Saturday, January 19, 2008

Cardinal Manning and the "Social Question"

In Cardinal Manning and the Social Problem by D. J. Mc Dougall (a lecture given at Loyola College, Montreal, September 12, 1957), McDougall describes how Manning`s view of Catholic social theology and his influence had effects greater than simply in the United Kingdom

In the Spring of 1887, at a time when industrial strife was assuming dangerous proportions in many parts of the western world, the Holy See was called upon to adjudicate in a case concerning the status of an American trade union popularly known as the Knights of Labour.

The question in dispute was whether the practices and the objectives of this society were inimical to faith and morals, and whether it should he condemned by the Church, and Catholic working men forbidden to join it.

One of the strongest opponents of the society was Archbishop Taschereau of Montreal. Like many other American unions the Knights had spread into Canada. In the early 1880’s a number of branches had been formed in Toronto, Montreal andother industrial centres. The Archbishop of Quebec took an adverse view; and in May, 1884, he secured from the Congregation of the Propaganda an order proscribing the society in the province, and forbidding Catholic workers to have anything to do with it

Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore and some other American bishops, determined that no good and much harm could result from the continuance of the ban in Quebec, and even more from its extension to the United States. The judgment was in consequence reversed.

In the campaign, Cardinal Gibbons sought and received great assistance from Cardinal Manning, Archbishop of Westminster.

Their victory had important consequences for the Church and for Catholic working men everywhere

Gibbons himself paid warm tribute to the English Cardinal for the help which he had given. “I cannot sufficiently express to you,” he said, “how much I have felt strengthened in my position by being able to refer in the document to your utterances on the claims of the working man to our sympathy and support.”