. printing the encyclical at 1 s. 6d. and selling 48,000, and admirable coverage by Catholic publications. But of organised application there seems nothing to report.
like the chap who thought that "Lenten Alms" was the name of a pub, many of us have our blind spots. A common one is that our social doctrine is only for the kind of Catholic found in the Catholic Social Guild.
"We must reaffirm most strongly that this Catholic social doctrine is an integral part of the Christian conception of life," is what Pope John has to say about this, and, "We urge that such teaching be extended by regular, systematic courses in Catholic schools of every kind, especially in seminaries.
"It is to be inserted into the religious programmes of parishes and of Associations of the Lay Ai-simulate. It must be spread by every modern means at our disposal."
Some, like Pierre Chouard, President General of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, took these words to heart. Dealingwith the importance of Mater et Magistra he wrote, "It ought to be known in its exact wording, and not by simple extracts, by every member of our Society".
If everyone, clerical and lay, moved by these virtual commands of the Pope, had reacted according to station and obligation, there would have been far greater sales of the encyclical, and application of its directives.
One thinks of the priest of Kerala, who, with the approval of his bishop, led his people in a 500mile march to protest against unfair distribution of land and property.
This was reported in the April "Catholic Gazette" where the editor, under the caption "A resounding silence", wrote of Mater et Magistra, "It was described as 'Stimulating', 'a call to action', 'a new charter that concerns every Catholic'. Where has it gone in this country? Into the seminaries, no doubt, to be studied piously, and there will be the rare parish group who will obey the Pope and sit down to see, judge, and act upon it.
"But of any general interest in the social teaching of the Church there is little sign in this land at least."
And there seems to be little improvement since this was written. Here is a challenge that cannot be ignored, especially by members of the Catholic Social Guild, the most able among us to lead in organised practical application of the principles they know so well.
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