Pius XI on Catholic Social Teaching
From Divini Redemptoris:
55. To give to this social activity [that which was recommended in Quadragesimo Anno — J.H.] a greater efficacy, it is necessary to promote a wider study of social problems in the light of the doctrine of the Church and under the aegis of her constituted authority. If the manner of acting of some Catholics in the social-economic field has left much to be desired, this has often come about because they have not known and pondered sufficiently the teachings of the Sovereign Pontiffs on these questions. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to foster in all classes of society an intensive program of social education adapted to the varying degrees of intellectual culture. It is necessary with all care and diligence to procure the widest possible diffusion of the teachings of the Church, even among the working-classes. The minds of men must be illuminated with the sure light of Catholic teaching, and their wills must be drawn to follow and apply it as the norm of right living in the conscientious fulfillment of their manifold social duties. Thus they will oppose that incoherence and discontinuity in Christian life which We have many times lamented. For there are some who, while exteriorly faithful to the practice of their religion, yet in the field of labor and industry, in the professions, trade and business, permit a deplorable cleavage in their conscience, and live a life too little in conformity with the clear principles of justice and Christian charity. Such lives are a scandal to the weak, and to the malicious a pretext to discredit the Church. (emphasis added)
Divini Redemptoris is an excellent supplement to Quadragesimo Anno and yet another example of the brilliance of Pope Pius XI.
In it, Pius severely condemns athestic Communism – but also points out that “liberal economics” are to blame for creating not only the material but moral conditions under which Communism became so palpable to the working class. He renews his call for the construction of a truly Christian social order in which both charity and justice are upheld. One without the other, Pius argues, renders both impotent.
This is worth remembering today as the Church, when it fractures along political lines, sometimes divides into camps of “charity” and “social justice” – as if one were more important or even exclusive of the other.
The importance of getting to know and applying Catholic social teaching for Pius could not have been more clear or urgent. It is not a list of polite suggestions – it is guide for Catholic behavior in the economic sphere, whether they are workers, employers, government officials, or any other role. It cannot be acknowledged and then tucked away somewhere while Catholics return to the “real business” of work and management.