Joint Statement of the Philippine Hierarchy
at the Close of the Holy Year (1950-1951)
Constituted by the grace of God and the will of the Holy See Pastors and Protectors of this portion of the Mystical Body of Christ, We, the members of the hierarchy of the Philippines, are deeply concerned over the present state of the world. We see “the serene sides darkened with sorrow-bearing clouds” 1 and the dangerous threat of renewed strife among men. We must raise our voices in urging all to strive to bring back that peace which will assure the rights of all men, above all their rights to know, to love and to serve Christ in the Church which He founded.
A great Holy Year, A Year of Jubilee, has recently ended in the Holy City of Rome. Thanks to the goodness of our Holy Father, Pope Pius XII, the privileges and benefits of the Holy Year have been extended to the whole world during 1951. We earnestly exhort all men of good will in our country to make 1951 a Holy Year indeed, to deepen their faith in God and to work for the accomplishment of the purposes we are about to propose. May we thus merit the blessings of God’s peace upon our homeland.
State of World Affairs
Within the past year the smoldering differences which divide the family of nations into opposed camps have erupted violently. The peace of the entire world is in jeopardy. “Never has the history of mankind known a dissension of greater magnitude; it reaches to the ends of the earth”. 2 So deadly are the new weapons of war that, if the conflict should burst its present confines and sweep the world, it would make the earth a desert “void and empty” 3. Our Republic lies in war’s direct path. Our people have not yet recovered from the devastation and demoralization of the last invasion and occupation of our country. Should a like disaster soon recur, it would imperil our social institutions, our spiritual values, and our very civilization.
Conditions in the Philippines
Fixing our gaze upon our own land, we see that the manifold and difficult problems which disturb the peace of the world are the same ones which trouble the tranquility and the happiness of our people. Unrest and dissension cast their somber shadow over large areas of the Philippines. Families have been uprooted from the homes they lived in and the fields they labored on for long generations. A spirit of greed has yoked upon the necks of a vast multitude of our beloved children a burden which makes them cry to heaven for justice. Some few masters, heeding the call of our Joint Pastoral of 1949 on Social Security have made honest efforts to lighten their load. Far too many others, unfamiliar with the social teaching of the Church and ambitious for undue domination, refuse to alter their attitudes or their practices. They still yearn for a return to the old ways and long to keep the working class under the yoke. Here as elsewhere it is “unfortunately true that the manner of acting in certain Catholic circles has done much to shake the faith of the working classes in the religion of Jesus Christ”. 4 “Today there is far too often identified with prominent Catholics the kind of social outlook that characterized the French nobility at the time of the French Revolution”.5
Our people are oppressed by a poverty which degrades them and they are shaken by the insecurity which surrounds their life from one day to the next. The vision which shines through the Papal teaching on the social order is the equality of all men as children of God, the Father, and as brothers in Jesus Christ. From this it follows that the good things of life have been destined by God for all men, not just for the few. To hinder one’s brother from gaining his rightful share is to sin against divine justice. God did not create two species of men, some to be servants and others to be served, some to do the backbreaking toil and others to enjoy the fruits of their toil. Yet when Leo XIII looked about the world in 1891, and Pius XI in 1931, and Pius XII in our day, what they saw belied this vision of the equality of the children of God. They beheld two classes of men — the favored few on the one side and the masses of the poor, the insecure and the underprivileged on the other. A Catholic is essentially one who does not trust to his own faulty judgment in moral matters but who looks for guidance to the Vicar of Christ, our Lord. The Holy Father has urged us repeatedly to remedy this unchristian state of affairs. He has ordered us to work for the redemption of the proletarians. It is truly a work of redemption, a Christlike work, to help in restoring to our dispossessed brothers in Christ what God, our Father, intended they should possess.
The Root of the Problem
The root of the problem of the lower class in the Philippines is economic poverty. The evil must be attacked at its root. Grinding poverty is a blighting disease. It eats away the very core of a man. It makes him an inferior producer, unskilled in the technical arts which augment public prosperity. It makes him an inferior citizen, incapable of offering a man’s full contribution to the social and political well-being of the community. Too often it makes him an inferior Catholic, unschooled in his religion, unappreciative of its beauty and dignity, unconscious of his profound need of the Sacraments, ignorant of the meaning of Holy Mass. It makes him in the full and awful sense a poor man, subnormal, subhuman. He is to poor to help himself, so poor that others pass him by. We need good samaritans. There is serious danger that the masses of the poor are being lost to the Church. By what norm of Catholicism are we any longer justified in making the confident assertion that the Filipinos are a Catholic people.
Overcrowding in Cities and Municipalities
The distress of the times has driven many who lived all their lives in the country to abandon their poor farms and to seek refuge in the cities. There they are met first with the appalling squalor of our widespread slums. Nowhere else is the depth and breadth of our poverty so evident. Masses of people live crowded together in primitive hovels; the hovels themselves, many of them thrown together with odd scraps, are huddled together in slums. The single family has little or no privacy from its neighbors; the members of the family have no proper privacy from each other. These conditions constitute a grave danger to the health of the body. Men and women and children are bunched so closely that it is impossible for them to get adequate ventilation or sanitation. Progressive institutes of animal husbandry, aware of the importance of hygienic, make better provision for beasts than the economy does for men. This also constitutes a grave danger to the health of the soul and the spirit. Neither the dignity of adults nor the modesty of growing boys and girls can flourish amidst morbid surroundings. Often the whole family and at times more than one family share a single sleeping room. It has been estimated that more than half of our working people sleep on the floor. They have neither space for beds nor the money wherewith to buy them. Our people are by nature and inclination a fastidious people. They keep their persons and their clothing scrupulously clean. Their humble dwellings are as a rule free from dirt on the inside. Yet the environs outside are often filthy.
Sources of Help
It is clear that the pay of the father of the average family is not enough to cover the expenses of building or renting a suitable house. At the bottom, the problem is pauperism; but pauperism is fecund in offshots. It tends to break down the health, to corrupt the manners and to retard the development of a people. Who is to help the poor until they are in a position to help themselves? At the present time, we cannot hope much from the State. First, its budget is limited by its revenues and these are already insufficient to balance its current expenses. Second, the only existing public housing project is both inept and immoral. Its dwelling units are so small that they are a positive hindrance to married people who hope to raise a family. The most likely source of help is the employer. He can do much indirectly by paying higher wages to fathers of families. Directly, he might provide his workers with housing. We praise those employers, both in agriculture and in industry, who have built decent houses for their working people. It has been their experience that such experiments go far toward eliminating conflict between management and labor and winning the positive loyalty of the worker to his employer. It is a very Christian work and a laudable form of profit sharing. We give it our full support.
Another source of help is the parish. Let the pastor instruct his people in sanitary living and encourage them to rebuild their humble homes and to clean up the surrounding ground. To shelter the homeless is a work of mercy. Many of the poor do not have real homes; often they live in shelters not fit for human beings.
Second, unemployment has assumed alarming proportions. Actual unemployment is even greater than apparent unemployment for much unemployment is disguised. Prosperous families at times retain more domestic servants than are needed rather than turn them out without hope of work. In some cases the householder offers his servants little more than board and lodging. Besides, there are the ubiquitous street gamins who peddle anything, anywhere. While uncounted beggars and juvenile hucksters roam the streets of the cities, our rich fields lie untilled because of the fratricidal strife which injustice, greed and selfishness have brought upon us. We will know peace when we replace these cardinal sins with justice, liberality and Christlike love for each other.
“The fundamental cause of present day difficulties is the insatiable greed for earthly goods”.6
Third, when these impoverished souls seek for some escape from their depressing surroundings and for a temporary release from the discouragement and fatigue of penury, they turn readily to the cinema. Here they are often exposed to a pervasive materialism and a spirit of self-indugence as corrupting as the violence and the immodesty so vividly dramatized on the screen. The owners and directors of moving picture houses are sternly reminded that they are forbidden by God to entice their fellow citizens into the occasion of serious sin by exhibiting indecent films and the shameless advertisements which accompany them as clearly as they are forbidden to lure their fellowmen into houses of ill repute. The Judge of the living and the dead declared: “I say to you that anyone who even looks with lust at a woman has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” 7
Spirit of Secularism
Thus far we have been considering the plight of the poor. Because they lack the means to protect and to better themselves and have to labor unceasingly to eke out even a mean living, they are closest to our hearts. It requires heroic virtue on their part to keep holy the Lord’s Day, to practice faithfully and devoutly the exacting duties of our religion, to preserve our beautiful tradition of reciting family prayers, when there is so little of dignity, of leisure and of privacy in their lives. If they were the victims of neglect alone, their lot would be wretched enough. But they are not neglected by the watchful foes of God and of the Church. The words of our Holy Father, spoken in the course of his Christmas Message, are very timely.
• “Like a mass of molten lava which flows steadily down the side of a volcano, the destructive tide of the spirit of this world advances threateningly and spreads into every sphere of life and into every class of society.” 8
This menacing march of secularism, this undisguised hostility to all that is called God, this aversion from faith and from the principles of revealed religion stirs us to righteous wrath. There is diabolical malice in this sytematic perversion of the very intelligence which God has given us to know Him. We must stand valiantly against these powers of Satan. We would build a fitting house for our humiliated people. Yet we know the warning of the Psalmist that, “unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it”. 9
Cure of Secularism
Almost sixty years ago Pope Leo XIII saw the poison of irreligion and prescribed the only antidote. “If society is to be cured now, it can be cured only by a return to Christian life and Christian institutions.” 10 The reigning Pontiff, Pope Pius XII, re-echoed those words when describing the Catholic religion as “the safest and surest foundation of society and of civilization”.11 Portraying the world situation in all its gravity, the Holy Father exhorted all to strive to bring peace and concord into the troubled world.
• “We well know that mere human efforts are incapable of effecting such grandiose results. It is necessary to renew the souls of men, to cast out evil desires, to damp out the fires of hatred, to bring into energetic practice those principles and standards of justice which will effect a more equitable distribution of the good things of this world. We must make anew in our hearts acts of love of one another. We must bolster up the virtueof all. Nothing is more efficacious for accomplishing this grand work than the Christian religion. Its godlike precepts teach us that all men are brothers. They compose one family whose Father is God, whose Redeemer and whose Nourisher by God’s divine grace is Christ and whose true Fatherland, never to be forgotten, is heaven”.12
God’s Love and Warmth
We show our attention and responsiveness to God by following the precepts of the Church. Once we are steeped in the peace which the world cannot give — the peace of Christ which is the flower of obedience — we give God’s Holy Spirit a chance to inspire our minds and hearts and to suggest ways to temporal prosperity and security. We sorely need God’s light and warmth in the field of social work. At its highest social work is religious work. It is nothing less than absorption in the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. It is a divine and redemptive work when the energy which urges the social worker onward, is the sweet love of Christ in all men and of all men in Christ. At its lowest — and we fear that social work has shown an alarming tendency toward this level — it is mere philanthropy. There is nothing divine or redemptive about it. It would as life have for its object the prevention of cruelty to animals as the relief of human suffering.
• “People, you know, are saying that charity toward one’s neighbor is being stripped little by little of its religious character and is being laicized. Yet doing good, when it does not proceed from religion but from an alien origin, is not charity and cannot be called Catholic. Charity has a dignity, a diffusiveness, a strength which mere philanthropy lacks even when it is richly endowed and equipped with the most modern technical aids. The same is true when Nursing Sisters are compared with others who do the same kind of work from a motive of humanitarianism or of personal profit, even though these latter have more and better equipment. It may sometimes be true that Nuns are not quite abreast of others in technical training and equipment. We urge them to keep up, stride, with the advances of all and even to take the lead. Nevertheless, when Religious are animated by the vital spirit of their Institute and are ready every day for the love of Christ to lay down their lives for the sick in their care, their work glows with a divine aura. Their virtue works wonders which neither medicines nor technical equipment can match.”13
There is a brand of social service which no money can buy and which even the most progressive of secular universities cannot teach. It can be learned only in the finishing school of the Holy Spirit of Christ. In everything touching the service and well being of man, we are impotent without the help of religion. “Without Me you can do nothing”.14 Social workers who are blind to this have omitted a most important part of their training. Man is the child of God. No one can change that. All who hope to be of true service to him must keep his divine origin and destiny ever before their eyes. It were a tragic thing indeed if in the Philippines professed Catholics were instrumental in dechristianizing social work.
• “Man is the image of the triune God and is therefore himself a person, the brother of the Man-God Jesus Christ and with Him and through Him heir to a life eternal. That is where his true dignity lies”. 15
Anyone who meditates upon the profound truth of these words will see that “no more effective dyke can be opposed to an inundation of social disorders than the Church”.16 The cure for our modern ills is a return to Christ, to His religions and to His principles of action.
Need for Religious Training of Youth
Yet how can we bring about a return to Christ and to religion when so many of our young people are deprived even of the opportunity to receive religious instruction?
• “In emphasizing the supreme importance of religion in the spiritual development of the child we are but applying to the circumstances of today the eternal principles which the Church received from her Divine Founder. For nineteen centuries the Church has lingered lovingly over Christ’s tribute to the child: ‘Suffer little children to come unto Me and forbid them not: for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven’. The implications of that tribute should be recognized by all who have care of the child. Theirs is the great vocation to show him that he is a citizen not only of this world but of that other world which lies beyond with God Whose kingdom is the kingdom of children”.17
The Vocation of Parents
The adequate education of the child involves the parents, the Church and the State. The prime duty of training the child lies with the parents. Coming as a gift from God, the child has an immortal soul made in His image and likeness. A son or daughter is a precious trust for which both parents will be obliged to render an account before the judgment seat of God. Somewhat as the priest takes bread and wine — humble elements of this world — and by the words of consecrations changes them into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, so the parents must take the tiny bit of humanity and fashion it by their teaching and example into a fitting child of God and heir of heaven. The vocation of parents is a sublime one and carries weighty responsibilities. Especially in their tender years children are formed by the example of those around them. You Catholic parents must learn this truth well and never lose sight of it. If you raise your children in a Catholic atmosphere, instilling in them a love of God and of neighbor, impressing deeply by precept and example the virtues of honesty and charity, then indeed your children will be to you what they were to the Roman matron, jewels whose lustre will shine both in this world and the next. If, however, the child is surrounded by hatred and dishonesty and a scorn for religion in his very home, then it were better that the parents have a millstone tied around their necks and be cast into the sea.
Parents, teach your little ones to know God and to love Him. Teach them to pray. Instill in them a respect for authority, a reverence for holy things and a passion for what is right and just. This is your duty. You should consider it your sacred privilege. We address the fathers as well as the mothers, for this is a joint responsibility. The father must not shirk his share in it. Besides providing for the bodily needs of his family, he must not neglect the religious and moral upbringing of his sons and daughters. There is hardly a sight more edifying than that of a Catholic father leading his children to the Altar of God there to partake with them of the Bread of eternal life. This is a much more effective exhortation to frequent Holy Communion than any sermon.
Mature men and women are alive to the fact that many unhealthy influences are abroad in the modern world against which the growing child has to be protected. Parents should know the companions with whom their sons and daughters associate, the places they frequent, the forms of entertainment in which they take pleasure. By going to a little trouble they can inform themselves about the moving pictures which provide wholesome diversion for young people. They should see to it that no unchaste reading matter finds its way into the home.
The Part of the Church
The training of the child is the right of the parents before all others as well as their duty. The Constitution of our Republic acknowledges the primacy of this parental right.18 The Church is ever ready with all her spiritual resources and with whatever material resources she can muster to assist the parents in exercising this right. The Church initiates the child immediately after birth into the life of grace through the Sacrament of Baptism. As he grows up, the Sacraments of Penance, the Eucharist and Confirmation heal and nourish and strengthen him for the trials of life. At each level of his educational development there are in this country Catholic schools teaching morality in conjunction with the arts, the sciences and the learned professions.
• “By its very nature the school is an institution subsidiary and comlementary to the family and to the Church. It follows logically and necessarily that it must not be in opposition to, but in positive accord with those other two elements, and must form with them a perfect moral union, constituting one sanctuary of education, as it were, with the family and the Church. Otherwise, it is doomed to fail of its purpose, and to become instead an agent of destruction.”19
The Part of the State
In a land where relatively few parents can afford to send their children to private schools, the State plays a prominent part in the education of youth. There is a marked tendency on the part of the State to put first things last in education and to show deeper concern over the vocational requirements of its young citizens than over their moral and religious needs.
• “If God and His law are banished from education, it is hard to understand how the young can be taught to avoid evil and to lead an honest and holy life, or where either family or society are to look for men of high moral character, lovers of order and peace, fit and ready to take their part in fostering the public weal.” 20 “Every form of pedagogic naturalism which in any way excludes or weakens supernatural Christian formation in the teaching of youth is false. Every method of education founded, wholly or in part, on the denial or forgetfulness of original sin and of grace, and relying on the sole powers of human nature, is unsound.” 21
We have already alluded to the poverty into which most of our children are born. As if it were not bad enough that they should grow up excluded from the goods of the body, they are to be deprived of the goods of the spirit as well. Thousands of them are already handicapped in their earthly fatherland; many grow up illiterate. Those who go to school are being left in unpardonable ignorance of their heavenly fatherland. They receive their training under a system of tax-supported schools which neglect the teaching of religious truths to children, due in part to the disproportionate influence in high places of a few enemies of the Church and in part to the indifference of officials to the will of our people. Even where some allowance is made for instruction in the catechism, the circumtances of the religion class are calculated to create in the child’s mind the impression that religion class is a thing of little importance. Frequently the class is scheduled for an hour which makes teaching ineffectual or impossible; frequently the period is cancelled on the pretext that it interferes with school activities. In any case religion is divorced from the other studies of the pupil whereas it should be the golden thread joining together all the truths he learns.
• “So today we see, strange sight indeed, educators and philosophers who spend their lives in searching for a universal moral code of education, as if there existed no decalogue, no gospel law, no law even of nature stamped by God on the heart of man, promulgated by right reason, and codified in positive revelation by God Himself in the ten commandments”.22
Since the general tone of our publicly supported schools cannot be called Catholic, we emphasize the serious obligations of parents to send their children to Catholic schools whenever this choice is open to them. We shall continue to fight for greater freedom to give religious instruction in public schools. We shall continue to insist in season and out of season on the fundamental importance of such instruction and on our need for it. Yet, let no one think that this is in itself ideal or even sufficient.
Definition of a Real Catholic School
• “For the mere fact that a school gives some religious instruction (often extremely stinted), does not bring it into accord with the rights of the Church, or make it a fit place for Catholic students. To be this, it is necessary that all the teaching and the whole organization of the school, and its teachers, syllabus and textbooks in every branch, be regulated by the Christian spirit, under the direction and maternal supervision of the Church; so that religion may be in very truth the foundation and crown of the youth’s entire training; and this in every grade of school, not only the elementary, but the intermediate and the higher institutions of learning as well”.23
Such is the Catholic school in the full sense; only in such a school can be gotten the solid teaching which will complement the basic training of a good Catholic home. From the combination of these two we can hope for leaders whose principles are sound and whose loyalty to Jesus Christ will stimulate them to put into action the remedies He has prescribed for the present disorder of our country.
“To put into action the remedies” — that is the phrase which should give us pause. The saintly Pope Pius X described some Catholics of his day in words which have not lost their relevance.
• “There are certain timid souls who, because they live in comfort, have grown attached to quiet and are afraid of every new movement. They believe that it is quite enough to pray because God knows best how to defend the Faith and how to humiliate His enemies and how to make the Church triumphant. But these good people will wait in vain for society to re-Christianize itself simply by the prayers of the good… It is necessary to join action to prayer… On the other hand there are others who justify their inertia by giving the world up for lost, — they see so many evils in it.”24
Though the Kingdom of God is not of this world, it has to be won in this world. There is no human holiness in heaven except what was proven on earth. There is no award made in heaven except for merits gained on earth. The need of the day is for action, vigorous action combined with prayer. We, your Bishops, exhort you to save your Faith and your country by fighting beneath the standard of the Cross for the peace of Christ. May it prevail in this land and over the whole world.
• “Does the Church, do the Christians, do the clergy themselves make contact with the world at the level of the world’s suffering; or do they stand alone, hanging on to the last ridges of a world that is good, away from the dirt and smell and blood, beckoning to those below and expecting them to rise by spiritual enchantment.”25
God grant that the answer to that question be not, for our country, a confession of gross sins of omission!
“Not Lamentation but Action
The problems facing us are many and great. The poverty of the bulk of our people is shuddering; they cannot pull themselves out of it unaided. The morale of our countrymen was weakened critically during the foreign occupation; we have not yet recuperated from that. Our homes and productive facilities were devastated by the war; they have not yet been rebuilt. There is bloody violence and civil disorder within our borders and the dire threat of the enemies of God and man from outside. Are we to lose heart and give up before the magnitude of the task facing us or are we made of the stuff to turn the crisis into an opportunity? Have we the daring to seize the moment and by courageous action to change what has to be changed, beginning with our own selfish and cowardly hearts?
• “The call of the moment is not lamentation but action — not lamentation over what has been but reconstruction of what is to be for the good of society”.26 “At the present hour no one has the right to take refuge in mediocrity, and I am certain that this formidable upheaval will see the Church emerging more resplendent and better adapted to modern needs. I thank God for letting me live in the present circumstances, in the midst of a crisis so universal, so deep and unique in the history of the Church. Anyone should be proud of being a witness of, and, to a certain extent, an actor in, this sublime drama in which good and evil have come to grips in a gigantic duel.”27
There never was a better season for the reconstruction of a Christian social order. During 1951 the blessings of the Holy Year have been extended to the whole world. Under the Old Testament the of Jubilee was a time when slaves were set free, when debts were cancelled, when the expropriated had their lands restored to them freely and when scattered families were reunited. Let us earn the spiritual blessings of the Holy Year for the Philippines by reviving its temporal blessings!
Two General Principles
Before taking up the details of a concrete social program, we call the attention of all Catholics to two general principles. First, moral reform and social reform go hand in hand. No program of social reform can be conceived for the Philippines which does not require for its fulfillment truthful men, just men, selfless, hard-working men in government, in business and in labor. There can be no social reform without moral reform. Correspondingly, moral reform is merely a pharasaical sham unless it be accompanied by far-reaching social reform. Therefore, moral reform and social reform, because they are correlative, mean only one thing: Men in all walks of life must stop doing many things they have been doing and must start doing many things they have been leaving undone.
Second, because the problem before us is a moral one, the Catholic Church cannot be neutral about it. The Church has often been naively criticized for interfering in the social and economic affairs of men, as if these were none of her business. Her critics seem to forget that it is the duty of a parent — the Church is a Mother — to interfere in the conduct of her children. The Ten Commandments were laid down by God precisely to interfere with the behavior of men. On examination they are seen to be sage precepts of social order. Order in human society is unthinkable if violence, theft, lechery and lying are modes of conduct as acceptable as their opposites. Murder is bad not because it is forbidden by the commandments; it is forbidden because it is bad for society. No faithful Catholic would think of challenging the authority and the competence of the Church to explain and to interpret the Ten Commandments. Every Catholic child knows that the Church is infallible in matters of morality as well as in matters of faith. Indeed the one feature distinguishing the Catholic from all other men is his obedience to the infallible Church of Christ in all that touches personal and social morals. Catholics do not make their own rules of permissible social behavior; they look for guidance to the teaching of the Church. Obedience is the distinctive mark of all true Catholics, great or small, rich or poor, famous or unknown, influential or ignored.
Wages – Income
Having laid down these two general principles, the first particular subject we take up is that of the workingman’s wages. Wages are a matter of justice, both commutative and social. The norm of commutative justice is equality of value in exchange. The employer must pay his employee what his labor is worth, not according to the one-sided estimate of the employer but according to the common evaluation of the market. The word, wages, is used in two senses both in ordinary discourse and in the Papal Encyclicals. First, the wage is employed in the stricter sense to mean the market price currently paid for one type of service rendered by men. Second, in its wider sense, the wage means the full income accruing to the worker whether from wages or from other sources. Pius XI has defined the just wage in the strict sense to be the full-employment wage; it should be neither so high nor so low that it causes unemployment.
• “The wage scale must be regulated with a view to the economic welfare of the whole people… All are aware that a rate of wages too low, no less than a rate excessively high, causes unemployment”.28
It may happen that the wage in this narrow sense, though commutatively just, is insufficient for the support of the worker and his family. This possibility brings us into the field of social justice. Commutative justice regulates the duties and rights existing between one man and another. Social justice governs the duty of the individual to the community and of the community to the individual.
“Besides commutative justice, there is also social justice with its own set obligations, from which neither employers nor workingmen can escape. Now, it is of the very essence of social justice to demand from each individual all that is necessary for the common good . But just as in the living organism it is impossible to provide for the good of the whole unless each single part and each individual member is given what it needs for the exercise of its proper functions, so it impossible to care for the social organisms and the good of society as a unit unless each single part and each individual member – that is to say, each individual man in the dignity of his human personality – is supplied with all that is necessary for the exercise of his social functions. If social justice be satisfied, the result will be an intense activity in economic life as a whole, pursued in tranquility and order. This activity will be proof of the health of the social body, just as the health of the human body is recognized in the undisturbed regularity and perfect efficiency of the whole organism.”29
The Family Wage
The social function of the ordinary man is that of a paterfamilias , the father of a family. Unless a man can perform his functions as the father of a family by providing for the needs of his wife and children, the vigor of society as a whole will be impaired. His children will grow up unsound in body and in spirit. Instead of contributing to the vitality and the healthy activity of the community, they will be a drain on its energies, perhaps even a threat to its peace and order.
• “And so, in the first place, every effort should be made to bring about that which Our predecessor Leo XIII, of happy memory, has already insisted upon, namely, that in the state such economic and social methods should be adopted as it will enable every head of a family to earn as much as, according to his station in life, is necessary for himself, his wife, and for the rearing of his children, for ‘the laborer deserves his wages’ (Luke X, 7). To deny this, or to make light of what is equitable, is a grave injustice and is placed among the greatest sins by Holy Writ (Deut. XXIV, 14-15); nor is it lawful to fix such a scanty wage as will be insufficient for the upkeep of the family in the circumstances in which it is placed.”30
Again, the same Holy Father wrote in Quadragesimo Anno:
• “The wage paid to the workingman must be sufficient for the support of himself and of his family. It is right indeed that the rest of the family contribute according to their power toward the common maintenance, as in the rural home or in the families of many artisans and small shopkeepers. But it is wrong to abuse the tender years of children or the weakness of women. Mothers will above all perform their work at home or near the home, giving their time to domestic cares. Intolerable, and to be opposed with all our strength, is the abuse whereby mothers of families, because of the insufficiency of the father’s salary, are forced to engage in gainful occupations outside the domestic walls, to the neglect of their own proper cares and duties, particularly the education of their children. “Every effort must therefore be made 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 reforms be introduced without delay which will guarantee every adult working man just such a wage.”31
Should it happen that the wage in the narrower sense defined above is insufficient for the fulfillment of the duties of the paterfamilias , whence is to come the supplement required by social justice? The Roman Pontiffs make four valuable suggestions. First, from the reasonable industry of the other members of the family. Their strictures against the possible abuses of child-labor and the labor of mothers outside the home are clear and pointed. Second, the man should receive over and above his wage, a share in the profits of the enterprise of which he is an integral part.
• “Capital has long been able to appropriate to itself excessive advantages. It has claimed all the product and profit and has left to the worker the bare minimum necessary to repair his strength. For by an inexorable economic law it was held that all accumulation of capital falls to the share of the wealthy while by the same law the workingman must remain perpetually in indigence… By the principles of social justice one class is forbidden to exclude the other from a share in profits… In the present state of human society We deem it advisable that the wage contract should, whenever possible, be modified by a contract of partnership… In this way workers and officials are made sharers in the ownership or in management or in some way participate in the profits.”32
Third, the father of the family should be given a chance to acquire a bit of property and, by prudent management of his modest holding, to add to his total income.
• “Every effort must be made that at least in future a just share only of the fruits of production be permitted to accumulate in the hands of the wealthy, and that an ample sufficiency be supplied to the workingman. The purpose is not that these become slack at their work, for man is born to labor as the bird to fly, but that by thrift they may increase their possessions and by the prudent management of the same maybe enabled to bear the family burden with greater ease and security, being freed from that hand-to-mouth uncertainty which is the lot of the proletarian. Thus they will not only be in a position to support life’s changing fortunes, but will also have the reassuring confidence that when their lives are ended, some little provision will remain for those whom they leave behind them.”33
Fourth, employers are encouraged to help the fathers of working-class families to live up to their weighty social responsibilities both by direct and by indirect aid. Direct aid would be given to the employee in proportion to the family burden he bears.
• “We praise the various systems devised and tried out in practice by which an increased wage is paid in view of increased family burdens and by which special provision is made for special needs.”34
Use of Superflous Wealth
To help workers indirectly, the wealthy are enjoined to invest their superflous income both to increase the production of useful goods and to create more jobs.
• “A man’s superflous income is not left entirely to his own discretion. We speak of that portion of his income which he does not need in order to live as becomes his station. On the contrary, the grave obligations of charity, beneficence, and liberality which rests upon the wealthy are constantly insisted upon in telling words by Holy Scripture and the Fathers of the Church. “However, according to the teaching of the Angelic Doctor, the investment of a large income in such a manner that favorable opportunities for employment may abound (on the supposition that the labor employed produces results which are really useful) is to be considered an act of real liberality particularly appropriate to the needs of our times.”35
Definition of Family Wage
On the Feast of Pentecost, 1943, Pius XII addressed these words to an audience of workers:
• “We have set forth as basic prerequisites of social concord those claims which are so close to your hearts: for a salary which will cover the living expenses of a family and will make it possible for parents to fulfill their natural duty to rear healthy children and to clothe them; for a dwelling fit for human persons; for the chance to give your children an adequate and proper education; for provision against times of distress, sickness and old age. These requirements of social security have to be met in reality. If they are not, society will be shaken periodically by dissidence and unrest. It will never settle down to a state of peace in which it can make progress in harmony and mutual love.”36
Application of Definition
What does such a salary mean in pesos and centavos, in the various goods necessary “to rear healthy children and to clothe them”, to rent or buy or build “a dwelling fit for human persons”? What income is needed to support a family of average size in modest decency at prevailing prices; “for a chance to give your children an adequate and proper education; for provision against times of distress, sickness and old age”?
These are questions for which we exhort honest and zealous men to seek an answer. Employers and employees should sit down together in the various localities and at regular intervals and translate into reality “these requirements of social security” so necessary for peace in our land.
In our schools picture-charts demonstrate to our children the foods they should eat. The Philippines Institute of Nutrition has prepared, especially for the Philippines, tables of the calories and other food values necessary. From these basic diets may be formulated. The requirements for a decent home, which will afford the “modest comfort” recommended by the Holy Fathers, can easily be determined.
When you have set down in an equitable and objective fashion all the requirements of the Papal definition of a just family wage it will not be difficult to conduct, from time to time, price surveys which will give you the actual cost of decent living. Admittedly the results will be considerably beyond the present possibilities of our national economy. They will, however, mark out the goal toward which we must strive. We Catholic Filipinos have a serious duty to manage our private and national affairs in a way that will put a family wage within the reach of our working man.
Minimum Wage Legislation
Every fair-minded citizen is convinced that wages in the lowest brackets must be raised right away. Our lawmakers have already enacted into law the Minimum Wage Act which sets a legal minimum for wages in agriculture and industry. The minimum wage established by law is merely that. It does not pretend to be a just wage, much less a living wage. Yet since it benefits many of poorest workers, it is a move in the right direction. It would be most unworthy of Catholic employers to oppose the law or to evade its provisions by adjustments meant to reduce the worker’s pay below the legal minimum. Rather, they should be solidly in back of minimum wage legislation. It will do us good as a nation to get into the habit of thinking in terms of some wage below which it is not worth a man’s while to work. We bestow special praise on those employers who make it their practice to keep the wages they pay above the prevailing rates and thus by their economic action inform their rivals that a working man’s wages should be outside the arena of cost-competition. Every thoughtful businessman should meditate on the significance for the Philippines of the fact that those countries are poor and backward where the wages of workmen are low and that those countries are prosperous and progressive where men earn good pay. The power of a market to absorb what producers can supply is limited by the purchasing power in the hands of buyers. Prosperity is as much a matter of demand as it is of supply. Peace and prosperity are cardinal elements of the common good. The common good can be enjoyed by the members of society only in solidarity. Unless workmen enjoy the benefits of prosperity and peace, no one in the community will long enjoy them.
The Right to Organize Freely
The right of workers to organize their own unions and to choose their own union-officers is closely related with their rights to a just wage. This right of workers freely to associate is grounded on the Natural Law and has been reaffirmed repeatedly in the teaching of the Church.
In November, 1949, our Apostolic Nuncio made the following statement:
• “The Church has not hesitated to make clear that the worker has a moral right so to organize, and to bargain collectively through representatives freely chosen by himself. He who knowingly interferes with this right either directly or by various artifices of favoritism or discrimination which are meant to discourage unionism does serious moral wrong. He will answer to God for this unfair restriction of human rights.”37
This pronouncement has gone unheeded. Writing of the period between 1891, when Leo XIII published Rerum Novarum, and 1931, when Pius XI released Quadragesimo Anno, the latter Pope described it in words which still apply to the Philippines.
• “While readily recognizing and patronizing similar associations among other classes, with criminal injustice some have denied the innate right of forming associations to those who needed them most for self-protection against oppression by the more powerful. There were even Catholics who viewed with suspicion the efforts of the laboring classes to form such unions, as if they reflected the spirit of socialistic or revolutionary agitators.”38
Six years later Pius XI could not refrain from asking: “What is to be thought… of those Catholic industrialists who even to this day have shown themselves hostile to the labor reforms which we ourselves have recommended?”39
Decent men shun with horror the crime of the robber and the adulterer and rightly so. Yet some who claim to be loyal sons of the Church do not scruple to deprive the workingman of his right to organize a true union or to belong to a true union. They interfere in every possible way with the free exercise of this right, not balking even at murder. Do they not know that a man can lose his immortal soul by breaking a union as surely as he can by committing adultery or theft? Men organize in unions in order to overcome their poverty — their hunger, their thirst, their homelessness, their nakedness. The one description of the General Judgment given us by Jesus Christ, the Judge of the living and the dead, He couched in these burning words:
• “Depart from me, ye cursed, into the everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels! For I was hungry and you did not give me to eat; I was thirsty and you gave did not give me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take me in; naked, and you did not clothe me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit me.40
This vehement curse is hurled against those who have sinned by omission against charity. Imagine the penalty of those who sin in the same matter by commission against justice!
The “Company Union”
The “Company Union” has a bad name among workers and it deserves it. The “Company Union” is a labor union in form; in reality it is an organization sponsored by management, dominated by management and used as a tool by management. Though the “Company Union” in this sense is a nefarious fraud, the ideal union is frequently one which occurs on the company level. It is a union through which the workers of one company negotiate collectively and freely with the management of that company. Pius XI penetrated to the essence of the business enterprise when he defined it as the working combination of three factors, brains and capital and labor, each of which needs the other two.41 These work together satisfactorily in production. They clash with each other over the division of their common product among them. One aim of the true labor union is to erase this unnecessary and scandalous conflict between capital and labor. Since the rift occurs within the company, it ought to be settled within the company.
Functions of a True Union
The functions of the true labor union are these. First, it exists to correct the imbalance in bargaining power between the employer and the single worker. The problem of the particular worker is that he needs a job but that the job does not need him particularly. Capital needs Labor but it does not need the individual laborer. He is expendable. Only by bargaining in solidarity with his fellow workers can the laborer negotiate with his employer in equal terms. Second, the collective bargaining agreement, negotiated between a free union and the employer is in practice the normal way of determining to the mutual satisfaction of both parties what wage rates are just. Third, the union provides an organ through which labor can communicate with management and management with labor. Through the unoin both parties can discuss working condition, incentives to more productive work and the various forms of profit-sharing.
The functioning and producing unit is the company, the operating combination of brains, capital and labor. These three are economic associates; they should be associated. The single employer has no responsibilities toward a neuter thing called Labor nor has this general category anything to do with him. On the other hand the employer and the man who work with him have much to do with each other. Their economic fortunes are linked in a common venture. They need an organ of communication through which their mutual rights and duties can be affirmed and defended. A true union provides just such an organ of vital communication.
True Unions not to be Feared
Employers, do not fear true unions! Wherever management-labor relations have reached a stage of maturity, management has found that true unions work to its advantage as well as to the advantage of the workers. It is folly for the employer to assume that his interests and those of his collaborators in a joint venture have to be in conflict. Such an attitude breeds only class-warfare.
It is often said that employers in the Philippines are afraid of unions. We repeat to Catholic employers: You have no cause to fear true unions. You need a responsible organ through which to communicate with your workers just as much as they need an organ through which to make their voices heard by you. Without such an organ of two-way communication, mutual understanding and sympathy cannot be achieved.
Part of the State
From what has been said it is clear that trade unions sponsored by government bureaus for political purposes do not conform to the concept of a true workers’ association.
• “The State should watch over these societies of citizens banded together according to their rights. It should not intrude itself into their proper concerns nor into their organization”.42
Training in Social Principles
Unless workingmen are taught and encouraged on all sides to organize themselves into responsible unions, irresponsible unions under the leadership of men bent upon the overthrow of the State and the Church will carry the day. For this reason we are proud of those priests and laymen who have vindicated the boast of the Church that the purpose of its social teaching is to redeem the proletarians by reconstructing the social order. We urge our priests to expose with unflinching courage the perversions of corrupt unions and to assist laboring men with all their strength to form true unions. Pius XI singled out for special commendation “the clergy and many of the laity” who devote themselves “with admirable zeal” to the creation of Christian labor unions.
• “These are instrumental in building up a body of truly Christian workingmen. These happily combine the successful plying of their trade with deep religious convictions. They learn to defend their temporal rights and interests energetically and efficiently while retaining at the same time a due respect for justice and a sincere desire to collaborate with other classes. Thus they pave the way for a Christian renewal of the whole of social life.”43
In Our Schools
In his address to the Congress on International Trade Policy, His Holiness, Pope Pius XII, expressed the desire “that these principles of social economic life be duly inculcated in professional schools and universities. The urgency of overcoming the materialistic spirit of our times in the economic field demands this teaching”.44
The importance of teaching the social doctrine of the Catholic Church is so urgent that we would be remiss in our duty if we did not urge all Catholic schools to scrutinize their curricula and to determine whether they can intensify instruction in the teaching of the Popes on social order. “It is of first importance to foster in all classes of society an intensive social education adapted to their varying degrees of intellectual attainment. It is necessary to procure with all care and diligence the widest possible diffusion of the teachings of the Church even among the working classes. The minds of men must be illuminated with the sure light of Catholic teaching and their wills must be drawn to apply it as the norm of right living in the conscientious fulfillment of their various social duties. Thus they will oppose the incoherence and disintegration of Christian life which We have repeatedly lamented. There are some who, though exteriorly faithful to the practice of their religion, yet in the field of labor and industry, in the professions, in trade and in business, permit a deplorable cleavage in their consciences and lead a life too little conformed to the clear principles of justice and Christian charity. Such lives are a scandal to the weak and a pretext to the malicious to discredit the Church.”45
The Duties of Educators
Those who bear the responsibility of educating young people must be preoccupied with their social formation. Whether you be priest, Religious or layman, if you sincerely and zealously strive to form the minds of youth according to the teaching of the Church on the social question, know that you play a meritorious role in redeeming the working class. Seek to understand the aspirations of the workers, familiarize yourself with their problems, read and reread the Encyclicals of the Holy Fathers in quest of solutions. Be conscious of the great privilege your profession and your vocation affords you. You are in the place of the parents as long as these young people are in your care. You share with the parents the obligation to bring these unfolding, immortal souls to know and to love God, His Church and the inspired teaching of His Church.
The school is a society in miniature. It has members, an authoritative head and a code of laws intended to insure the common good. Teach your wards by practice as well as by precept what concretely is the common good, how each one can contribute toward it by respecting the rights of others, how the good order of the community is deranged by the selfish behavior of the individual who seeks his narrow advantage regardless of the consequences of his conduct on the peace and well being of the rest. Point up the inadequacy of justice unrelieved by love.
Wider Diffusion of Property
The poverty of Filipinos has two roots.
First, although our land is rich and our people industrious, the natural resources of the country are not being exploited to the full.
Second, ownership of land and capital is concentrated in the hands of a few.
It has been estimated by the Central Bank that of all income-recipients in the country, only 2% receive an annual income of more that P2,000. This is some measure of the extent of maldistribution of property. This disproportionate ownership together with the luxury it allows to the small wealthy class is a matter of irritation to our impoverished people. There is an unambiguous correlation between the degree of concentration of land ownership in various regions and the corresponding degree of social unrest. In the provinces where the percentage of non-owning tenants is highest, the popular attitude is most receptive to the murderous lies of those who would do away with private property and substitute in its place state ownership — collective farming and collective industry.
Purposes of Private Property
It is high time we soberly re-examine the purposes of private property. These are chiefly two.
First, private property is intended to enable men to provide an independent livelihood for themselves and their families. There are few freedoms which can be exercised without the use of scarce resources called economic goods. For example, the freedom to marry and to raise a family is an empty one for the man who cannot get the means to support a family. Similarly, the freedom to practice the Catholic religion, as Russians are said to be free to practice it, is meaningless if man cannot apply economic goods to support novitiates and seminaries, convents and churches. The exercise of any human freedom which requires the use of material goods depends upon economic freedom.
The only secure guarantor of the economic freedom of the human being is private property. When the resources which I need to do what I will are in the hands of another, I depend on him. Whether he be a public official in the total state or a private citizen whose ownership is extensive, he is in a position to cut off from me the means I need to implement my freedom. I am no longer independent.
The second purpose of private property is to assure the energetic use of productive resources. The good things which the infinite generosity of God, the Father, has intended for all his children have to be produced. These are produced in greater abundance when men work on what is their own. This truth has been tested by the personal experience of free men everywhere. It has received spectacular confirmation in our day from the national experience of both free and slave economies. Man is more inventive and energetic, his heart is more in his work, when he labors on what is his own than when he labors on what is not his own. The individual person knows this to be true.
Property is purposive. Its first purpose is realized when men have enough for the proper support of themselves and their families. Property is not an end in life. Material goods are a means to man’s natural and supernatural ends. The purpose of property is frustrated when a few men grasp all of it for its own sake. It is a scandalous fact that a handful of men among us have amassed property not only far beyond what they need but beyond what they can use. We, the Bishops of the Philippine Hierarchy, are fully in favor of any system of taxes which will penalize the owners of uncultivated land and of unused means of production.
So many Filipinos are tenants because so few are owners. So many are farm workers on large hacienda because so few have aggregated land holdings. Under the Old Testament the Year of Jubilee was a season when land was given back to its original owners. Later Christ came and made the law of love the only commandment He gave His own:
• “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you”. Love expresses itself in gifts. What is to be thought of the professed followers of Christ to whom the idea never occurs of giving land to their landless tenants or farm-workers? When a people ignores God’s law and makes its own rules, God punishes that people in this world. The punishment is meant to be a paternal warning that, unless the people change its heart and its ways, the punishment will pursue it into the next world as well. We are violating God’s law in the matter of private property. He never intended the system of ownership which we have and which the wealthy hold on to so tenaciously. Until we change, we can expect God’s punishment and not His blessing.
Man’s Need of Property
Propertylessness is the brand of the Proletarian. When a poor man has no land of his own, to his poverty are added insecurity and social inferiority. He is a member of the lower class in its dreadful sense: he is something less than a man. He dares not breathe against the will of those who, because they are his bosses, can cut off his sole means of livelihood. Why do men submit quietly to the thievery of rogues who masquerade as labor leaders and rob them of part of their miserable pay? Why do they put up with the obvious mockery of company unions? Have they any other choice except to starve? They depend on their jobs. Only the job stands between them and penilessness. Men will sell their freedom for food; they have always done so when there was no other way to get food.
With a little property, a man is never utterly resourceless. He is somewhat independent of the changing fortunes of business. Above all, he has a measure of personal independence. No other man controls his life and his will so completely that he dares not think for himself nor raise his voice nor his arm against injustice. The sole guarantor of our human freedom is economic freedom. The sole guarantor of economic freedom is private property. If all men are to be free, all men must own some property.
A national policy of social reform must follow the sound direction of Pope Pius XII:
• “Small and medium holdings in agriculture, in the arts and trades, in commerce and industry, should be encouraged and assured.46
The Part of Charity
No Peace Without Charity
Only the passionate love of Christ and of one’s fellow men for Christ’s sake can cure the grievous ills which beset us.
Justice is needed. But justice is not enough. It is the foundation but the crown is Charity. St. Thomas says: “True and authentic peace emanates from charity rather than from justice, since justice merely removes the obstacles to peace, such as wrongs and injuries, whereas peace is peculiarly and properly an act of charity.”47
Justice Alone not Enough
The whole life of Pius XI was preoccupied with thoughts of the poor and the downtrodden. “Charity which is the bond of perfection”48 must play a leading part in all social reform. Reformers who disdain the help of charity and put their whole trust in commutative justice are rash and thoroughly deluded. Of course charity cannot take the place of justice. What is strictly a man’s due must not be withheld from him. But even though we dream of a state of things in which at last every man receives all that is due him, an ample field will still remain open for charity. Justice alone, even observed punctiliously, though it can remove the roots of social strife, can never bring about a final union of hearts and of minds.
Yet love –the one thing that binds men together– is the principle of stability in all institutions which aim at establishing social peace and promoting mutual aid, no matter how perfect their organization. Repeated experience proves that without charity the wisest regulations come to naught. It will be possible to unite all in a harmonious quest of the common good, when all sectors of society have the intimate conviction that they are members of one great family and children of the same heavenly Father; that they “are one body in Christ but severely members one of another”.49 “If one member suffer anything, all members suffer it”.50 Then the rich and the influential will change from neglect of their poor brethren to solicitous and efficacious love. They will listen with sympathy to their complaints and will forgive them readily whatever faults they may commit. Workingmen, too, will lay aside the feelings of bitterness and envy which social seducers exploit so skillfully. They will stop nursing feelings of discontent over the lot assigned them in human society by Divine Providence. They will be proud of it. They will know that they are working usefully and honorably for the common good, each according to his function. For they follow in the footsteps of Him Who, being in the form of God, chose to become a carpenter among men and to be known as the son of the carpenter”.51
Appeal to All
We address ourselves to all men of good will: It is the duty of all to work for the restoration of peace and order in this land of ours. We have pointed out some of the problems that face us. We have shown that the only firm foundation upon which to build the reign of justice and charity isthe religion of Jesus Christ. “What man, and especially what priest or Christian, could remain deaf to the cries that rise from the depths and call for justice and a spirit of brotherly collaboration in a world ruled by a just God.”52
“Go to the Workingman”
Dear Brothers in Christ, your mission is to sanctify, to govern and to preach. You must bear witness to the truth, and must present in its entirety the sublime, austere message of the gospel. The social evolution which we are witnessing requires more. The Sovereign Pontiffs — and we join our urging voice with theirs — exhort priests to take a direct and active part in redeeming the proletariat. “To priests especially we commend anew the oft-repeated counsel of Our Predecessor, Leo XIII: ‘Go to the workingman!’ We make this advice our own and, faithful to the teachings of Jesus Christ and His Church, We add to it: ‘Go to the workingman, especially where he is poor; and, in general, go to the poor’.”53
The Poverty and Chastity of Christ
Do not abandon the poor! Do not stand off from their poverty! Do not be an indifferent spectator of social conditions which make a Christian life practically impossible for the masses! Christ was not aloof nor a mere spectator. He was a man of one purpose: To love men to the end – to the limit – in obedience to His Father’s command. The poverty and the chastity of Christ grew out of that consuming purpose. He became poor precisely not to be aloof. He made Himself accessible to all men. The lowest of men — a self-confessed criminal condemned to crucifixion for his crimes — had merely to turn his head to see Christ. The thief had only to whisper to be heard by Him: “Lord, remember me when you come into Your Kingdom”.54
Christ’s poverty brought Him close to men. His chastity added the impulse of love. He loved all men – and all women – with His whole Heart. The chastity of Christ did not withdraw Him from men. It was the flower of His all-embracing love. No corner of Christ’s Heart was reserved for any man or women to the exclusion of others. No man had cause to fear Him as a rival; no woman had cause to be jealous of Him. He gave His love to everyone in its entirety. The chastity of Christ is a dynamic, urgent, passionate thing. It is the indiscriminate, unashamed, unreserved love of His whole Heart for all men.
Knowledge of Problems and Cures
You are the salt of the earth if you are poor and chaste like Christ. He was not aloof from the misery typical of His day. He got to know it well by living in the midst of it. Do not be superior to your Divine Master! Get to know the life of the poor! Learn the remedies prescribed by Christ’s Vicars! Teach them! Instruct all in their duties! A workman ought to do an honest day’s work. In return he should get an honest day’s pay. Employers should content themselves with a reasonable profit. The rest should be shared among the employees or turned back to the public through lowered prices. Proclaim the Christian spirit of service! O ineffable condescension of God, the Son: Jesus Christ is our servant!
Courageous and Intelligent Zeal
Be every man’s friend but no man’s dupe!
“This intelligent charity, sympathetic even toward those who offend you, by no means implies a renunciation of the right to proclaim, to vindicate and to defend the truth and its consequences. The prime gift of the love of you who are priests to your neighbor is to serve the truth and to refute error in any form. Failure on this score would be not only a betrayal of God and your vocation but also an offence against the real welfare of your country and your countrymen.55
Let your zeal be universal! Let your knowledge and cultural attainment equal or surpass those about you, so that you may be fitting ministers of Jesus Christ and His Spouse, the Church. Above all, follow the example of your Divine Master, love the poor! Help them carry their heavy burdens! Meditate often upon the words of the apostle St. James:
• “Brethren, you believe that all glory belongs to our Lord Jesus Christ; do not combine this faith of yours with flattery of human greatness. Suppose that a man comes in at the same time, ill-clad. Will you pay attention to the well-dressed man, and bid him take some place of honour? Will you tell the poor man: ‘Stand where thou art, or sit on the ground at my foot stool’? If so, are you not introducing divisions into your company? Have you not shown partiality in your judgment?”56
Many of our people give the appearance of sheep without shepherds. Yet they have not lost their inbred respect for the priesthood. They need your courageous leadership. Because they trust you, they welcome it. You must be guided in what you may and should do not by the wordly counsels of self-constituted advisers but by the authoritative pronouncements of the Bishops of Rome.
Our Social Apostolate
“Let no member of the clergy imagine that to deal with labor unions is outside his priestly ministry on the grounds that such activity is in the economic sphere. It is precisely in that sphere that the salvation of souls is in peril.”57
“Bishops and priests, precisely because of their position, cannot stand aloof from social-economic organizations. On the contrary, they must, by their able intervention and their active impulse, initiate and direct their forms with diligence and with fidelity to the teachings of the Catholic religion.”58
Ours is a sublime vocation. Upon us lies the heavy responsibility of applying the efficacious remedies of the Church to the evils of the day. If we do not take the lead, who will? Let it be our consolation to show to the workingmen that the Catholic religion which they profess justifies them in seeking greater temporal well being as well as greater moral perfection.
2. To Workingmen
We now turn to those of our flock to whom Pope Leo XIII paid this tribute: “Only by the labor of workers do nations grow rich”. You indeed are the back-bone of economic society. The Twentieth Century has been hailed as the century of the workingman. In a sense every century has been the century of the workingman. He built the great Cathedrals; he fashioned the galleons which sailed the seas to new lands; he cleared and tilled the fields; he dug and hauled minerals from the bowels of the earth; he fought the wars, as he is called on today to fight them; if he survived, he gained least out of victory; in defeat he suffered the heaviest losses. In any century the workingman has been the indispensable man; in the present century he has at last succeeded in forcing his political-economic importance upon the attention of others.
Your Strength in Union
The strength of working men lies in union. Capital needs labor as much as labor needs capital. If labor hangs together, it can strike a fair bargain with capital. Starting from the day when working men began to make use of that truth, they have litttle by little come into their own. For the past sixty years the Church has been proclaiming your right “to unite in associations for the promotion of your interests”.
• “The Church has given trade unions her approbation always on the condition that they would be based on the laws of Christ as on an unshakable foundation and that they would work for the promotion of a Christian order among the workers”.59
The thought of the Church on the subject of unions has been summed up officially in these words:
1. “The Church recognizes and affirms the right of employers and workers to form industrial associations, whether separately or together, and sees in them an efficacious means toward the solution of the social question.
2. “The Church, under existing circumstances, considers the formation of these industrial associations morally necessary.
3. “It is the desire of the Church that industrial associations should be founded and conducted in accordance with the principles of Christian faith and morals.
4. “It is the desire of the Church that industrial associations, organized by Catholics and for Catholics, should be constituted among Catholics, while recognizing that special circumstances may necessitate another course.”60
The Ideal of Trade-Unionism
At the present stage of the evolution of management-labor relations in the Philippines your unions are for the most part still fighting for existence. The handful of genuine unions on the field are frankly organs of self-defense aimed at guarding your most obvious rights against arbitrary nullification. Necessary as this attitude is for the moment, it is far from ideal. Bear in mind that the conflict between capital and labor is a most unnecessary and scandalous one. You two are economic collaborators. It is hoped that by the time both of you have matured, you will behave like collaborators and not like deadly enemies. The class struggle is a hideous, utterly un-Christian thing. Remember that Christ, our Lord, came to gather into one the scattered children of God. Satan had scattered them; he drove them apart and set man against man. Any organization which keeps man apart — as it were, lined up against each other in two battle camps — that organization does the devil’s work. If your union is as yet a mechanism of self-defense set up to protect you against your employers, look forward to the day when it can die in peace and be replaced by an association through which you can cooperate with your employers as with partners in a joint enterprise. The ultimate aim of the Church is for men to comfort themselves as brothers because they are brothers in Christ.
You may be sure that we, your shepherds in Christ, will staunchly defend your right to organize unions and to bargain collectively for just rate of pay and for decent working conditions.
• “It has been asserted and continues to be asserted that religion makes the workingman slack and list less in daily life and in the defense of his private and public interests; that it puts him to sleep like opium, keeping him perfectly quiet with the hope of a life in the beyond. What a patent deceit! The Church insists always in her social doctrine on the respect due to the dignity of man. She requires just pay for the workman in his labor-contract. She demands that his material and spiritual needs be met by effective assistance. What prompts this teaching if not the fact that the laborer is a human person? His labour represents always a personal service.”61
The Duties of Trade Unionists
In acting for the improvement of the working condition of their members, the unions should be firm, prudent and just. In exhorting the unions to prudence, we do not mean that they should be inert, much less that they should passively put up with unconscionable delays or lack of cooperation on the part of employers.
In order to build a truly responsible and helpful trade-union movement, the unions should not be satisfied with merely recruiting large numbers of members. It is much more important that the unions work to make each member a well-instructed participant in the movement. For this purpose, We exhort union members to attend their meetings, to join study-clubs and to avail themselves of whatever educational opportunities are offered them. Each member should show a lively interest in the affairs of his union. He should keep a watchful eye on its financial accounts. Most of all, he should take part in the process of choosing competent and conscientious men to lead the union. In this way unscrupulous leaders, not so much interested in the welfare of the members as in enriching themselves or in turning the organization and lives of the workers to the service of a foreign tyranny, will be kept from dominating the trade-union movement.
The leaders themselves have a serious duty to acquaint themselves with sound principles of trade-unionism. They should be guided in all their operations by a true spirit of Christian justice and love. The men who lead unions should be models of Christian life. They should be spurred on by the same love which moved the Sacred Heart of Jesus to “compassion for the multitudes.” They should shun, as unworthy of their human dignity and the prestige of their position, the temptation, always present, to betray the interest of their members for monetary or other selfish gain.
3. Appeal to Businessmen
The Catholic Businessman
We thank God for the businessmen in our flock whose hearts are good. All over our country there are employers who have given splendid examples of what can be done to relieve the poverty of their workers. They provide them with good pay, a decent house and a garden. They erect schools for their children; they build a chapel and support its pastor. They maintain hospitals and recreational facilities. They encourage a tranquil, contented community life, free of the dissidence and strife which disturb the peace of so many regions.
There is such a thing as the Catholic employer. He is easy to distinguish from the man of the world immersed in temporal affairs. The Catholic employer is one who follows with punctilio the guidance of the Popes and the Bishops. A Catholic, as we have mentioned before, is essentially one who does not trust his own faulty judgment in moral matters but who looks to the infallible Church for guidance.
The Church has given this guidance in its Encyclicals.
• “Nor must it be thought that what is expounded in Encyclical Letters does not itself demand consent, on the pretext that in writing such letters the Popes do not exercise the supreme power of their teaching authority. For these matters are taught with the ordinary teaching authority, of which it is true to say: ‘He who heareth you heareth Me’. And generally what is expounded and inculcated in Encyclical letters already, for other reasons, pertains to Catholic doctrine”.62
True Nature of the Business Enterprise
The Encyclical Letter of Pope Pius XI on the Reconstruction of Social Order has described the business enterprise as a combination of brains, capital and labor. There is a sense in which no one really owns a business. People own land and they own capital assets. But the going concern is a solidarity thing. It functions in virtue of the cooperation of all three factors. We urge you to make a true partnership of these three.
“A great many business men like yourselves, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, have again and again declared that the social doctrine of the Church — and that doctrine alone — is calculated to provide the essential elements for the solution of the social problem. Admittedly the practice and application of this doctrine cannot be the accomplishment of a day. That demands of all men of affairs discretion born of insight and a generous measure of good will. It requires them especially to counteract the temptation to seek one’s own advantage at the expense of the other associates — whatever be the nature and form of their association — and to the detriment of the common welfare. It calls finally for the kind of unselfishness which can flourish only alongside authentic Christian virtue, sustained and aided by the grace of God”. 63
In this association you are the brains, for you are the management. The economy will go whether you guide it. How well it functions and how well it fulfills its purpose of providing a decent livelihood for all depends chiefly on you.
The basic economic problem of the Philippine Islands, according to the Bell Report is poverty. This poverty is rooted in “low productivity and very low incomes”.64 There is much which men of wealth can do to correct this. The productivity of labor depends upon the abundance of capital. The better the tools the laborers works with, the more he can produce. Capital formation is the outcome of investment. Therefore we urge you to consider the following points of policy: First, invest your wealth and your superflous income in enterprises which will produce goods for the benefit of the people. Second, be content with a modest profit. Third, incomes are low because wages are so low. Raise the wages you pay your workers wherever this is possible. Wages, when raised gradually, are a wholesome stimulus to demand and thus to production. To pay higher wages is an act of Christian virtue. It is also sound business.
Seize the initiative in reconstructing the social order. More will be required of you to whom more has been given. You should take the lead in making working partners of capital and labor in the business enterprise. We are our brothers’ keeper. That is the idea of Christian society. It will be shameful if labor always has to wring out of management whatever concessions it gets. You should sometimes take the lead in granting reasonable concessions with good grace. From the point of view of your sane self-interest take the lead. The very ones who boast the loudest that they are the workers’ friends make no attempt to disguise their intention to liquidate you. It has happened in other places. Do not lull yourself into the false sense of security that it cannot happen here.
In particular we recommend these four elements of a program of wise management — labor relations. First, labor unions are not of their very nature always and in all places subversive. Therefore do not cry “Revolution” every time workers collectively represent their reasonable demands before you. Second, cultivate a sense of sympathy. Place yourself on the worker’s side of the bargain. Imagine that you are trying to make a life for yourself and your family on an income as meagre as his. Picture him sitting in your place, your fate in his hands. Third, have some Christian fellow feeling. Workers, too, are members of the Mystical Body of Christ. That is more than a beautiful thought to meditate upon during a closed retreat. It is reality. Therefore hear the request of your workers as you would those of your brother. Fourth, serve the cause of Jesus. Do not drive the Filipino workers into the camp of Christ’s Enemy. Someone has been guilty of this in other lands and someone must answer before God for that crime.
Associations of Businessmen
We would welcome with joy associations of employers who come together not only to learn better the technical and commercial ways of business but to discuss its human relations. This would be one fruitful way of learning the mind of the Catholic Church on this matter. It would give you a chance to bolster each other up with the assurance that men of good will on the side of management are not so rare as many believe. You would be confident that when making a move to better the lot of workers, you do not stand alone. You have allies. Through such an association you could share among yourselves experiences of what practices win the loyalty of workers to the firm and of what proper profit-sharing plans benefit both the business and its employees.
A wealthy Catholic must think of property as stewardship. The earth is God’s. He has not given you unconditional title to it. He has only committed it to your care. You hold it in trust. The gospel is full of instances of how the Lord God will require an account of the way you administer the fortune entrusted to you. Your wealth gives you an opportunity to serve your fellowmen. God has endowed you with an abundance of this world’s goods. That is not always an unmixed blessing. We are inclined to worry about you when we recall the stern warnings of our Divine Saviour to those who have wealth. We know too well the frailty of human nature. Riches, honor, power and the credit of a great name on earth are the favorite snares by which Satan captivates the souls of men.
The opportunity your wealth gives you to serve the body of Christ is blocked by greed. Often profit becomes an end in itself. Businessmen are like hunters who, even though they cannot use the quarry when they corner it, still are absorbed in the chase. No one is ready to accuse himself of gross greed for gain. Yet what else can account for the inequality and injustice in economic society today?
The desire to serve your brothers in Christ is sharpened by renunciation. “Blessed are the poor in spirit”.65 A man whose spirit is detached from worldly goods can use his wealth to glorify God and to serve Him were he binds Him. In this world we find God in our fellowmen.
4. To the Youth
To you, the youth of the land, the spes gregis, the hope of our country, We make a special appeal. What your heritage will be depends upon your zeal now.
Bataan witnessed the courage of your older brothers. Capas gave testimony to their fortitude, every hill and mountain in our land whispered of their constancy for a cause — the noble cause of our country’s freedom.
A far more insidious threat faces our land and our faith today. It offers you a cause far nobler than the cause for which your brothers fought and died in every corner of this archipelago. We, therefore, entitle this pastoral a presentation of that cause to you and make it a special invitation calling you to action.
“To the great joy of Our heart we discern among the workingmen… young workers who listen readily to the call of divine grace and strive with splendid zeal to win their fellows to Christ…. Further, many young men, destined soon by reason of their talents or their wealth to hold distinguished places in the foremost ranks of society, are studying social problems with growing earnestness. These youth encourage the fairest hopes that they will dedicate themselves to social reconstruction.”66
While it is to be “regreted that… there is a deplorable lack of participation in public life on the part of the younger generation, perhaps the reason is that the younger generation sees too little or too seldom the shining and attractive example of men”67 who are truly Catholic at home and at work, their private and their public lives.
What others do is no norm for your action. Look upon your fellow man. See in him the image of Christ. Know his cause. Make it your own. In the camp of the enemy there are young people unafraid of hardship and even death. Spurn the lethargy and the timidity which have entwined like a parasite the hearts of so many this day. Look to Christ for courage. Draw from His Sacred Heart the strength to know, love and imitate Him so that you may be fully Catholic men and women.
Paraphrasing the beautiful words of the priest as he mingles a drop of water with the wine at the Offertory of the mass, let your daily prayer be this:
• “O God, Who in creating human nature didst wonder-fully dignify it and still more wonderfully elevate it grant that no word, thought or action of mine may ever injure that dignity of man or in any way debase it. Grant that through me many may come to partake of His Divinity Who deigned to partake of our humanity, Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God world without end, Amen.”
Invitation to Return
Ever mindful that as pastors and protectors of the flock we must be like Him, a Good Shepherd, a Father of the Prodigal, we seek out those who have strayed. “We invite them with all possible solicitude to return to the maternal bosom of the Church. God grant that they listen to Our voice. God grant that hence they set out, whether they may return, to their Father’s house: that where their true place is, there they may remain, among the ranks of those who, zealously following the directions promulgated by Leo XIII and solemnly repeated by ourselves, unremittingly endeavor to reform society according to the mind of the Church on a firm basis of social justice and social charity. Let it be their firm persuasion that nowhere, even on earth, can they find an ampler happiness than in company with Him, who being rich become poor for our sakes, that through His poverty we might become rich (II Cor. viii, 8): who was poor and in labors from His youth (Ps. xxxvii, 16): who invites to Himself all who labor and are hurdened that He may give them His rest bounteously in the love of His heart (Matt.xi, 28): who, in fine, without any respect for persons, will require of him to whom more has been entrusted (Luke xii, 48), and ‘will return to each one according to his work’ (Matt. xi, 28)”.68
“The way leading to true peace is long and hard, and impeded by bariers and thorns. However, the great majority of men are ready to make the sacrifice” in order to be preserved from the catastrophe of a new war. Still, the undertaking is so great and merely human means is so ineffective, that we turn our gaze to heaven and raise our hands in supplication to Him Who from the glory of the Divinity came down to our level and became ‘one of us’.
“The power of the Saviour Who moves the hearts of rulers wherever He wills, like the streams of water whose course He regulates (cf. Prov. 21, 1), can still the tempest that tosses the bark, when not only the companions of Peter are alarmed, but the whole human race. However, it is the sacred duty of the Church’s children to implore with their prayers and sacrifices the Lord of the world, Jesus Christ, God blessed forever (Rom. 9, 5), to command the winds and the sea, and grant to harassed humanity the great calm (Matt. 8, 26) of true peace.”69
For the Catholic Hierarchy of the Philippines:
(Sgd.)+GABRIEL M. REYES, D.D.
Archbishop of Manila
President, Administrative Council
1 Pius XII, Dec. 6, 1950 2 Pius XII, Christmas Message, 1950 3 Genesis I, 2 4 Pius XI, Divini Redemptoris, #51 5 Hon. Paul A. Dever, Address delivered at the 68th annual convention of the Knights of Columbus, New York, August 15, 1950. 6 Pius XI, Caritate Christi Compulsi, #20 7 Sermon on the Mount, Matt. V, 28 8 Pius XII, Christmas Message, 1950 9 Psalm 126/1 10 Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum 11 Pius XII, Dec. 6, 1950 12 Pius XII, Dec. 6, 1950 13 Pius XII, Address to Religious, Dec. 8, 1950 14 John XV, 5 15 Pius XII, to representatives of the Fiat Automotive Plant, Oct. 31, 1948 16 Pius XI, Dilectissima Nobis, #9 17 American Hierarchy, “Child: Citizen of Two Worlds” – October 1950 18 Philippine Constitution, Art. II, Sec. 2 19 Pius XI, Reppresentanti in Terra, #79 20 Pius XI, Ubi Arcano, #24 21 Pius XI, Reppresentanti in Terra #61 22 Pius XI, Reppresentanti in Terra #63 23 Pius XI, Reppresentanti in Terra #82 24 Pius X 25 Michael de la Bodoyere, Social Order, Sept. 1948
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Joint Statement of the Philippine Hierarchy at the Close of the Holy Year (1950-1951)