Australian National Movement.
REPORT BY ARCHBISHOP SIMONDS.
MOST REV. J. D. SIMONDS, D.D.
On the 13th of September last year, a decision of momentous importance to the Catholics of Australia was made by the Hierarchy of Australia and New Zealand, ‘when they decided at their general meeting to launch the movement of Catholic Action upon a national basis. Several years have passed since the Holy Father issued a call to the entire world, inviting the laity to enlist in the Apostolate of Catholic Action, the exalted aim of which is to re-establish in society that Christian concept of life which modern pagan forces are openly seeking to destroy. Isolated and inco-ordinate efforts have been made in several diocese of Australia to respond to the Holy Father’s call to Catholic Action, but now the movement is launched on a national basis, and will be organised by the Hierarchy on Australian-wide lines. The action of the Hierarchy is a welcome response to a widespread and urgent appeal from the Catholic laity of Australia to give them an opportunity of participating in the lay apostolate.
If all that is best in our social life is not to be ruined by the destructive agencies which are actively at work in our midst, no time must be lost in rousing every loyal Catholic to take his share in that apostolate to which he was dedicated in the Sacrament of Confirmation. Our inspiring leader, Pope Pius XL, has defined Catholic Action as ‘the participation of the laity in the Apostolate of the Church’s Hierarchy.’ Enlarging on this definition, which he affirmed was given ‘after due thought, deliberately, and, indeed, one may not say without divine inspiration,’ the Supreme Pontiff says that Catholic Action is ‘the participation of the Catholic laity in the Hierarchical Apostolate, for the defence of religious and moral principles, and the development of a wholesome and beneficent social action. It works under the guidance of the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, outside of and above political parties, for – the purpose of restoring Catholic life in the family and society.
Its programme is so extensive that it excludes nothing that can assist the Hierarchy in their divinely appointed task of extending the Kingdom of Christ amongst men. It is an apostolate of like upon like, of working-man upon working-man, of student upon student or professional men and women upon their colleagues, and is thus an apostolate which is particularly suited to the members of the laity in every state and condition of life. It will extend to the individual, to the family, to the factory, to the field, to the business house, in the office, the trades unions, and even to the playing fields.
The activities of the apostolate have I been summarily expressed by the Holy Father in these words: Prayer, Study, Action and Sacrifice. Every Catholic can take Ms share in the duty of prayer for the ! expansion of the Kingdom of Christ, and ‘ to some extent also he can shave in the privilege of personal sacrifice for the sake of that same kingdom. To the members of the religious communities, especially those of the Contemplative Orders, the Holy Father make a particular appeal for the crusade of prayer and sacrifice to obtain from heaven efficacious aid for the Church in her present struggle. All will be enlisted in the crusade, but the specialised direct action will be taken up by co-ordinated groups of organised Catholics, who will endeavour to spread the influence of Christ’s principles in the particular environment in ? which they live and move. As the purpose of Catholic Action is to supernaturalise the entire social body, there must be as many groups -working for Catholic Action ;;s there arc spheres of human interest and endeavour. In each sphere there will be a group of earnest, militant and specially trained Catholics, who will make a special study of the ideals of Christianity, with particular reference to their bearing upon the environment in which they live, and endeavour to have these ideals accepted and practised by all those who belong to their particular environment. The leadership and direction of these groups will be exercised in accordance with the plan laid down b,y the Hierarchy, and under its general supervision.
Central Central Co-ordinating Body.
It is the intention of the Hierarchy to utilise the newly-formed central National Organisation to act as a central coordinating body for all the existing organisations, and to stimulate the growth of others that have yet to be formed. The Central Organisation will assist each diocese to form the necessary diocesan groups, which, in turn, will organise and develop the parochial units, and ultimately reach each individual.
A sub-committee of three members of the Hierarchy was elected to direct the National Organisation on behalf of the Australian Hierarchy. The Archbishop of Melbourne is the president, the Archbishop of Hobart is secretary, ind the Bishop of Maitland completes the membership of the committee.
The first work to which the Episcopal Committee set its hand was the establishment of an Australian Secretariat of Catholic Action, with an office and all the necessary equipment to carry out the work on a national basis. The members of the committee are pleased to announce that they have been able to secure the services of three leaders, whose eminent qualifications for their important offices, and their well-known zeal for the cause, give great promise for the future of Catholic Action in Australia. The Rev. Father W. Keane, S.J., who is known in every Australian State as a distinguished philosopher and an authority on the social problems of the day, will act as the Ecclesiastical Assistant to the National Secretariat. The officials, of the Lay Secretariat are a)so happily chosen; Mr. F. K. Maher, M.A., LL.B., and Mr. B. A. Santamaria, M.A., LL.B., who have for several years rendered valuable service to the Church as members of the Campion Society, and who wijl devote their wholo time to the work of the Lay Secretariat.
The Secretariat has already begun its work, and is at present engaged in making a preliminary survey of all the existing and potential associations in Australia, with a view to bringing them into touch with official Catholic Action. Communications should be addressed to the Australian National Secretariat of Catholic Action, 368 Collins-street, Melbourne, C.I., Victoria.Australia has at last embarked upon a National Movement of Catholic Action to defend, expand and consolidate the Kingdom of Christ in our own land. May God’s blessing attend the movement.
Catholic Action (Catholic Press (Sydney, NSW : 1895 – 1942), Thursday 20 January 1938, page 21) (Trove)