Liverpool oard's Analysis
Not A Political Movement
[The following plain and full analysis of the meaning of Catholic Action has been. issued by the Liverpool Archdiocesan Board of Catholic Action.
The paper not only explains the movement in general terms but enters into the detailed ways in which it is proposed to apply it in one diocese.1 i. WHAT IS CATHOLIC ACTION?
Catholic Action is the participation of the laity, in a specially organised and directed manner, in the work of the Church. It is the official organisation of the Catholic laity to enable them to take their part and assist the clergy in the work of the Church. EXPLANATION.
(1) Laity. Priests and Nuns have their own specific work in the Church, but Catholic Action is essentially for tho laity.
(2) Participation_ Catholics are not, merely to enjoy the advantages of membership of the Church but they are to give their service and actually take part in the work as far as compatible with their state of life. (3) Work of the Church. The work of the Church is spiritual. Lo bring all men to the knowledge, love and service of God. (4) Specially organised. In order to prevent dissipation of effort on the part of individuals and societies, the Church, through Catholic Action, :tints at co-ordinating the apostolate of the laity under the direct guidance of parish priests, the bishops, and the Holy See.
ii. WHAT IS THE OBJECT OF CATHOLIC ACTION?
In general, the object of Catholic Action is to co-operate with the clergy in bringing all men to the knowledge, love, and service
The methods to be adopted to attain this general end will differ according to the circumstances and problems of each place. The methods to be adopted in a Christian country will differ from those in a non-Christian country. The bishops of England and Wales have indicated that
they consider the three chief problems with which we are faced in these countries arc: (1) The preservation el the faith of Catholics and the reclaiming of lapsed Catholics; (2) The bringing of the knowledge of the faith to those still outside the Church; (3) The solution of the Social Problem.
In thc Archdiocese of Liverpool it is proposed to deal with these problems as follows: CATHOLIC PRESERVATION. By intensifying Catholic life and ideals.
(1) By a Deeper Knowledge of The Faith. The Christian Doctrine Confraternity is to be established in every parish.
(2) by promoting the Sanctification of the Family and the Home.
(3) By urging the Sanctification of the Sunday—attendance at Mass, Benediction, ete.
(4) By promoting Confraternities.
(5) By the promotion of the Retreat Movement--especially among adolescents. (6) 13y encouraging the reading of the Catholic Press (newspapers, magazines, C.T.S. pamphlets etc.).
(7) By closer attention to the Youth Movement.
CATHOLIC EXTENSION (the spreading of the Faith) through
(a) The Catholic Truth Society. lf possible a C.T.S. Box is to be erected in every parish. Note. The Association of Box Tenders is encouraged.
(b) The Catholic Evidence Guild. (i) Outdoor Work is Encouraged in every town of the Archdiocese as far as discretion allows.
(ii) Indoor Work. The scope of the C.E.G. is to be enlarged and at the request of the Archbishop the Guild is to train teachers for the Christian Doctrine Confraternity. (c) The Secular Press. The secular l'ress is to be encouraged to co-operate in the work of re-Christianising Society.
(d) Prayer. The need of prayer for spreading the faith is stressed. In many parishes, perhaps, little more can be done for Catholic Extension than to pray.
In these circumstances Catholic Action shall promote prayer more particularly especially for the Conversion of England. The Guild of Our Lady of Ransom is recommended.
CATHOLIC SOCIAL ECONOMIC ACTION— the solution of the Social Problem, by the knowledee. development and dissemination of Catholic social principles and by practical social action.
(I) 77te enlhotie Social Guild.
(a) Study Clubs.
(b) Public Lectures on Social Questions. .(e) Diffusion of copies of the encyclicals and pamphlets on the Social Question— amongst Catholics and non-Catholics. (11) The Public Set-vice Committee—for encouraging Catholics to take part in public life.
(Ill) Social (Person.al) Service. (a) The St. Vincent de Paul Society and Ladies of Charity, for Parish Work. (b) A Social Bureau in each town, and as far as may be desirable in earls of the larger parishes, or deaneries—for giving advice on unemployment assistance, insurance, rent, pensions, esc.
(IV) Liturgical .4eticrri -to promote the social or corporate worship of God.
iii. WHY IS CATHOLIC ACTION NECESSARY?
(1) Participation of the laity in the work of the Church is necessary because it has become impossible for the clergy to deal single-handed with the widespread indifference to religion, and because for priests access to those lacking interest in religious matters becomes more and more difficult. Moreover, the difficulty is increased in many countries by a shortage of clergy. (3) Catholic Action is necessary to unite
the Catholic laity in the fight of the Church against the enemies of God and religion.
iv. IS CATHOLIC ACTION AN OBLIGATION?
Upon the Catholic Body or Upon Each Individual Catholic? (1) The duty of each individual Christian to work for the salvation and sanctification of other souls, in addition to his own,
(a) From an obligation to love God. The obligation to love God includes the obligation to love what God loves; hut God loses (desires) the salvation of souls; therefore we must desire and strive after the salvation of souls.
(b) The obligation arises /Dora the obligation to love our neighbour—in so far as we are not only to show our love for our neighbour by helping him in his temporal n'ecessity of food and clothing but we must help !him also, if necessary, in the far more imno rtan t matter of the salvation of his soul. When we realise that everybody is our neighbour, not only those in the same street. town or country, but even those in far off countries we realise what a wide field of apostolate lies before the laity.
(2) The obligation on each individual Catholic to take part in the specially organised apostolate called Catholic Action arises from our obligation to promote the general welfare of society. If, as the Holy Father tells us, " it is necessary that we 'unite all our forces in one solid line against
the battalions of evil, enemies of God no less than the human race " (Encyclical Cari
tate Christi cornpulsi) then no Catholic can afford to remain isolated. " Unity is strength," and whilst as individuals we may do much good, the times demand that we unite and pull together.
V. HOW ARE CATHOLICS TO -TAKE PART IN CATHOLIC ACTION?
(1) By leading a good Catholic life themselves. It is impossible to give others what we ourselves do not possess. We must first be sanctified ourselves before we can sanctify others. Knowledge, prayer, and self-sacrifice will be necessary.
(2) By personal efforts to radiate Christ to others, those with whom we work or with whom we take our recreation or with whom we find ourselves in contact.
(3) By joining a Catholic organisation which, directly under ecclesiastical authority, works for the salvation and the sanctification of individual souls, for the Christian ideal of family life, or for the re-Christianisation of society in general. Those who are anxious to undertake apostolic work of this nature should place themselves at the disposal of the Parish Council. The very soul and inspiration of Catholic Action is prayer.
(NOTE. It should be understood
(I) That the obligation to take part in Catholic Action does not necessarily imply active participation. Those who for some reason are prevented from taking an active and direct part may render very valuable service by prayer and the offering of their daily work, joys and sufferings for the objects of Catholic Action.
(II) That to take part in Catholic Action means that we are to be apostles always, not merely for a week or a day, or for an hour or so each day, but for every day of the week and every hour of the day. Just as it is understood that we must live Christ all through the day, so also we must radiate Christ all through the day. the week, and the year. The apostles of Catholic Action, then, will extend their apostolate to their workshops and factories, and to tith surroundings in which they spend the greater part of their lives. This will be necessary to attain the high hopes of Pope Pius. XI expressed in those striking words: " The first apostles of the working man today are the working men themselves."]
vi. IS CATHOLIC ACTION A " POLITICAL MOVEMENT"?
Catholic Action is a spiritual movement and is outside and. above all party politics. " It neither can nor wishes to go in for any .party. politics, nor to be itself a political party " (Pius XI).
At the same time Catholic Action aims at promoting the well-being of snciety by the diffusion and realisation of Christian principles, the foundation and guarantee of all civil prosperity, and by the Christian formation of consciences which will ensure to the country a band of exemplary citizens for the good of the State no less than for the good of the Church and for the personal and domestic good of the individuals concerned (cf. Letter of Pius XI to Card. Segura).
vii. HOW DOES CATHOLIC ACTION DIFFER FROM RELIGIOUS ASSOCIATIONS AND ORGANISATIONS ALREADY EXISTING IN THE CHURCH?
(1) The object proper to Religious Associations is the personal sanctification of their own members, the exercise of piety and charity, or the furtherance of divine worship.
Catholic Action, on the other hand, aims not only at the perfection of its own members, but also at the Christianisation of all other individuals, of families, and society as a whole. In other words the object of Catholic Action is universal and embraces every form of apostolate.
(2) In so far as the end of Catholic Action is universal, namely, the establishment of the reign of Christ throughout the world, so the means adopted to this end are likewise universal. The means adopted by other associations, on the other hand, are restricted in accordance with the restricted object of the association.
(3) Whereas other associations have extremely varied forms of organisation, Catholic Action is a lay organisation directed by lay folk but co-ordinated with and subordinate to the parish priests, bishops, and the Pope.
(4) Whereas associations are usually directed by priests, Catholic Action is directed, under the necessary dependence, on authority, by layfolk.
(5) In so far as Catholic Action seeks to save and sanctify others, it demands a higher perfection on the part of its members than other associations of which the proper object is the sanctification of the members themselves.