A SURVEY OF CATHOLIC SOCIAL ACTIVITIES C.S.G. Praised in I.L.O. Review The social action of Catholics is one of the subjects treated in the review of the social year 1935-1936, published by the International Labour Office (The I.L.O. Year Book, 1935-36).
"Social action in the Catholic Church," states this publication, " has developed according to tradition, that is, by adopting the doctrinal teaching to the daily reality and to the special detailed problems of the world-crisis."
The International Labour Organisation at Geneva, set up by the Treaty of Versailles, has a special claim on the interest of Catholics.
It had its origin in pre-war efforts in which Catholic leaders took a leading part, Decurtins, of Switzerland, de Mun, of France, Helleputte, of Belgium, to mention only a few. Pope Leo XIII watched these endeavours with lively interest and was represented at the first congress in Berlin.
When the organisation took shape after the war, it was given a code of general principles for its policy and Pope Pius observes in Quadragesimo Anno that " many of their conclusions agreed so perfectly with the principles and direction of Leo XIII, as to seem expressly deduced from them."
Two priests, Dr. Nolens, of Holland, and Dr. Brauns, of Germany, have been chairmen of the annual conferences of the I.L.O.
Its first director; the Frenchman, Albert Thomas, socialist though he was, valued the aid of the Catholic Church in the protection of labour and secured the attachment to his staff of a Jesuit priest to maintain contact with the Church and with Catholic organisations.
Another Jesuit is to-day on the staff of the present director, Mr. Harold Butler.
The review lays special stress on the papal encyclical Ad Catholici Sacerdotii on the Catholic priesthood.
Though this encyclical was not, properly speaking, a new social encyclical in the manner of "Quadragesimo Anno," its social importance lay in the fact that it stressed the social duties of the priest. In the mind of the Church, the priest's duties should extend to all branches of human activity: hence no priest may neglect the social order, so intimately linked up with the moral. Without necessarily being able to deal with technical questions, the priest can prepare a ground work for the pacification of souls, in particular by personal charity and tact, and by inspiring himself with Christian social doctrine founded on the collaboration, instead of the conflict, of classes. No one can bring out more successfully than the priest the truth that worldly goods are not an end in themselves, but a means whereby every man may realise fully his own value and destiny.
Social Congresses The report then reviews various Catholic social conferences, the most important being the congress of nurses in Rome and the Catholic Union for Social Service in Brussels.
In dealing with cultural manifestations in various countries, and in particular with the "Social Study Weeks" that have become a feature of Catholic social study, the review refers especially to the work of the Catholic Social Guild in England and to the Workers' College.
"In Great Britain," it writes, " the Catholic Social Guild and the Catholic Workers' College at Oxford increased their educational activities for adult and young workers and intellectuals. Further progress was made with the organisation of week-end lecture courses in industrial centres. The annual summer school dealt with the experience which had been gained in Belgium and the United States."
Writing of Catholic Action, the report says:
"Catholic Action pursues its work adapting its special activity to the different conditions of peace and time. By now it is extended to the whole world, even missionary countries feel effects of its beneficent influence. No essential change in its structure was made, but it is noteworthy that its scope is ever more clearly guided by a social character."
A long section treats of the work of the J.O.C. for the employment of youths. Of the J.O.C. itself it records the Pope's words that it is "one of the most authentic forms of Catholic Action."