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On The Problem of Co-operation

Some Clarifications

[p. 194]

The article by Fr. Paul Hanly Furfey, "Intercredal Cooperation: Its Limitations,"1 may have occasioned some false impressions in the minds of readers unfamiliar with my own writings, and with those of Fr. Wilfrid Parsons, S.J., on this subject.2 Hitherto, I have not found time to offer the necessary corrections; it may be still worthwhile to do so, for the sake of the record.

Fr. Furfey's central contention is that we have argued, on the basis of papal documents, for "a very particular kind of co-operation"; his criticism is chiefly directed against my formulation of certain of its features. He undertakes to show that our particular kind of co-operation has no basis in papal documents; that it is, in fact, discouraged by one (Singulari quadam) and ridiculed by another (Notre charge). For my part, I feel that he has bypassed certain structural elements in Fr. Parsons' case for co-operation. He has also revealed certain fundamental misunderstandings of my own position.

These misunderstandings are the more puzzling, because it is their second appearance. They first appeared in a letter to the Editor of Theological Studies in September, 1943. At the time,

[p. 195]

I felt (1) that Fr. Furfey had failed to grasp my position in the matter of organizing co-operation among men of good will in the work of justice which is peace; (2) that he had missed the point of my use of Singulari quadam, and imputed to me a fallacy which I had carefully avoided; (3) that in his own argumentation from Notre charge he had fallen into the very fallacy which he thought to find in my use of Singulari quadam; (4) that by his allegation of the case of Le Sillon he had confused the issue involved in my proposal of common agreement between Catholics and non-Catholics on the natural religious and moral bases of social order. At the time, however, I thought it sufficient simply to offer some seminal considerations that would assist in clearing up these misunderstandings. Since they have reappeared, and taken on more developed form, perhaps a more pointed reply is indicated. If I seem to sharpen its point, I trust that it will be understood that I am simply seeking clarity; my remarks are surely not edged against the person of a very able and zealous man.


First, let us review my position with regard to organizing co-operation. Fr. Furfey says: "Father Murray, if I read him rightly, proposes that Catholics should take the initiative in founding an organization, at once spiritual and interconfessional, devoted to social reform" [in the context, a single organization with mixed membership, like le plus grand Sillon] (p. 171). The word "an" in italics (mine) signalizes the first misunderstanding. Replying to Fr. Furfey over a year ago, I stated that I favored no such single "super-organization";3 the same statement is found elsewhere.4 Moreover, my original utterances should have been sufficient in themselves to preclude this interpretation of my position.

When dealing with the problem of organization, I carefully distinguished two questions; "(1) Should the co-operation be

[p. 196]

organized? (2) What should be the organizational form?"5 The premise of the distinction was the fact that, in dealing with practical matters into which considerations of practical prudence enter, the Holy See normally issues only generalized directives. It does not substitute itself for the authority of local Ordinaries, nor for the legitimate, concrete initiatives of Catholics under their Ordinaries. I pointed out the operation of this principle in connection with Singulari quadam6 In the light of it, I distinguished the quaestio facti and the quaestio modi. And my position was threefold: (1) The Holy See has directed that co-operation be organized; (2) it has not specified the particular formula for its organization; (3) it has, however, issued certain generalized directives that must preside over local solutions to the problem of organization.

My case for the first assertion was based (1) remotely, on the papal texts that describe today's spiritual crisis in the temporal order,7 and (2) proximately, on the texts that formally invite co-operation. These latter texts call for two things: (a) for "unity" and "collaboration" among all men of good will towards the establishment of a new order based on the moral law, and (b) for a unity and collaboration that will be socially effective—that will actually get this new order constructed, not just dreamed about or described on paper. From these latter texts I concluded to the sheer fact that co-operation must take on some organized form. Supporting this conclusion was a principle to which I merely alluded, stating that there was "no need to belabor" it; for the principle is absolutely fundamental in Pius XI's social thought, and is explicit and implicit in everything he ever said about social justice or Catholic Action. I mean the principle that "action for social organization must be social and organized in its principle." Perhaps I should have belabored the point. As a matter of fact, I suspect that one of the basic issues between Fr.

[p. 197]

Furfey and myself (and between Fr. Furfey and Fr. Parsons) is not whether, or how, co-operation should be organized, but rather, whether social action in general must of its essence be organized action.8 This is not the place to go into the question;9 but I cannot forbear the respectful suggestion that the distinguished advocate of "the technique of non-participation" and of "personalist social action" has not fully weighed the import of this papal principle.

At all events, this principle buttresses my statement that a papal directive falls upon the establishment of "an organizational unity" among all men of good will. No merely casual coincidence of practical programs—what Fr. Furfey once called, in a difficult if not contradictory phrase, "parallel cooperation"—will satisfy the papal texts;10 still less will it achieve the papal objective, the actual construction of a new order. Since I was staying within the limits of the quaestio facti, it did not occur to me that my phrase, "organizational unity," would be misunderstood to imply a particular mode of organization, a single superorganization. I deliberately chose a generalized term to express the generalized papal directive. Organizational unity can be achieved according to many variant formulas—federation, fusion, varieties of each. Therefore, in advocating it, I still left completely open the quaestio modi: how shall this unity be organized? Furthermore, in taking up this second question, I did not promise to find a con-

[p. 198]

crete answer, immediately applicable to the United States, in any papal texts. I did, however, look for generalized directives that should preside over local solutions. And I found them in Pius X's Singulari quadam.


In discussing this document, Fr. Furfey again misses the point of my use of it. As once before, he mistakenly constructs my thought: "So on this one occasion [Christian Trade Unions in Germany] the Church permitted intercredal co-operation of this particular sort [Catholic participation in a single interconfessional organization] . . . . But to argue that the Holy See encourages this sort of intercredal co-operation is as rash as to argue that mixed marriages are encouraged by the Church" from the fact that they are permitted in particular cases (pp. 169-70). Here there is an awkward tangle of misconceptions. First, as stated already, I was not arguing for a single interconfessional organization; secondly, I was not arguing that the Holy See encouraged that form of organized co-operation; thirdly, I was not really arguing at all, for anything. I was simply seeking to see what Singulari quadam had to offer in the way of generalized directives on the question of modes of organizing co-operation. My one effort was to "study its complete doctrine."11. And I found that the beautifully balanced thought of Pius X was controlled by two major principles: (1) a pastoral concern for the unity of the Church, which prompted a warning against the dangers of interconfessionalism; and (2) a social concern for the common good, and for Catholic effectiveness in pursuing it, which prompted a permission to adapt organizational methods to the needs of particular social contexts. The balance of these two principles dictated the practical provisions of the Letter.

I think I gave full weight and space to the first of Pius X's principles. But I felt that the second principle should receive its

[p. 199]

own due emphasis, against the one-sided views of those who tend to consider solely the dangers to faith that co-operation entails. These are real enough; Pius X considered them most seriously. But he also most seriously considered the dangers to the common good entailed in not co-operating, and in not organizing co-operation in the way judged locally more effective for the common good. His concern for the common good led to the permission of the interconfessional Christian Trade Unions, an ideally less desirable organizational form. However, my essential point was not the fact of the permission, nor even the kind of organization permitted, but rather the reason for the permission. It was given "in view of the peculiar situation of Catholicism in Germany." In giving it, therefore, the Holy See recognized that the exigencies of the common good in a concrete religious and social context (exigencies powerfully urged by the Cologne School) are to be kept in view in deciding on local modes of organizing co-operation. This, in sum, is what I found to be the "complete doctrine" of Singulari quadam. This is all I tried to "prove" from the document—the existence of a twofold papal directive, generalized in character, for the solution of our quaestio modi. My insistence was on the fact that the directive is twofold, not single. And my only "conclusion" was this: "The conclusion is that Catholic concern for the common good must bulk large in any discussion of intercredal co-operation."12

So much for my own use of Singulari quadam; what of Fr. Furfey's use of it? Frankly, I find him unhistorical, incomplete, and tendentious. First, he says that Pius X regarded the Christian Trade Unions as a "dangerous venture," a "dangerous experiment." There is a lapse of historical memory here. The first Christian Trade Union was founded in 1894; Singulari quadam was issued in 1912. By that time, Christian Trade Unions were far from being a "venture" or an "experiment"; they were a widespread, immensely successful, going concern, whose value for the labor movement had been proved. As for their dangerousness, let us not blow it up too high; else we shall make Pius X, and Leo XIII, too, look rather lax in their pastoral solicitude. Leo XIII had reigned eight years, and Pius X nine years, before the papal warning against these dangers, of which Fr. Furfey makes

[p. 200]

so much, was finally uttered. Finally, let us remember that in the historical circumstances the Pope's intervention in the Berlin-Cologne dispute was rather in defence, than in disapproval, of Cologne. Great pressure had been exerted by important bishops for a condemnation of the Cologne formula, and of the Sozialpolitik behind it. In the end, after being long badgered, Pius X came out, not with a condemnation, but with a carefully phrased-approval of the Christian Trade Unions.

Secondly, Fr. Furfey tends to reduce the whole doctrine of Singulari quadam to a papal warning against the dangers of Catholic co-operation with non-Catholics. I myself recorded this element of its content. But that interpretation is incomplete which would make this element, however important, the sole element. My suggestion has always been that the sole issue in this whole matter is not whether co-operation is dangerous. Everybody admits that it may be; although it is significant that Pius XII has never given any warning about dangers in his very particular type of co-operation (which is mine, too).

Thirdly, of the words in which Pius X gave his reason for tolerating and permitting the Christian Trade Unions, so long as they are "advantageous and lawful"13 ("respicientes peculiarem rei catholicae in Germania rationem"), Fr. Furfey says: "These words obviously imply a warning against generalizing this permission and toleration for application in other countries." The implications of the remark are tendentious. First, nobody was attempting to generalize the permission itself. My point was that the reason for the permission is entirely capable of generalization. And the words in question with equal obviousness

[p. 201]

imply that, if the same peculiaris rei catholicae ratio were to be verified elsewhere, the same permission might well be forth-coming, on the same principle—concern for the common good. At this junction, I am forcibly reminded of Fr. Furfey's own acute observation: "It would seem that some Catholic thinkers read the encyclicals with a particular attitude of mind" (p. 174). The observation returns to mind with even greater force on reading Fr. Furfey's interpretation of Notre charge.


Fr. Furfey's palmary argument is drawn from this document; he considers it "of prime importance for the criticism of the type" of co-operation which I contemplate (p. 170). Actually, I omitted it because it is quite irrelevant to the type of co-operation I have in mind. The omission was not, as Fr. Furfey says, "strange." What is really strange is his manner of employing the document. He might have taken the opportunity to do with Notre charge what I at least tried to do with Singulari quadam; he might have studied its complete doctrine against its background—the fascinating history of a splendid Catholic movement gone wrong (as someone has pointed out) because it did not grasp the true relations between the natural and the supernatural order. So far as the question at issue goes, the results would have been negative; but the study itself would have been interesting. At all events, instead of adopting this constructive historical approach, Fr. Furfey simply takes two texts from Notre charge and with them scores what looks very much like a debater's triumph. I am hoist on a syllogism: Pius X "ridicules" an "interconfessional organization founded by Catholics to work for the reform of civilization;" but this "seems to be precisely what Father Murray proposes;" therefore, Pius X ridicules my proposal! The debate is then closed: ". . . further discussion," says Fr. Furfey, "is unnecessary" (p. 171).

But has not the gavel descended prematurely? It is rare that discussions are closed by syllogisms that have four terms. I really should be granted a shot at that minor, and at the major, too. Of course, to carry on the discussion at all, even on the plane of dialectics, I shall have to grant Fr. Furfey's mistaken supposition—that I did actually propose an interconfessional organization

[p. 202]

for the reform of civilization (since these are alphabetic days, let us call it Fr. Murray's IORC). For the sake of argument, I am not unwilling to do so. As a matter of fact, I could design on paper an IORC whose constitution and bylaws would not offend against any point of Catholic doctrine or law; and there would be no trouble about it, unless I were rash enough to try to get my IORC off paper into some particular diocese, without the bishop's leave. At all events, we can rig a basis for discussion. What is bothering Fr. Furfey at this stage of his argument is my proposal of interconfessional agreement on certain necessary religious and moral bases of a just social order. I did make the proposal, and I have sketched summarily the content of the agreement—four truths of the natural order, and their social consequences, largely as drawn out by Pius XII in his Christmas Allocutions.14 Let us, for the sake of the argument, add the missing element, a single organization of mixed membership, that will operate on the common ground of this agreement. By this process we have the basis for our argument—a full-fledged, rip-roaring (on paper) IORC. So be it.

But I am still not impaled on Fr. Furfey's syllogism; for the IORC that I have proposed is not at all like the IORC that Pius X ridiculed. From the standpoint of its characterizing feature—the interconfessional agreement on which it operates—it is about as much like Le Sillon as Pius XII is like M. Sangnier. Consequently, in the syllogism in question, a double supposition is given to the term, IORC. (Truly an embarrassing situation for a syllogism to find itself in.) But before analyzing this double supposition, there is a preliminary point.

I cannot forbear pointing out how Fr. Furfey has fallen into the same fallacy that he sought to find in me. He said, in effect: "Using Singulari quadam, Fr. Murray argued from a papal toleration and permission given to the Christian Trade Unions to a papal toleration and permission as available for the big super-organization he has in mind [I didn't have it in mind, of course]. But this is no way to argue; you are generalizing a permission given in one particular case, and making it cover another case." I shall grant that this is not a good argument; rather fortunately, it was not my argument. Now, in return, I should be allowed my

[p. 203]

fling at dialectics. I say: "Fr. Furfey argues from the papal ridicule of Le Sillon to papal ridicule as undoubtedly forthcoming for my IORC. But this is no way to argue; you are generalizing a condemnation issued in one particular case, and making it cover another case." On his own showing, Fr. Furfey should admit that the argument is no good; unfortunately, it is his argument.

To have made it stick, he would have had to do one of two things. First, leaving his syllogism in its present form, he could have attempted to prove that my IORC (I am still putting myself in the false position of having to defend that child of the imagination) is a case exactly parallel to that of Le Sillon. If the cases are exactly parallel, my poor IORC would fall under the condemnation levelled against Le Sillon; the syllogism would work. To establish the parallelism would require more than the citation of two texts. One would have to outline the complete content of Notre charge, faithfully portraying Le Sillon as it is there portrayed, ridiculed, and condemned. One would have to state the radically erroneous religious and social philosophy of Le Sillon, the chimerical nature of the reform of civilization which it proposed, the falseness of its political ideal, its enfeoffment to an unsound political party, its refractory attitude towards ecclesiastical authority, its boast of being "above the Church" and of possessing a higher life than hers, the injurious effects of its educative effort, its necessarily undermining effect on the faith of its Catholic members (not because they had to subscribe to "something less" than the full Catholic doctrine, but because they supported doctrines in direct contradiction to Catholic faith and sound social theory).

Having outlined all this, one would have to go on to what is minor in Notre charge, Le Sillon's interconfessionalism (to it are devoted five of the Letter's twenty-seven pages). One would show that it was Le Sillon's radically false religious, philosophical, and social tenets that led it (in its third phase, from 1906 onwards) to issue its "summons to the construction of the future city of all workers from every religion and every sect."15 One would state, too, that its summons was issued to atheists, freethinkers,

[p. 204]

and agnostics as well. And above all, one would expose Le Sillon's concept of the common ground on which this heterogeneous crowd would meet, and from which they would draw adequate inspiration for their social tasks—what M. Sangnier called "a generous idealism." Having thus faithfully reproduced Pius X's description of Le Sillon, which in its totality gave the reason for his condemnation of the organization, one would then have to go on to show how all these features of Le Sillon—and especially its very particular brand of interconfessionalism—are verified in my IORC (whose religious and social philosophy, program of reform, etc., are contained in Pius XII's Christmas Allocutions!). The cases would thus be demonstrably parallel; and the remorseless logic of Fr. Furfey's syllogism would smite me forever silent. I am not surprised that Fr. Furfey did not choose to take this line of proof.

But there is another line. One could generalize the major of the syllogism, to make it read: In Notre charge, Pius X ridicules the idea of any and every kind of IORC, no matter what its brand of interconfessionalism, no matter what its objectives, no matter what set of principles underlies its call for co-operation among men of different religious beliefs. In other words, one could undertake to prove from Notre charge that interconfessional co-operative action as such—by the sheer, unqualified fact of its interconfessionalism—is a ridiculous means of working for social reform. In that case, my IORC would again be condemned, no matter how it differed from Le Sillon.

This, of course, would be a risky procedure. For one thing, it would bring Pius X squarely into contradiction with himself. After all, he did not ridicule, nor was he even "delicately ironical" with, the Christian Trade Unions, which were indubitably IORC's. On the contrary, he spoke of them with reserve indeed, but with great respect; and he tolerated and permitted them as advantageous and lawful in their own concrete situation. Nevertheless, this second line of argumentation seems to be the one chosen by Fr. Furfey. Apparently, he wants to find in Notre charge a general principle that will make all interconfessional organizations—of whatever inspiration and kind—ridiculous, or, at least, the object of delicate papal irony.

His proof seems to be that in Notre charge, "Pope Pius took occasion to point out the inevitable undesirable features involved

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in this type of intercredal co-operation" (p. 170). One main, inevitable, undesirable, vitiating feature is signalized: "such organizations overlook or implicitly deny that only on the basis of the full Catholic social teaching can society be saved." This fact, says Fr. Furfey, is what "moves Pius X to be delicately ironical" about Le Sillon's pretensions; this, so far as Fr. Furfey's context goes, is the main reason for his condemnation of the organization. My previous respectful suggestion that the whole business was not quite so simple is brushed aside as "beside the point." I am confronted with one text that I shall not be able to "explain away," and that contains, supposedly, delicate papal irony against all interconfessional organizations of whatever shape, manner, kind, inspiration, basis, or objective: "Behold an interconfessional association founded by Catholics to work for the reform of civilization—a work that is in the first place religious; for there is no true civilization without moral civilization, and there is no true moral civilization without the true religion."16

At this point, it becomes necessary to lay aside all the dialectics, and to get down to some sound interpretation of papal documents. I am not interested in "explaining away" texts; but I do like to have them situated in their contexts before anybody starts to argue from them. Let us, therefore, follow this recognized procedure with the text in question.

Pius X said : "Behold an interconfessional association founded by Catholics to work for the reform of civilization . . . ." In the context he was talking about Le Sillon, and about Le Sillon alone: "Voici une . . . ." We are invited to behold a particular, definite one. He goes on: ". . . a work that is in the first place religious, etc." This is irony. And it is directed singly against Le Salon. Why the irony? Because the Pope has just devoted seventeen pages to showing that les Sillonistes have no concept of the right religious and moral bases of society, that their whole theory of man and his social nature, and of the Church, too, is vitiated by radical errors. Hence he asks ironically: How shall these men, and their associates of all religious beliefs (and of none), who share their erroneous views, operate the reform of society, "a work which is in the first place religious," and which therefore supposes right religious and moral principles for its achievement?

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From the context it is clear that the Pope disqualifies Le Sillon as an agency of social reform, not precisely because it is inter-confessional, but because its interconfessionalism is linked with a false religious, moral, and social philosopy.

This becomes even clearer from what follows. The Pope goes on to state the principle that "practical achievements [in the social sphere] assume the character of the religious convictions" that inspire them. This leads him to examine "la profession de foi du nouveau comité démocratique d'action sociale." He quotes M. Sangnier's words on opening membership in le plus grand Sillon "to all men 'who are respectful of religious and moral forces, and who are convinced that no social emancipation is possible without the leaven of a generous idealism.' "17 The italics are in the text; they signalize the Pope's discovery of what he is chiefly looking for—the basis of Le Sillon's interconfessionalism and of its co-operative program. On this he turns the power, not of a delicate irony but of a savage sarcasm, as he proceeds to develop the immense disparity between the task these men have

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assumed—the reform of civilization—and the pitifully inadequate means wherewith they hope to achieve it, "the sharing in common of a generous idealism."

Notice that this sarcasm is directed, not against the abstract idea of co-operation among men of different faiths towards social reform, nor even against co-operation on the basis of some-thing less than the full Catholic social doctrine, nor against the organizational formula of Le Sillon, but solely against a co-operation inspired by the common sharing of a lot of false ideas, which dictated false social objectives. The Pope is castigating the "audacity and levity of mind of men who call themselves Catholics, and who dream of establishing, over and above the Catholic Church, 'the reign of justice and love,' with the aid of workers who come from all sides—men of all religions and of no religion, men with beliefs and without beliefs—provided that they forget what divides them (their religious and moral convictions) and put in common what unites them, a generous idealism [italics in text] and moral forces gathered où ils peuvent."18 Co-operation on such a basis and for such objectives, says Pius X, is of no avail for the reform of civilization: "What is going to come forth from this sort of collaboration? A purely verbal and chimerical structure, in which one will see crazily shining in seductive confusion the words liberty, justice, fraternity and love, human equality and the exaltation of man—the whole thing based on a misunderstanding of the dignity of man."19 The sentence deliberately reproduces the enthusiastic but con-fused quality of Silloniste utterance.

Yet, with all this, the Pope has not yet reached the most profound vice of Le Sillon, and the radical reason for his condemnation of its particular brand of co-operation. Fundamentally, he says, this co-operation is aimed at the establishment of "a religion (for Le Sillon, its leaders say, is a religion) more universal than the Catholic Church, uniting all men, at last become brothers and comrades, in 'the reign of God.' "20 In other words, the aims of Le Sillon's co-operative action did not remain within the temporal order nor stop at merely social reform. This co-

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operative movement has a specifically ecclesiastical finality; it , aimed at the establishment of a new Church. Its vice was not simple interconfessionalism, but downright anti-Catholicism. It had become, the Pope says, "a miserable tributary of the great movement of apostasy, organized in all countries for the establishment of a universal Church without dogmas or hierarchy, without rule for mind or rein for passion."21 Le Sillon was, in effect, a counter-religion, and it was condemned as such.

I tried once before gently to suggest something of this to Fr. Furfey, adding: "It cannot be too much emphasized that there are various kinds of co-operation, and that judgment on any one of them must be passed according to its supporting theory."22 The suggestion was unavailing. All this, he says, is "beside the point." All this, I repeat, is very much to the point.23 And by omitting it, Fr. Furfey has denatured the text of Notre charge. Pius X did not condemn Le Sillon because it "overlooked or implicitly denied that only on the basis of the full Catholic social teaching can society be saved." He condemned it because it denied the most elementary philosophical truths that are the foundations of Catholic social teaching. Its essential "evil" was not that its members had to "keep silent on the full Catholic social doctrine," but that they most vociferously rejected nearly

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all Catholic social doctrine. And its interconfessionalism fell in obliquo under the papal condemnation because it was related to, and based upon, its denials and rejections, its false principles and its illusory social objectives.

From this brief statement of the case, it should be easily seen why I omitted discussion of Notre charge, as quite irrelevant to my purposes. The document touches at no point my very particular type of co-operation—what I have called "co-operation in charity to do the work of justice which is peace." Moreover, from this brief statement, one can judge the validity of Fr. Furfey's dialectical triumph: Pius X ridiculed an interconfessional organization for the reform of civilization; but an interconfessional organization for social reform is Fr. Murray's idea; therefore Pius X ridiculed Fr. Murray's idea . . . .


Since I am rather unwilling to be put on the defensive in this whole matter, let me here ask a concrete question. Fr. Furfey's argument is that organized activity, on the basis of interconfessional agreement, has something "evil" about it. The evil is that Catholics "must naturally keep silent on the full Catholic social doctrine" (p. 170). Moreover, it is "ridiculous" to suppose that such activity, on such a basis, could be of social value, because "only on the basis of the full Catholic social teaching can society be saved." Well, in October, 1943, the Pattern for Peace was given to the world, as an identical statement, issued simultaneously by Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish leaders. In its own way, it represents what I have called interconfessional agreement on certain necessary religious and moral bases of a just social order. The question therefore rises: Is there something "evil" about the Pattern, because it keeps silent on the full Catholic social doctrine? Is it ridiculous to suppose that it could be made a powerful instrument towards the salvation of society, because "only on the basis, etc., etc."

To be more concrete, when by means of organized activity, shared by Catholics with episcopal approval, the Pattern was impressed on the attention of whole communities (Syracuse, San Antonio, Toledo, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, San Francisco, etc.), and on numerous audiences elsewhere, was this of no value, because the Pattern does not contain the full Catholic social

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teaching? Or was it of value, and of how much value? Was it a dangerous activity for Catholics to engage in? What were the dangers, and what concretely were the bad results? Was the papal peace program furthered by this co-operation with men of good will, or was it damaged thereby? Were our own specifically Catholic efforts at realizing the complete papal program inhibited by this co-operation, or were they supplemented in any valuable way? Has there been too much or too little co-operation in the field of international peace? Would it have been better to devote all this energy to personalist social action? Considering the power and strength and enormous activity of highly organized non-Catholic and secular bodies now working for a just peace, would it perhaps be better for us to apply in their regard the technique of non-participation, what time we devote all our efforts to creating an international "pistic" society "of our own," that will be "founded on faith"?

My point is that those who choose to emphasize that organized co-operation is a danger to Catholic faith, that it will foster indifferentism, or that it is of little social value because it "overlooks or implicitly denies the doctrine that only on the basis, etc. etc. etc.,"—these men would find in organized co-operation in support of the Pattern for Peace a laboratory in which the reality of their fears and the validity of their judgments could be tested. Even one who puts an absolutely minimalist interpretation on papal texts would have to admit that they at least grant permission for such a test to be made. Until it is made, the theory of co-operation must be at a standstill. After all, as I have elsewhere remarked, the papal texts do not so much solve a problem for us as put a problem to us.

Actually, these texts on co-operation challenge our whole understanding of the papal peace program. They compel us to face the fundamental question: Do we really want to see a new order established? If we do, we have to ask ourselves: Can we our-selves, by ourselves, establish it? If we cannot, we are faced with the problem of uniting with others. This is most evidently the problem that the Pope faced. He cannot solve it. He made his own contribution to its solution—the formulation in his Christmas Allocutions of a basis for co-operative union with all men of good will. He brought the problem forcibly to the attention of his children, in their hierarchical rank; and he directed in no

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uncertain terms that it be solved; for on its solution depends to no small degree the destiny of the human family—whether it will live in a new order or in the old chaos.

I gather that Fr. Furfey thinks that we in the United States have pretty well solved it already: we all understand the principle of co-operation, and, with a few excesses and defects here and there, we are doing all the co-operation that the Pope wants done, in the way he wants it done (pp. 161-63). If anything, we do too much co-operating with non-Catholics. Therefore, so far as we are concerned, the papal texts simply give a warning for the future, not to allow the rise of a "spirit of separatism, which would prevent our full and free collaboration with all men of good will outside the Church"—a collaboration that at the moment is almost entirely satisfactory. Hence (is this the conclusion?) in their present and positive application, the papal texts were directed at Italy, or Great Britain, or Germany, or possibly Ireland or Spain—countries where there may be the spirit of separatism that happily never came across the sea. It was perhaps because of his great satisfaction with the state of things among us that Pius XII took occasion in Sertum laetitiae to make one of his most urgent pleas for "a salutary union of thought and policy," not only among Catholics, but between Catholics and our separated brethren. He must surely be gratified to see how exactly Fr. Furfey has grasped his point: "Everything in it [Sertum laetitiae] can be very well understood as referring to the existing sort of co-operation" abundantly going on among us (p. 167). We have nothing of importance to change or to add. One is reminded of the reception rather widely given to Pius XI's urgent summons to Catholic Action: "That is what we have been doing all along."

For my own part, I do not think that we have adequately solved the problem that our Holy Father has put to us.24 And of

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the theory that Fr. Parsons and I have put forward as a contribution to its solution, I may say this: no one, who has understood our position, has brought to my attention any valid objection against it. Actually, only two serious criticisms have reached me—both of them from a bishop of high scholarship and social sense. One was that I had not sufficiently emphasized the Catholic duty of leadership and initiative in co-operative endeavors. To this I replied that it did not seem appropriate strongly to assert our right to a leadership which we were not in fact prepared strongly to assume. The second criticism was that I had not been sufficiently definite about the precise way in which co-operation should be organized in the United States. To this the answer was that determination of the mode of organization appropriate to the United States falls within the competence of the bishops alone.


One further point in Fr. Furfey's article cannot be let, go without a word. He quoted my statement that what I called in one place "Religio-Civic Action" was "removed . . . from organic relation to her [the Church's] pastoral authority." The statement is entirely clear in its context; the terms, "Religio-Civic Action," and "organic relation," were chosen to fit the context, and their meaning is quite clear from the context. But Fr. Furfey takes them out of their context. I fear, therefore, that some unwary readers might conclude that I was maintaining that the bishops had nothing to do with the business of co-operation. It would be particularly discomforting to think that bishops were peering down into the well of obscurity in which I habitually live, to see if from its depths a small rebellious fist was being shaken at their episcopal authority. Let me, therefore, briefly explain.

In the context, I was pointing an analogy between the papal idea of co-operation and the papal idea of Catholic Action. Catholic Action is the Catholic laity organized to discharge their function in the hierarchical apostolate of the Church. Catholic Action is an organization; it is part of the organism of the Church, and as such it stands in organic relation to her pastoral authority. Not only the members of Catholic Action, but Catholic Action itself, formaliter reduplicative as an organization is under the direct authority of the hierarchy. I called the other analogate

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"Religio-Civic Action," using a capital A to signify that it is an organization, whether constituted on the principle of federation, or fusion, or in some other way. It is the Catholic laity somehow organized with all men of good will and right moral principle to discharge the duty that all men have to the common temporal good, which initially demands that society be established on its natural religious and moral bases. In its organizational entity, however that entity may be organized, this "Religio-Civic Action" is not part of the organism of the Church, and therefore stands in no organic relation to her pastoral authority. The Catholic members of the organization (e.g., a joint committee linking distinct federations) remain under the direct authority of their Ordinary, in all matters of social thought and action that touch on religious and moral issues. But the organization itself (e.g., the joint committee as an entity) is not under the direct authority of the hierarchy and is not mandated by it. Only in-directly can the hierarchy control the organization as such, namely, by its direct control over the Catholic members, and by its general right of judgment in matters of religion and morals.

I had thought these distinctions so elementary as not to need mention in my original article; I was content to refer to several places where this particular question is treated. Let me further recall here that I have always explicitly reserved to final episcopal decision all matters that refer to what I call the expediency of co-operation; particularly subject to their approval is the "precise form that this co-operation should take in particular regions."25

There is a final, cognate point. In the light of these elementary principles, it is easy to see the bearing of the texts cited by Fr. Furfey from Pius XI, in which the Pope says that the work of social reform is to be carried on Ecclesia duce et magistra, and that all men of good will are to be united in it sub Ecclesiae pastoribus (p. 166). The principle conveyed in these phrases is clear: the Church is supremely competent in the social problem, insofar as it is a religious and moral problem, and the duty of leadership towards its solution devolves upon her—upon the Pope, bishops, priests, and the Catholic laity, proportione servata. Consequently, there are only two particular questions at issue.

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(1) The first is this: Has the Church, dux et magistra, in the person of the Pope, given the directive that Catholics should initiate co-operative relationships in some organized form with all men of good will towards the solution of the social problem, not only in its technical, but in its religious and moral aspects? If it has, then eo ipso this co-operative work is undertaken Ecclesia duce et magistra. Moreover, it will suo modo go on sub Ecclesiae pastoribus, inasmuch as its local realizations will always be moderated, directly or indirectly, by the local Ordinaries. I say, suo modo. It is fantastic to suppose that effective co-operation towards making the moral law the basis of civil society must wait upon previous formal acceptance, by all men, of the magisterial and jurisdictional authority of the Church, as the one true Church. It is entirely sufficient that men should materialiter et suo modo acknowledge the Church as dux et magistra; this they do when they accept as true the principles that she teaches (e.g., the principles of the Pattern for Peace). We cannot ask for more than this; if we get this much, we shall get a lot.

(2) The second question is, what is the relationship of a local organized co-operative association (say, a joint committee engaged in staging a civic demonstration in support of the Pattern for Peace) to the Ecclesia dux et magistra? I maintain that this relation is not "organic," in the sense explained, although it is entirely real, again in the sense explained. This position is quite correct.

In conclusion, let me express the regret that space forbids me to break a lance for Fr. Parsons in this matter. At that, he has a large stock of sturdy lances of his own. For my part, I do not think that Fr. Furfey has done justice (1) to Fr. Parsons' exegesis of papal texts; (2) to the starting point of his whole case (the Pope's efficacious desire for a new order); (3) to his insight into the inner structure of the papal program for social reform (the relation between the natural and supernatural truths it contains); (4) to the cardinal principles of social thought (e.g., the necessity of organization for social action) that give to his case a strength still unimpaired by Fr. Furfey's criticism.


Woodstock College, Woodstock, Md.


1 The American Ecclesiastical Review, CXI (1944), 161–75, parenthetical page-references in my text are to this article.

2 "Christian Co-operation," Theological Studies, III (1942), 413–31; "Co-operation: Some Further Views," ibid., IV (1943), 100–11; "Intercredal Co-operation: Its Theory and Organization," ibid., 257–86 (to be cited as, "Theory, p. etc."); exchange of letters with Fr. Furfey, ibid., 467–72; Intercredal Co-operation, Papers by Wilfrid Parsons, S.J., and John Courtney Murray, S.J. (Catholic Association for International Peace, 1943); The Pattern for Peace and the Papal Peace Program, by John Courtney Murray, S.J., and the Ethics Committee (Catholic Association for International Peace, 1944); these last two pamphlets will be cited respectively as "CAIP, 1943," and "CAIP, 1944"; the last-named, though published in the summer of 1944, was written in the fall of 1943 and circulated privately as part of the backgound material of the Pattern for Peace; parts of it were published in various diocesan papers. I may note here that objection has here and there been taken to the term, "intercredal co-operation." It was my own coinage, faute de mieux; in order to avoid verbal disputes, I no longer use the term; if anyone can find a better term, we could agree to adopt it.

3 ". . . in the United States I do not think a single organization with mixed membership would be practicable or advisable . . ." (Theol. Stud., IV [1943], 474).

4 "In the case of the Christian Trade Unions in Germany at the beginning of the century, this principle [fusion of men of different faiths in a single organization] was, under certain safeguards, 'tolerated and permitted.' But its use seems hardly possible or prudent in the American scene at the moment." (CAIP, 1943, p. 37).

5 "Theory," p. 262.

6 Ibid., p. 269.

7 These texts led me to say that the unity between Catholics and all men of good will was to be "religio-civic," because they were to collaborate in a spiritual task (the establishment of the social order on its natural religious and moral bases), whose purposes, however, remained entirely within the temporal order; this unity, therefore, is specifically different from the unity pursued by Protestant ecumenism in all its forms.

8 This impression results from a study of Fr. Furfey's books, Fire on the Earth, Three Theories of Society, and A History of Social Thought; it results especially from consideration of his preferred methods of social reform—the two methods that he calls "the technique of non-participation," and "personalist social action" (cf. Fire on the Earth, pp. 117 ff.; pp. 92–97; Three Theories, pp. 217–21; History, pp. 403–405). I suggest that the root of Fr. Furfey's lack of sympathy with organized co-operation can probably be found in his rather individual theories of a "supernatural sociology," and of a "pistic society." He says, for instance: "Institutions, after all, are built by individuals, and reflect the spirit of the latter." This is only a half-truth. Institutions are built by individuals only inasmuch as individuals act formally as members of a group. No individual, and no mere aggregate of individuals can create a social institution; the sole proportionate cause of this effect is the action of a solidary group. This is a commonplace of Pius XI's theory of Catholic Action; it is at the root of his insistence that Catholic Action is an organization.

9 Cf. W. Ferree, S.M., The Act of Social Justice (Washington: The Catholic University of America, 1943), chaps. III, IV, V.

10 Theol. Stud., IV (1943), 468–69.

11 "Theory," p. 263. Fr. Furfey (p. 170) seems to attach a hidden significance to the fact that my original long discussion of Singulari quadam was not included in CAIP, 1943. Actually, the single reason for its omission was the judgment—made by others, and reluctantly consented to by myself—that the discussion was too academic for a popular pamphlet. This same reason explains the omission of the analogy (not the "parallel," as Fr. Furfey calls it) between Catholic Action and organized co-operation between Catholics and non-Catholics, which appeared in the original article.

12 "Theory," p. 272.

13 Fr. Furfey implies that Pius X permitted the Christian Trade Unions on the principle that "the Church can be flexible and permit one evil to avoid a greater one" (p. 169). This statement is quite unwarranted; confer the explanation ("Theory," p. 268, note 12; quoting Mausbach) of the positive implications of "et permitti" added to "tolerari posse"; the Pope declared that there is something better, but not that the Christian Trade Unions were an "evil." Moreover, he stated that their toleration and permission were "opportuna" and "justa," advantageous in the circumstances, and lawful (AAS, IV [1912], 660), and he forbade accusations against the faith of those who "recto consilio volunt de Syndicatibus mistis esse et sunt" (ibid., pp. 661–62). Finally, in the passage in Quadragesimo anno in which the prescriptions of Singulari quadam are renewed there is no suggestion that such mixed syndicates are an "evil."

14 Cf. CAIP, 1944, pp. 11–13; Theol. Stud. IV (1943), 472.

15 AAS, II (1910), 624. For a brief history of Le Sillon, cf. Moon, The Labor Problem and the Social Catholic Movement in France (New York, 1921), pp. 375–82.

16 Ibid., p. 625; cf. Furfey, p. 170.

17 AAS, II (1910), 626. It is in this context that Fr. Furfey's second triumphant text occurs: "What is to be thought of a Catholic who, on entering his study circle, leaves his Catholicism at the door, in order not to horrify his companions . . ." Again Fr. Furfey fails to note the qualification given to the remark by its context. The study circles of Le Sillon were thoroughly secularized; worse than that, they were foyers in which and from which radically false ideas were disseminated. One of the paradoxes of Le Sillon was this: at the same time that it identified "Christianity" with "democracy" (according to its own false understanding of these terms); it put a complete separation between religion and politics. Consequently, with absolute literalness, the Silloniste left his Catholicism at the door on entering his study circle, and professed allegiance to a "higher religious way of life," Le Sillon itself. Is this the same as meeting non-Catholics on the ground of the natural law in its social applications? And is it not quite tendentious to lift Pius X's remark out of its context, and hurl it at the latter, altogether different procedure? Furthermore, let us be concrete: when three Catholic priests (myself included) entered the study circle from which the Pattern for Peace emerged, none of us checked at the door anything but his hat. Moreover, any number of points of Catholic doctrine were brought squarely into the discussion. Finally, I have always insisted that a major advantage of well-managed co-operative endeavor is that the intelligent Catholic has abundant opportunities for illuminating non-Catholics in many matters of our faith. Frankly, Fr. Furfey's use of this text smacks faintly of "smartness," that emerges even in the translation of the French, "laisse son catholicisme à la porte," by, "checks his Catholicism at the door." On religion and politics in Le Sillon, cf. Etudes, CXXIII (1910), 678–85.

18 AAS, II (1910), 627.

19 Loc. cit.

20 Ibid., p. 628.

21 Loc. cit.

22 Theol. Stud., IV (1943), 474.

23 Solely with a view to indicating again that my disagreements with Fr. Furfey are at a level deeper than that on which the particular question of co-operation may be discussed, let me respectfully suggest that in all this matter he is arguing, not so much from the text of Notre charge as from the text of Fire on the Earth, etc., that is, from his own individual ideas on the meaning and the consequences of the statement that "only on the basis of the full Catholic social teaching can society be saved." The statement comes from no official document. Superficially, it seems to have a good Catholic ring to it—sort of an echo in the temporal order of extra Ecclesiam nulla salus. But what does it mean? It might, for instance, mean: Society cannot be saved. (Remembering that society cannot be saved by a minority group, and that the majority, as a sheer matter of fact, will neither accept nor practice the full Catholic social teaching.) Moreover, what does it mean when translated into a program of social action? Does it mean that we should adopt "a relative social ideal, a pistic society within a positivistic one" (Furfey, Three Theories of Society, p. 221)? Where the Popes say: "We must make society human in all its dimensions," Fr. Furfey says, "We must make a society of our own" (ibid., p. 220). Perhaps one may be cryptic in footnotes; therefore, I shall hazard the conjecture that we shall probably have in America some time soon a debate over Sozialpolitik rather similar to the one that raged between the Richtung Munchen-Gladbach and the Berliner Richtung.

24 It may, of course, be that we are not capable of solving it, for a variety of possible reasons: the faith of our people is so weak that it would be scandalized by strong co-operative efforts; we have no corps of intelligent, trained laymen for the work; our own social ideas and program are so inadequately developed as not to be able to support a program of co-operation, in prolongation of our own efforts, we have not the organizations or resources to offer leadership and initiatives; our relations with non-Catholic and secular organizations are not developed; etc. (These are possible reasons; others would know their validity better than I.) At all events, if this is the case, so be it. But there is no need to deny the existence of the problem, or to imply that we have already solved it.

25 Cf. CAIP, 1944, p. 16.