The Christianising of our Debased Industrial Life


PREACHING recently at Pontifical Mass in St. Mary’s Cathedral, Hobart, His Grace, Archbishop Simonds made striking references to the cleavage between Capital and labor, the degradation of the working man in the” modern industrial machine, and -the splendid hope of the restoration of dignity and decency to the workman in the spirit of Catholic Action which is fast spreading over the world.

JESUS Christ the Workman at a craftsman’s bench is an alluring inspiration for those Christian workers of the twentieth century who are so anxious to Christianise the toil of modern industrialism instead of allowing it to degrade and demoralise them. Those of you who are familiar with the history of industry during the last couple of centuries know that a great industrial evolution—or revolution — developed during the eighteenth century when the newly invented power-driven machines began -gradually to displace the individual skill of the artisan. From this radical development the face of industrial life was changed. The ownership of the means of production passed from the hands of the workman to those who controlled capital, and with this change began most of the economic ills which afflict society to-day.

Dignity Debased.

Unhappily the economic philosophy which dominated men’s minds, at the time, encouraged the unhampered exploitation of labor, and violently resisted protective or ameliorative measures on behalf of the exploited workingman. The worker, in a condition of isolation and poverty, was forced to sell his labor on the cheapest market or suffer the cruel fate of unemployment, and slowly but surely the dignity of man became debased as he was gradually subjugated to the machine. As the victims of this system began to organise to protect their mutual interests, the laborer became conscious of his own strength and of his essential position in the industrial world. A growing chasm between the worker and his employer began to yawn, and there developed the modern state of class-warfare, which is one of the most tragic features of contemporary life. As Pope Pius XI sadly remarked, on the labor market of to-day men are sharply, divided into two classes, as into two hostile camps, and the conflicts between these two parties convert the industrial world into an arena where two armies are engaged in conflict. This line of cleavage cuts right through the whole of our social life, and as long as this condition perseveres society must be continually subjected to industrial conflicts tending towards the violence of revolution rather than to the peaceful evolution of social harmony.

Plan of Society.

Is there any Christian solution for this grave social evil except the gloomy prospect of slavery offered by the exponents of Atheistic Communism? Yes. , The Catholic Church, through the voice of her modern Pontiffs, proposes to the world a plan of society, in which the present class war may be replaced by a reign of social peace based upon the Christian virtues of justice and charity. Pope pius XI appealed for reorganisation of both Capital and Labor within each J;rade or industry by a realignment of men into occupational groups, which would replace the present class-warfare. The organisations that exist at present in industry are all on class lines; they are unions of employers alone or of employees alone, but not of employers an& employees. Wherever men have a common interest in trade or profession, the representatives of both Capital and Labor in each trade or profession should be united in joint occupational boards, sharing the interests of the trade, and meeting regularly for discussion on all points of disagreement, and for the purpose of promoting their mutual interests and this common good of all those affected by the industry.


All the occupational unions in any country would naturally be federated into a National Council of Co-operation, which would possess a large measure of autonomy in planning the economic life of its particular occupation. These autonomous unions would be able to defend the interests of all those who had any stake in the particular calling, and resist the growing tendency of the State to arrogate to itself the right of complete control. Just as every citizen in our present regime must belong to some political electorate, and be a member of some municipality, so he would belong to some occupational group or other, according to the profession or calling he pursues or according to his interests.

Pope Pius XI thus envisaged a society organically reformed and reestablished upon a true social basis, whose members co-operate for their mutual benefit in a spirit of social justice, while the soul of the whole order is charity, combined with a recognition of the dignity and the rights of man.

Human Dignity.

As a first step in implementing this Christian organisation of social and industrial life, the Popes have appealed for a recognition of the inherent worth and dignity of human labor, so that the workingman may enjoy that measure of self-respect and social esteem that is due to him. In the days of the individual artisan, whose skill produced the finished product of his particular trade, labor was invested with a radiance of its own, and appealed to the tradesman as a thing of joy. But in the mass production methods of our machine age, with its minute division of labor amongst factory “hands,” the workman has tended to become a mere appendage to the machine, and it generally happens that the repetition of monotonous and uninspiring actions is all that is required of him in his daily toil.

Is it possible to idealise or even to Christianise the soulless mechanism of modern industrial life ? Yes. Even those who take no account of the spiritual nature of man and his supernatural destiny must realise that when man is incorporated into a vocational organisation of production, such as is envisaged by the Pope, his relation to society is immediately elevated. He is no longer applying himself to his toil merely as a means of providing himself with the necessities of life, but is also conscious that the fruit of his labor is of value to the community. The usefulness which members of mast of the professions render to society is obvious to us. For example, we feel a sense of obligation and of gratitude to the medical man whose professional skill assists us to regain our health after a serious illness, and it is more or less apologetically that we offer him our fee, for his service to us is not something that can be, equated to a money value.

Under the workingman’s contribution to society is similarly realised, he has not attained to that position in society which the dignity of human labor demands. But when he is incorporated as an essential member in a vocational organisation of production, he will cease to figure in society as one who sells his labor as a mere wage-earner in order to keep body and soul together, and the social character and usefulness of his labor will be recognised in the community.

Young Christian Workers.

But for the Catholic there is something much more elevated and spiritual in the Young Christian Workers’ movement which began in Belgium about fifteen years ago, and which is fast spreading to most civilised countries. The members of this virile, organisation have taken their inspiration from Christ the Worker at His carpenter’s bench. In this lofty concept all human industry is capable of offering worship and glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost.

St. Justin tells us that Jesus Christ at His carpenter’s bench fashioned the raw material of timber into simple works of his craft, such as ploughshares and yokes, which supplied some humble human need. As a lowly carpenter He was thus continuing, extending, and evolving the creative work, by which as the Word of God He created the universe at the beginning of time. In his characteristic fashion Papini asks us to imagine how, as the pale shavings curled beneath His plane, or the sawdust dropped to the ground to the strident rhythm of His saw, He must have thought that it is a law of life that all base material must be transformed and refashioned if it is to become the useful friend of man.

Soon He would leave His bench, where He labored on base matter, to toil for souls. But the same principle would guide His work in the realm of the spirit. For just as a. plough-share was fashioned by Him from the gnarled and twisted trunk of an olive tree, as also the most hardened and unregenerate soul can be transformed by the discipline of grace into a being fit for the Kingdom of Heaven. The young Christian worker, conscious of his incorporation into Christ by grace, proclaims that work is not a curse or a slavery, but is a co-operation and collaboration With the Creator of our race. This is a refreshing conception of life and labor. It has already proved to be a veritable revolution, for these young men have already succeeded in giving a mystic significance even to the whirring wheels of modern industrialism.

Catholic Ideal.

This is the spirit of Catholic Action. I exhort everyone who wishes to see the Christianising of our debased industrial life to pray for and to work for the expansion of these ideals. What new grounds for hope are here! The new order for which the Popes have appealed has its heralds in these young Catholic Actionists who are determined to bring to bear uppn their daily toil the religion of Jesus the Carpenter.


The Christianising of our Debased Industrial Life (Southern Cross (Adelaide, SA : 1889 – 1954), Friday 29 March 1940, page 7) (Trove)

Peter’s Pence and Catholic Action

His Grace the Archbishop of Sydney, Most Rev. Dr. M. Kelly, has issued the following Pastoral Letter to the clergy, religious and laity in connection with Peter’s Pence and Catholic Action, which was read in the churches of the Archdiocese on Sunday last.

Beloved in Christ,

Being by the inestimable gift of Divine Grace living members of the Catholic Church, that is, of the Mystic Body of the Divine Redeemer, we contribute according to our means towards the support of our Pastors, including the Supreme Pastor, who, as Successor to St. Peter, governs the entire Church in Faith, Morality and Discipline. So, year by year, we collect ‘Peter’s Pence,’ fixing for our offering the Feast of St. Peter in Chains. This will prove acceptable to our recently elected Pope — His Holiness Pius XII. — as it was to each of his predecessors in our own days, Leo XIII., Pius X., Benedict XV., and Pius XI. God’s blessing enables us and Sunday, August 6, will be the date for offerings.

The Lay Apostolate of Catholic Action, promulgated by Pope Pius XI., is sought for by his Successor, as needed in all grades of society domestic, industrial, civil and international. Let us assure the Holy Father of devoted and practical co-operation. Three things are required: —

1. A full and accurate knowledge of the Apostles’ Creed, of the Commandments of God and of the Church, of the Seven Sacraments, of the Lord’s Prayer, Hail Mary; also instruction on the approved practices of piety, particularly the hearing of Holy Mass, and Devotions to the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar — reception of Holy Communion, Processions, Visits, etc.

2. Membership of Particular Groups for study and educational proficiency; co-operation in Catholic activities, reunions, etc., under the guidance of the Clergy, and according to the Papal Encyclicals.

3. Organisation of a Parochial Union to assemble now and then, as will be found useful. All upholders of ‘Catholic Action’ are expected to join this Parochial Union. Membership of any other approved Association is no hindrance, but rather a desirable qualification. This postulates a Diocesan Secretariate from the start. All will look to and uphold it.

Fundamental Points.

To the studious we recommend as fundamental doctrine the Syllabus of Condemned Propositions issued by Pope Pius IX. Therein Rationalistic errors, Secular State Supremacy, etc., are clearly defined and repudiated. Pope Leo XIII. and each succeeding Pope manifested conspicuously that the divinely predicted ‘light of the world and salt of the earth’ (Matt. v. 13:14) ever enhances the Chair of Peter in its teaching upon religious belief, upon Gospel morality and upon Ecclesiastical discipline. In the first century the Apostle of the Gentiles instructed Titus in the following terms: ‘For the grace of God our Saviour hath appeared to all men: Instructing us, that, denying ungodliness and worldly desires, we should live soberly and justly and godly in this world. Looking for the blessed hope and coming of the glory of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity and might cleanse to himself a people acceptable, a pursuer of good works. These things speak and exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.’ So Pope Pius XI., in his first Encyclical, sets forth as a primary consideration to procure the Peace of Christ we must establish the Reign of Christ.

The Reign of Christ will be understood best by His parables and public teaching. In the Sermon on the Mount we read: ‘No man can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one and love the other; or he will sustain the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say to you, be not solicitous for your life, what you shall eat, nor for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than the meat and the body more than the raiment? Behold the birds of the air, for they neither sow, nor do they reap nor gather into barns: and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not you of much more value than they? And which of you by taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? And for raiment, why are you solicitous? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they labor not, neither do they spin. But I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed as one of those. And If the grass of the fleld, which is to-day and to-morrow is cast into the oven, God doth so clothe: how much more you, O ye of little faith? Be not solicitous therefore, saying. What shall we eat: or, What shall we drink, or Wherewith shall we be clothed? For after all those things do the heathens seek. For your Father knoweth that you have need of all those things. Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God and his justice: and all these things shall be added unto you.’ (Matt. vi. 24-33.)

The Good Shepherd.

The Kingdom of Christ is in this world but is not of this world in riches, honors and pleasures. He declared: ‘I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd giveth his life for his sheep. But the hireling and he that is not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming and leaveth the sheep and flieth: and the wolf catcheth and scattereth the sheep. And the hireling flieth, because he is a hireling: and he hath no care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd: and I know mine, and mine know me. As the Father knoweth me, and I know the Father: and I lay down my life for my sheep. And other sheep I have that are not of this fold: them also I must bring. And they shall hear my voice: and there shall be one fold and one shepherd. Therefore doth the Father love me: because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No man taketh it away from me: but I lay it down of myself. And I have power to lay it down: and I have power to take it up again. This commandment have I received of my Father.’ (John x, 11-18.)

The Clergy are called by God as ‘other Christs’: let us then embrace the favor accorded to us by the institution of a Lay Apostolate through Catholic Action. We shall by the grace of God take particular cognisance of our flock — both individually and by families. According to the actual classifications, childhood, youth, manhood and womanhood, we have to watch the dangers consequent upon Original Sin, and all scandals to faith and morals. In families we should by every means foster piety and edification, and we should by prayer and instruction promote immediate regeneration by Baptism, the taking of the name of a Patron Saint, good books and Catholic news papers to the exclusion of books, periodicals and pictures offensive to Faith and Morals. Parents and teachers are to prevent scandals at any cost. ‘Whosoever shall scandalise one of these little ones that believe in me: it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck and he were cast into the sea. And if thy hand scandalise thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life, maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into unquenchable fire: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not extinguished. And if thy foot scandalise thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter lame into life ever lasting than having two feet to be cast into the hell of unquenchable fire : Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not extinguished. And if thy eye scandalise thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee with one eye to enter into the kingdom of God than having two eyes to be cast into the hell of fire: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not extinguished. (Mark ix., 41-47.)

To Our Religious Communities we tender our tribute of surpassing esteem and indebtedness for edification in the following of Christ and for our provision of Catholic schools. To them the greatest share of blessings is promised: ‘Amen, I say to you that you, who have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit on the seat of his majesty, you also shall sit on twelve seats judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath left house or brethren or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold and shall possess life ever lasting.’ (Matt. xix. 28-29.)

Self-Denial of inordinate affections for riches, pleasures and honors; also privations and sufferings are to be patiently accepted in the performance of duty as wisely chosen instead of self-indulgence, because the Cross of Christ Himself will be thus shared in, and the peace of Christ secured to mind and heart even in ‘this valley of tears.’ By the Cross and by it alone, borne in the cause of holiness and in union with the Divine Saviour and all the Saints can the children of Adam regain the happiness of Heaven. In the cause of Catholic Action let us one and all devotedly hear the call of One True Church.

Your devoted Servant,

MICHAEL, Archbishop of Sydney.

St. Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney,

July 30, 1939.

P.S.: This letter is to be read on Sunday, 30th of July. The Peter’s Pence offerings are to be collected on Sunday, 6th of August, and sent to St. Mary’s Cathedral Vicariate at once for transmission to Rome. t M., Abp. Syd.


Peter’s Pence and Catholic Action (Catholic Freeman’s Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1932 – 1942), Thursday 3 August 1939, page 31) (Trove)

Restoring All Things—A Guide to Catholic Action

The World Scene of the Christian Apostolate

WHEN an idea takes to itself a body, the result is a revolution.” These striking words of that strange French genius, Charles Peguy, open the introduction of Sheed and Ward’s eagerly-awaited book on Catholic Action, “Restoring All Things,” edited by Rev. Fr. J. Fitzsimons and Australia’s own Paul McGuire. The terms of reference are clear and explicit. “It is not a theoretical treatise; there are already many authoritative works on this subject: the books of Mgr. Civardi, of Mgr. Guerry, of Fr. Lelotte, the collected documents of the Pope . . . and books and pamphlets by the various specialised movements in Europe. Rather is it an invitation to action. To those who wish to do something it says: This is what other people are doing and why they are doing it. Go thou and do likewise.”

The dust cover prepares the reader with a fourfold division of contents:

I. The Governing Elements of Catholic Action:— The Mystical Body, by the Regent of the Dominican House of Studies, Lille. The Liturgy, by Dom Gaspar Lefebvre, O.S.B. The Priest in Catholic Action, by Canon P. Glorieux.

II. National Organisations (Belgium, France, Italy).

III. Group Methods in Four Typical Organisations: Jeunesse Ouvriere Chretienne, L.O.C., Chretienne Bourgeoisie, The Grail.

IV. Formation for Catholic Action, by Paul McGuire.

Inside, however, the original plan has been slightly modified, and a highly informative” and encouraging survey included on “The World Scene of Gatholic Action.” Further, two practical appendices have been added, one on the “Liturgy and Catholic Action,” drawn up by Dom B. McElligott, and approved by Cardinals Pizzardo and Hinsley, and another on “Preparation for Catholic Action in Schools,” as outlined for the Archdiocese of Calcutta.

* * *

The book moves heavily through the first three chapters, then catches fire as the world scene of the new crusade opens out before the reader. The opening chapter, we think, is unfortunate; an excellent study for a theological review, but by no means a treatment of Catholic Action and the Mystical Body suitable for lay formation. The doctrine of the Mystical Body is taken for granted, and Fr. Chenu, O.P., discusses the social aspect of human society, the Mystical Body as the social inspiration of the Christian community, and, finally, Catholic Action. Theologians will read with questioning surprise these words of Fr. Chenu: . . on the whole, one cannot deny the immense benefits of the socialisation of human resources and activity . . . the person finds a greater and more steady opportunity of progress in a more general socialisation of material and spiritual wealth.” Unfortunately, Fr. Chenu does not define his “socialisation.” Suoh statements are certainly dangerous for the untrained youths of Catholic Action groups. One or two paragraphs in this section suffer from bad translation from the French, and are virtually meaningless. However, Fr. Chenu’s contribution is worth while if only for the following criticism of Catholic tactics in the past:

There was once a time when the Christian recoiled before the magnitude of these social phenomena, especially those of the world of labour, wherein machinism had rendered more sensible and more pressing this new collectivism; and so they withdrew into a fearful seclusion. . . . For a long time, far too long, magnificent apostolic zeal was spent in “protecting” the Christian from his milieu, and in creating for him an artificicl milieu, where he could take refuge, and at last live a Christian life, in a closed group far from pagan and perverse influences. At some given moment this was, perhaps, the inevitable last resource, but its strict empiricism would lead us to a Christianity of exiles, cut off from life, from the realities of their daily life, from their status and classes; to a Christianity without grip or audacity, to a Christianity which was disincarnated, that is to say without incarnation, abandoning the condemned and confounded mass of paganised humanity to its misery. This was more than an error of tactics; it was a structural fault, because it was an error of doctrine.

The reason why this attitude was an error of tactics and an error of doctrine is revealed in the following chapter on “Catholic Action and the Liturgy,” by Dom G. Lefebvre. The title is slightly misleading, for this section is really a detailed study of the theological basis of Catholic Action, running to over thirty pages. The author explains the inner life of the Mystical Body and the place of the Sacraments and the Liturgy in the growth of the lay apostolate. In the Christian liturgy the laity participate in the priesthood of Christ through the Hierarchy. In Catholic Action the laity participate in the apostolate of Christ through the Hierarchy. Both are essential manifestations of the same divine life which Christ our – Lord lives on earth in His Mystical Body. This chapter should be carefully explained and elaborated by priest-chaplains for the leaders of Catholic Action groups. Canon Glorieux, of the University of Lille, editor of the “Notes Pastorale Jociste,” official organ of the chaplains of French Catholic Action, contributes the chapter on “The Priest and Catholic Action.” The author quotes the words of the late Holy Father to the Bishops of the Argentine: “Catholic Action, though it is of its very nature the work of the laity, can neither begin nor prosper nor bear any special fruit without the assiduous and diligent activity of the priest.” He then gently indicates several mistakes to be avoided, and explains the function and approach of the priest in the formation of Catholic Actionists.

* * * *

Over half the book is a survey of what is actually being done in the field of Catholic Action throughout the world.

Nowhere yet has it achieved its mature forms. It is in process of formation, of development. It is not a piece of machinery which can be erected here, there and anywhere by a process of manufacture, to the design of a blueprint. Catholic Action belongs to life. It is a thing that grows. What is growing is a new community, a new society, a Christian society. . . . In some places and amongst some peoples it is more advanced: it grows faster than amongst others Each country, each milieu, each local group, must modify its methods and ultimately shape its technique and its organisations according to its needs, its native’ temperament and tradition, its human climate.

The world scene of Catholic Action reveals considerable local variations within the official framework, but hardly anywhere has a completed structure as yet appeared. Catholic Action, however, is definitely in being—in Poland, Peru, China, Argentine, Chile, India, Canada, South Africa, Ceylon, Uganda, West Africa, French North Africa, Jugoslavia, Hungary, Switzerland, Roumania (the first example of Byzantine Catholic Action), Germany, the United States, England, Ireland, Spain, Belgium, Italy, France, and Australia (to which twenty lines are devoted by the editors). Special chapters are given to Catholic Action in Italy, Belgium and France, because these countries have developed more mature forms, especially in the sphere of specialisation.

The principle of specialisation . . . is implied in the most elementary forms of Catholic Action. . . . Further, the Holy Father has indicated the need for specialisation according to vocation, when he has said that the apostle to the working man must be the working man, to the employer the employer. This is not an emphasis upon differences in economic and social status. It does not confirm class-divisions. It recognises the fact of these differences and its influence in the work of conversion, and ft recalls to each man his responsibility to those about him. The employer has no familiar understanding of the worker’s milieu, and he has neither the opportunity nor the experience to make a successful apostolate of it. Similarly, the worker is hardly likely to bring Christ to the employers. He is not himself one of them. The underlying principle of specialisation is this: if the world is to be won for Christ, then each one of us must strive to win his own little world, the world of his daily communications and intercourse. . . . So far from this specialised action confirming class distinctions, it is, in fact, the one way to overcome them: for as each class grows in knowledge and understanding of a Faith made common to all classes, so the common obligations are stressed and enforced with common sanctions. Catholic Action is theologically based on the doctrine of the Mystical Body: we are members, one of another. It is only in the realisation of that transcendent fellowship that the true social unity can be achieved. For the diversity of men, diversity of methods; but it is a variety in unity.

The chapter on Italy is a short history of the Catholic Revival, a story of persecution and struggle, of violent opposition and undaunted courage. The reforms of Pius X. and Pius XI. are outlined, and the conflict between the Fascist Government and Catholic Action briefly described. The section concludes with extracts from the statutes of Italian Catholic Action. The chapters on Belgium and France make fascinating reading, and the development of Catholic Action in these lands contains valuable lessons for Australia. Here the rise and growth of the Jocist movement, which the late Pope called authentic Catholic Action and the finished article, is traced to its full flowering in our own day. The spirit and methods of the J.O.C. have been described time and again in the pages of “The Advocate.” But the present book supplies in English a complete history, with a description of the Inquiry Method for the specialised formation of militants in particular environments. The concluding chapter on “Formation Technique,” by Paul McGuire, leaves little to be desired. It is clear, practical and already familiar to Australians who heard Mr. McGuire’s lectures last year, or who have read his articles in “The Advocate.”

There are no real conclusions to be drawn from the foregoing chapters, write the editors, apart from an insistence that movements and organisations have been described to illustrate the forms which Catholic Action may take, and has taken, in different countries. It is of the essence of the lay apostolate that it is supple and flexible, in which nothing vivifies more than the spirit, and nothing is more deadly than ready-made forms. . . . There can be no question of fixing duties and penalties where everything depends on circumstances, but could there be more solemn words, fitting words with which to conclude, than those of our (late) Holy Father, the Pope of Catholic Action: “Catholic Action is a function of the pastoral ministry, and, therefore, so bound up with Christian life that whatever assists it or hinders it is a definite assistance or a violation of the rights of the Church and of souls”?

Sheed and Ward have done a service to the English-speaking world in the publication of this book, and, although it bears traces of hasty assembling, contains many needless repetitions, and is without an index, it will be for long an invaluable handbook for priests and the lay leaders of Catholic Action.


Restoring All Things—A Guide to Catholic Action (Advocate (Melbourne, Vic. : 1868 – 1954), Thursday 6 April 1939, page 11) (Trove)

Our Philosophy of Life

Our Philosophy of Life. The Christian and the Incarnation. Rev. Father B. J. O’Regan, P.P. (Rose Bay)

Preached the first of the Advent discourses at St. Mary’s Cathedral on Sunday, 27th ult. Taking for his text:

“And their Leader shall be of themselves, and their Prince shall come forth from the midst of them. And you shall be my people, and I will be your God” (Jer. 30:21-22).

Father O’Regan said: ‘Whether we realise it or not, on the blood-stained anvil of the world wars we began to beat out a new civilisation in which there will be either the brotherhood in Christ, or a comradeship in anti-Christ.’ (Fulton Sheen— Mystical Body).

 The Mystical Body of Christ (Paperback) – 9 March 2015 by Fulton J. Sheen

The question is: What have we to offer in the formation of that civilisation?

Various movements are begun and urged for the betterment of the conditions that exist in our social and religious order; all well-meaning, no doubt, and apparently all effecting some sort of temporal improvement, but do they go far enough? Are the originators of these movements trying to build without the foundation?

“Unless the Lord build the house, they labour in vain who build it” (Psalm 126:1.)

Are they like architects who, in designing the bridge, omitted the keystone?

“You are God’s building. As a wise architect I have laid the foundation. But let every man take heed how be builds thereupon. For no other foundation no man can lay, but that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus” (St. Paul Cor.3: 9-11).

The Psalmist’s warning note has not passed with its singing. St. Paul leaves no doubt concerning the foundation; he the architect, in the stormy days of Christian beginnings proclaims: “It is Christ Jesus.”

To-day, according to the ritual of the Church, we are observing the first Sunday of Advent. What does Advent mean? With us it is a time of preparation for the ‘King that is to come.’ In a few weeks, the world will, not from Christian conviction, but because of custom or self-interest, make merry over the feast of Christmas. Is there really any reason for this merry-making, for these festivities, secular as they will be for the most part? “And their Leader shall be of themselves, and their Prince shall come forth from the midst of them” (Jer. 30:21).

Spiritual Starvation

Is this the reason? What do they, a vast proportion of the people of this City of Sydney, know of their Leader and their Prince? Whose responsibility is this spiritual starvation? Can it not be said that at tremendous sacrifice the Catholics of Australia have for nearly 60 years tried, more or less successfully, to keep before their own children who their Leader is and whence their Prince came? We have nothing to say in rebuke. We only regret that our fellow citizens are not marching shoulder to shoulder with us in our endeavour to frustrate the attempt that has been made, under the guise of Liberalism, to destroy Christianity. Bitterly we know that the false principles of Liberalism cannot teach who is the people’s Leader and who is their Prince; and the people are left to languish in their enquiry of God their Father and of their Saviour, the Prince of Peace.

It is the first Sunday of Advent, so the Christian world acknowledges. This means that all Christian people are preparing for the anniversary of the manifestation of the Incarnation – the Birthday of the Divine Redeemer. Now here is the basis on which the results of the new civilisation which emerged from the Great War are to be hammered out – the Incarnation.”

“God left the heavens to remake the hearts of men” (Sheen).

The Incarnation is the most important fact in human history, the foundation of all that is precious in the Christian order. Outside that foundation there is chaos, and destruction awaits those who would dare to build on chaos. “For behold, they that go far from thee shall perish; thou hast destroyed all them that are disloyal to thee” (Psalm 72:27).

Speaking at the Assembly of the French Grand Orient in 1920 a member declared:

“Every revolution had for its object – to bring about universal happiness. When our ancestors proclaimed the principle of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity they aimed at realising this condition. After one hundred and fifty years we see the results of their efforts, and they are not noteworthy. Of Liberty there is not a shred left; of Equality there is scarcely a trace; of Fraternity there has never been a sign.”

This is a remarkable admission from a brother of that fraternity (Masonic) which sent a message of congratulations to the Anti-God Congress assembled in London in September this year. Incarnation, derived from the Latin, means in the flesh. Sometimes, when we wish to emphasise a virtue or a quality in a man, for instance, his patience, we say, in an exaggerated way, he is patience incarnate. By that we mean that the ideal of Patience has taken in him a human form. So when we speak of the Incarnation we mean that the Life, the Truth, the Justice, the Mercy, the Love of God took on a visible human likeness in the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ. Love leads to an Incarnation, hence, God, Who loved man with an ever lasting love, joined man in His Virgin Mother, and the sequence of that union was our Divine Saviour. Christmas, therefore, is the celebration of a marriage – the marriage of God with man – a marriage so solemn, so permanent, and of such consequences as to be the only one the world, without greatly knowing it, will never cease to celebrate.

The Driving Power of Men

What of the application of this great truth? There are many ideologies or philosophies of life which simply mean there are many opinions of the meaning of life: what it is, what we received it for, what is the end and how we are to reach that end. These ideologies make up the ‘driving power’ of men to action. For instance, a man’s object is to grow rich, then everything in his life is subordinate to the accumulation of money. So with the man whose ideology is pleasure, his life is arranged so that everything that touches him ministers unto his god. Today, in the minds of those who make up the greater part of humanity, work – the conditions of the worker and his rewards have become their ideology. The intrinsic value of labour, and the consequent dignity of the labourer, are the measure of worth. Around this ideal fierce conflict rages. Is work the supreme value?

Is the performance of work useful to the race or to the class, man’s ultimate purpose? On this idea of work a new religion is being formed, a religion which is full of high hopes and much self-sacrifice. These people work enthusiastically to propagate their ideas; they fight for them, and if necessary, are prepared to die for them.

We have an ideology – a philosophy of life. We received it when we were children. It is founded on the Incarnation. In the light of the Divine radiance we know who created us, Who God is, what we are for, whither we are going. Taking this to be our view of the primary purpose of our existence, how can we tolerate influences which tend to tarnish, if not to destroy, this ideology, such as mixed marriages or the patronage of schools in which religion is not of supreme importance?

Our race has a genius for compromise; in some affairs compromise might offer a solution of a difficulty, but in matters that concern our faith, “He that is not with me is against me.” “You are not asked to die for your religion, but you are urged strongly to live for it and by it.” (Fahey: Mystical Body in Modern World.) Is it not true to say that with some the joy of possessing a treasure and the ambition to increase it seem to be dead? Are not many of us unconscious of the fact that we hold in our hands the torch which is meant to “illumine the world?” “In him was life and the life was the light of the world” (John 1:4). Yes! and we carry that torch lifelessly and without interest, just as we would carry in a procession a candle that had been extinguished (La Vie Intellectuelle, 1033). That attitude might suffice in an age that has gone; to-day, merely fulfilling our own religious obligations is not enough, we must answer the Holy Father’s call to mobilise. A great French writer said, “We Catholics lose ground, perhaps more on account of the truths which good men have not the courage to proclaim than because of the errors that wicked men have been cunning enough to multiply.”

These are strong statements, hitting the vulnerable points in our armour which is the armour in which St. Paul clothed his Christian contestant. The truth, however, must be fearlessly proclaimed. Souls are perishing for lack of it, souls that through no fault of their own have been robbed of “the light that enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world” (John 1:9). You Catholics know who and what this light is, and when the Great Judge comes “in the clouds of heaven and with great power and majesty” these souls will reproach you with your cowardice and lukewarmness.

Naturalism’s Opposition

This is our ideology – the one that is the product of the Incarnation. Against that we have the fruit of “the civilisation that has beaten out on the anvil of blood forged in the Great War.” Indeed, its foundations are much older than the war, it is Naturalism under the invisible leadership of Satan against the Supernatural which comes from Jesus Christ. This Naturalism has gone through many transformations – Liberalism, Socialism, Rationalism, Atheism and Communism with revolution which to-day confronts us under the guise of the new religion called ’Work’ already referred to.

R James, in his book, Christ and the Workers, says:

To cry halt to the oncoming armies of workers, as they march in step with an earthly paradise swimming before their eyes, requires courage. It requires still more courage to fall in behind them, work a way to the front, and lead them along another route to a Paradise that will prove no mirage. Both these forms of courage will be needed in the days that lie ahead.

But the courage to save the workers from themselves will not be found apart from God in His Incarnation and from His Church. Unless a compact body of Christian workers enthused with their ideology comes forward now, alive to the moral character of the Communist illusion, and conscious of the redeeming power of their own faith, there will be no staying the anti-Christian materialism which threatens to sweep all before it. “And their Leader shall be of themselves and their Prince shall come forth from the midst of them” (Jer. 30:21).

The onslaught might be stayed, its progress checked, as has happened in some parts of Europe, but it is not defeated, and it shall come again in a more aggravated form, unless social justice is established and the riches of the earth cease to belong to a privileged few:

This modem revolution has actually broken out or threatens everywhere, and it exceeds in amplitude and violence anything yet experienced in the preceding persecutions launched against the Church. Entire peoples find themselves in danger of falling back into a barbarism worse than that which oppressed the greater part of the world at the coming of the Divine Redeemer. (Pope Pius XI. Encyclical, Divini Redemptoris).

Here in the words of the Father of Christendom is described the world situation and its dangers. The old order, the order of the bourgeois, is passing; it has been tried, and in many sections has been found wanting. Through the Liberalism, against which, 50 years ago, Pope Leo XII warned Europe. It has betrayed Christ, and manoeuvred the workers into hostility to

the Church.

The New Order

The old order! But what of the new? The new order has arrived. Russia set the pattern out of the East again! The Russian Revolution might not survive, but it has shown the workers their power, and the question is how that power is to be used. If there is any mistake or neglect, if Christians fail to realise that they alone can lay the foundations of a true human order, if they do not have a full and deep grasp of the nature of the evils that exist, and a clear vision of what they want to do, then they can neither reject what is wrong nor demand what is right, and “the last state shall be worse than the first.”

“The aspirations of the people have their roots in a Christian past and they can find their fulfilment only in a Christian future.” (James: Christ and the Workers).

The same writer continues:

To-day the deepest division is not between Capital and Labour, but between Christianised Labour and labour which marches under the Red flag, and the strength of the latter is being exploited by all who hate the Church and the Church’s Divine Leader. Here is where lies the promise of the final and decisive victory. The attack of the middle class on the Church was characteristically of a compromising kind. It was reformist, not revolutionary. It opposed Catholicism in the name of Christianity. Its prosecution was conducted with careful regard to politeness.

But the revolution which the Holy Father in his encyclical contemplates is not of measured forms and words. The workers are realists; there will be no compromise when the opposing forces meet, ’no room for mediocrity.’ It will be a fight to a finish, a fight between men who believe in God and men who don’t. Moscow, Mexico and Spain reveal the nature of the conflict and the mentality of the men who lead it. Listen again to the Psalmist singing: “They set fire to Thy sanctuary; they have defiled the dwelling place of Thy name on earth. They said in their hearts, the whole kindred of them together, ’Let abolish all the festival days of God from the land’.” (Psalms 73:7 and 8).

The Redeemer came “in the fullness of time.” That fullness was realised on the first Christmas night: “He came unto his own and His own received Him not” (John 1:11). Now another ’fullness’ in time has come, and Christ’s Vicar on earth gives the summons to organise and equip our forces for the reconquest of a world which has largely lost God. It is a daring call, but no more daring than the call to the Galilean fishermen to set out under the guidance of the Holy Ghost to conquer the Roman Empire.

The Loss of the Workers

His Holiness Pius XI declared that “the loss to the Church of the workers has been the greatest scandal of the 19th century.” As one helping in the 20th century to repair this scandal, reference can profitably be made to the story of Canon Cardijn.

About 40 years ago, Joseph Cardijn, ordained a priest, returned to his native Belgian mining town. His former school fellows, now young workers, would have nothing to do with him. In their eyes he had sold himself to the enemy. It was this distressing incident which determined the young cleric to dedicate himself to bridging the gulf between the Church and workers, which his personal experience had made so real. They were Socialists. Socialism was the charter of their class, the expression of their faith, the bond of their comradeship, and the symbol of their hopes as proletarians. The Church had condemned Socialism – he had become a priest of that Church; therefore, the memory of boyish intimacies was swept aside, they could have no traffic with him.

That Belgian town was by no means specially anti-clerical. Joseph Cardijn founded the association of Young Christian Workers (Jocists). Speaking of their activities, he said:

I am convinced that we are at a turning point in history. Religion must re-penetrate social, professional and family life to its very foundations, in order that life shall develop and become fully human, and that the whole of society be re-Christianised.

Yes! The young people are the hope of Christianity in Europe. The Holy Father calls them “the advance guard of the Church.” And Cardinal Verdier, Archbishop of Paris, addressing 80,000 of them assembled around an altar in a stadium in that city, declared “that nothing like

them for their Christian spirit and enthusiasm had been seen since the Crusades.”

It is good as well as encouraging to know what our confreres elsewhere are doing; the Christian workers of France and Belgium have mobilised, not to fight, but by their teaching and example to correct the errors and win the minds of those enlisted in the anti-Christian army. That army is an unpleasant reality with its headquarters in Moscow; socially its centre is in the proletariat, doctrinally it is led by the Left-wing intelligentsia in all countries – pink professors and editors, pink radio announcers and unhappily, pink ministers of religion; morally, its policy is hate, as was shown very painfully at the beginning of the Communist regime in Spain, in 1936.

The Sydney Activities

But enough. Here in the Sydney Archdiocese the Papal summons to mobilisation is not unheeded. The Archbishop has erected a Secretariate with a distinguished director. He will give guidance, help and inspiration. Recently we witnessed the inspiring spectacle of thousands of men thronging this vast Cathedral. They came from every walk of life, and many of them came from afar, at the sacrifice of time and convenience, and for what did they come – these thousands? To be as one body, one family, one voice in proclaiming that they believed in God, and that they were prepared to defend the honour and the name of Jesus Christ and to extend His Kingdom. May we not say to them what the Pope said of the Young Christian Workers – You are the vanguard of the Church? The call, however, is not to sections, but to all; and we shall not be putting our requisite strength to the spiritual wheel till every Catholic, man and woman – every Catholic – is, in some way, co-operating.

An Englishman, not always of our faith, expressing his impressions of the Spanish Nationalist troops, fighting to hold their country for God, wrote: “The battle cry of the Legion is as holy as a prayer and as thrilling as a song” (Arnold Lunn).

We have a battle cry that should galvanise us into action, it was given us by our Leader Himself: “I, if I be lifted up from the earth will draw all things to Myself ” (John 12:32). He was lifted up on the Cross on Good Friday. To-day, ours is the responsibility to lift Him up by the lives we live, and to show how His teaching will contribute towards “beating out the new civilisation in which there will be brotherhood in Christ.” “And their Leader shall be of themselves and their Prince shall come forth from their midst” (Jer 30:21).



Fr B.J. O’Regan, Our Philosophy of Life (Catholic Press (Sydney, NSW : 1895 – 1942), Thursday 1 December 1938, page 16) (Trove)

First Principles in Catholic Action

By REV. FR. WILLIAM KEANE, SJ., Moderator of the National Secretariat of Catholic Action.

What is Catholic Action? Why is it necessary? Is it a mass movement? What are the functions of the National Secretariat and what is it doing? These and other questions are briefly discussed in the following article, a summary of an address given recently by the ecclesiastical moderator of the National Secretariat of Catholic Action.

THE Pope’s repeated pronouncements have made us familiar with the general idea of Catholic Action. It is in. the definition which he gave after much prayer, thought and, as he says, not without inspiration, ‘”the participation of the laity in the Hierarchical apostolate.”

I am not going to touch on the theory of Catholic Action. Fr. Crofts, the Irish Dominican, gives an excellent account of the dogmatic basis and theological deductions of the Pope’s definition.

The canonical position of Catholic Action is well set out in Mgr. Civardi’s book, the relevant volume of which has been translated by Fr. Martindale. I pass to more practical points.

First, why is the Pope so insistent on Catholic Action, or the lay apostolate? He repeatedly gives the reason. He says that the ordinary apostolate of Bishops and priests is quite inadequate to the needs of our time.

To quote his own words: “The activity of parish and other priests, however zealous and earnest it may be, is unequal to the great needs which the apostolate must confront in the times in which we live.”

There is a vast body of men with whom Bishops and priests cannot come in contact—apart altogether from Catholics whose lives are coloured with non-Catholic ideas.

The existing spiritual and charitable organisations, for the most part, do not enter the field where apostolic work is needed in cur midst. They either concentrate on the lofty work of the personal holiness of their members—the source but not the end of Catholic Action—or, if their work is external and charitable, in most cases the work of the apostolate is only approached by them in an indirect manner.

The Pope says there is only one way of facing the problem. The first apostles of workmen must be workmen; the immediate apostles of the industrial and commercial world should themselves be employers and merchants.

He says that Catholic Action is lawful, necessary, indispensable; that without Catholic Action it would be a miracle, and a miracle we cannot ask of God, if any practical result or true success were obtained.


Accepting the teaching of the magisterium that Catholic Action is necessary, we next ask what form it is to take. The Pope is constantly insisting that it must be organised and unified. “Catholic Action must have its own proper organisation, single, disciplined and able to control all Catholic forces. Lack of co-ordination weakens the force of the army, and is a misfortune to be avoided at all costs.”

Accordingly, at the Plenary Council held in Sydney last September, the Australian Hierarchy decided to set up a Catholic Action organisation.

To carry out this decision, an episcopal sub-committee was named, of which his Grace of Melbourne is chairman, and his Grace of Hobart is the secretary. -Under them has been appointed, in accordance with the Pope’s idea, a lay organisation, called the National Secretariat of Catholic Action, consisting of one full-time and one part-time secretary, with what is technically called an ecclesiastical assistant attached.

The office of the Secretariat is at 368 Collins-street, Bank of New South Wales Buildings. ‘Phone: MU 1024.

The Secretariat is already aware of an initial and irrevocable error. The staff see that at least a year’s work should have been done in preparation before active operations commenced.

For as soon as the office was opened there began to pour in a stream of requests for advice, help and guidance that is consoling only to this extent, that it shows what an enormous reservoir of zeal is waiting to be tapped’ and, what is of equal importance, what an amount of effort might be directed in a futile and even dangerous manner unless under due control.

The Secretariat has not had time even to complete its office arrangements. It has not had time to take more than the very early steps to an examination of the work to be done and the resources at the disposal of the Church for that work. It has been overwhelmed with calls from all over Australia. In one direction it had to act speedily.

The Pope has specially called the attention of those engaged in Catholic Action to’the need of safeguarding the social and moral conditions of the workingmen, and the Hierarchy have drawn the special attention of the staff to this matter.

It was found necessary to concentrate at once on certain aspects of this question, and to call in all the help available. Without delay certain work was undertaken and, for the time being at least, has been effective. A good deal of organising work has been done in the dioceses of Maitland, Wagga, Adelaide and Hobart. But much work has had to stand over because of the restricted means available.

In Melbourne certain bodies immediately affiliated with the Secretariat, such as the Chemists’ Guild, the Assisian Guild, the Campion and Clitherow societies, little being needed but to point the way in which their help would be most useful.

A start has been made with the work ordered by the Pope in organising in Corpus Christi College groups of senior students who are preparing to study this branch of what the Pope calls the new pastoral theology. The medical guild of St. Luke has, at its own insistent request, adopted within itself a form of organised groups working along suitable lines. Heads of colleges have begun an investigation, under the auspices of the Secretariat, of the best manner of preparing the young to take their place in the ranks of Catholic Action.


But this touches only the fringe of Catholic Action. Though certain progress has been made along developing vocational Catholic Action, the main work, still scarcely begun, lies in the parishes.

This brings us to the question of the priest’s part in Catholic Action, how he is to help and at what he is to help. The Pope, or his approved spokesmen, have unweariedly urged the paramount place of the clergy in this movement.

All Catholic laymen, the Pope tells us, are called to the royal priesthood of the apostolate. But there can be no independent apostolate. Participation, collaboration are the words to be stressed.

Nor can anyone be blind to the danger of a lay apostolate unless wisely guided. The guidance is to come first from the Pope. The immediate direction is to be under the Hierarchy.

“Nil sine episcopo” is primary, and the importance of that motto has, I think, already been learned by the staff in a practical manner. But the actual work will assuredly fall on the priests of the parishes.

To cite the Pope’s words, “The clergy must do their part, because Catholic Action can neither begin, nor prosper, nor produce its proper fruit without the assiduous and diligent activity of the priests. The lay apostolate is the forward movement of the laity to promote, by word and example, the principles of Christian morals and social order within the Church, and, especially under modern conditions, outside the Church.

The work of the lay folk is the huge task of permeating society with the Christian spirit. Such an apostolate demands serious preparation, and only when something corresponding to the spiritual and intellectual preparation of a seminary has been received can these apostles be fitted supernaturally and intellectually for work in their own special environment.

As the Pope says, there -can be no mass movement to this apostolate. The response to the lay apostolic vocation will be at first limited. Groups of leaders will be the backbone of the movement.

The Pope adopts the analogy, familiar alike to Scholastics and Communists, of growth by cell division. Such growth, the Pope reminds us, must be gradual. It cannot be forced. Those who have been trained for the lay apostolate will, in their turn, be the source of inspiration and channel of education for others. The building by cells goes on.

Much has been written, often vaguely enough, in praise of the results won and to be won by the lay apostolate. But behind all success lies the laborious and trying work of preparation.


The Secretariat, bearing these ideas in mind, does not think the time ripe for setting up any new and rigid form of parochial organisation throughout Australia. No organisation suited to the whole country can be envisaged. Conditions vary through the country, and even in the same diocese.

At one and the same time the staff has been engaged in drawing up programmes of preparatory study for workers, two groups of farmers in country parishes, at opposite ends of the State, the Medical Guild groups, and some groups” engaged in the Youth movement amongst girls.

The position is further complicated in Australia by the peculiar manner in which many of our Catholic people have the double status of suitable members of a parish association and suitable members of a vocational group.

The view of the Secretariat is that for the present the steps to be taken are to affiliate those bodies already engaged in Catholic Action and to eliminate overlapping where possible; to make use of existing organisations where their programme includes apostolic work, and to leave it for the present to the parish clergy to choose such members within and without their parish bodies as would form a suitable nucleus for parish associations. It is the training of these which is the main contribution which the clergy can make to forwarding the work of Catholic Action.

With the growth of such cells the need for organisation will appear, and also the best form which such organisation may take. Meanwhile, the Secretariat will devote part of its time to the study of conditions at home and methods abroad so that, when the time seems ripe, the form of organisation most suited to local conditions may be erected.


To make the work of adult education easier, it has been found necessary to draw up a list of topics of wide range, to subdivide these, and prepare courses of study of them. The sources of study have been divided into books of a scholarly or advanced type, books of a more popular type, pamphlets.

This list of programmes has been printed and published by the Australian Catholic Truth Society under the title, “What to Read.” Further, to promote this work, the Secretariat will be able to supply, at any rate in rotation, a number of volunteer lay helpers experienced in work of this type, who will help the early steps of parochial associations and familiarise them with methods. Such relations will also help to later interrelations and subsequent co-ordination when it is desirable.

The next suggestion is that the clergy allow the Secretariat the benefit of their experience and helpful criticism. The staff is facing a new task, in which its theoretical knowledge must be helped cut by practical experience, not excluding the experience of its own mistakes.

I have said nothing about the spiritual implications of the lay apostolate. It is obvious that it calls for the exercise of much virtue among the laity. In particular there will be need of the virtues of zeal, of prudence, of obedience, and of avoidance of the spirit of criticism that springs from inexperience, impulsiveness, or pure human “cussedness.”

The Pope does make one special recommendation, the promotion of the retreat movement especially amongst the lay apostles.

To summarise what has been said:

(1) The work of the lay apostolate in its organised form is one which experience, Episcopal instruction, Papal direction, teach to be of primary importance for the kingdom of God;

(2) that the work rests for its success, humanly speaking, chiefly on the zeal and initiative of the parish clergy;

(3) that the Secretariat, at its present stage of development, thinks that its most useful public work will be done, not in large-scale organisation, but in giving such help and impulse as may second the work of the clergy.


William Keane SJ, First principles in Catholic Action (The Advocate, 16/06/1938)

A Modern Apostle of the Workers


In every age God raises up men to dedicate their lives and talents to the particular religious problems of the times. In this era of industrialism, when millions of men live their lives in the grip of the machine, so inimical to the Christian life, a Belgian priest, Fr. Joseph Cardijn, has tackled the problem of winning this machine age for Christ. Pope Pius XI. considers that he is a man of destiny, sent by Providence, and has blessed his Jociste movement, now spreading through the world, as “an authentic form of Catholic Action.”

Brussels is the capital of squat, flat Belgium, a land black with the smoke of factories and thundering with the roar of machines.

There is a gigantic stone figure of a worker standing above and dominating an old warehouse in the Rue Poincare.

Beneath the great stone figure there are the swinging doors of a brasserie. Passing through, one may clink a glass with the railwaymen who gather together after their work. On the second floor is a cafeteria where factory-girls have their meals. On the third floor are offices of administration; on the fourth, 250 young workers live.

Above, there is a flat. It is a tiny apartment, hidden at the top of the building; but it is the headquarters of a Revolution.

In it lives Fr. Joseph Cardijn, founder of the Young Christian Workers—or Jocistes, as they are called.

In Belgium, over a hundred thousand young workers look to him for leadership; in the world, five hundred thousand salute him as chief.

Bishops, priests and laymen wait on his word. Capitalists and Communists fear him. The Pope knows him for what he is. He is a man saving the working class for Christ and social justice. He brings Catholic life and action down to earth. In forty countries is his influence felt.


Joseph Cardijn comes of working-class stock. In the ‘eighties, when Cardijn was born, a succession of strikes and riots swept through Belgium. Factories were set ablaze, and Socialists hailed the glare in the sky as a Red dawn. The country was then, and for a generation it remained only nominally Christian. Nine-tenths of the boys and girls starting work in factories at the age of fourteen gave up all religious practice within a few months. In the wake of oppression, injustice and the machine followed a tidal wave of immorality.

In the words of the Pope, “multitudes of workers sank into the same morass; all the more so because very many employers treated their workers as tools.” “The mind shudders,” continues the Pope, “at the frightful perils to which the morals of workers and the virtues of girls are exposed in modern factories. . . . Bodily labour has everywhere been changed into an instrument of strange perversion; for dead matter leaves the factory ennobled and transformed, where men are corrupted and degraded.”


The working-class of Belgium had not within itself the seed of renewal. Unwittingly, unconsciously almost, workers slipped into socialism or slunk into despair.

Meanwhile Cardijn grew up, and, entering upon his studies for the priesthood, vowed his life to the service of his own people, the proletariat. While still in the seminary, he saved sufficient to visit England and study there the co-operatives and the trade union movement.

Upon his ordination, he taught for a few months at the University of Louvain; but as early as 1911 he was busy in the industrial parish of Laeken, near Brussels, with a group of young workers, some of whom could neither read nor write, studying wages, hours, holidays and housing, the whole working-class environment. He had set out to understand the world he wished to change.

Already, another great priest had founded the A.C.J.B., the Catholic Young Men’s Society of Belgium. Unlike Cardijn’s group, this association studied apologetics and social doctrine in the abstract, gathering young men from all ranks and classes of society, and holding their interest by sport, a sort of study and entertainment. It was a defensive organisation; it tried to keep men good by sheltering them from a cold, bad world.


Cardijn, meanwhile, pursued a plan radically different; he specialised. Selecting only those who shared the same social interests, who spoke, thought, worked and lived in the same milieu or environment, he grouped young industrial workers for the purpose of studying, and penetrating and converting sections of the working-class no longer Christian. He gathered, but did not isolate, his workers in order to launch the attack for social justice. He flung good apples into a heap of bad apples, and the bad apples became good. The war checked everything. Advancing down the Meuse, the Germans took Liege and laid waste the countryside. Both organisations virtually disappeared. When at last, with the armistice, release came, Fr. Cardijn was appointed director of social works in Brussels, and at once began building a strong union of young workers-La Jeunesse Syndicaliste. But from the new post his eyes greeted a greater vision; he realised that nothing less than a nation-wide, indeed a worldwide, movement of young workers could secure the working masses for Christ, the Sun of Justice. Within five years—in 1925—the Belgian Bishops approved the statutes of the J.O.C.— the Jocistes or Young Christian Workers’ Movement. Shortly afterwards, others were adopting his methods and doctrine, and adapting their activities and constitutions. By 1927 the whole Catholic Youth Movement of Belgium specialised—adapted itself to the various milieux or environments whence its members were drawn.


The A.C.J.B.—the C.Y.M.S. of Belgium—is now a federation of five specialised branches: the Jocistes, the young Christian workers; the Jacistes, or young Christian peasants; the Jecistes, or young Christian students; the Jucistes, or young Christian undergraduates; and the Jicistes, or young Christian independents. Each has its feminine counterpart, and all follow the methods and doctrine of Canon Cardijn and the Jocistes. Let Cardijn put his doctrine to you in his own words:— “Far more than any other social class, the working-class is immediately and directly exposed to the attacks of new-fangled paganism and of militant atheism, which threaten to plunge the world into barbaric slavery.”

In the face of this threat, safety is found neither in false measures nor in half-measures.

It is useless to propose mere exterior remedies, from outside or above the working-class—remedies backed by the rule of violence, material force or the destruction of freedom.

It is useless to propose for the working-class mere interior remedies, whether temporary or economic or spiritual.


There remains only one means of complete efficacious salvation: the remaking of the whole working-class— a remaking, a renewal, at once spiritual and material, temporal and eternal, personal and social, domestic and civic, by the working-class apostolate, by the working-class laity, by Christlike, Catholic Action in and by the working-class.

The whole life, the whole environment, all the institutions of the working-class, the whole working-class and all the working masses must be brought back to their divine origin, to their divine destiny, to the Sole Reason for their being—on earth as in heaven, in time as in eternity.

In every department of life we must strive after the fundamental truth, that from all eternity God has called every worker, every worker’s family, and the whole working-class to participate in His life, His truth, His happiness and His kingdom. Not after death, but here and now, onwards and upwards from birth.

For this did God create and redeem us, incorporating us into that Mystical, Collective Christ, His Body, continuing in us the work of Redemption. In our fellow-workers is Christ poor, underpaid, sweated, overworked, out of work: Christ the factory hand, Christ the railwayman, Christ the miner, alter Christus, Christ the worker.

“Hence,” continues Cardijn, “each worker has an apostolate, his own, his personal apostolate, for which he is concretely and exactly responsible; an apostolate as a lover, a husband, a father, a worker, a citizen. An apostolate adapted to the working class; better adapted to workers than the clothes we wear, the tools we use, or the goods we produce. An apostolate only workers can discharge. An apostolate completing that of the priest, on which it depends. An apostolate without which the Faith and the Church are only a caricature and not a living reality.”


As Pius XI. says: “The first apostles, the immediate apostles, of workers will be workers.” “Their work is noble,” declares Cardijn, “for without work there is no bread, no wine, no chalice, no ornaments, no altar, no Mass, no church, no religion.”

The object of the J.O.C. is to train young workers for adult life on the job as tradesmen, in the home as fathers, in the industry as unionists, and for the apostolate at all times everywhere. The J.O.C. trains men to transform themselves, their homes and their country. It gives them, or, more properly speaking, gets them to give themselves a thorough knowledge of Catholic principles, of Catholic doctrine, especially regarding marriage and social justice, along with a perfect appreciation of technique and a detailed and profound knowledge of everyday life.

These young workers know how to run a movement. Their expression technique covers a multitude of methods and a thousand programmes of propaganda. For example, they issue for workers’ sons still at school a paper called “Mon Avenir,” which prepares these small children in every way for working life. Profusely illustrated in several colours, this paper is an excellent compound of Deadwood Dick, religious magazine, propaganda sheet, and vocational training notes.


As soon as a lad leaves school, he passes into the cells or sections of the J.O.C. proper, and there receives “La Jeunesse Ouvriere,” a paper for workers whose ages range between 14 and 25. The cells are organised and led by young workers themselves, with the assistance of chaplains. The chaplains have their paper, and the group leaders, the Militants, have theirs. By means of 17 journals, the whole movement in Belgium embarks on nation-wide campaigns for more intense religious life, more adequate formation for marriage and for the effective realisation of the revolutionary principles of social justice. Each Jociste section is much more than a Royal Commission. Slums, free-time, sport, social abuses, sweating, low wages, exploitation, saving for marriage, home furnishing, factory ventilation—all are studied continuously, with a view to action.

From the J.O.C., the young workers pass as adults into the Christian Workers’ League.

All three movements are financed exclusively by the workers. All are organised, not on a trade or vocational basis, but on a parish and class basis. All owe their origin and inspiration to Canon Cardijn and to Fr. Kothen, his right-hand man.

The movement is not only Belgian. Already it has spread enormously in France, Holland, Switzerland, Portugal, Czechoslovakia and Jugoslavia. It is established in Asia, and has grown tremendously in North and South America. In England, under Archbishop Downey, it is an essential instrument of Catholic thought and action. May it reach—speedily—Australia!



A Modern Apostle of the Workers (Advocate, Thursday 19 May 1938, page 9)

Catholic Action

Australian National Movement.



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.

Extensive Programme.

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)

Catholic Social Action During 1936-1937


In the Year Book for 1936-1937, published by the International Labour Office, there is a full summary of Catholic activity in social matters throughout the world (pp. 28-35). The International Labour Office was established in Geneva on January 10, 1920, with the benediction of the League of Nations. Fifty-six States have joined the organisation, whose object is to improve world labour conditions.

THE following is a “summary of the summary,” which gives some idea of the Church’s social activity throughout the world, as seen by the I.L.O.


The Bishops’ collective pastoral condemning social injustice. . . . The work of the Catholic Workers’ College. . . . The C.S.G. Summer School at Oxford. . . The beginnings of the Young Christian Workers’ movement. Their work for the young unemployed in Bristol.


The Belgian Episcopate protests against the falsities of modern life, and calls for justice and truth and love and true freedom among the workers. . . . Belgian Catholics assemble at Malines to discuss social, economic and moral problems arising out of modern conditions. They agree on the need for reform of limited companies and the banks. . . . At Louvain there is a fortnight’s congress, at which the importance of curbing financial dictatorships was emphasised. . . . New centres for the unemployed set up by Jocistes.


Messages from nearly all the dioceses calling for goodwill in attempting to solve the social problems. . . . The repeated attacks on social and economic injustices by Mgr. Salieges, Archbishop of Toulouse, by Cardinal Lienart, and by Cardinal Verdier. . . . The efforts of the Jocistes to obtain better wages and working conditions for young workers, and their ceaseless attempts to improve the lot of the unemployed.


The celebration by 5000 Jocistes of their first national congress. , . . The establishment of social centres for the unemployed.


Cardinal Innitzer’s vigorous attacks on those who destroy social justice, and those” commercial firms who make profit out of the distress of the people. . . . The establishing of Christliche Arbeiter Jugend, which corresponds to J.O.C. and Y.C.W., in four dioceses.


The second International Congress of Catholic Journalists at Rome. Cardinal Pacelli, in addressing these journalists of 28 countries, asked them to fight the anti-Christian ideas in the world, among which he included:— “The maxims and practices of plutocratic Liberalism which, ignoring or despising the intrinsic dignity of labour, and considering the worker as a tool for profit rather than a subject for justice, persevere in shackling, or at least hampering, the organised and progressive redemption of the proletariat.”


A feminine branch of the J.O.C. is established, and there are now 46 branches of J.O.C. in the country.


Mgr. Teodorowicz and Mgr. Twardowski call upon Catholics to interfere in social and economic spheres in order to alleviate the miseries of the working-class.


Cardinal Pacelli’s interview with President Roosevelt, at which reference was made to the President’s high regard for “Quadragesimo Anno.” The great celebrations in May, under the patronage of all the Bishops and Archbishops, on the anniversary of the social Encyclicals of Leo XIII. and Pius XI., when the social teaching of the Church was discussed and explained all over the continent, through pulpit, press and radio. The National Catholic Welfare Conference tries strenuously to obtain relief for rural landowners and to develop distributive co-operative societies and mutual credit societies. The Catholic Conference of Industrial Problems holds sessions in Chicago, Schenectady, Philadelphia, Washington and San Francisco, The Jociste movement is started among Portuguese workers.


The Jocistes, under the guidance of the religious authorities, organise relief for young, unemployed persons, and plan means by which their spare time may be used.


A first and most successful social week is held at Rio de Janeiro (June 8-12). There is considerable increase in the general interest on social subjects, and courses and lectures are instituted. The Jociste movement develops strongly in all the Brazilian States.


The activities of the Economic and Social Secretariat, set up barely three years ago, now cover the whole country. The organisation institutes a vast enquiry, in 22 dioceses, into the conditions of urban and rural workers. Under its auspices, a culture week, which deals exclusively with social problems, is held at Santiago-del-Estero.


Catholic Social Action During 1936-1937 (Advocate, Thursday 20 January 1938, page 27) (Trove)

Joint Pastoral Letter

JOINT PASTORAL LETTER of the Archbishops and Bishops of the Fourth Plenary Council of Australia and New Zealand Held in Sydney, September, 1937

Very Rev. and Rev. Fathers and dear Brethren in Jesus Christ,

MINDFUL of the deposit of the Catholic Faith of which they are the chief guardians in these southern lands, and of the Apostolic admonition, “Take heed to yourselves and to the whole flock wherein the Holy Ghost has placed you Bishops to rule the Church of God” (Acts xx., 28), the Archbishops and Bishops of Australia and New Zealand, under the presidency of his Excellency the Most Rev. John Panico, Apostolic Delegate and Legate to his Holiness Pope Pius XI., in these days past, met in Plenary Council in the city of Sydney to legislate for the needs of the Church and the faithful under their care, according to the provisions of the Canon Law and the peculiar conditions of the time and circumstances in which we live. This Fourth Council was fittingly inaugurated with Solemn Mass in St. Mary’s Cathedral on Sunday, September 5, when the guidance of the Holy Spirit was invoked on the deliberations of the Fathers, whose ~first act on assembling was to turn their minds and hearts to the aged and intrepid Pontiff who had called them together and to send him a cordial message of loyalty and affection—a message which brought back from his paternal heart the Apostolic Blessing and words of hope and encouragement for the work of the Council.

Notable Progress of the Church Since Last Council

In the 32 years that had elapsed since the holding of the last Plenary Council vast changes had taken place. With one exception—that of the venerable Archbishop of Sydney—the Fathers of that Council had been called to their eternal reward, and only a few of the priests who took part in it were still living. But the hearts of the assembled Archbishops and Bishops were filled with joy at the rich spiritual harvest reaped in the intervening years. This was evidenced net only in the greatly increased number of faithful, but in the growth of new dioceses and parishes, in the multiplying of institutions of Christian education and charity, and in the permanent shape and character in which the work of the Church generally had been organised. The period was also marked by two events of outstanding importance—namely, the coming of a personal representative of the Sovereign Pontiff, to be, as Apostolic Delegate, a close and permanent link between the Holy See and the young Church in this far distant outpost, and the holding for the first time on these shores of an International Eucharistic Congress which, under the presidency of his Eminence the late Bonaventure Cardinal Cerretti, as Legate of his Holiness, took place in Sydney in the year 1928, and was regarded as one of the most remarkable manifestations of faith ever witnessed in any part of the world in connection with such assemblies. A notable event in connection with the Congress was the opening of the completed St. Mary’s Cathedral, the mother-church of Australia and the cradle of the Catholic Faith in this continent. Six years later the first National Eucharistic Congress held in Australia took place in Melbourne. It was the contribution of the Catholic citizens to the Centenary celebrations of the Victorian capital. The Congress was presided over by the present illustrious successor of St. Patrick in the See of Armagh—his Eminence Joseph Cardinal MacRory—specially appointed as Papal Legate for the occasion. It brought together a great multitude of Catholics from all parts of the Commonwealth and New Zealand, as well as visitors from overseas, who united in unprecedented demonstrations of faith and devotion, culminating in a magnificent Eucharistic procession through the main thoroughfares of the city.

Gratitude to the Pioneers

The hearts of the Fathers were filled with gratitude to the great pioneer Bishops and priests and the generous and devoted laity whose united labours and sacrifices had laid so securely the foundations on which we are now privileged to build. Monuments of their zeal and precious remembrances of their faith and generosity abound everywhere, and their names are assuredly written in the Book of Life.

Among the most encouraging marks and signs of the growth and vitality of the Church in these regions is the development of seminaries and the increase of religious and priestly vocations among the native born. May such vocations multiply, not only as an aid to the expansion of the Kingdom of Christ within our own shores, but in the large mission fields beyond them.

Changed Conditions of Our Time

While fervently thanking Divine Providence for the graces and blessings that have marked the life of the Church in the first century of her existence here, the Fathers of this Fourth Plenary Council feel they cannot disperse without impressing on the minds of the faithful the changed conditions of our times compared with those in which our predecessors lived, and solemnly warning them against the grave dangers to Christian faith and morals which some of. those changed conditions involve. In issuing such warning, and suggesting the means to be applied to combat the ever-increasing dangers to Christian faith and virtue, the Archbishops and Bishops feel they cannot do better than recall to the minds of the people the wise counsels of the present Holy Father, who, in his memorable Encyclical Letters, has, with a master-mind, exposed the fallacies and wickedness of those modern movements that would alienate the people from. God, deny His rights and enslave and destroy His Church—the supreme guardian of Christian faith and morals and the strongest bulwark against the total subversion of our Christian civilisation.

Communism Condemned

Of all the evils of our time, atheistic communism is the most deadly. Against this insidious anti-Christian movement, that has already spread like cancer through a large portion of he body of society, his Holiness has issued a salutary warning and indicated clearly the precautions to be taken by pastors of souls and the faithful in general. As a fundamental remedy he calls for “a sincere renewal of private nd public life according to the principles of the Gospel by all those who belong to the fold of Christ that they may be in truth the salt of the earth to preserve human society from total corruption.” While rejoicing over the spiritual renewal happily apparent in the lives of so many of the faithful and in those singularly chosen souls who in our day have been elevated to the honours of the altar, the great Pontiff expresses deep sorrow over those who remain cold and indifferent.

“There are,” he says, “too many who fulfil more or less faithfully the more essential obligations of the religion they boast to profess; but have no desire of knowing it better, of deepening their inward convictions, and still less of bringing into conformity with external gloss the inner splendour of a right and unsullied conscience that recognises and performs all its duties under the eye of God.” With still greater emphasis on this phase of life, his Holiness continues: “The Catholic who does not live really and sincerely according to the faith he professes will not long be master of himself in these days when the winds of strife and persecution blow so fiercely, but will be swept away defenceless in the new deluge which threatens the world.” (Encyclical, “Divini Redemptoris.”)

That Communism strikes at the very foundations of society is clearly evident from its history in those countries in which it has prevailed or got a foothold. It aims at the overthrow of religion and refuses to human life any sacred or spiritual character, robbing human personality of all its dignity and making man a mere cogwheel in its system. It denies to parents the right to educate their children according to the dictates of their conscience, and, in turn, denies to the children any right to a knowledge of God and the end for which they were created.

Communist Propaganda in Australia and New Zealand

It may be said that in these southern countries we as yet see no such effects of the Communistic movement. That, however, is no guarantee that if it prevailed here it would be any different from what it is in Russia, Mexico, or Spain, where it has used every means to destroy Christian civilisation and banish the Christian religion, Its diabolical hatred of both has been evidenced in Spain in recent months in the slaughter of thousands of priests and nuns and in the ruthless destruction of churches, monasteries and the priceless works of art of which they were the repositories. It has well been said that the persecutions of the Roman Emperors who sought to eradicate the infant Church pale before the savage and relentless onslaught of the “Reds” in Spain against everybody and everything that stands for God and religion. We warn our people, more particularly the youth and working men, to be on their guard against the crafty methods by which this movement is being propagated. The literature that constitutes a large portion of the Communistic propaganda in Australia, and much of which comes from overseas, is unblushingly atheistic, scoffing at God and everything that is dear to the Christian heart. Meanwhile Governments assume a passive attitude, and the daily press issues no warning against this growing evil. The Catholic Church is left to face practically single-handed this menace to Christian civilisation, as she was left alone to combat the twin evils of divorce and race suicide, which have assumed proportions so alarming as to threaten several countries with national decay through the decline both of population and the stability of family life.

Christian Education

For no portion of the flock is the Church more solicitous than for the tender souls of whom Christ said: “Suffer the little children to come unto Me and forbid them not.” (Matt, xix., 14.) “Take the child and bring it up for Me” (Exodus ii., 9) is God’s charge to His Church, and to that charge, thank heaven, she has never been unfaithful.

When the Fathers of the First Plenary Council met in Sydney fifty-two years ago they left on record their determination to maintain their Catholic schools. The State grants had been taken away several years before, and many had predicted that the Catholic schools, like those of other religious bodies, would disappear. The contrary, however, occurred, and speaking of the blessings of Divine Providence on their struggle to maintain religious education, the Fathers said, “God has been largely helpful of His Church during her present struggle. . . . Truly at this moment does this Catholic Church of Australia, especially in the matter of Christian schools, stand alone in this southern world.” Since these words were written Catholic schools and teachers in Australia and New Zealand have increased fourfold, so that if half a century ago one of the outstanding features of the life of the Church in Australia and New Zealand was her fidelity to Christian education, it is much more so today.

We believe as firmly as did the Catholic Bishops of fifty years ago that in maintaining our religious schools we are doing the best service to our people and to the nation, but like them we regret the deep prejudice that perpetuates injustice to our people by denying them, for the education of their children, any share in the public funds to which they as taxpayers contribute. We feel that fair-minded men in public and in private life will yet recognise the justice of our claim. But whatever the future may bring, we know that our schools will continue and that their numbers, efficiency and Christian character will make them growing factors for good in the life of the nation.

The Work of Our Catholic Teachers

And here we desire to place on record our deep appreciation, of the splendid work of the priests, religious Brothers, and Sisters of the various teaching Orders who have so devotedly carried on the work of Christian education in these southern lands, proving themselves equal to every new demand made on them, and reaching a high standard of efficiency, thus placing our Catholic schools and colleges in an unassailable position.

Through the agency of our religious sisterhoods Catholic education has been carried right to the backblocks of the country, bringing the inestimable blessings of religious training and Christian refinement to the little ones of the “bush.” The children that they are not able to reach are receiving religious instruction through the excellent correspondence courses established for that laudable purpose.

Fruits of Catholic Education

The fruits of Catholic education will become more happily manifest with the passing of the years. They are manifest now in our family life and in our splendid associations of men and women such as the Holy Name Society, the Society of the Sacred Heart, and the Sodality of the Children of Mary, which so frequently edify us by their religious fervour and devotion. It has well been said that “so long as the Christian school exists the path to the Church will never be grass-grown.” It is not the Church alone, however, but society at large, that benefits by the religious school. As Pius XI points out, it is men and women so fashioned that promote in great part the good fortune of the nation, for Catholics, if they faithfully and religiously observe the dictates of Catholic education in peace and in war, make the best kind of citizen. The religion of Catholics has never clashed with their loyalty and allegiance to the laws of the country in which they live, and of that truth Australia herself has had sterling proof.

Working for Peace

We deplore the menaces to the peace of the world that are everywhere visible to-day, and we join with all true lovers of humanity in praying to the God of peace that the scourge of war may be eliminated from the earth. After the experience of the destruction of life and property in the World War, it is extremely sad to see nation after nation arming again on a more colossal scale than ever before. We appeal to all to work in the cause of peace and to pray that the blight of war may never deface our own fair country.


The existence of unemployment to the extent to which it is found even in Australia calls for the attention of all who can in any way contribute to its abatement, for not only is it a serious blot, on our social system, on account of the suffering it entails on the poor, but it supplies a fertile ground for the fostering of spurious remedies more dangerous than the disease. It is the duty of Governments and employers to remove as far as possible the cause of unrest, discontent and revolt among the wage-earners by giving them the fullest measure of justice. Workingmen whose paramount interest is in their homes and families have no desire to become revolutionaries, but they must be treated fairly in all respects. Leo XIII and Pius XI. have cogently reasoned on this great social question and have pointed out the remedies for it, but in vain will appeal be made to the mighty forces struggling for the mastery—capital and labour— so long as both neglect the moral and religious bond without which society cannot hold together. The Church cannot be indifferent to the sufferings of the poor. She cannot witness miserable and degrading destitution without raising her voice against it, for she has been set in the world not only as the exponent of Divine truth, but as the friend of the weak and the defender of moral and social justice.

Bearing in mind the needs of the family, the two Pontiffs named urge that fathers of families receive a wage sufficient to meet adequately ordinary domestic needs. If in the present state of society this is not always feasible, social justice demands that reform be introduced which will not only guarantee such a wage, but make provision against unemployment and increasing family burdens. In this connection we trust that a comprehensive scheme of child endowment will yet be established. Such wise provision would, we are sure, do much to remove the temptation to restrict the births that mean so much to national welfare. Meanwhile, for the- relief of the indigent we warmly commend the work of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, and we exhort all Catholic men who can do so to become active members of its ranks. We also counsel our men to seek admittance into the excellent Catholic benefit societies that have branches in practically every parish.

Bulwarks of Faith

The circumstances of our time call more urgently than ever for the strengthening of faith and for the making of ourselves efficient co-operators with Christ. To this end we earnestly recommend the work of the Propagation of the Faith, so devotedly sponsored by the present Holy Father, Pius XI, who will go down in history as the “Pope of the Missions.” Membership in this society is within the reach of every Catholic, whatever be his condition in life. We entreat the clergy to make the work of the society known to their people and to lay special emphasis on it on the Sunday in October of each year set aside for this purpose. The distribution of Catholic literature is a most important factor in spreading and defending the Faith. There is one agency of this distribution in Australia and New Zealand which deserves our heartfelt gratitude and our unstinted support. We refer to the Catholic Truth Society. Priests and people alike should join wholeheartedly in promoting the great apostleship of this society, and we earnestly request them to do so. Priests can help very materially by having the publications of the society on sale at the doors of their churches and by frequently calling the attention of the people to them. The work of the society should also be organised in the schools. We have excellent Catholic newspapers, which we regret do not receive the full measure of support they deserve. Here again we call for the co-operation of the clergy, who could render immense assistance to religion by urging that there should be a Catholic newspaper in every Catholic home. Besides the ordinary Catholic newspaper, those excellent penny publications, the “Catholic Worker” and “Our Australian Sunday Visitor,” deserve every encouragement. It is on our religious newspapers that we depend so largely to defend Catholic truth and action, and; correct the many erroneous and even deliberately false accounts of happenings in Catholic countries that appear from time to time in secular newspapers and other publications.

The Catholic Library movement has recently come into existence to fulfil a long-felt need, and we should like to see it supported and extended as much as possible.

Evils That Cry Out for Reform

We feel we must enter a vigorous protest against two evils that are particularly dangerous to the morals and welfare of the people, and which are a serious blot on the nation. They are the importation and manufacture of contraceptives, which, are openly advertised and sold, and the circulation of base sex literature which is largely used as a means of propaganda for birth control, and which is a powerful factor in corrupting youth. It is useless for statesmen to be deploring the falling birth-rate while they do nothing to eliminate the chief causes of it. While every means is taken to safeguard the bodily health of the young, it is sad to find Governments so utterly indifferent to their moral welfare as to leave them open to corruption through channels which it has the power to close. We uphold the practice of administering the total abstinence pledge to all children at Confirmation and we shall continue it. We desire to encourage the spread of temperance societies and the exclusion of strong drink from Catholic balls and other social functions carried on under the patronage of the Church.

The Home and Personal Sanctity

If Catholic Action in all the important matters which we have enumearted is to be really effective, personal sanctity must be regarded as of paramount importance. “Be ye holy,” said the Lord, “as I the Lord your God am holy.” (Lev. xix., 1, 2.) We therefore counsel the people to cultivate holiness of life by using the God-given means, access to which in our day has been greatly facilitated by the increased number of priests and churches everywhere. Good Catholics will, wherever possible, make frequent Holy Communion and the hearing of daily Mass their rule of life, and the pious family will gather together for prayers in common, particularly for the evening Rosary. Membership in parish sodalities and in associations for the fostering of Catholic social and intellectual life will be a great assistance to our young people in fulfilling their duty to God and the nation, and will help particularly in promoting marriages that will assure the happiness of the young couples themselves and safeguard the faith of their children.

We cannot view without pain and misgiving the reluctance of the young people of our day to settle on the land. Even the number of those reared in happy country homes, built up by the industry and thrift of their parents, who have abandoned the land for the glamour of the city is so appalling as to become a question of grave national concern. Since a good home is one of the surest channels of God’s graces and blessings to men, and since our country homes have always been fruitful in piety and in the service of the Church, we entreat our people who still possess such homes to resist all temptations to part with them.

For the rest, dearly beloved, we exhort you in the words of the Apostle St. Paul, “Whatever things are true, whatever modest, whatever just, whatever holy, whatever lovely, whatsoever of good fame, if there be any virtue, if any praise of discipline, think on these things” (Philippians iv., 8), “and the grace and peace of Our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”

Very devotedly yours in Christ, The Archbishops, Bishops and prelates of the Fourth Plenary Council of Australia and New Zealand.

+MICHAEL KELLY, Archbishop of Sydney.

+JAMES DUHIG, Archbishop of Brisbane.

+DANIEL MANNIX, Archbishop of Melbourne.

+THOMAS O’SHEA, Archbishop of Wellington.

+ANDREW KILLIAN, Archbishop of Adelaide.

+REDMOND PREND1VILLE, Archbishop of Perth.

+JUSTIN SIMONDS. Archbishop of Hobart.

+NORMAN G1LR0Y, Coadjutor-Archbishop of Sydney.

+JOHN CARROLL, Bishop of Lismore.

+JOHN HEAVEY, Vicar-Apostolic of Cooktown.

+MATTHEW BRODIE, Bishop of Christchurch.

+DANIEL FOLEY, Bishop of Ballarat.

+J0HN MCCARTHY, Bishop of Sandhurst.

+JOSEPH DWYER, Bishop of Wagga Wagga.

+JAMES LISTON, Bishop of Auckland.

+JAMES WHYTE, Bishop of Dunedin.

+RICHARD RYAN, Bishop of Sale.

+JOHN BARRY, Bishop of Goulburn.

+JOHN NORTON, Bishop of Bathurst.

+JAMES BYRNE, Bishop of Toowoomba.

+JOHN COLEMAN, Bishop of Armidale.

+EDMUND GLEESON, Bishop of Maitland.

+JAMES O’COLLINS, Bishop of Geraldton.

+TERENCE McGUIRE, Bishop of Townsville.

+PATRICK FARRELLY, Coadjutor-Bishop of Lismore.

+THOMAS FOX, Bishop of Wilcannia-Forbes.

+ROMUALD HAYES, Bishop of Rockhampton.

+OTTO RAIBLE, Vicar-Apostolic of Kimberley

+FRANCIS HENSCHKE, Auxiliary-Bishop of Wagga Wagga.

+ANSELM CATALAN, O.S.B., Abbot Nullius of New Norcia.

+FRANCIS XAVIER GSELL, M.S.C., Administrator Apostolic of the Northern Territory.

+MICHAEL CLUNE, Vicar-Capitular of the Diocese of Port Augusta.

Sydney, September 13, 1937.


Joint Pastoral Letter (Advocate, Thursday 30 September 1937, page 11)(Trove)

The Christian Revolution



SEVENTY THOUSAND young men and women are standing in a vast arena. About them are great machines —the machines at which they toil. To music, group after group is marching in, carrying banners and the symbols of their trades and crafts. Then come the nurses, carrying a huge white cross. A torch is lit. It passes from hand to hand, other torches take fire from it, the lights run out to the far edges of the crowd. It is the light of Christian teaching, spreading from Jocist to Jocist, to illumine the world.

The mechanics make a platform of machines. The carpenters build upon it a table of mahogany. On the table the quarrymen set a flat stone. Over it the girl weavers spread three linen cloths from their mills. At the right hand, bookbinders place a huge book, the product of theirs and the printers’ arts. Miners set safety lamps on the table. The white cross is placed above it. The altar is ready for to-morrow’s Mass. The workers have raised, from the things they make, a throne for God.

In the morning, the Cardinals and the Archbishops and the Bishops of France come to that altar. An old man and an old woman come to it

They are workers, like the tens of thousands gathered there. Between the old man and the old woman walks their son. He was a worker, too. Now he goes to say his first Mass. He is a Jocist, and those who built the altar, the seventy thousand who will presently answer his voice in the responses of the Mass are Jocists.

They are the Christian Revolution.*

The Miracle of JOC.

A year or two after the war, a young Priest in Belgium said to a young workinginan and a young working girl: ” We are going to conquer the world.” In July, at Paris, seventy thousand delegates from twenty different countries knelt before the Altar of the Workers at that first Mass of the Priest who had once been a fitter. They came from the mines and the mills and the ships and the factories and the farms and the offices. All were wage-earners. Most were manual workers. Not one was more than twenty-five years old.

To them, the Holy Father addressed a special message. He repeated that pregnant phrase of his: “The apostles of the workers must be workers.” He has said that their action is “an ideal form of Catholic Action.” He has given them his blessing.

I met, at the C.S.G. Summer School in Oxford, Father Kothen, of the Belgian J.O.C. There is still danger from Communism in France, he said, but in Belgium that is passing. Today, for each recruit to the Belgian Communist parties, JOC makes three. There are 90,000 Jocists in Belgium, 100,000 in France, 500,000 in Europe; and to be a Jocist is not an easy thing, while the organisation itself has only been formally approved for ten years. About one-sixth of the Jocists are “militants,” and each “militant” is assumed to influence about one hundred of his fellow-workmen.

To resist Communism is only an aspect of the task. Communism itself is but a symptom of social disease: of that disease in which, as Pius XI has said, “the whole economic life has become hard, cruel, and relentless in a ghastly manner.” Catholics who see our whole task, or even a major task, in mere negative resistance to Communism are grossly mistaken. We must destroy the disease of which it is a symptom. We must restore health to the body of society. We must make our own revolution, the revolution in Christ. And that is what JOC is doing.

” Jeunesse Ouvriere Chretienne”: they are the words for which IOC stands: the Christian Worker Youth. Christian, notice: all things are centred in Christ, Christ is our Master, the Worker who is Master of Workingmen.

Christians—W orkers—Y ouths.

JOC, though it is the most familiar of them, is only one of five great organisations: JMC (Young Catholic Sailors), JEC (Young Catholic Students), JAC (Young Catholic Peasants), and JIC (Young Catholic Intellectual Workers). JOC is essentially the organisation of the industrial workers. It will be seen at once that the vocational orders, of which the Social Encyclicals speak, are observed here in their true sense. The vocations have each their part, but the parts combine for the common good, are ordered to it.

Last Whitsun, in Paris, JOC, JAC, JEC, JIC, and JMC presented together a parable play. They described in great choruses, the selfishness and violence which destroy the social order. Cries JOC: “The factory doors are shut.” Cries JAC: “No one wants the fruits of the earth.” Cries JMC: ” Ships remain in the harbors.” Cries JEC: “Students fail in the useless exams.” Cries JIC: ” Failures and miseries multiply.” Then all cry together: “Chaos, unemployment, misery, revolution, war. We want to work and to live. Who will save us?” And a voice answers: ” Christ.”

Christ is the Unity in Whom men must live and work, in Whom all vocations, all individual talents, all personal labors and sufferings, all social effort and trial, find meaning and realisation. That is the lesson of JOC and JAC and J EC and JMC and JIC. It is the message they are carrying to the world, to their immediate worlds, to the classrooms and the ships and the farms and the mills and the newspaper offices and the mines.

JOC is for boys and girls between the ages of fourteen and twenty-five. There are organisations for the younger, organisations into which they pass after twenty-five, but one musl leave these aside for the time. JOC is based on the parochial units, in which the Priest is the centre of the group, in the sense that he is responsible for its spiritual welfare. But the officers are all Jocists. The great congress in Paris the other day was arranged by these boys and girls: and, seated in the midst of the Cardinals and Bishops, a young man presided over it all—the young workingman who is President of the JOC of France.

JOC is a school of young workers.

It is social service. It works for better conditions, better wages. It is a representative body. Its reports are valued by the International Labor Office. But, above all, it is an apostolate. It insists not only on the personal sanctification of its members, but on their duty, their splendid task, as apostles to their fellows. It works at the conquest of the workers for Christ.

Its militants are the hard core of the movement. They form cells in shops and factories and mines: they are the nucleus of the parish sections. JOC always begins with a small group of militants. One can see them in training now in England. In the first week-end of August forty young men of Wigan, Father Rimmer’s group, went into retreat. For nearly six months they have been preparing themselves. Father Atkinson has another group at Wellingborough. The organisation has been authorised in Westminster, Liverpool, Northampton, Birmingham. One believes that in a year or two it will be spreading across England, as it has spread across Belgium and France: that in every place where the toiling masses labor the spirit of JOC will be there to remind men again of Christ, Who toiled and labored.

To penetrate the milieu, that is the task of JOC. Tt is a personal apostolate for each boy and girl. You are concerned with tJie man next to you at the bench, the boys who live in your street: with the girl beside you at the loom, the young women in the dance halls. The job requires courage and knowledge and spiritual integrity. Tt is not the least of the great achievements of JOC that it has found the method of steeling the moral and intellectual purpose of the young city dwellers: it has learnt how to waken their enthusiasm, how to instruct their minds, how to nourish their charity, how to make apostles of them. The whole Catholic world can learn from JOC’s technique. In my next article T shall try to give some account of it.


The Christian Revolution (Southern Cross, Friday 24 September 1937, page 17) (Trove)