Mr Erik Pearse's "firm reply" of April II to my letter of March 22 asking what the Justice and Peace Commission does, reveals serious misapprehensions on the whole nature of justice. For instance he enunciates a principle that is entirely new to moral philosophy, that "it is wrong to oppose" (his emphasis) "problems of justice at home to problems of international justice."
Are not the principles of justice universal? How can an official English Catholic organisation such as his presume to lecture other nations on matters of justice which are not merely lacking in its own. but not even assessed as such?
Further. in the international i sphere a most important distinction must he drawn; that while we may rightly lecture them on abstract principles of justice, a great impertinence is committed if it involves interference with their own internal structures. And this is what the commission is attempting.
We must mind our own business and leave others to mind theirs. "Take the beam from your own eye," says Our Lord, "and you will see more clearly to remove the mote from your neighbour's".
Who are we to lecture foreigners how to conduct their affairs when our own are in such shocking disarray?
Let me make clear that I am referring to justice, not to mercy. Our solicitude for foreign peoples who are suffering catastrophe or hardship of an emergency character is honourable and Christian. (The promptings of mercy are international and essentially practical.) Catholic ignorance of basic social principle (to which I referred in my last letter) regarding injustice to the English is our business, and a great deal of modern moral corruption proceeds from it. It is only because we have lived with
this injustice for a few generations that its enormity is not recognised, despite 50years of effort by Distributists.
Africans and others have their tribal lands to which they can retire and live on a subsistence economy (a very good economy) if they tire of the white man's industrialism. The English have no such recourse when industrialism is in recession.
They are made up of two great classes; a property-less proletariat and debt-ridden ratracers; neither class possessing the very first requisite of social justice, namely, economic independence for themselves and their families. They have been dispossessed by Enclosures as have been the Russian kulaks by Collectivisation.
What is there, then, for them when the export markets fail'? Dole? And money becoming rapidly valueless? The Justice and Peace Commission should he the very spearhead of investigation and clear, wholesome reconstruction. I doubt if it is even aware.
To make a just judgment I invite your readers to make a comparison. Two articles appeared in recent weeks in your columns. The first by Mr Pcarse himself (Oil crisis — disaster or opportunity) appeared in your issue of February 15; and the second, by Mr Peter Hunt ("Ireland must not betray the past) on March 29.
While Mr Pearse delicately tills the surface of our artificial economic system with his comments, Mr Hunt bulldozes the whole landscape with his splendid Catholic moral rectitudes, and lays bare the radices of true social justice. Though applied to Ireland, his thesis applies to all lands — England most particularly.
I beg your readers to make this comparison, and to judge whether the Justice and Peace Commission is worth its cost. Harold McCrone Laxton, Near Corby, Northamptonshire.