A Joint Pastoral Letter of the Catholic Bishops of the Philippines
Mindful of the grave office we have from Jesus Christ, of guarding and guiding the flock He has entrusted to us; mindful also of the Apostle’s solemn command to preach the word insistently, to teach and exhort in all patience and doctrine, we feel it necessary to speak out to all Catholics of the Philippines, and to all men of good will, concerning the great crisis that is now swiftly descending on the Far East. Already a vast sector in this part of the world has been engulfed by the tide of advancing Communism. Already refugees, fleeing to these islands, warn us by their very presence that, even as this land is the nearest haven from the peril, so it is one of the next points threatened. For a long time now the agents of that sinister peril have been among us, seeking to undermine our people from within; nor can the persuasiveness of their propaganda be checked by mere force. For the appeal of that propaganda is to men’s consciousness of injustices done to them, and the use of force without repairing the injustices done can only be felt by them as a new and more flagrant injustice.
Genuine Re-Construction Needed
There can be, then, no effective defense against the Communist menace unless we remove that whereon Communism feeds and grows: widespread grievous injustice, –injustice of the high against the low, of the strong against the weak, of the landlord against his tenants and the employer against his employees. What our society cries for in this emergency is a sound structure — not merely of theory, but of practice — whose unshakable foundation is justice and whose fair crown is charity. Since this demand of a Christian society is primarily a moral one, it is the hierarchy’s duty, as divinely constituted guardians and teachers of Christian morality, to define what that morality prescribes, to urge on all their flock the fulfilling of those prescriptions, and in this way to take its part in the building of that sound social fabric which all good people desire. On this subject, indeed, we have already spoken in a brief statement of social principles issued after our meeting in 1948. What we do here is to reiterate those principles, to explain them in greater detail, and, as the peril draws nearer and grows more urgent, to call on all men and women of good will to enter the struggle for a truly Catholic social order.
True Basis for Social Peace
The true and lasting basis for social peace is to be found in the opening words of the prayer taught to us by our divine Lord Himself. If all men, if even all leaders of men, would submit to the simple truth of those two wonderful words, all human strife, together with all the injustices, envy, and greed that are at the bottom of all human strife, would cease. With every man subject to God as to loving Father, every man would become a brother indeed to every other man, recognizing in him not merely an equal nature with equal rights, but also an image of God to be honored and loved; not merely a joint-heir with himself of the earth and its fruits, but also of heaven and its happiness; one whose right to that heavenly happiness was bought by the Blood and Death of God Himself; and whose human nature has been exalted to a superhuman, to a divine dignity by the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity.
The Earth Meant for All Men
To all men during their time of pilgrimage and trial on earth God has given the means of living in accord with the lofty dignity and duties of their state as rational beings and as children of God. The very first of the means He put at their disposal for this purpose was the earth and its resources. To Adam and Eve as representatives of the whole race God said, “Subject the earth and rule over the fishes of the sea, the birds of the air, and all living things that move on the earth… I have given you everything for your food”. Not to any one race or nation or class were they assigned more than to any other; nor that a small minority should have plenty and be lords, while the vast majority of men should be hopelessly destitute and dependent; but to all were they given, that all might obtain from them a living in accord with their dignity as reasonable beings, rulers of the earth, sons of the one father Adam, and of the one Father God. Such was God’s primary purpose in putting the earth and its resources at man’s disposal, and no subsequent property rights acquired by individuals or societies can invalidate that purpose. Even in the hands of private possessors the earth and its wealth must serve the needs and rights of all men.
Material Requisites for Decent Living
Among the rights that God has given to man are the right to live in a manner proper to his dignity, and the right to marry and to live with his wife and children in simple comfort.
The family is a true society whose existence and constitution are prior to the state; indeed the family is the very foundation on which the state is built. The state must protect the family, therefore, in order to protect itself.
If a man has the right to marry, and the duty to care for his family, he must also have the right to those material goods he needs to fulfill his duty in a manner befitting his human dignity.
He has therefore the right to a sufficiency of decent food and clothing for himself and his family; to a decent home; to the means whereby to educate his children properly; to a decent provision for sickness and old age; and to leisure and means for moderate and wholesome recreation. Without these minimum standards of good living, a healthy family life, beneficial to its members and to the state, cannot flourish.
In the present economy the great bulk of the country’s land and wealth are possessed by a small minority to whom the rest must come for work. Such an economy can be justified only if this great majority of the people can obtain in return for their work a wage that will supply them with the minimum human standard of living which we have defined above: a wage, namely, that will enable a man to provide a sufficiency of decent food and clothing for himself and his family, a decent home, security for sickness and old age, and the means and leisure for moderate and wholesome recreation. To all of these every man has a strict right; and when the only means by which a man can obtain them is in exchange for his labor, he must be able to obtain them in exchange for his labor. In other words, a man’s labor must be worth at least a wage that guarantees him all these. Such a wage we call a “family wage”. We say that every employer owes his employees in this sense a family wage, and that he owes it not in charity merely, but as a duty of social justice.
The necessity that drives mothers of families to work because their husbands’ earnings cannot support the family decently is a great social evil; for, in striking at the very constitution of the family, it strikes at the deepest foundation of the state. Employers should ponder this fact. They should also reflect that if they hire women in preference to men, because women are less conscious of their rights and more docile to exploitation; if they thus compel men to compete with women in the labor market, and by so doing force down the wages of both men and women, they are guilty not only of an iniquitous and shameful practice; they may also be hastening the hour of a terrible retribution on themselves.
To protect his right to a decent living and to cooperate in building a solid and equitable social order, every man has the right to enter into association with this fellowmen. It is morally wrong, (and in our country a crime punishable by law) for any one to interfere with this natural right either by threats or by discrimination against those who join such associations. So long as these organizations are peaceful and seek their objectives by lawful means, they are of true benefit to their members and to society as a whole. Labor, in fact, can have no effective voice as long as it is unorganized; to protect its rights it must be free to bargain collectively through its own chosen representatives.
All workers, whether their work be manual or mental, should jealously guard this right of association. They should be especially watchful to see that they are led by honest and capable men who strive sincerely for the good of the worker and the good of society at large, rather than for their own enrichment at the expense of the worker, or for enhancing their power and prestige by exaggerating difficulties and deliberately fostering trouble between workers and employers. Those workers who have had the benefit of a Catholic education have a special duty to protect their fellow-workers from such evil leadership, and to accept, when they can, responsible positions in their organizations. There is great need today for men eager to better the condition of the workers by intelligent methods; men ready to cooperate with those employers who want to deal fairly with their employees.
Far from being harmful, unions organized and led in a truly democratic fashion will be a great help to conscientious employers. The social order too will move more effectively towards its proper goal, when associations of workers and associations of employers in a given industry unite harmoniously to study and solve the problems of that industry, and to coordinate it with other industries similarly organized into voluntary groups that represent both capital and labor.
The State’s Duty
It is the duty of the state to see that the benefits of the social order are distributed equitably among all its members, and that no man takes to himself so much wealth or control of wealth that others are deprived of their due share. This function the state will perform partly by fostering the efforts of good men, partly by the efforts of its own representatives, –and, where it is needed, –by judicious social legislation that is vigorously carried into execution; but never should the state assume functions that belong by right to the family, or which can better be carried out by private persons or groups within the nation. In acting thus to promote the peace and prosperity of all its members, the state does not act against individual property rights; it merely gives those rights a wider, fairer and more secure distribution.
The Citizen’s Duty
Where government is carried on by elected representatives of the people, it is the duty of all citizens to take a serious and intelligent interest in the government and to see that only men of solid moral worth and ability, — men who subordinate their private interests to the public good, — are chosen to be the people’s representatives. Not by blindly supporting one faction against another will the citizen fulfill his obligations in a democratic community, but by carefully scrutinizing all candidates for public office, and by choosing only men of proved honesty and ability. If a man does not respect the law of God in his private life, how can he be expected to govern according to the law of God the affairs of a great people?
When there is a manifest dearth of good men among the candidates for public office, good men with the needed ability must come forth from the shelter of private life. They should not shirk the responsibility of office when their people need them, but should humbly and manfully accept the obligation of leadership and make whatever scarifices are needed for the common good.
Citizens who are entrusted with the government of their people should realize that theirs is a sublime and sacred obligation, to be fulfilled courageously and to the best of their skill, without favoring privileged classes against the poor, or accepting personal advantages that might come from the betrayal of their trust.
Responsibility of the Vote
Divine Providence, by placing us in a democracy, has put in our hands the power of choosing the men who will exercise authority over us. It is therefore the most sacred duty of the voter carefully to examine candidates and their policies, and, above all, irrespective of political parties or factions, to cast his vote only for those whose principles and conduct will advance the best interest, moral and social, of the people and the state. We address our appeal particularly to you, the workers, whether agricultural or industrial. Realize that the vote is your guarantee that you will have good men to govern you; it is your protection against abuse of office by false leaders. Treasure that right to vote; exercise it freely, intelligently, and with the greatest vigilance, lest any man infringe on your legitimate liberty of choice. Because of your economic dependence you are more easily exposed to pressure from unscrupulous men. Rise to the dignity with which God has endowed you. When men insult your intelligence and your dignity by trying to obtain your vote with bribes or threats, stand firm and scorn such disgraceful attempts. By doing so, you will be able to place in office men who will improve your working conditions and lift your standard of living, enabling you to enjoy peace and simple comfort with your dear ones.
To men who have power, whether political or financial, we appeal also. Respect the freedom and the right of those who are dependent on you. Remember that to be elected representative of the people is properly an honor only for the man who was freely chosen by the people for his integrity and ability, and who has not found his way to office through crooked manipulations at the polls or by pressure brought to bear on defenseless men. Our just God will one day judge with terrible rigor all such abuses.
The government should foster by all reasonable means an increased production and a wider distribution of wealth. In performing this task it should, other things being equal, lend its support more to the worker and to the small farmer, rather than to the big capitalist. The wealthy usually are well provided with means to protect their rights; it is the poorer man, often helpless if left alone to defend himself against men of great wealth and power, who needs the government’s assistance to secure that peace and prosperity which is its government’s obligation to promote.
Pope Leo XIII expressed this principle forcefully in his immortal encyclical letter, “Rerum Novarum”:
In this and other encyclicals, letters so called because they are addressed to the entire Catholic world, the Popes, especially Leo XIII, Pius XI, and our present reigning Pontiff, Pius XII, have expounded the principles of a sane social order in a fashion recognized as masterly by fair-minded men the world over. We have in this letter merely touched on certain major points of the Papal teaching. At some future date we hope to explain more in detail the applications of these principles to our Philippine economy.
All good men must realize that the crisis through which our people are passing is very grave, hardly less grave than the emergency of war itself. Men rightly demand a more equitable arrangement of our social economy, and they will not be satisfied with anything less than full justice.
Those Most in Need of Help
It is those at the bottom of the social order who need its benefits most. Hence, those who are already enjoying a decent living standard should be patient while all cooperate to lift these others nearer to that level. Afterwards there will be time to see what adjustments are proper for those whose skills or special talents entitle them to a still greater reward for their work.
During the emergency of war, good men did not think it too much to offer their lives to protect their homes, their families, their soil, and the freedom of their people. At this time those homes and families, the proper use of the soil, and a reasonable freedom for all citizens are in real danger, not immediately from a hostile nation, but from gross distortions of charity and justice in the social order. The men who in war’s emergency were ready to risk their lives, must not hesitate in this new emergency to strive at no matter what personal cost, (for what sacrifice of property or wealth can be compared with the offering of one’s life?) to keep faith with their slain comrades, and to honor their memory by building a social structure worthy of the supreme sacrifice that they made.
No good man can think without an aching heart of the bitter strife that is spilling on the soil of our beloved land the blood of men whom God intended to live together as brothers. No man should think that more serious strife can be avoided unless the leadership of good men is forthcoming to lead the poor to a better standard of living.
Those who would defend a system of private property must take care that it is a system which brings private property to all, and not a system which means an ever increasing concentration of that property within the hands of a few, while millions of people are left with no private property at all. It is not high-flown rhetoric that will stop the advances of Communism, but only the vigorous, sustained execution of reforms that will let men see the beauty, and experience the joy, of living in a truly Christian social order. Compared with the warm and soul-satisfying Christian program of life, Communism is a godless and heartless scheme aimed at man’s total enslavement and degradation. But that Christian program must dominate all the actions of men — their financial dealings as well as every other. It is only a practical Christianity, lived and not merely praised, that can rescue men from pernicious social error and from ultimate disaster.
Responsibility of Leaders to God
Those who govern must never forget that the authority they possess is derived from God. In exercising it therefore, they must strive always to mirror as perfectly as they can the justice, the fatherliness joined with firmness, and the wisdom, of God. Any misuse of that authority He will judge severely. He will regard as done to Himself every wrong done to one of His people; above all, any wrong done to His poor.
The Misuse of Wealth
Now more than ever before, the rich must keep in mind that their right to their wealth is not absolute or unlimited. They are, as Christ forcibly warned the rich Pharisees of His day, merely stewards of that wealth for all mankind, under God to whom belongs the supreme property right over all His creation. Consequently, they should manage the wealth at their disposal so as to benefit not only themselves but the common good. This obligation they can discharge partly by the direct relief of those who are suffering; and this they should do generously, giving as to brothers in need. But besides alms and similar temporary methods of relief, wealthy men should seek a more permanent solution by investing their wealth in enterprises that increase the output of useful goods and furnish productive employment to many men. Thus they will enable the destitute to provide for themselves, and will lessen the need of providing alms and doles.
Vulgar and Useless Display
It is particularly to be deplored that in these critical times some men and women of wealth should persist in vain and vulgar displays, displays that provoke the disgust of good people and the indignation of those who lack even the bare necessities of life. Is it a seemly thing that some members of God’s family should go hungry while others squander wealth in prodigal ostentation? All sensible people can see that this abominable contradiction is totally alien to the Christian spirit of justice, charity and humility.
Let it be the glory of Christian men and women who have wealth that they do not attach their hearts to it, nor despise or forget the poor. They should give all men an example of sober Christian living, and they should show by their behavior that in every human person, whether rich or poor, they see a living image of God. How else can rich men act if they remember that the God they adore, when He clothed Himself with our human nature, passed by the wealthy and leisured classes and chose the poor, lowly, hardworking status of a village carpenter? What other attitude befits the rich woman who recalls that Mary the Mother of God performed all the humblest tasks of a poor housewife, and did not find them out of keeping with her dignity as Queen of angels and men?
Invitation to Communists
To those of our beloved flock — (we say this from the bottom of our hearts), — to those who have been led by the injustices of the present social order to seek a redress in Communism, we say: examine with a fair and open mind what we have said; study the true Catholic social teachings as they have been laid down by Leo XIII, Pius XI, and our present Pontiff, Pope Pius XII. Then say honestly: Do you find anything in those teachings that is prejudicial to the best interests of the worker? Do you not rather find in them a noble, sound and practical basis for the rebuilding of society in a way that is fair to all men? It is no opium of the people that those teachings offer! On the contrary, they provide the strongest incentive men can have to make them vow never to rest until the earth’s wealth, destined by God for the whole human brotherhood, shall, in fulfillment of that destiny, provide a good living for every human being in the world. We know well that men and women who make an outward show of piety while they refuse justice and charity to the worker bring discredit upon the religion they profess. But this discredit is undeserved. When Catholics fail to fulfill what the Church plainly declares to be their grave duty, it is not their religion that is to be blamed, but the gross neglect of their religion.
We pray God to enlighten the minds and strengthen the wills of all men in these islands that we may combine our efforts for a full Christian reconstruction of social order. Only thus can a social eruption be avoided, the very thought of which should suffice to goad all good men into action.
When men live in reasonable comfort, free from the depressing uncertainties of their economic status, then are they best able to raise their hearts to God. Just as Communism exploits injustice and hatred to impose a program that would blacken out all human culture and all the divine aspirations of the human heart, so Christianity necessarily works for justice and charity that human culture may be increased and the divine aspirations of the human heart may be satisfied; or to use our Lord’s own beautiful words, that all men “may have life and have it more abundantly.”
– THE CATHOLIC BISHOPS OF THE PHILIPPINES
Joint Pastoral Letter
Dearly Beloved in the Lord:
“God made man right,” the Ecclesiastes tells us, “and he hath entangled himself with an infinity of questions.” (VII, 30). Lending an ear to the enticement of the infernal serpent, man proposed unto himself the initial question, asking his own self whether he could attain, by his own power, to happiness whilst embracing the evil with which God had threatened him if he should transgress His commandment. And when he so attempted and violated the divine mandate, he lost for himself and his descendants, the original justice in which he had been created and the gift of immortality that went with it, commencing to feel the rebellion of the passions, that engulfed him in an infinity of insoluble questions.
God Almighty, in His infinite mercy, took compassion on man and promised him, at the time of his fall, and sent him, in the plenitude of the ages, “the Sun of Justice” (Malach., IV, 2), Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in order that, allowing himself to be enlightened by the light of His faith and invigorated by the fire of His charity, man might once again possess, through Christ, the righteousness and the happiness he had lost through Adam.
Yet, the world, particularly today, closes its eyes to the light of Christ and will not accept His friendship and grace; thus it is that we find it immersed in a sea of intricate problems arising from the want of justice. Nevertheless, the inclination towards justice has been so profoundly impressed by the Creator upon the human soul, that the world would palliate, with the name of justice, the greatest iniquities.
Thence, the confusion that has been introduced into the human mind concerning this cardinal virtue and the necessity there exists for us, the Prelates, to raise our voice in order to explain to our beloved faithful the nature and excellence of the virtue of justice; towards whom ought we to practice this virtue; and how great is the evil of the contrary vice.
I. Nature and Excellence of the Virtue of Justice
The Angelic Doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas (II-II, 2.58, a.I), defines the virtue of justice in this wise: “Justice is a habit whereby a man renders to each one his due by a constant and perpetual will;” that is to say, justice moves us to give to each one his due always and in all things, and prompts us to translate that will into action at all times and everywhere.
The bare definition manifests the importance of this virtue. It is one of the four cardinal virtues, called thus, for they are like the cornerstones or foundations of a truly christian life, a life that, rising above the senses man has in common with the beasts, and following the dictates of human reason, — so proper to man — and of the faith received from God, opens the way to the temporal and eternal well-being of all men.
Moreover, justice surpasses in excellence all the other cardinal virtues, because prudence, fortitude, and temperance perfect man in himself, make him good unto himself; but, justice makes man good for himself and towards others. Prudence rectifies the practical dictate of reason in regard to the moral goodness or malice of the personal, singular acts; temperance moderates the lower appetite of the sensual delights; fortitude strengthens the same lower appetite against the fear of physical dangers attendant on the fulfillment of duty; but, justice perfects the superior appetite, the will, that moves all the other human powers, even reason itself, towards performing their proper acts, using them and the external things with absolute dominion. The will makes man a master of himself and a lord over his actions; hence it is that man is simply good or bad according as to whether his will be informed by justice or not. Justice is, therefore, the paramount human virtue amongst the main or cardinal virtues.
No longer would the praises heaped upon justice even by the gentile sages seem strange. The prince of Greek philosophers, Aristotle, has said: (Ethos, I., V, c.1): “The most eminent of virtues appears to be that of justice, and there is no evening light or morning star so admirable.” And the prince of Roman orators, Tullius, averred (DE OFFICE 1., I, tit. De iustitia): “The splendour of virtue is at its highest in that of justice, whereby men are called good.” Yet, these praises are far surpassed by those rendered to this virtue by the Holy Scriptures in countless passages such as that in Wisdom (I, 15): “For justice is perpetual and immortal”; and in that of the Proverbs (IV, 18): “But the path of the just, as a shining light, goeth forwards and increaseth even unto perfect day.”
It is Isaias, however, that gives us the praise of justice most worthy of consideration these days. Contemplating the messianic reign adorned with the practice of justice, the prophet exclaims: “And the work of justice shall be peace: and the service of justice quietness and security for ever. And my people shall sit in the beauty of peace, and in the tabernacles of confidence, and in perfect rest.” (XXXII, 17-18). It is true, peace is the proper effect of charity, that unites the affections of the will and the wills in God, by loving God for His Own Self and the neighbour for the love of God (ST. THOM., II-II, q.19, a.III); but, justice must needs start preparing the way, removing the hindrances to peace, such as offenses, and introducing order. St. Augustine writes: “The peace of all things is the tranquility of order. And order is the disposition of things, equal and unequal, that gives them the places proper to each of them.” (De civit. Dei, 1, XIX, c. 13; MIGNE P.L. , vol. 41, col. 640). And what is justice, as understood by all, but the habitual disposition to give to each one what is his due? It is, therefore, evident that justice is the foundation of peace, that peace we anxiously long for. Let us bring it to reality.
II. Towards Whom Ought We to Practice the Virtue of Justice
The proper act of justice, according to the definition of this virtue, is to give to every one his due, what is owed him, as of right, be it in our actions or in the external things we employ in our acts; it always refers to some one else, individually or collectively; and, it always looks towards what is owed to God or to men, to the individual or to society. The greater the right of another, the more would we be bound by justice towards him. We ought, therefore, to practice virtue towards God, the Church, the Country, and individuals.
a) Justice towards God: – We owe to God everything that we are, in the natural and in the supernatural orders; and, although we should surrender whatever we be in both orders, never would our surrender satisfy fully the right of the creditor, Who is Infinite. Hence it is that justice towards God is different in kind from, and is far above, injustice towards men, and it has its proper name: it is called religion.
Religion is the virtue that inclines us to give to God the worship that is due to Him. We ought to render to God Almighty internal worship by firmly believing the truths revealed in the Scriptures and in Tradition, summarised in the Symbol of the Apostles and entrusted to the Catholic Church for their custody and preservation; We expect to receive the eternal glory to which He has destined us, relying, not on our own powers, but on the divine aid, that sanctifies us and helps us do good through the merits of Our Lord, Jesus Christ; and, by loving Him with all our hearts and above all things, willingly desirous of losing all things rather than transgress anyone of the divine commandments.
We ought likewise to render to the Lord external worship, both private and public; not the worship that should cater to the fancy of any one individual or society, but the worship that is due Him, that which has been determined by God the Son made man, our Redeemer, Christ Jesus, when He instituted the Holy Mass and the Sacraments and give to His Church authority to administer them, and, therefore, to determine the prayers and accidental rituals, that would clothe with reverence their administration. All men, therefore, both as individuals and as members of society, for under both aspects they do proceed from God, are in duty bound by justice to render Him the worship He has determined personally and through His Church, the Catholic Church, which is the only true Church.
b) Justice towards the Church: – Man is by nature social: It being impossible for the individual alone to procure unto himself the many and varied things necessary to his perfection, he is naturally bound to join efforts with his fellowmen, in order that, some of them being devoted to certain things and others to some other things, and all together directed towards the common good by social authority, each of them might participate of that common good according to the degree of the needs of his individual perfection. Society is a whole and the individuals constitute its part; and between the whole and its parts there is a double relation of duties: the parts ought to ordain themselves with a view to the common good of the whole, and the whole ought to distribute the common good equitably among its parts. The first duty is the concern of legal or social justice, whereby the subjects order their actions towards the common good and, therefore, towards the good of all their fellowmen. The second duty is attended to by distributive justice, by virtue of which the social authority distributes among the subjects the charges and recompenses in proportion to the conditions and circumstances of each one of them.
But human nature has been elevated by divine goodness to the supernatural end of everlasting glory, that man must likewise achieve in a social manner. Every man is, therefore, subject to two orders, the natural and the supernatural; and he is the subject of two societies, civil and religious; and, towards both we are in duty bound to practise social justice in their respective spheres.
The only religious society instituted by the God-Man, Our Lord Jesus Christ, for the eternal salvation of all men redeemed by His Blood, is the Roman, Catholic, Apostolic Church, of which we become members through baptism, incorporating ourselves to Christ, Who remains the Spiritual Head of the human race and active Sovereign of His Church, represented on earth by His Vicar, the Roman Pontiff. By distributive justice, the Vicar of Christ and, under Him, the Bishops, successors of the Apostles, the Priests and Ministers, that constitute the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, distribute to the common treasure of salvation, the revealed doctrine, the sacramental grace, the public prayers, the Holy Sacrifice, and the governance of the souls.
Both the Hierarchy and the faithful form only one Church, one Mystical Body of Christ. Consequently, in response to that distributive justice of the Hierarchy, the faithful ought to practise social justice, making use of the spiritual benefits, not only for personal, individual gain, but also for the social good of the entire Church. And just as the body is ordained to the soul and the temporal is subject to the eternal, the faithful likwise are in duty bound, according to justice, to contribute, in the temporal sphere, in keeping with their means, towards the maintenance of the worship and the clergy and for the satisfaction of the ordinary necessities of the Church.
There is yet one point to consider. The Church is our Mother in the spiritual order. She gives us birth through Baptism; rears us to the adult age through Confirmation; nourishes us with the doctrinal teachings and the Holy Eucharist; cures us with Penance; increases us through Matrimony; educates us through discipline and worship; governs us through the Sacrament of Holy Orders; and, lastly introduces us to eternal glory through Extreme Unction and suffrages. Even as we cannot render unto God everything that is owed him, so neither can we adequately repay our parents; that is why, justice towards our parents has a special name, to wit, piety. Leo XIII, in his Encyclical “Immortale Dei ” of 1st November, 1885, summarized thus our pious obligations towards the Church: “The faithful ought further to love the Church as a common Mother and submissively observe her laws and look after her honour and safeguard her rights and endeavour to have those under their care honour and love her with the same piety.”
The practice of social justice and of piety towards the Church is that Catholic Action to which, not only the members subscribed to the organization that bears that name, but, in their own way, all the faithful are bound.
c) Justice towards the Country: – We now call country that civil society to which we belong. Its end is to procure the temporal tranquility of the citizens, providing them with sufficient means for the natural human perfection of this life, that might serve as a basis for the supernatural perfection that has been entrusted to the Church. Grace is superimposed upon nature, not to destroy it, but to elevate and perfect it to a divine degree. It is impossible to attain the supernatural end of everlasting glory if the natural human order is not followed strictly. We are, therefore, bound to practise towards the Country the same virtues of justice and of piety to which it has a right that we ought to practise towards the Church in its own sphere. Both orders are so united by the will of God that it does not depend upon human will to separate one from the other.
Thus, the individuals ought to practise towards the Country social justice, directing all our actions towards the common good. St. Paul explains this obligation to the faithful in Rome, when he concludes his instructions concerning the civil authority with these words: “Render therefore to all men their dues, Tribute, to whom tribute is due: custom, to whom custom: fear, to whom fear honour, to whom honour.” (Rom., XIII, 7).
We ought likewise to practise piety towards the Country, as an extension that it is of the family, so much so that its original name derives from that of Parents — “Patria”. We are born in it and from it we continually receive the natural means for perfection. We ought to love her, honour her, serve her and defend her, if need be, with our blood.
For their part, those invested with social authority, to whatever extent or degree, are in duty bound to practise towards the people distributive justice, making use of their authority or discharging the duties of their offices, not for personal aggrandisement, but for the good of the citizens under their charge and in the proportion due to each one of them without regard of person. And, although this virtue principally belongs to the authorities,it embraces likewise the citizens that dispense the honours or privileges with the decorum and dignity that the lofty aim for which they have been bestowed demands.
d) Justice among the Individuals: – Where the concept of justice more properly finds expression is among the individuals that regard themselves as equals, for justice connotes a certain equality. Thus, when two things adapt themselves mutually to such an extent as to equalise themselves, we say that they adjust themselves. And the same expression, “adjustment,” is employed when two persons freely and in good faith agree to exchange one thing for another by means of a contract. That is why, justice among the individuals is called commutative, for it takes place in commutation by express or implied contract, which demands equality between the things subject of the commutation.
Commutative justice so strictly demands this equality in the things, that if one of the contracting parties, through deceit or violence, should obtain more than what he receives, he would never make his own the excess and would be in duty bound to restore it to the injured party. And if such obligation exacts justice in voluntary commutations, how much more bound to restitution would be those that, without any contract whatsoever, appropriate the properties of others against the will of the latter, and those that unjustly injure their fellowmen, either in their person or in their good name.
It must be noticed that when we talk of individuals, we do not limit ourselves to two individuals or physical persons. Legitimate corporations or moral persons, and, therefore, the very nations and governments themselves, may contract by and between themselves or with concrete individuals. Then, commutative justice sets in with all its exigencies, as if it dealt with two particular individuals. And since moral persons, like physical individuals, may legitimately possess property, real and personal, and have a right to their integrity and their good name, there may be, as between corporation and corporation or a corporation and an individual and vice-versa, a prejudice or injury that would strictly exact restitution from whosoever of them should have violated justice.
By these, beloved faithful, you may realise the importance of this virtue of commutative justice, that must needs regulate the constant relations among men. On the other hand, you well know how difficult it is to observe faithfully the equality demanded of all commutations in the human life. From both these thoughts you may conclude how rightfully is commutative justice, even as a particular virtue, considered as one of the principal or cardinal virtues.
III. The Evil of Injustice
Lastly, we are now to contrast the goodness and beauty of justice with the sordidness and malice of the contrary vice, injustice; in order that with the force of comparison, we may be moved more intensely to practise the virtue and escape the vice.
And to be more precise, although injustice may be committed against all species of justice, we shall limit ourselves to the vice opposed to commutative justice. Injustice in this sense consists in causing undue damage to the fellowman, in his external goods through theft, in his person by homicide, in his reputation by adultery, or in his good name by false testimony and detraction.
The mere enumeration of these crimes causes horror. And all of them are species of injustice. Besides, all of them are opposed to the charity we owe our fellowmen and, are, therefore, mortal sins, for they slay the life of the soul, which is charity. All these are grievously forbidden by Almighty God in the last six precepts of the Decalogue, not only with regard to the external act, but likewise to internal desires. All of them entail the obligation of restitution, each in its own way. To them all may be applied St. Augustine’s saying: “The sin will not be forgiven if the thing stolen be not restored”, when possible (Epist. ad Macedonium, n. 20; MIGNE P.L., vol. 33, col. 662).
In connection with his point we would like to specially consider the following: In the sins of homicide, adultery and detraction restitution of the thing taken away is impossible. Restitution must, therefore, be made through an equivalent compensation so adjudged by prudence. But, in theft, restitution is almost always possible, be it through the return of the very thing stolen or its just value. Let those, therefore, that have stolen or its just value. Let those, therefore, that have stolen and still retain valuable things belonging to others, against the will of their owners, bear in mind that, as long as they do not restore them or their value, they remain in a continuous state of mortal sin, that may not be forgiven them, even if they should go to confession, until they have first made an efficacious resolution of returning them as soon as they find themselves in a position to do so. The lapse of time, however long, does not matter. At all times and everywhere, the adage will still hold true: “Res clamat domino suo.”: All things call for their true owner.
The thief will never acquire a legitimate right to the thing stolen, for the ownership of things can only be transmitted through a legitimate title. He could, perhaps, ignore human justice; but, he will not escape the justice of God, Who has said: “And I will come to you in judgment and will be a speedy witness against sorcerers and adulterers and false swearers and them that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widows and the fatherless; and oppress the stranger and have not feared me, saith the Lord of hosts.” (MALACH., III, 5).
Far be it from you, our dearly beloved, to merit this sentence of the Lord. On the contrary, we are certain that, with the practise of justice in all its species, you will be unto others the good odour of Christ and you will attract with your example many of the wayward, receiving, at length, the reward promised in the prophecy of Daniel: “and they that instruct many to justice (shall shine) as stars for all eternity.” (DANIEL., XII, 3).
That it may thus, we impart to you all our paternal blessings.
Given in Manila, Philippines, this 22nd day of January, 1949.
(Sgd.)+MIGUEL J. O’DOHERTY, D.D.
(Sgd.)+GABRIEL M. REYES, D.D.
(Sgd.)+ALFREDO VERZOSA, D.D.
(Sgd.)+SANTIAGO SANCHO, D.D.
(Sgd.)+CONSTANCIO JURGENS, CICM
(Sgd.)+LUIS DEL ROSARIO, SJ
(Sgd.)+JAMES T.G. HAYES, SJ
SJ(Sgd.)+CASIMIRO LLADOC, D.D.
(Sgd.)+MIGUEL ACEBEDO, D.D.
(Sgd.)+MANUEL MASCARINAS, D.D.
(Sgd.)+MARIANO A. MADRIAGA,D.D.
(Sgd.)+PEDRO P. SANTOS,D.D.
(Sgd.)+JOHN VRAKKING, MSH
(Sgd.)+JOSE MA. CUENCO, D.D.
(Sgd.)+JULIO ROSALES, D.D.
(Sgd.)+ALFREDO OBVIAR, D.D.
(Sgd.)+JUAN C. SISON, D.D.
(Sgd.)+RUFINO J. SANTOS, D.D.
(Sgd.)+WILLIAM BRASSEUR, CICM
(Sgd.) FR. LEANDRO NIETO, ORSA
(Sgd.)+ENRIQUE EDERLE, SVD
Statement of the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy
Sincere men of all walks of life earnestly seek to solve the pressing social problem. We wish to set down simply the true foundation of lasting peace and prosperity.
1. There is a true brotherhood of man founded in the true Fatherhood of God.
2. God has put man upon the earth to live in conformity with His law and so to win perfect happiness with Him in Heaven.
3. God has given to man all the gifts of the earth, the fruit of the fields, trees of the forest, beasts and fishes and all the natural riches buried in the earth. All these He has given for the proper use of all men.
4. To every man of every race God has given an eternal dignity with definite rights and duties.
5. Every man has right to live decently, to marry and to care for his family.
6. Since man has the right to marry and the duty to support to his family, he has also the right to enough material goods to obtain a good home, sufficient food and clothing, education for his children, reasonable recreation, and some reserve fund for sickness and old age.
7. In the present economy most men can obtain these things only by selling their labor in exchange for a wage. The just wage is not determined by the law of supply and demand. The just wage must be enough to support the workingman and his family.
8. To secure this decent living and to cooperate in building the true social order, man has a right to join any lawful association of his own choosing. If the organization is for legitimate ends and uses legitimate means, it is immoral for anyone to interfere with this right of the worker.
9. Employers have a moral obligation to pay their workers at least a family living wage. Workers have an obligation to respect the property of the employer and to do an honest day’s work for a fair reward.
10. The prime purpose of the economy is to provide a living for all its members. Profits must be secondary to that prime purpose.
11. Workers and owners are brothers, not enemies.
12. The complex nature of the modern economy requires the organization of workers and owners into voluntary harmonious groups for the solution of their common problems.
13. The legitimately constituted public authority has the right and the duty to regulate the use of private property in order to procure a decent human living for every person.
14. By this we do not mean that the state is an absolute master, as something ultimate, or as an absolute and supreme entity, exempt from control and from criticism. For the state is not an end in itself nor the last end of life. It is a means for the acquisition of the common good.
15. Useful human labor always had its own natural dignity. Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Mary, His Virgin Mother, still more wonderfully dignified that human labor. The Son of God was a carpenter. His Mother was a housewife.
Manila, January 20th, 1948.
(Sgd.)+SANTIAGO C. SANCHO
(Sgd.)+LUIS DEL ROSARIO, SJ
(Sgd.)+MARIANO A. MADRIAGA
(Sgd.)+JOHN C. WRAKKING
(Sgd.)+JOSE M. CUENCO
(Sgd.)FR. LEANDRO NIETO, AR
(Sgd.)FR. ENRIQUE EDERLE, SVD
SVD(Sgd.)+RUFINO J. SANTOS
Joint Pastoral Letter
Beloved Brethren in the Lord:
It is easy to see at a glance how the modern world is busily engaged in vain activities, occupying too much of its time in them, and foolishly hoping, by so doing, to gain temporal prosperity and happiness. These material gifts, however, were never as far away from us as at present, as if to give more meaning to these biblical words: “Lift not up thy eyes to riches which thou canst not have: because they shall make themselves wings like those of an eagle, and shall fly towards heaven”.
The world will never enjoy true happiness, even temporal happiness, if it will insist in divorcing itself from God and His divine laws, with which only we can expect to attain our ultimate goal.
The world is so much engrossed in temporal pursuits, that one precept of the Decalogue, in particular, “Remember that thou keep holy the sabbath day”, is fast being relegated to the realm of oblivion. Owing to these circumstances, beloved children, we are moved by necessity and by our duty to insist once more on the observance of this precept, in order to keep it ever alive and fresh in your minds and to keep you from forgetting it, because “you are not of this world”. We shall, therefore, explain to you, briefly, what is the sabbath and in what does it consist, how can it be sanctified, the punishments that follow its non-observance and the advantages of its fulfillment.
What is the day of rest?
Natural reason demands that man divide his time, in a convenient and adequate way, for the fulfillment and satisfaction of his multiple needs, — for his eating, sleeping and other physical activities. Man is composed of body and soul; he is not, therefore, only an animal. He is a rational animal. He has, not only his physical and material concerns, but also his spiritual needs to attend to and his religious and moral obligations to fulfill, both as an individual and as a member of society. It becomes, therefore, imperative that he should devote part of his time to these spiritual concerns, resting or taking time off from his material activities that may impede him from attending to the former. Hence the necessity, backed up by Natural Law, that man observe a day of rest, in order to dedicate it to his soul and to God, individually and socially.
Natural Law, however, does not determine this day of rest, nor the intervals of time between such days. It is God himself Who, being the loving Father of all, specified His will in a positive law, contained in the Decalogue, obliging man to have a full-day rest, and that this special day should be one of the seven of the week.
So far goes the moral law, natural and divine, that does not admit of any human change.
The choosing of a definite day of the week, for rest, falls within the sphere of a ceremonial precept in the religious order.
In the Mosaic Law, — the ceremonial precepts of which were all figurative of the coming of Christ and of His Church, — God Himself declared, among other things, that the day of rest should be the seventh day of the week, which was called the sabbath, and which in Hebrew means rest, cessation, vacation . In the Book of Exodus, the third precept of the Decalogue combines the moral aspect with the ceremonial, when it says, “Remember that thou keep holy the sabbath day. Six days shalt thou labour, and shalt do all thy works. But on the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: thou shalt do not work on it, thou nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy beast, nor the stranger that is within thy gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all things that are in them, and rested on the seventh day: therefore the Lord blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it”.
Saint Thomas Aquinas is very clear in his explanation of this law. “To set aside — he says — a specific time for divine things is a moral obligation. But to determine a special day in memory of the creation of the world is a ceremonial precept. It is ceremonial according to the allegorical sense, inasmuch as it was made a symbol of the rest of Christ in the sepulchre, which took place on the seventh day. It is also ceremonial in the moral sense, which signifies the cessation from sin in us and the rest which the soul should enjoy in God; in this sense it becomes a general precept. Finally, it is likewise ceremonial in the anagogic sense, inasmuch as it gives us a foretaste of the fruition of God in heaven. Hence the precept of the sanctification of the sabbath is enumerated as one of the commandments of the Decalogue by reason of its being a moral law, and not as a ceremonial precept”.
The ceremonies of the Old Law which prefigured Christ ceased to be binding with the death of Our Lord; although, for sometime, their observance was more or less tolerated. With the spread of the Gospel, however, compliance with these old ceremonies became pernicious, as they were still imbued with the old spirit and could lead the faithful to believe that Jesus had not yet come, or that He was not the Messiah prophesied in them. For this reason, the Apostles started celebrating the first day of the week, instead of the seventh, as we read in the Acts: “And on the first day of the week, when we were assembled to break bread, Paul discoursed with them.” The same St. Paul ordered the Corinthians to make the collection on the first day of the week. St. John, in the Apocalypse, calls this day Sunday, the Lord’s day, and as such it has come to stay and to be obligatory in the Universal Church since the beginning of the second century. Says St. Ignatius of Antioch to the Magnesians: “Instead of the seventh day, all lovers of Christ should celebrate Sunday, day of the Lord’s resurrection, He being the King of all days.”
All christians, therefore, are obliged, under pain of mortal sin, to observe Sunday as the day of rest. Those who might still profess to consider Saturday as the day of rest, in accordance with the Old Law, will incur in the heresy of the protestants, called sabbatists.
Aside from Sunday, we christians have also to observe the prescribed feasts of the Church, except when we are excused by some privilege. In the Philippines, we are bound to observe all the feasts that are prescribed in canon 1247, & 1, which are as follows: — Christmas (December 25), Circumcision (January 1), Epiphany (January 6), Ascension and Corpus Christi (movable), Immaculate Conception (December 8), Assumption of the Bl. Virgin Mary (August 15), St. Joseph (March 19), Saints Peter and Paul (June 29), and All Saints’ Day (November 1).
In what does Sunday rest consist?
In the Book of Exodus , referring to the third precept of the Decalogue, we infer the obligation to work, as imposed by God to man, on account of the first sin. We read in the Book of Genesis: “With labour and toil shalt thou eat thereof all the days of thy life.” And in order to save us from a purely materialistic interpretation of the text, the Lord Himself divides the time between work and rest ; ordering us to work during the six days of the week, and to refrain from the same, by resting, on the one day left. The same Lord defines for us the kind of work that we should abstain from, when He says: “You shall do no servile work therein”. Servile works are those that are done with physical exertion, proper of laborers.
The Angelic Doctor distinguishes three kinds of servitude: the servitude to sin, the servitude of one man to another man, and the servitude to God. Of the servitude to sin, the Gospel has the following to say: “Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin”. We should always abstain from sin, particularly if it is in the form of a servile work done on Sundays or on other feastdays, as the circumstance of the holiness of the time renders the sin more grievious.
The servitude of one man to another refers only to the body and never to the soul, as the soul of man is subject only to one God.
Masters and servants are equally obliged to serve God, body and soul, in work as well as in rest, everyday, according to the divine law. For this reason, spiritual or corporal works that are directly ordained for divine worship are not called servile, nor are they forbidden on feastday, since the divine worship is the end or object of the dominical and feastday rest. To adorn the church, for example, to erect an altar for religious purposes, or any other work that is directly related to divine worship, is permissible on Sundays and feastdays.
If the soul of man, as we have already affirmed, is not subject to any man but to God alone, it follows that spiritual work, or the good acts of the intellect and of the will, are not servile either. And neither are the corporal works that are directly ordained towards the perfection of our intellectual faculties, such as teaching, writing, drawing and other artistic labours, which are more properly called liberal works.
Because some of the so-called exterior or corporal works are of common, universal necessity, they are not considered servile. “Everybody”, says St. Thomas, “be he a slave or a freeman, is obliged to provide himself and his neighbors with the necessities of life”, especially in matters pertaining to his health and to the upkeep of his possessions. Of this nature, permissible on feastdays, are the works of preparing the food, arranging one’s apperance, cleaning the house, caring the sick, and safeguarding one’s properties, or his neighbor’s, from a grave danger of unforseen calamity, according to the words of the Lord: “What man shall there be among you that hath one sheep: and if the same fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not take hold of it and lift it up?”
The law of Sunday rest consists, therefore, in abstaining from any corporal work that is properly servile; that is, those works which since early times have always been considered as onerous and difficult, such as carpentry, iron-work, masonry, laundry, tailoring and other similar works because they are really fatiguing.
Canon 1248 forbids also forensic duties, public markets, fairs and public business enterprises, unless excused by legitimate customs or by a special indult.
In cases when there is urgent need to work on feastdays, the faithful are enjoined to obtain first a dispensation and to avoid scandal. These dispensations (canon 1245, & 1) can easily be obtained from the Ordinaries, or from the Parish Priests in particular cases.
How to sanctify the day of rest
The abstinence from servile work on Sundays and feastdays is only a negative factor that leads, or should lead, to the positive sanctification of these days. This positive aim is clearly understood in the third precept of the Decalogue: Remember to keep holy the day of rest.
St. Thomas teaches that, according to this law, those things are sanctified that are offered for divine worship. We should therefore dedicate to the worship of God our Sundays and feastdays. The principal act of our worship is the holy sacrifice of the mass; hence the grave precept of Holy Mother Church that we hear a complete mass on Sundays and other feastdays of obligation. It should be heard with the physical presence of the individual, and with his attention focussed on some spiritual truths as meditating on the mysteries represented by the ceremonies or praying with devotion.
This precept obliges all christians who have reached the age of reason, under pain of mortal sin unless excused by sickness or other grievious causes, as great distance from the church and lack of available transportation. It is highly recommended that these people who may be justly excused from the hearing of mass on the days of obligation make up for this omission by the recitation, in common, of the rosary or any other pious devotion.
Not only the time spent for Holy Mass, however, is to be sanctified; the rest of the day should likewise be sanctified in the way most convenient to each individual. Confession and Holy Communion are very laudable numbers in the program of the day. The hearing of the sermon and some spiritual reading would be very beneficial towards our religious perfection and that of our subordinates. Some acts of charity would also come in handy, remembering the words of St. James the Apostle: “Religion clean and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their tribulation and to keep one’s self unspotted from this world”. To visit, therefore, the sick and those people who might have special need of us, as also to enjoy a decent recreation with the family, are very much in order, as long as no offense against God would result from it. These feastdays, for good christians, should serve as prelude to the eternal rest that we expect to enjoy, afterwards, in heaven.
Punishments that threaten the non-observance of the Sunday rest.
We read in the Book of Numbers that “when the children of Israel were in the wilderness, and had found a man gathering sticks on the sabbath day, they brought him to Moses and Aaron and the whole multitude. And they put him in prison, not knowing what they should do with him. And the Lord said to Moses: Let that man die. Let all the multitude stone him without the camp. And when they had brought him out, they stoned him: and he died as the Lord had commanded”. A severe punishment is this which the Lord God of mercies has willed to record in the Holy Scripture for the perpetual memory and instruction of man. Why do we profane the Lord’s day doing servile work on them? In order to provide for the necessities of life? Have we forgotten that the same God Who reserved that special day for Him could also punish us by taking away our life? The example given above confirms this principle.
There is another consideration, besides. Do you consider it a light matter to work on feastdays? By divine declaration it is a mortal sin. The physical death of that man in the Scriptures is only an outward reflection of the spiritual death of his soul, depriving him of the life-giving grace of God.
We have other examples of how the Lord punishes the non-fulfillment of this third precept. We read from Leviticus : “Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths all the days of her desolation. When you shall be in the enemy’s land, she shall keep a sabbath, and rest in the sabbaths of her desolation: because she did not rest in your sabbaths when you dwelt therein.” From Jeremias: “If you will not hearken to me, to sanctify the sabbath day, and not to carry burdens, and not to bring them in by the gates of Jerusalem on the sabbath day: I will kindle a fire in the gates thereof. And it shall devour the houses of Jerusalem; and it shall not be quenched”. And we know how all these terrible threats of the Lord came to pass. You work unceasingly, even on Sundays and feastdays, to build your houses and to harvest your fields; God’s typhoons come without warning and destroy what you have painstakingly done. Do you think that these are merely accidental circumstances? Let us not deceive ourselves. Nothing happens without the providence of God, as “when he uttereth his voice the waters are multiplied in heaven: he lifteth up the clouds from the ends of the earth, he hath turned lightning into rain and hath brought forth the wind out of his treasures”. And God disposes of many ways to bring His words into realization.
Advantages of the observance of the dominical rest
God knows not only how to punish but also to reward His deserving children. He talks to us thus: “If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy own will in my holy day and call the sabbath delightful and the holy of the Lord glorious and glorify him, while thou dost not thy own ways and thy own will is not found, to speak a word: Then shalt thou be delighted in the Lord, and I will lift thee up above the high places of the earth and will feed thee with the inheritance of Jacob thy father. For the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it”.
We see here described, in prophetic language, the individual, familiar and social advantages of the dominical rest.
We are busy the whole week in the fields or in the office. And because our physical resistance is limited and weak, the human body necessarily looks for a period of rest which the Creator has wisely fixed to be one day of each work. We are human creatures, and we are on earth only as wayfarers on our way to heaven; our spirit needs at least one day of the week on which to meditate about life eternal and our home beyond the grave. We are, moreover, christians and we know that sanctification consists, mainly, in our union with Christ, through grace. Christ offered Himself for our sins on the summit of Calvary; hence the need of the sacrifice of the altar for renewing this union in us. “Then shalt thou be delighted in the Lord.” What greater delight than that body and soul should rest in the Lord after the fatigues of the week’s labours! All the strength of the individual is renewed on that day, and he feels rejuvenated to tackle the works of the succeeding days.
The members of the family are perhaps separated from each other during the weekdays: the father in his work, the children in the school, the mother in the home. Sunday is their day of reunion; together they can go to church, together they enjoy their meals and together they laugh off their problems and worries of the past week. Family ties are thus strengthened and each one feels in himself the fulfillment of those words: “I will feed thee with the inheritance of Jacob thy father”.
And these are not all the advantages either. Sunday rest gives the family occasion to visit their friends and relatives, and open more their eyes to the fact that we form part of a community, of a nation, with whom we are tied with the bonds of citizenship. In church, during the offering of the mass, men of different social strata kneel side by side as children all of the same Father, Author of the individual and of society, and partakers on the same table of the holy communion, fed by same Body and Blood of Christ, the Lamb of God Who takest away the sins of the world. It is in church where we breathe the spirit of universal fraternity which the world tries so much vainly to seek where God is not. Only He could have promised: “I will lift thee up above the high places of the earth”.
May the leaders of nations realize these advantages which the sabbath observance gives to the individual, to the family, to society and to the world at large.
Words of H.H. Pope Pius XII
We shall put an end to this Joint Pastoral Letter of Ours, beloved children, with the exhortation given by the common Father of all christendom, Pope Pius XII, in his allocution to parish priests and lenten preachers of Rome on March 13, 1943: “The sanctuary of the family”, he said, “no matter how attractive, beautiful and well-kept it may be, is not the same as the church; and your duty should be to bring back Sunday to its former status of being the day of the Lord, and the Holy Mass the centre of the christian life, the spiritual nourishment of bodily rest and of the virtuous perseverance of the spirit. Sunday is the day of rest in the Lord, that we may have full time to adore Him, to bring to him our petitions, to thank Him, to atone for our sins and to implore His light and spiritual strength for the week to come. Remind your people that Sunday is the perpetual remembrance of the Lord’s resurrection, and that they should stay away from doing any servile work on that day, lest the manifold and varied distractions in their offices and in the fields prevent His soul-stirring breath from infusing His life in us and thus annul our natural desire for life immortal. Sunday is the rest of the body and the raising up of the spirit; and not of excessive games and pleasures that weaken the body more than during the weekdays and take man further away from God… Sunday should unite the whole family together, and not disperse them; it should be a day of spiritual reading and of devout prayers, and not of dissipation”.
Listen, beloved children, to these words of the Vicar of Christ on earth and of your Bishops, and receive Our Blessing with which to implore from Our Lord the grace of seeing these our admonitions put into practice by the whole nation.
Given in the city of Manila, on the 20th day of January, 1948.
(Sgd.)+SANTIAGO C. SANCHO
(Sgd.)+C. JURGENS, CICM
(Sgd.)+LUIS DEL ROSARIO, SJ
(Sgd.)+MARIANO A. MADRIAGA
(Sgd.)+JOHN C. VRAKKING
(Sgd.)+JOSE M. CUENCO
(Sgd.)FR. LEANDRO NIETO, AR
(Sgd.)JOSE BILLIET, CICM
(Sgd.)ENRIQUE EDERLE, SVD
(SGD.)+RUFINO J. SANTOS
of the Arcbishops, Bishops and Prefects Apostolic
of the Philippines to the
Catholic Episcopate of the United States of America
The Archbishops, Bishops and Prefects-Apostolic of the Philippines in Conference Assembled
To His Eminence, the Cardinal Archbishop of Philadelphia
and Their Excellencies, The Archbishops and Bishops
of the Catholic Church in the United States of America
Peace and Greetings in the Lord!
We acknowledge with the sincerest sentiments of joy and gratitude the kindness and solicitude which prompted you to send to this country a representative whose duty it is to survey the extent of our sufferings and the damages the Church has sustained so as to be able to inform you of the magnitude, nature and urgency of the needs of these Islands. In times of God’s visitation like the present, there is nothing more comforting and more consoling than the spirit of mutual help which characterizes the Mystical Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Separated from us by thousands of miles, you have not forgotten “the bonds of common faith, as well as those ties of fraternal charity made stronger in mutual understanding, esteem and friendship”1, and the close political and economic ties that for so many years have bound us together. Since the Episcopate is “the natural organ of this spiritual interchange”2, We, the Archbishops, Bishops and Prefects-Apostolic of the Philippines, “comforted together with you by that faith which is common to us”3, wish to signify our deep appreciation of your charity. We thank God that as He has made us feel the weight of His chastising and chastening Hand, He has permitted us to realize likewise the truth of those words of Ecclesiasticus “a faithful friend is the medicine of life and immortality”4.
Warfare in modern times being not merely a matter of conflict between opposing armed forces, entire populations are affected by its ravages. Mutual suspicion and distrust of belligerents no longer recognize God’s temples as sanctuaries, nor cities as refuges, when primarily they were founded to be so. Here in the Philippines we have experienced the devastating effects of modern warfare, suffering alike from the bombs and shells of friend as well as foe. “The mercies of the Lord that we are not consumed!”5. “As dying and behold, we live, as chastised but not killed”6.
Besides the imminent danger of death to which each of us has been exposed at least on two occasions, when our respective Cathedral sites or places of refuge were bombed, taken and recaptured, we were continually watched and suspected by the enemy. Some of us were subjected to cross-examination as to our opinions regarding the righteousness of the Japanese position and the “Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere”, on nationalization of culture and nationalization of the clergy. Some of us have suffered indignities. Still others and many of the clergy and religious of both sexes endured considerable hardships in concentration camps, but their personal sufferings paled before the heart-rending thought of the many sheep thus ruthlessly deprived of their shepherds. Some of our priests, and sisters, too, were not spared the horrors of the worst of prisons in which they were frequently tortured, and no news has so far reached us of a number who, without reason or warning, were captured by the enemy. One Bishop who unflinchingly defended purity, when the choicest of the lambs of his flock were to be snatched and violated, and an ecclesiastical edifice to be dedicated to Tersichore, Bacchus and Venus, was brutally tortured and killed and afterwards maligned of having taken away his own life. We were “straitened on every side.” “They respected not the persons of the priests, neither had they pity on the elders”7 . Hundreds of the laity of both sexes were tortured and butchered. Even women were not exempt from third degree tortures. “They oppressed the women in Sion and the virgins in the cities of Juda”8. And thousands at the approach of your liberating army were made victims of wholesale carnage.
For four years we were under those terrible scourges of God’s Justice: famine and disease which always follow in the wake of war. In the years of peace and plenty we were yet obliged to import rice, the staple food of the people, but during the years of captivity none could be brought into the country. On the contrary we had to supply our captors with food, and towns were threatened with decimation if they could not give the quota of rice demanded, which, in some places, was even greater than the amount actually produced in the locality. “Vae victis!” Medicine was scarce, and owing to the exorbitant prices could not be obtained except by the very rich. Consequently many died of malaria and other diseases. No textiles were imported nor could they be locally manufactured in sufficient quantities to clothe the people. Cotton grown ostensibly for this purpose was used by our conquerors for their guns. Manila priests have either lost or worn out their meagre supply of vestments and clothing and Religious were forced to wear threadbare habits. The poor had to cover themselves with jute bags, formerly used as sacks for rice, and even these were not always obtainable. Many of the rich who lost all through fire and looting were in rags. Abundant supplies of both medicine and clothing stored away in the warehouses of local merchants were all confiscated by the enemy. Corn and sugar were likewise confiscated to be coverted into alcohol for the fuelling of the enemy’s machines.
We could therefore cry out with Jeremiahs, “The enemy has to put out his hand to all… desirable things”9. “They that were fed delicately died in the streets; they that were brought up in scarlet have embraced the dung”10. “All her people sigh, they seek bread; they have given all their precious things for food to relieve the soul”11, the “precious things” include virtue and honor for the sake self-preservation. It means, therefore, that hundreds of souls were driven to moral and spiritual ruin of our schools, hospitals, churches and cathedrals!
But by far the greatest of our sufferings was the privation of the frequent reception of the Bread of Angels, the Food of Pilgrims. Since wheat and grapes are not produced in the Islands, the little Sacramental “materia” which we had in store when war surprised us had to be used most frugally, with the constant anxiety lest our small supply might be exhausted before the coming of our liberators. The Japanese government after many promises could not give us wine, and flour confiscated in local warehouses was ostentatiously distributed as having been brought as a gift from Japan. In many places Holy Mass was said and Holy Communion distributed only on Sundays and holydays of obligation. In every place only sufficient drops of wine needed for validity were used and ablutions with that precious liquid were dispensed with through necessity and with Papal authorization. We celebrated with small hosts and cuttings, ordinarily thrown away, if sufficiently large to be consecrated were utilized for communion to the laity. We therefore thank you most sincerely for the suppply of wine and flour you have thoughtfully sent us at once.
Venerable Brethren, you have here an adequate picture of our past sufferings and the problems which face us at the present time since owing to war conditions sufficient aid has not yet reached us. Our gigantic task now is to rebuild and reopen our schools, hospitals, seminaries, churches and cathedrals and to reestablish the Catholic Press, that agency so necessary in this period of reconstruction and rehabilitation and so essential to the preservation and spread of our Holy Faith. We feel that the whole body of our brethren in America would like to have an exact idea of the losses which the Philippines has sustained with regard to these sacred and ecclesiastical edifices. To find in this letter a catalogue of the misfortunes of each Ordinary would be wearisome to the reader, so we determined that each one would give an exact and succinct account of the said losses in his individual Diocese or Prefecture-Apostolic, to be appended rather than herein embodied.
This letter would not be complete if we refrained from mentioning our deep appreciation of the United States Armed Forces, upon whom we invoke the Lord of Hosts, the God of Victories, to shower all blessings and success. Under God’s guiding hand they have restored by their arms that security which enables us to say in truth to our flock, “PAX VOBIS”. In the first place they have freed the Church and her ministers from the danger of that worst of all plights… conversion into mere tools and instruments of a pagan Caesaro-theocratic Government. From the beginning there have been clear indications that the Japanese government intended to absorb the Catholic Church as a potent agency to control the Filipino people. Circulars were issued commanding all priests to preach extolling the advantages of the so-called Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, of the surrender to Japanese arms of the guerillas in the mountains, and the total submission of the prople to their government. Subtle appeals to racial self-sufficiency and supernationalistic aspirations were made use of, which if successful by the permanency of the Japanese rule, would have deprived again the teeming millions of Catholic Filipinos of the service and ministrations of American and European missionaries of both sexes, who have pledged their lives to work for souls in these far-flung Islands. And that beautiful and very patent proof of the Catholicity of the Church — the earnest, united and harmonious, disinterested working of native and foreign clergy under both native and foreign-born Bishops, a thing no other human society anywhere except the Catholic Church can show, would undoubtedly have been destroyed.
Surely a pagan and at the same time theocratic imperialism, more exclusive and fanatic than the old Roman Empire, though not externally bigotted, could not long permit the existence of the Catholic Church. In fact the Japanese openly call the present war a holy war to restore to their Emperor whom they acknowledge as son of their sun goddess, his divine right to rule all lands illumined by that celestial orb.
The result of the speech of His Excellency, the Apostolic Delegate, before General Tanaka in January 1943, in which he sought liberty for the Church to continue uninterrupted and untrammeled her divine mission, was the bringing to light of the previously veiled policy of the Japanese Government in a derisive editorial of the Japanese controlled TRIBUNE. Thus was unmasked that surface show of tolerance to the Catholic Church which the conqueror had stressed as being an essential part of his liberal-minded policy to this Catholic country. The arrest of a high church official in the Archbishop’s Palace in Manila on the very eve of the meeting in that place of all the Bishops and Prefects-Apostolic of the Northern Ecclesiastical Province was obvioulsy a move to cow the Ordinaries whose full cooperation in all his plans the enemy sought to have. A year before that event, lying, he announced through the radio that such cooperation had been promised to the Japanese Imperial Army by the hierarchy of the Philippines in conferences alleged to have been held for that object in the Apostolic Delegation and at the Archbishop’s Palace in Manila on January 6th and 7th, respectively in 1942.
The fact that Religious Congregations permitted to open their schools were forbidden to give religious instruction in the classrooms was strong proof that the show of favor to the Catholic Religion was just one more temporizing condescension calculated to wheedle the Filipinos to submit peacefully to the Japanese domination. Our liberation therefore by the American Army was not merely a political one, but supereminently a long-sought religious liberation.
The American Army has strengthened the faith of our people and their trust in God. The frequent public discourses and circulars of General MacArthur asking for prayers and church functions to thank God for victories already gained, to implore His continued blessings upon the Army and the American and Filipino peoples, and the granting of final victory, have made their appeal to the religious instinct of our people.
The bravery of the Catholic Chaplains, their devotion to duty, their kindness to our people together with that of their men compel the admiration of our flock, furthermore, the example of these soldiers, their frequent reception of the Sacraments and their excellent behavior in Church set as an incentive to our youth to follow in their footsteps. (That silent apostolate is necessary in this country where frequent reception of the Sacraments is almost exclusively practiced by the “devoto femineo sexu” while the masculine is adverse and indifferent. We wish to accentuate the generosity of the soldiers in contributing to the Sunday collections because our people, so generous in other ways, are slow to contribute to the material needs of the Church. This is due to the fact that for nearly four centuries many such needs were supplied by the royal patronage of their Catholic Majesties of Spain.)
The whole Philippines thanks the Army also for what it has done to relieve the economic situation in the country. The Japanese currency had become useless and we were left without credit of any kind. Were it not for the humanitarian foresight of the Army, we would have remained until now without any means of acquiring commodities we need, except perhaps by barter. The immediate employment of the people by the Army is helping the nation to recover rapidly its former stability.
Brethren, recognizing how Almighty God has blessed the United States and having seen your generosity towards our suffering brethren in Europe, we, too, confidently appeal to you to do whatever you can for these Islands and its peoples, who, for the last forty-seven years, were placed by Divine Providence under the protection of the Stars and Stripes.
We pray that the desire of every soldier’s heart may be fulfilled, namely, that the Lord speed the day of final victory enabling each one to return to his loved ones at home; and that peace and mutual goodwill may once more reign amongst men. And we implore also the blessing of the God of Victories on Your Eminence and on Your Excellencies and all on your spiritual children at home and abroad.
Manila, Feast of St. Vincent de Paul, Apostle of Charity, July 19, 1945.
(Sgd.)+M.J. DOHERTY, D.D.
Archbishop of Manila
(Sgd.)+GABRIEL M. REYES
Archbishop of Cebu and Administrator of Tagbilaran
Bishop of Lipa
Bishop of Nueva Segovia
(Sgd.)+JAMES T.G. HAYES
Bishop of Cagayan
(Sgd.)+LUIS DEL ROSARIO
Bishop of Zamboanga
Bishop of Calbayog
Bishop of Bacolod
Bishop of Lingayen
Bishop of Palo
(Sgd.)+JOHN C. VRAKKING
Bishop of Surigao
(Sgd.)+PEDRO P. SANTOS
Bishop of Nueva Caceres
(Sgd.)+JOSE BILLIET, CICM
Prefect-Apostolic of Titular Bishop of Emeria
(Sgd.)+JOSE Ma. CUENCO
Mountain Province Administrator of Jaro
(Sgd.)BENITO RIXNER, SVD
Prefect Apostolic of Mindoro
Joint Pastoral Letter of the Hierarchy
October 15-16, 1946
Beloved Brethren in the Lord:
It is barely a couple of years since we regained the freedom of life we are now enjoying. It is but yesteryear, so to say, that we were freed from that constant dread and terror from a ruthless conqueror who did not respect sex or age, rank or state. For over three years many of our countrymen were hunted down like animals, submitted to exquisite and prolonged tortures or condemned to a horrible death. For over three years the country suffered from hunger; and the memory of famished children and adults, dying or dead in the streets of this our once beautiful Capital City is still fresh in our minds. Our hospitals still care for physical wrecks, our unfortunate brethren, who have survived privations or the loss of limbs. Ruins of hearths and temples, of homesteads and factories –mute but eloquent proof of the extent of our sufferings– are still to be seen everywhere. Knowing “that the scourges of the Lord, with which like servants we are chastised, have happened for our amendment, ” 1 we sent you on the occasion of our last year’s plenary meetings, the first we had since the outbreak of the war, a joint Pastoral Letter in which we manifested our joys and sorrows, our fears and consolations, our instructions and admonitions for your moral and material rehabilitation. In that solemn missive, we have shown the causes of war, which are our personal and common sins; we deplored the sudden and inexplicable frivolity which appeared everywhere, especially in cities and bigger towns; we denounced the growing disregard for the rights of life and property. To attract the mercy of God and appease His wrath towards us we appealed for a return to the traditional modesty and religiosity of our people. We reminded you that “the only thing eternal and defiant of all powers of destruction is religion, our Christian religion, instituted by God Himself and against which all the evil powers of earth have hurled themselves for twenty centuries and will continue to hurl themselves unto the end of days.” We have done this to offer a cure for the then growing levity and covetousness, the philosophy of life of those whose “god is the belly, their glory is in their shame.” 2 To our dismay, our mild reproofs were unheeded, our admonitions were spurned, and our hopes of a chastened and humbled generation of Christian Filipinos after the war were miserably frustrated.
I. The evils of Materialism
1. Materialism in Life
We observed to our great sorrow that “borne down by the weight of fleeting things and immersed in the pleasures and delights of life”,3 many have fallen into the tenets and morals of materialism, “the most grave disease by which our age is oppressed, and at the same time the fruitful source of all the evils deplored by every man of good heart… that levity and thoughtlessness which carry men hither and thither through devious ways. Hence comes the constant and passionate absorption in external things; hence the insatiable thirst for riches and pleasures that gradually weakens and extinguishes in the minds of men the desire for more excellent goods, and so, entangles them in outwards and fleeting things that it forbids them to think of eternal truths, and the divine laws, and of God Himself, the one beginning and end of all created things”4. In other words, materialism has spread over the country during the last fourteen months. It caused the increase of immorality and the insane pursuit of pleasures, which in turn caused the deadening of conscience, whence proceed violence and disrespect for the rights of life and property of others, so that we can rightly exclaim with the poet:
And flesh and blood so cheap!”5
2. Materialism in Religion
What is more deplorable is the fact that materialism has crept even into sacred matters. We can cite two instances: the reception of sacraments such as baptism and matrimony, and the preparation of some religious festivities or the erection of God’s altars or temples.
It is a fact known to many that the baptism of children is oftentimes deferred for months and even years for no other cause than the absence of the desired godparents, chosen because of their position, influence, or the material good they may bring to the child or to the family. At times God’s complete and rightful possession over the child as its Father is impeded by the lack of funds for the celebration of baptismal parties. Matrimony oftentimes is shamefully reduced to the lavish display of vanity, which even forces condescending Pastors to violate the laws of Liturgy. The cross of Christ, the symbol of our Redemption, is mocked by orgies, disorders and the display of anachronistic and ridiculous pageantry which accompany the celebration of the so-called “Santa Cruz de Mayo.” In many places the singing of the Passion of Our Lord, especially on Good Friday, has been the occasion of drunkenness and the violation of the laws of fasting and abstinence, for the simple reason that the singing has been reduced to a contest between the participants.
During these days when a feverish effort for the construction or repair of churches is everywhere displayed, we note the lack of that understanding of that distinction made by the Apostle when he said: “All things are lawful, but not all things edify”.6 The house of God or His altar must be the work of love since it is “a house of prayer”7 and the “Gate of Heaven.”8 The edifice itself must be a “prayer in wood or stone.” The means of raising funds and the collection of materials must therefore be worthy of the omniscience and the holiness of Him Whose divine Eucharistic Majesty is intended to dwell in it, because “holiness becomes the house of the Lord unto length of days.”9 No one feels honored by a bouquet of flowers when he knows that the nosegay presented to him was made of flowers that had been taken from a wreath already used in a funeral. So we cannot expect God to accept as He accepted the sacrifice of Abel,10 the offering we make with money which has not been given from pure motives. The money you offer for God’s temple or altars is, as that offered by the children of Israel for the use of the tabernacle, “a memorial of yourselves before the Lord that He may be merciful for your souls.” 11 The Apostle said that we must give “not grudgingly nor from compulsion, for ‘God loves a cheerful giver’.”12 Thus the people gave their offerings for the temple built by Solomon “willingly… with all their heart.”13 It must be so, for all things are the Lord’s; whatsoever we give Him, we received from His hands14. An offering is grudgingly given when it is procured at the price of vanity, of dangerous and worldly pleasure, and of risking the purity of one’s soul.
Beauty and popularity contests, box-social and fashion shows foster vanity and whatever funds are derived from them are the price of vanity. When children are forced to take part in these contests or shows, there is that added aggravating circumstance which prompts one to say that it is the price of the “sacrifice of the innocents” because by them vanity is instilled in the minds of the children. Modern dances are, according to most moral theologians, either sinful or at least risky for the majority of souls. Obviously the funds raised through them are either the price of sin or of risking one’s purity. Gambling games, theatrical and cinematographic shows which glorify the vices even cannot be considered by any man of true piety to be good means for honoring his Lord. “Do not offer wicked gifts, for such He will not receive.”15 “Thou shalt not offer the hire of a strumpet, nor the price of a dog, in the house of the Lord thy God, whatsoever, it be that thou hast vowed; because both these are an abomination to the Lord thy God.”16
b). Hidden Donors
Another worldly manifestation of the lack of spirituality is the practice of broadcasting to the whole world the little alms that one has given for the erection, beautification or furnishing of a church and forgetting the words of Christ, “Take heed not to practise your good before men, in order to be seen by them; otherwise you shall have no reward with your Father in heaven”17. We refer to those who insist or cause their names to be painted or carved on walls or arches, windows or pillars, benches, pews or presses, on paintings or pedestals of statues, as if they were billboards for advertisements. To them who act thus that they may be honored by men, the Lord said: “Amen I say to you, they have had their reward”18. “The true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. For the Father also seeks such to worship Him. God is spirit, and they who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth”19.
3. Materialism and Morality
Confronted with so much materialism in the social order we cannot refrain from raising our voice against that materialism in the treatment of spiritual things of which we have just mentioned a few instances. Equally anxious for the good of souls and the honor and strength of our country, we decry with all apostolic vehemence the growing immorality and laxity of customs. We cannot expect the Lord of Purity, Who has carved two Commandments for the sanction of purity on the Tables of the Law20, to bless our nation, our race and our generation, if we do not obey them. “For God will judge the immoral and adulterers”21. By baptism we became in a special manner the temple in which His Spirit dwells. Now, “if any one destroys the temple of God, him God will destroy”22. It is a known fact that we are already suffering from the natural punishment of this vice. Our good name, more particularly the traditional good name of our women, is mocked at and questioned across the seas. Those social diseases which produce a mentally and physically deficient race are fast spreading.
Our appeal against immorality would not be efficacious if we would not denounce immodesty in dress which is an incentive to immorality. It is hard for a Christian to understand how maidens and ladies who call themselves Christians can indulged in such immodesty in dress. In the first days of Christianity it was considered a terrible martyrdom for maidens and matrons, like St. Agnes, to be exposed to the lustful gaze of the populace. While the laws of morality have not changed, it is difficult to understand why maidens and matrons who call themselves Christians deem it an honor to be ogled at by lewd eyes and measured like prize cattle at a fair. And it is truly lamentable when such costumes or lack of costumes are encouraged by people who call themselves Catholics and who have known a stricter code of morals, more in accordance with the tender conscience of Cecilia, Agnes, Agatha and Lucia whose names are daily commemorated in the Holy Sacrifice. “Woe to you,” says the Prophet Isaias, “that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.”23 “Woe to you,” if you dare to call Christian morality, evil, and the present tendency, good; and consider the consciences of the said virgin Saints, darkness, and your modern paganism, enlightenment.
We urge you once again to return to that traditional modesty by which our womanhood was unique in the Far East and the consequent respect given them was unequalled in the whole Orient. Remember “God has not called us unto uncleanness but unto holiness”24. And this is His will, “our santification; that we abstain from immorality”25.
4. Covetousness Source of Crime and Unhappiness
St. Paul usually decries immorality and covetouness in the same breath26. They are two forms of idolatry, the worship of living clay which is the flesh and the worship of silver and gold which are also extracted from clay. We cannot close this protest against immorality and immodesty without admonishing you to war against covetousness, which is the cause of violence so often perpetrated these days. In His Sermon on the Mount the Lord said: “Seek first the kingdom of God and His justice and all these (food and raiment) shall be given you besides”27. “No man can serve two masters… You cannot serve God and mammon”28. St. Paul said, “The desire of money is the root of all evils, which some coveting have erred from the faith and have entangled themselves in many sorrows”29. St. James analyzed: “Whence do wars and quarrels come among you? Is it not from this, from your passions, which wage war in your members? You covet and do not have; you kill and envy, and cannot obtain. You quarrel and wrangle, and you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it upon your passions. Adulterers, do you not know that friendship of this world is enmity with God?”30 We can repeat with the late Pope Pius XI of happy memory: “It is a grave error to believe that true and lasting peace can rule among peoples so long as they turn first and foremost and avidly in search of sensible, material, earthly things”31. Because those who are “solely concerned with adding their wealth by any means whatsoever and seek their own selfish interests above all things, they have no scruple in committing the gravest injustices against others”32.
II. Remedies Against Materialism
a. Positive Means
We could be poor physicians if we were to give a diagnosis without giving a cure. We, therefore, enjoin parish priests to stem the tide of materialism, immorality and violence by arranging missions and retreats. Since ignorance and forgetfulness of the eternal truths and doctrines of the Church are the causes of levity which slides into materialism, we order systematically arranged catechetical sermons for Sundays and holidays as once prescribed for the years 1939-194133. A new list of topics will be published in the January number of the Boletin Eclesiastico. “Faith depends on hearing, and hearing on the word of Christ”34.
b). Catholic Action
We recommend the organization of the Catholic Action. We have observed that the Legion of Mary has done and is doing a great deal by persuation and example, in bringing back many a prodigal son not only to the faith of his forefathers but also to the devout practice of his religious duties, which he not only neglected but spurned during his wayward years. Catholic Actionists and Legionaries, we appeal to you to continue your fruitful endeavors. More effort must be directed towards the organization of means of employment and recreation to forestall falls and to redeem the fallen.
c). Catholic Education
In a radio address to the Catholics of the United States on the occasion of the golden Jubilee of the Catholic University of America, on Nov. 13, 1939, our Holy Father Pope Pius XII said: “The Christian education of youth was never of more decisive or vital importance than it is today, when we are faced with the bewildering errors of naturalism and materialism which are plunging the world into war and evidence in themselves hollowness of a philosophy built on purely human standards. As we see these calamities multiplied and intensified, we might well lose heart were we not sustained by trust in the loving Providence of God which gives strength and solace more abundantly as worldly confidence fails. But our chief hope, after God, rests in the schools of Christian culture, old and new, among which stands your Catholic University as a typical example…” It is superflous to say that the same words are applicable to us in this new Republic under the present circumstances. “Catholic youths in Catholic schools!”, wherever these exist, must therefore be the slogan, because it is only in these institutions that the teaching of the Church is maintained; that the Church “is divine institution, the sole depository and interpreter of the ideals and teachings of Christ; that she alone possesses in any complete and true sense the power to combat effectively the materialistic philosophy which has already done and still threatens such tremendous harm to the home and to the State”35.
d). Intensive Catechetical Instruction
Since not all children and adolescents can attend Catholic Schools, we insist, as in our previous letters, on more catechetical instructions in and outside other schools, especially the public schools. Parents should know by now the results of bringing up children without religion. Those youthful criminals now plaguing our cities and towns should arouse parents and guardians to the fulfillment of their primary duty of teaching catechism to those under their charge. Pastors should redouble their efforts to feed the young of their flock as well as the older ones. They should call on religious of both sexes to honor their King by bringing His friends, the children, nearer to Him by teaching them the Christian doctrine. Everyone who has time and talents should take part in the teaching of religion as nothing else will redound so much unto peace and safety of the community. And you, who have been blessed with the fortunes of the world, we charge you in the name of Him Who has lavished upon you such gifts to return thanks to Him by equally generous support of the spread of the knowledge and fear of Him; knowledge and fear which will afford protection for yourselves, even in this life. Support catechetical instructions of your own and other children, by helping the pastors and their catechists to form and conduct classes as well as to provide books and other objects attractive to children.
e). Cooperation of Civil Authorities
We appeal to our civil authorities not to hamper but rather to encourage and to allot ample time for religious instruction in all schools. For the assurance of peace and prosperity they must remember that there are only two ways left to them for the successful government of the nation; firstly, by force, then there must be a policeman for every citizen and again others to watch the policemen. No state on earth can afford such expensive form of government. There remains therefore the second way, that is, through the conscience which means acknowledgement of duties and responsiblities, mutual respect and solicitude among citizens, solidarity and strength, mutual understanding, and therefore peace and happiness. But conscience, a righteous conscience cannot be had without religion, for conscience means the acknowledgement of the existence and all-pervading dominion of God and His laws.
f). Catholic Press
Man’s religious education at present cannot be complete without the Catholic press, whose primary object is to teach the truth and to counteract the errors circulated by avowedly anti-Christian or anti-Catholic periodicals. Every Catholic should read and support Catholic publications, especially those which have our official sanction and encouragement. And we want to mention particularly The Philippines Commonweal which is once again being published after five years in abeyance. Let every home take and read the Commonweal, which is our only national Catholic newspaper.
b. Negative means
As a corollary to the obligation of a real Catholic upbringing we must warn you of the insidious propaganda of the enemies of your holy religion. The Holy Fathers, our predecessors, and we ourselves have repeatedly warned you against forbidden societies and sectarian associations36 whose religious and philosophical tenets are opposed to your religion but outwardly or vociferously declare themselves non-sectarian and use as bait lavish philanthropy. Your Lord and Master once said to your common enemy, the devil: “Not by bread alone does man live”37 so that you may know how to escape the temptation of philantropy. And you who may be tempted by vanity due to the publicity which such societies make for your name and the connections they offer you, remember that Our Lord and Master was tempted once to the same lines. When Satan offered Christ “all the kingdoms and the glory of them,” He staunchly said, “Begone Satan!”38 Thus He can tell you: “What does it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and suffers the loss of his own soul?”39
b). Campaign against Dangerous Publications
It is superfluous to remind you of the sinfulness of keeping or subscribing to books and other publications which by the very nature of their contents are forbidden by natural and positive laws. Such books are those which assail or ridicule by word or picture the natural virtues and the teachings of religion, those which are immoral or which glorify immorality. Remember that “he that loveth danger shall perish in it”40.
c). Avoiding Dangerous Shows
For the same reason we warn you against immoral shows and representations. The cinema and the theater are recognized as powerful instruments for the promotion of evil or good. Alas, more often for evil! For the sake of your souls you must avoid those which are marked dangerous by the Legion of Decency or duly appointed censors and also shun those very films which, although passed by such censors, you deem subjectively dangerous for your souls.
The daily meditation of the Rosary which is the compendium of the life and sufferings of our Savior for our salvation should remind you all, dear Brethren, to return to Him by avoiding all immorality, covetousness and lawlessness. He then will reward you, giving you all the blessings of His peace which the world cannot give.41
As a pledge of these heavenly favors, with paternal affection we impart to you, dear Brethren, our pastoral benediction.
Given at the City of Manila, the sixteenth day of October, Feastivity of the Purity of Our Lady, in the year 1946.
(Sgd.)+MICHAEL J. O’DOHERTY
(Sgd.)+SANTIAGO C. SANCHO
(Sgd.)+CONSTANCIO JURGENS, CICM
(Sgd.)+MARIANO A. MADRIAGA
(Sgd.)+PEDRO P. SANTOS
(Sgd.)JOSE BILLIET, CICM
(Sgd.)ENRIQUE EDERLIE, SVD
1 Judith 8:27.
Diocesis de Filipinas
CARTA PASTORAL COLECTIVA DEL EPISCOPADO FILIPINO
SOBRE EL COMUNISMO ATEO
A NUESTRO VENERABLE CLERO Y AMADOS FIELES,
Salud y Bendicion en el Señor.
A estas fechas nadie ignora cual es el objeto y alcante del Comunismo y de su congenere, el Socialismo, en el mundo civilizado. Bajo el pretexto halagador de mutua proteccion y uniones cooperativas, formanse ordinariamente entre la gente obrera, industrial y agraria, sociedades de caracter subversivo, y por sus manifestaciones siempre tendenciosas, se ve que en tales sociedades no se trata solo de la exaltacion de la clase obrera, ni de meras cuestiones politicas, ni de problemas economico-sociales, sino de also mas hondo y mas trascendental para un pueblo, es a saber, de una filosofia de vida. Efectivamente; en el fondo hay aqui, hoy amo ayer, una contienda de principios y doctrina: a la civilizacion cristiana, que se trata de anular y destruir, se opone la civilizacion sovietica y atea, que se trata de imponer. a este proposito se vienen sembrando ideas disolventes, ateas, destructivas y sensuales, procreadores de los “sin patria y sin Dios”. Ciertos hechos contemporaneos que revuelven la sociedad no son mas que frutos en granazon de esa siembra. Promovidas tales revueltas por impulso de habiles agitadores que seducen a las masas con instigaciones de diferencia de clases, con azuzamientos de odios mutuos subversivos del orden, y con otros insidiosos motivos, tienen por finalidad verdadera soliviantar dichas masas y lanzarlas en abierta lucha contra toda institucion humana y divina, en provecho del ateismo, — unica razon suprema en que todas otras razones convergen.
El Comunismo atea, abierta o disfrazademente, amenaza a todo y se apodera de todo, se infiltra en todas partes. En las regiones donde el Comunismo ha logrado penetrar, los hechos ocurridos, las estadisticas recogidas, los fenomenos sociales registrados, sobradamente demuestran por si solos que es invariable caracteristica del Comunismo el dar al traste con la dignidad individual, la santidad del matrimonio y de la familia, la seguridad del orden social y sobre todo la religion y mas especialmente la Religion Catolica. Es que el Comunismo es un sistema absurdo de vida; se funda en un principio esencialmente materialista, que niega la vida espiritual y sobrenatural del hombre; establece un programa colectivista que despojando al hombre de su libertad, principio espiritual de su conducta moral, subordina la persona humana al conjunto, no reconociendo un fin propio y absoluto; preconiza un metodo de violencia y odio, y desconociendo de intento el precepto cristiano de la caridad, corrompe las costumbres, tornadolas a la barbarie. En regiones donde el Comunismo consigue entrar, cuanto mas se distingan estas por su antiuedad y grandeza de civilizacion cristiana, tanto mas devastador se manifiesta alli el odio de los “sin-Dios”.
Nos, no nos proponemos hacer un estudio cientifico sobre el Comunismo. La Iglesia ya lo ha hecho, y energicamente por medio de enciclicas y otro documentos publicos y solemnes, ha condenado la doctrina y los metodos de accion del mismo, en todas sus formas y bajo todos sus grados.
En la enciclica “Quadragesimo Anno” (Mayo 1931) — documento que todo el rebate el Socialismo y el Comunismo, S.S. el Papa Pio XI, de santa memoria, dice: “en realidad, el examen que hemos hecho de la economia moderna, nos la ha demostrado cargada de gravisimos defectos. Hemos llamado de nuevo a juicio al comunismo y al socialismo, y hemos encontrado que todas sus formas, aun las mas suaves, estan muy lejos de los preceptos evangelicos” . Con cuanta razon poco antes habiia escrito tambien! “Si acaso el socialismo, como todos los errores, tiene una parte de verdad (lo cual nunca han negado los Pontifices), el concepto de la sociedad que le es caracteristico y sobre el cual descansa, es inconciliable con el verdadero cristianismo. Socialismo religioso, socialismo cristiano, son terminos contadictorios: nadie puede al mismo tiempo ser buen catolico y socialista verdadero”. Finalmente, en la enciclica sobre el “Comunismo Ateo” (Marzo 1937), exponiendo claramente la perversidad de los principios y metodos de accion del Comunismo, el mismo Papa ha vuelto a condenarlo, como enemigo pernicioso del cristianismo y subversivo del orden social.
Siendo de interes sumo el conocimiento detallado de tales principios, creemos oportuno exponerlos aqui en breve sintesis, segun se denuncia en la referida enciclica:
“El cimunismo de hoy, de modo mas acentuado que otros movimientos similares del pasado, contiene en si una idea de falsa redencion. Un pseudo-ideal de justicia, de igualdad y de fraternidad en el trabajo penetra toda su doctrina y toda su actividad de cierto falso misticismo, que comunica a las masas halagadas por falaces promesas un impetu y entusiasmo contagiosos, especialmente en un tiempo como el nuesto, en el que de la defectuosa distribucion de los bienes de este mundo, se ha seguido una miseria anteriormente casi desconocida. Mas aun, se hace gala de este pseudo-ideal, como si el hubiera sido el iniciador de cierto progreso economico, el cual, cuando es real, se explica por causas bien distintas; como son, la intensificacion de la produccion industrial en paises, que case carecian de ella, valiendose de enormes requezas naturales, y el uso de metodos inhumanos para efectuar grandes trabajos con poco gasto”.
Materialismo Evolucionista de Marx
“En sustancia, la doctrina que el comunismo oculta bajo apariencias a veces tan seductoras, se funda hoy sobre los principios del materialismo dialecto e historico proclamados antes por Marx, y cuya unica genuina interpretacion pretenden poseer los teorizantes del bolchevismo. Esta doctrina enseña que no existe mas que una sola realidad, la materia, con sus fuerzas ciegas, la cual por evolucion, llega a ser planta, animal, hombre. La misma sociedad humana no es mas que una apariencia y una forma de la materia que evoluciona del modo dicho, y que por ineluctable necesidad tiende, en un perpetuo conflicto de fuerzas, hacia la sintesis final: una sociedad sin clases. Es evidente que en semejante doctrina no hay lugar para la idea de Dios, no existe diferencia entre espiri.»