BISHOPS ISSUE FORTHRIGHT CHALLENGE IN JOINT PASTORAL
The most forthright Pastoral Letter ever issued by a Hierarchy was read in all the churches and chapels of England and Wales last Sunday. The Pastoral broke with tradition in its omission of all devotional passages, Scriptural quotations and hortatory appeal. In plain direct language (at times " almost colloquial," to quote a Times comment) the basic claims of Christianity in any present or new social order were laid down. So concrete is the wording that the Pastoral takes on a political (in the widest sense) as well as a moral character.
The Bishops, having pointed out the grave danger in this country of more subtly-devised attacks on Christianity, comparable in their effects with the blatant attacks abroad, recapitulate the Church's teaching on the State and the Family. They then, in two outstanding sections, lay down the practical applications. The names of these sections reveal their character: 1. " What Christianity Will Not Tolerate" and 2. "The Minimum That Christians Should Accept," the latter subdivided into ten points.
The full text of the Pastoral Letter is given below and continued on page 5.
Speaking to various Parish Priests THE CATHOLIC HERALD learns that there was an absolutely unprecedented demand for copies of the Pastoral which startled and intensely interested members of congregations wished to study at their leisure.
The 'Cardinal. on behalf of the Hierarchy, has issued a statement recommending the special study by clergy and laity of the various points in the pastoral. The clergy are exhorted to preach on it and Catholic. Societies to make it the foundation of their action.
Text of statement on page 5.
The purpose of this Pastoral Letter, issued by the Catholic Hierarchy of England and Wales, is to awaten Catholics to a sense of danger and to spur them to face the perils that threaten society. Time and again the Church has warned us that only by a return to Christian principles can society be saved from ruin.
The Christian way of life is in danger, And we must not imagine that it is only a direct attack on Christian life which we have to meet. There is an even worse danger; namely, that we ourselves may meet Ihe false claims of a pagan new order, not with resistance. not with a constructive answer, but with indifference and passive acceptance.
We know very well that the teaching of Christ's Church offers the only hope of a peaceful future; we know, too, that in this war we arc struggling to preserve our hope that a Christian world may survive. Yet we also know that far too many people in this country either do not realise or are quite indifferent to the real dangers.
Unless we Catholics take our place in leading the way, with the help of all those " men of good will " whom our Holy Father welcomes to our side because they also ' love God and Our Lord," we cannot expect a new national life tobe built on sound Christian
It is over fifty years since Pope Leo XIII first drew the attention of the whole Church to the dangers and evils of the social system, and called for action to end them. Since then Pope Pius XI has explained and amplified the teaching of his predecessor, pointing out further dangers and evils, and urging us to action against them.
Yet although a great amount of apostolic work has been done by laity as well as clergy, the teaching of the Church has had little effect on the life of our country. Widespread poverty caused by this war will probably retard still further the reform of social conditions. And even apart from the war, remedies come slowly, evils are of long standing, and unless reforms are in sccordance with the laws of God they will be useless.
There must be a renewal of the Chiistian spirit of brotherhood which the last few generations of scientific prosperity and " get-rich-quick " have gone far to kill.
Present events should make clear to everyone that there is the most urgent need for still greater effort.
The dangers that have beset the Church in certain other countries are under our very eyes; are we going to let them rise here in our own country? It may be (though we can never be sure) that we shall not see an open attack on Christianity here, as the people of Germany, Russia, Mexico, and the invaded lands have seen. But even in this our country, rightly proud of the heritage it has retained of its Christian past, there are influences at work already destroying the Christian life from within, influences all the more dangerous because they often escape public attention.
We are rightly concerned with a new "WORLD ORDER." But a world order is impossible unless there is spiritual health within each country separately. In this Pastoral, therefore, we devote ourselves to the question of social order and social justice here at home. And we first lay down certain principles which are fundamental. If these are neglected the nation is heading for disaster.
Each human being is unique in the universe; a creature of God; a union of body and soul; a person; with rights and duties; entitled to respect as a creature with an immortal destiny.
There can be no true social life at all unless the family is respected as the essential unit of society. Parents have duties towards their children and they have full rights to all that is needed to help them to perform those duties.
It is the duty of the State to protect the rights of the individual person and the rights of the family, in the interests of the common good, It is not the business of the Church to give detailed answers on how these
principles are to be observed socially
and economically ; she has neither the equipment nor the authorisation But the conduct of men is not only economic and political, it is also a matter of morals. What makes or mars the happiness of us all is the conduct of each of us. And on this the Church is bound to speak out and to speak plainly.
Man cannot live a properly human life in isolation. He can live it only in community with his fellow men. Communities, however, are of various kinds. Many of them, such as associations, guilds, etc., are often useful and at times even necessary for the well-being of man.
But there are two kinds of community, two forms of society, which are not only useful or sometimes necessary but are under all circumstances and at all antes indispensable for the full perfection of man. These are the fatally and the State. Both are societies founded on the natural law.
The State is a necessary institution of nature because it is the embodiment of that authority which must of necessity be exercised over all merely sectional interests for the good of the whole community. This being the purpose of the State, the State has the moral right to the allegiance of all its citizens ins helping to carry out this purpose; so that man owes a duty to the State as well as possessing rights in relation to it, The State, then, exists to promote the common welfare. But the common welfare is the welfare of each and all who compose the State. Hence the State exists for the well-being of man, and not man for the well-being of some imaginary, separate entity, the State. Men as human persons have rights independent of the State and the State has the duty of respecting those rights.
Now these independent personal rights and duties concern above all that other form of society which, as we have said, is indispensable for the perfection of man, namely, the family.
Every human being comes into this world as a member of a family; and it is to the family that he is primarily indebted for those conditions of life which are necessary if he is to grow up and develop properly in soul and body. All parents are under a grave moral obligation to provide those necessary conditions for their children. Where, through neglect or inability, those conditions are not fulfilled, it is the duty of the' State to intervene with a remedy. But such State measures are precisely remedial.
The rearing and education of children remains, above all, the duty of the parents; for it is impossible for anything else to replace the natural, affectionate, individual relation of patent and child; nor can anything replace the educative atmosphere which derives .from the profound pervasive intimacy of family life.
Of strict necessity, no man can choose to be lust an individual; long before adolescence he is affected through and through by the influences of his childhood; and God intends these influences to be conveyed in a good healthy family life.
It is not therefore just isolated individuals who compose the State, but individuals who are already members of a family. This is why Catholic sociology has always taught that the fundamental unit of political society is not the individual but the family. It follows, therefore, that the State has the duty of safeguarding the well-being of families, not for some selfish independent purpose of its own, as a totalitarian State might do, but rather as the custodian of the common welfare of all, for the sake of the proper development and perfection of each.
In promoting this well-being, the State is theiefore morally obliged not Only to respect scrupulously the independent natural rights of the family but also to maintain those rights against the assaults of any sectional intetests which may endanger them.
(Continued on page 5)