Manifesto on Rural Life
Part I. MANIFESTO
I. The Rural Catholic Family
II. Farm Ownership and Land Tenancy
III. Rural Settlement
IV. Catholic Rural Education
V. Rural Catholic Youth
VI. Catholic Culture in Rural Society
VII. Rural Community
VIII. The Rural Pastorate
IX. Rural Church Expansion
X. Rural Health
XI. Rural Social Charity
XII. The Farm Laborer
XIII. Farmer Cooperatives
XIV. Rural Credit
XV. Agriculture in the Economic Organism
XVI. Rural Taxation
I. The Rural Catholic Family
II. Farm Ownership and Land Tenancy
III. Rural Settlement
IV. Catholic Rural Education
V. Rural Catholic Youth
VI. Catholic Culture in Rural Society
VII. Rural Community
VIII. The Rural Pastorate
IX. Rural Church Expansion
X. Rural Health
XI. Rural Social Charity
XII. The Farm Laborer
XIII. Farmer Cooperatives
XIV. Rural Credit
XV. Agriculture in the Economic Organism
XVI Rural Taxation
Importance of the Rural Questions
One need but take a cursory glance through American history to see that this nation has always had some kind of agrarian problem. Agrarianism has had a long and troublesome history. When our nation began, Daniel Shays led the farmer into rebellion. The farmer of revolutionary days was burdened with heavy debts; contracts were ruthlessly enforced against him; prices were low; the savings of hard labor expended in clearing land of timber, stumps, and rocks were being lost. Shays organized the first pressure group among the farmers. His rebellion was crushed by armed force. From the hard times of 1785-86 down to the hard times of our day is a far cry. But in the intervening 150 years the farmer often found himself face to face with serious problems. To cope with them, all sorts of panaceas were rushed upon the scene. Some were radical and revolutionary in character; others were legislative and monetary; still others were economic and political.
The fact is, of course, that the farmer's problem is so complicated by many factors that it cannot be solved by a simple formula. It is not the purpose of this MANIFESTO to offer such a formula. The MANIFESTO is not in the nature of a blueprint with detailed specifications to show how the new agrarianism is to be built and how the farmer's problems are to be solved. There is no such complete solution available.
The purpose of the MANIFESTO is to state certain fundamental principles and policies without which it would be folly to essay a solution. These principles and policies are chiefly derived from Catholic social philosophy as expressed in the social encyclicals of Leo XIII and Pius XI.
In propounding social philosophy, the Catholic Church does not leave out of view the spiritual nature of man and his ultimate spiritual destiny. She would not be true to her mission if she did so. Indeed, the salvation of souls must ever be her first concern. But so intimately are material things interwoven with man's daily conduct, its motives and its deeds, that the Church cannot be unconcerned about what goes on in the material order of things. In point of fact, a pure secularism which would divorce man's earthly life from spiritual concerns is not in accord with the realities of man's daily living. To ignore either the spiritual or the material in their manifold interrelations can only result in disaster.
The Church has ever shown a special solicitude for those whose living is derived from the land. "In the Twenty Centuries of Her Existence," writes Archbishop Cicognani, Apostolic Delegate to the United States, "the Catholic Church has ever shown, emphasized even, her predilection for those who till the soil, on whose work and efforts depends so important a part of the well-being of all."1 One need not search far or deeply for the reason of this solicitude for the tiller of the land. The occupation of agriculture offers the most favorable conditions, generally speaking, for the development of private property, the fostering of home life, the culture of initiative, prudence, thrift, courage and other priceless virtues, and for the promotion of simple but wholesome and rugged living.
Agrarianism has entered upon a new phase in the twentieth century, especially beginning with the period after the World War. Foreign markets have been greatly reduced, nations have embarked upon vast, even though costly, programs of economic self-sufficiency, domestic markets have shrunk owing to lessened purchasing power and a lower birth rate. Population shifts, because of the steady migration of farm youth from the populous areas of Rural America into the dying city centers of Urban America, have given origin to new and complex problems, and a dozen other factors, largely of an economic and social character, have given rise to great disparities between urban and rural living. The unbalance between the two has been aggravated by the Great Depression from both an economic and a social point of view. Archbishop Cicognani has summed up the whole problem in a few trenchant words: "In the present world-wide economic disorder, brought about by the abuses of capitalism, by technological changes, and by dislocated relationship between rural and urban life, dangerous inequalities and disproportions have developed to the detriment and, in some instances, to the degradation of the farm population. Those who live on the land form the larger portion of the human family and their labor is the most important and indispensable for the livelihood of all. The most elementary justice entitles them to standards of living no less abundant and complete than those enjoyed by the urban population. Briefly, justice should prevail between the farm and the city."2
It would be a mistake to think that the problems of agrarianism are entirely rural. What goes on back on the farm has its repercussions in the city, and what happens in the city has its reactions on the farm. Wheels of industry are quickly stopped if the farmer cannot buy industry's products because he does not obtain a just share of the nation's income. The immigration of farm youth to the cities often entails as consequences the reduction of wages, the lengthening of bread lines, and the swelling of city slums. A thousand different interrelations exist between city and farm. The sooner it is recognized that agriculture and industry form an economic whole with varied implications of a moral, social, and political character, the better it will be for the material well-being of the nation. To keep this thought to the fore has been among the prime objectives of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference from the day it was founded by the Most Rev. Edwin V. O'Hara, now Bishop of Kansas City. To give this thought more definite expression is one of the chief aims of this MANIFESTO. Hence, the economic, social, cultural, moral, and religious have all received consideration in this statement. It represents the thinking of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference over the years that have elapsed since it was founded. For a long time the great need of a concise statement on agricultural and rural problems has been felt by Catholic Agrarian leaders. The MANIFESTO is the joint product of thought of eminent leaders in the field of Catholic rural thought.
Lest the document be encumbered with factual, statistical, and illustrative material, and cluttered up with references of a varied sort, Annotations have been added in Part II. The reference to these is by paragraph number.
In a special Introduction to the Annotations we have given expression to our sentiments of appreciation and gratitude to those who, by advice, suggestion, and workmanship, were helpful in producing the document.
The MANIFESTO makes a venture on new ground, not that all fields have been covered and that nothing more remains to be said on rural life questions, but rather that for the first time, so far as we know, principles and policies have been stated in a succinct and orderly fashion with respect to Catholic Rural Life. We hope that the Rural Life Movement will march forward with new strength and courage under the stimulus that has been given it by this MANIFESTO.
ALOISIUS J. MUENCH Bishop of Fargo
1. Cicognani, A. G., "Addresses and Sermons" (New York, 1937), p. 332.
2. Op. cit., p. 335.
1. Among social institutions the family occupies the place of primacy. The family is both the source of population and the chief agency in the training and education of the child. The Christian family is the keystone of the arch which supports our Christian civilization. Its attributes are sanctity, unity, and permanence; and these in turn rest upon the sanctity, unity, and permanence of the marriage bond. The Church, through her vigilant protection of the family and of the marriage bond, has been and is "the best guardian and defender of the human race."1
2. The special adaptability of the farm home for nurturing strong and wholesome Christian family life is the primary reason why the Catholic Church is so deeply concerned with rural problems. Throughout her history, the Catholic Church has instinctively felt a special kinship with the cultivators of the soil, and her enemies find cause for reproach in the fact that her sociological and economic teaching, even when expressed by Leo XIII, breathes, as it were, a rural atmosphere. The explanation is to be found in the unique relationship which exists between the family and the occupation of agriculture. The farm is the native habitat of the family. Industrial society works against the family and in favor of divorce, desertion, temporary unions, companionate marriage; agricultural society is characterized by the strength, permanence, and unity of the marriage bond and the comparative rarity of its dissolution.
3. Both the occupational and the social activities of city life tend to develop an individualism which destroys the unity of family life and weakens the marriage bond. These conditions are further aggravated through the employment of married women in office and factory. The occupation of agriculture, on the other hand, by its very nature tends to promote the unity of family life and to strengthen the marriage bond. The wife is of necessity a business partner, the managing office of the farm is the farm home, and husband and wife share intimately the business management of the whole enterprise. All rural and urban divorce statistics reflect the favorable influence of agricultural life on the unity and permanence of the marriage bond.
4. The fundamental purpose of the family, namely, the propagation and training of children, is more readily set aside in the city. Statistics indicate an insufficiency of births in the city to maintain even a stationary population; whereas in rural sections they indicate a thirty percent surplus. Striving capitalistic mentality, new assumptions in respect to fundamental values, the acceptance of a false amoral secularism in the place of the Christian concept of marriage are basic factors in explaining the decline of city birth rates, which decline has been accelerated through economic conditions. The countryside, though not immune from these influences, is decidedly less susceptible to them. Then, too, children are frequently economic assets on the farm, whereas in the city they are economic liabilities from birth to maturity.
5. Rural environment offers distinctly favorable advantages for training children in the domestic virtues. The authority of rural parents is more pronounced, the influence of domestic traditions more respected; and farm children are likely to become more imbued with the religious and moral ideas of their parents than are the children of the city, surrounded as city children are by a multitude of unfavorable influences during their immature years. The farm home offers the only extended occupational apprenticeship left in America, an apprenticeship where the parents are the teachers, and every year of apprenticeship consolidates the domestic bond. Farm life favors the unity and solidarity of the family. Unity of occupation binds all the members together in common economic and intellectual interests. Joint planning and discussion bind more strongly the members of the family as the knowledge of scientific farming increases their mutual interests. Recreation and even religion are more of a family affair in the country than in the city. Common interests and association in work, play, and worship strengthen the ties of domesticity and the bond of mutual love.
6. Despite the special natural advantages offered for wholesome family life on the farm, there are, under present conditions, serious disadvantages which prevent the farm family from realizing a full and satisfying life. These disadvantages can and should be removed.
7. The farm family not infrequently suffers from its condition of isolation, lack of social and cultural contacts, lack of educational and religious facilities for child, youth, and adult. The world of things and daily toil tend to crowd out the things that give meaning to life. Though it need not be so, the country is largely a place of cultural barrenness where, in making a livelihood, people have neglected the art of living. The tone of country life tends to the dull and commonplace. The farmer's mind is often closed to the advantages of scientific farming. He is content to follow traditional methods, which do not always make for progress. Isolation has developed in very many farmers an unhealthy individualism which blinds them to the need and value of cooperative effort and deprives farming communities of the special benefits which only social living and cooperative endeavor can procure.
8. In many rural areas there exists a widespread indifference to school education. Farmers as a group do not appreciate the need for suitable houses, esthetic landscaping, equipment which eliminates drudgery, and the things which make for culture and refinement. Even where income warrants these improvements, traditional habits often restrain the farmer from making them. In the days of bountiful incomes for most farmers, only a small percentage used their income to improve living conditions.
9. Taking the nation's farm population as a whoe, the farm family has gravitated to a low economic and cultural level. Many farmers, however, and many communities of farmers have not neglected the things which make for culture and for economic security. Their success demonstrates the possibility of economic security and wholesome living conditions on the countryside.
10. Ignorance born of isolation is, in a large measure, responsible for the plight of the farm family. Education is needed to make the farm family master of its economic destiny and to open to its members new cultural and intellectual vistas. Education is needed to change the mental attitude of the farmer and the farm family. The farmer should learn to look upon his farm as a home. He should learn to appreciate the things necessary for wholesome rural family life–a modern sanitary house, properly furnished, equipped with laborsaving devices and installations, and supplied with reading material and other things of cultural value. The extension of rural electrification should make possible at moderate cost the elimination of much of the drudgery characteristic of the average rural home. Rural electrification should also stimulate the development of home arts and crafts–a cultural and an economic blessing as well as another tie to bind the family together. The farmyard could be made attractive with little expense apart from the labor of the family. Landscaping, including the use of trees and flowers, would give to the farm home its proper setting and make it a pleasant and satisfying place of residence.
11. Schools, farm and parish organizations, cooperative agricultural extension service, government bulletins, libraries, and the radio offer means for educating the farmer to appreciate the need and value of better living conditions and the means whereby they can be attained. They will also help to broaden his outlook on life.
12. If the farm is to retain the more ambitious on the land, the work of elevating the status of the farm family must be pushed forward with rapidity. The results otherwise will be nothing less than tragic for the nation, since the countryside with its surplus of births is the source of the nation's population. The Church is vitally interested, as she is vitally interested in the family and in the general welfare of society.
1. Leo XIII, "Christian Marriage," p. 66.
NOTE The Encyclicals of Pius XI are quoted from the N.C.W.C. editions of these works. References to Leo XIII's "The Condition of Labor" are to "Four Great Encyclicals" (Paulist Press). References to the other Encyclicals of Leo XIII are to be found in "Great Encyclical Letters of Leo XIII," edited by Rev. John J. Wynne S.J. (Benziger Bros.).
13. Since God created the earth for mankind in general, the earth is the heritage of all mankind. Although the title to the earth of mankind as a whole sets certain natural limits, to private ownership, this title is not in conflict with the institution of private property. Division of goods and of ownership is founded on the natural law, since natural reason dictates that such division is necessary in order that the goods of the earth might be apportioned among all mankind in an orderly, efficient, and peaceful manner. The limits of ownership and the division of property are determined "by man's own industry and the institutions of individual peoples."1
14. It is obvious that man has a natural right to the fruits of his labor. To use the words of Leo XIII, "that which is required for the preservation of life and for life's well-being, is produced in great abundance by the earth, but not until man has brought it into cultivation and lavished upon it his care and skill. Now, when man thus spends the industry of his mind and the strength of his body in procuring the fruits of nature, by that act he makes his own that portion of nature's field which he cultivates–that portion on which he leaves, as it were, the impress of his own personality; and it cannot but be just that he should possess that portion as his own, and should have a right to keep it without molestation."2
15. Man's natural right to own property is also based upon man's need for ownership. St. Thomas Aquinas states that private property is "necessary for human life."3 Man under present conditions of human society needs property to provide the necessities of life for himself and for his family, to live as a free man and to achieve for himself and for his family the destiny, temporal and eternal, the Creator has intended for him. Without the right and opportunity to own property, generally speaking, man is not free; he cannot provide the necessities of life for himself and his family; he cannot properly develop his personality nor procure for his offspring the opportunity to develop the potentialities with which they are endowed. To provide adequately for the children he has begotten, he must have the right to transmit property by inheritance.
16. While ownership of property is sacred and inviolable, it is not unlimited in the sense that a man may do with his property what he pleases without regard for the common good. The requirements of social life impose limits on the use of property and even on the right of ownership itself. Some of these limits are determined by the natural and by the divine law; while it is the function of the State to determine others. Although the State has not the right to abolish private ownership since it is a natural right, it is, however, the function and duty of the State to "control its use and bring it into harmony with the interests of the public good."4
17. In using his property, man is only exercising a stewardship given him by his Creator; and even in the absence of State regulations he must administer it in the interests of the common good. In the absence of State regulations, the use which a man may make of his property is limited by the fundamental principles of social justice and social charity.
18. This concept of ownership, set forth in the social encyclicals of Leo XIII and Pius XI, by stressing the social purpose, the social limits, and the social obligations of property, avoids the extreme of individualism with its doctrine of absolute ownership and unlimited use. On the other hand, by emphasizing the inviolability of individual ownership, it avoids the extreme of collectivism which denies entirely the right of private ownership. The encyclicals reflect the traditional teachings of the Church.
19. Since man needs property to attain to the status of a free man, to develop his personality, and to provide for his family, it follows that an economic system to be equitable must provide opportunity for the masses to become owners. Unless this opportunity is offered to the masses, the argument on which the right of private property rests is destroyed. The stability of society requires widespread ownership. "The law, therefore," writes Leo XIII, "should favor ownership and its policy should be to induce as many people as possible to become owners."5
20. Although the land in the United States should offer the best opportunity for the masses of men to acquire ownership and independence, the trend toward tenancy is increasing at an alarming rate. Vanishing ownership is a major problem in American agriculture today, which carries with it disastrous moral, social, and economic consequences. Tenants do not improve the land nor conserve the soil. They take what is possible from the land and then move on to other acres. Even absentee owners not infrequently exploit the soil and overlook the need of proper housing and building maintenance in order to secure immediate cash returns. Tenancy usually is profitable for neither tenant, nor owner, nor society. Soil mining, land erosion, and human erosion are among the evils of tenancy. As a result of our tenancy system, millions of once fruitful acres have lost their fertility, and degrading standards of living have been forced on a multitude of farm families.
21. The material value of ownership is stressed by Pope Leo XIII as follows: "Men always work harder and more readily when they work on that which is their own; nay, they learn to love the very soil which yields in response to the labor of their hands, not only food to eat, but an abundance of good things for themselves and those that are dear to them. It is evident how such a spirit of willing labor would add to the produce of the earth and to the wealth of the community."6 The individual who has a stake in the land has excellent anchorage, a sense of security and stability that cannot but redound to the welfare of his family and of the community. The premises that are owned gradually become a shrine of memories serving to bind the family members together with powerful psychological ties. Holding land permanently, living upon it and cultivating it, identifies a man with the rural community, gives him an interest in it and its essential social institutions, tethers him to law and order, and protects him against the inroads of pernicious social doctrines.
22. Government intervention is not only warranted but even necessary to check the trend toward tenancy and make it possible for farmers to become owners again. Government measures are needed to correct evils inherent in our present tenancy system.
23. Worthy of commendation is a new farm tenure policy providing for federal acquisition and improvement of land, and resale of it under long- term, low-interest contracts to tenants and to others who desire to operate their own farms. In this resale the fee-simple absolute title should be modified so that the government would be left in a position to assert its right to discourage the subdivision and breaking up of economic units, wastage of natural resources, reckless speculation, absentee landlordism, and tenancy.
Government intervention is needed in emergencies to prevent owners from losing their farms, to rehabilitate certain disadvantaged groups, to prevent land speculation and limit ownership by non-farmers, and to work out a program for farms now submarginal for cultivation.
Tenant contracts and the relationship between landlords and tenants should be changed to increase the security of tenants and to overcome the present abuses incident to farm tenancy. Each State, through proper legislative measures, should stimulate an increase in the number of family-size, owner- operated farms through homestead exemptions or by means of differential taxation favorable to such types of farms.
24. It is not within the power of the State nor is it the function of the State to do all the things necessary to check the trend toward tenancy and necessary to secure independence and decent living conditions for the farmer. The farmer, too, must do something to help himself. Many owners have been reduced to the status of tenants because of wrong methods in farming, the lack of thrift, speculation in land, and speculation in cash crops. The farmer must learn to regard his farm as a home and an opportunity to rear his family in decency, rather than as a business on which to grow rich at enormous risks. Christian cooperatives, of the consumer, producer, and credit type, are means within the grasp of farming groups for securing ownership, independence, and decent living conditions.
25. Immediate, sustained, and vigorous action is required to stem the tide of increasing farm tenancy which will otherwise result in rural decadence.
1. Leo XIII, "The Condition of Labor," p.
3. "Summa Theol.," 2a, 2ae, q. LVII, art. 2.
4. Pius XI, "Reconstruction of the Social Order," p. 17.
5. Leo XIII, "The Condition of Labor," p. 26.
6. Leo XIII, "The Condition of Labor," pp. 26, 27.
26. Despite surpluses in farm products, the time is opportune for an extensive program to re-establish families on the land. Commercialized farming, the dwindling of city birth rates, and the shrinkage of purchasing power among impoverished families are factors which in a large measure explain overproduction in the field of agriculture. These conditions would be offset gradually by the re-establishment of families on family-size farms and even on smaller units from which they could obtain the things required to supplement the income derived from industrial employment.
27. Land settlement can be used today to great advantage in the solution of social, economic, and even relief problems which affect rural areas as well as urban centers. Appropriations wisely expended in establishing on the land people with farm experience, instead of grants for direct relief, would help to restore to the nation the sorely needed economic balance. Through well-planned re-establishment projects, security and opportunity for normal living could be brought to large groups, with far-reaching beneficial effects on the economic, social, and religious life of the nation.
28. In many farm communities are young men and women of marriageable age well prepared for successful management of farm homes. Marriage has been delayed for lack of funds through which they could establish themselves on farms. In the interest of society, these young people should be accorded the opportunity for settlement on the land. This group constitutes the most promising material for successful land settlement.
29. Among the multitudes living in the city on insufficient incomes, and even among those on relief rolls, there are large numbers with farm experience who are anxious today for an opportunity to go back to the country. In this grouping, there are many who would make good use of an opportunity to return to the land. It is in their interest and in the interest of society that such opportunity be given them. A program to re- establish this group would reduce the relief rolls of the city, help solve the problem of unemployment and insufficient wages, and afford the members of the group an opportunity to attain a decent standard of living that would redound to the general welfare of society.
30. In our land settlement program there is a place for both the family- size farm and homesteads with small acreages for families of industrial workers. For families who derive their entire living directly from the soil, re-establishment plans should be worked out on the better soils with sufficient acreage to support a family in decency and comfort. Rural homesteads for industrial workers should be grouped near industrial centers so as to give workers an opportunity to increase their income, to achieve independence by acquiring ownership at least on a moderate scale, and to provide for their children the wholesome atmosphere of country life. Part- time employment on his own farmstead with fewer hours in the plant or factory is a desirable condition for the industrial worker and also for society. Fewer hours for the industrial worker in the plant or factory should permit the employment of a larger number of workers in industry. Homesteads with land sufficient to supply deficiencies in incomes would be a special blessing for certain low income groups.
31. Modern progress is not incompatible with plain, inexpensive living in homes of simple construction, which the inhabitants can build for themselves or at least can afford to pay for within a reasonable time. Plans for buildings should be drawn so that single units could be built at the outset and additional units constructed as the need and income of the family warrant them. Elaborate theories that rural colony projects for underprivileged people must provide all modern comforts from the very start are absurd and in the long run tend to defeat their purpose. These theories are responsible for more than one expensive failure in the field of rehabilitation. Improved standards of living that go beyond improvement in health, sanitation, and education should follow improved incomes. In the case of some underprivileged groups a change in mental attitude, including the development of a sense of appreciation, is necessary if they are to make proper use of improved standards. A strong program of education must be provided to produce this result.
32. It is most desirable, if not necessary, for the success of a project that the members form a homogeneous group. An integrated philosophy of life is essential for an integrated society, and common religious loyalties make for its stability. The members of a group should be of the same religious faith and in some instances perhaps of the same racial origin. The success of a re-establishment project requires careful selection of families. A thorough scrutiny should be made of the background and capabilities of applicants, especially in the first experiments with settlement projects, so that failure of a project may not discourage further attempts. Only those who agree to cooperate in an educational program should be accepted.
33. The educational program should include appreciation of rural living, the use of the soil, production for home use, cooperation, home arts and crafts, and such other arts and skills as the particular needs of the rural group require. United planning and cooperation, less dependence on government, cooperative action in buying and selling and in the management of local credit facilities, and improved standards of living should be both the objective and the result of a properly conducted adult education program. Such a program is essential to the success of a re-establishment project.
34. The government should encourage and protect rural re-establishment projects. It should not formulate all plans or dictate all terms. Provisions should be made for a large degree of local autonomy. The government could render assistance through long-term loans with low interest rates to cooperative groups organized to establish their members on the land. Such loans would be warranted when the personnel of a cooperative group and the details of the project give reasonable assurance that the loans would be paid. The government could render further assistance through loans to corporations organized by responsible citizens of a community to promote the establishment of small homesteads, whenever such projects are found feasible and sound. It would be wisdom on the part of the government to extend financial aid, in the form either of loans or of outright grants, to re-establish on the land those underprivileged citizens now on relief, whose background, character, and capabilities give assurance that they would make use of the opportunities given them, it being understood that such projects are promoted and supervised by responsible groups.
35. Projects to re-establish in the country the underprivileged families of a city should attract voluntary contributions or loans on the part of taxpayers as well as the donations of philanthropic and charitable citizens; for such projects would not only reduce the relief rolls of the city but would also save large numbers from gravitating to the level of degrading pauperism and becoming the permanent liability of future generations.
36. Where feasible, the owners of large industrial plants should promote rural homestead projects for their employees, and especially for those whose yearly incomes, taking in account seasons of unemployment, are insufficient for the proper support of their families. Employees should be given opportunity for ownership. It is a social responsibility of the owners and the controllers of great wealth to promote the welfare of their employees and to aid even those whose employment is seasonable and uncertain in securing at least a moderate degree of ownership and the opportunity to support their families in decent comfort. Rural homestead projects, however, should not be advocated to relieve employers of their obligations to pay proper wages. Ownership of a home with a small productive acreage would, in fact, make a worker less dependent upon his employer and should place him in a position of advantage in negotiating for proper wages. Rural homestead projects of the type recommended would redound also to the interest of employers, inasmuch as they would give employers an assurance of contented, reliable, and faithful employees, anchored to the soil and not susceptible to pernicious, radical influences.
37. The objective of education is the preparation of man as an individual and a member of society for both his temporal and his eternal destiny. The purpose and character of true education is succinctly delineated by Pope Pius XI in the following words: "Since education consists essentially in preparing man for what he must be and for what he must do here below, in order to attain the sublime end for which he was created, it is clear that there can be no true education which is not wholly directed to man's last end, and that in the present order of Providence, since God has revealed Himself to us in the Person of His Only Begotten Son, who alone is 'the way, the truth and the life,' there can be no ideally perfect education which is not Christian education."1
38. Education is the concern of three societies; namely, the family, the State, and the Church–"three necessary societies, distinct from one another, and yet harmoniously combined by God, into which man is born."2 Pope Pius XI states the position of the family in the field of education in the following words: "The family, therefore, holds directly from the Creator the mission and hence the right to educate the offspring, a right inalienable because inseparably joined to the strict obligation, a right anterior to any right whatever of civil society and of the State, and therefore inviolable on the part of any power on earth."3
39. The family is not a perfect society having within itself the means necessary for its own complete development. Man needs the State to secure his temporal well-being and to attain the full development of his personality and the enjoyment of the temporal blessings that the Creator has bestowed on the human race. He is born a member of the State, a society complete within itself, whose objective is the general welfare of its members. The right and duty of the State in the field of education is based upon the right and duty of the State to promote the temporal welfare of its members. It is precisely because the function of the State is to promote the temporal well-being of its citizens that education falls within the sphere of the State's duties.
40. The right and duty of the State in respect to education does not imply that it is necessary, expedient, or right that the State should arrogate to itself the whole field of education. The State should foster, promote, and aid education and insist upon certain standards requisite for the welfare of society. More satisfactory results would follow if the State were to leave a larger portion of educational activity to private endeavor and even assist private religious institutions by paying them, in part at least, for services rendered in the education of future citizens. Such a plan would insure the teaching of religion, which is essential to the welfare and even to the existence of the State.
41. The right of the Church in the field of education arises out of her divine commission to "teach all nations"4 and her "supernatural motherhood in virtue of which the Church, spotless spouse of Christ, generates, nurtures, and educates souls in the divine life of grace, with her Sacraments and her doctrine."5 The pre-eminence of the Church in the field of education is predicated on her divine commission and on man's supernatural destiny.
42. There is no conflict between the functions of the family, the State, and the Church in the field of education, provided the respective fields of each are kept in mind. The education provided by the Christian family and the Church is a foundation for good citizenship and, in fact, essential to the stability and permanence of the State.
43. The paramount place of religion in education is self-evident to all who believe in God. To use the words of Leo XIII as quoted by Pius XI, "it is necessary not only that religious instruction be given to the young at certain fixed times, but also that every other subject taught he permeated with Christian piety."6 Religion should form the atmosphere of the classroom. This is the reason for the Catholic school.
44. Wherever possible, both primary and secondary Catholic schools should be provided for rural children and for rural youth. But such schools are not possible in many rural areas, especially where the Catholic population is a scattered few. The Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, with its vacation schools and its religious-instruction classes conducted throughout the year, provides a program of religious education where the Catholic school is not possible. To meet needs of Isolated families living great distances from priest and church, and to bring to the children of those families a knowledge and love of the Catholic Faith, correspondence courses in religion should be arranged. Discussion clubs for adults are another valuable instrument for bringing a knowledge and an appreciation of religion to the countryside.
45. The Catholic Rural Life Movement was prompted in its beginning by a desire to bring to neglected rural sections a knowledge of religion. Interest of Catholic leaders in the religious needs of rural dwellers led to a further discovery that a lack of education in respect to material things is a major cause for the low social, cultural, and economic level of many farming groups and the reason for the migration of so many farm youths to the city.
46. Education in our rural schools is largely urbanized. The subject matter taught is a preparation for life in the city rather than on the farm. Many textbooks in use tend to glorify city life and to lure youth away from the farm. Urban-minded teachers, consciously or unconsciously, tend to promote the trek to the city. Generally speaking, the education provided in rural schools fails to imbue those who remain on the farm with an appreciation of life on the land and neglects to equip them with the knowledge necessary for successful farm operation.
47. Fundamental changes are needed in our rural educational program. Education suited to the needs of the rural child and rural youth should instill in them a love of farm life and lead them to evaluate the special opportunities offered in the occupation of agriculture and in the rural economy. In both the primary and the secondary school, in the home, and in extracurricular activities, there is need for specific training in home arts and crafts, in vocational agriculture, and in other matters which pertain to wholesome and successful farm life. An education in scientific farming and in the arts and crafts will create an interest in rural activities among farm youth that will counteract the lure of the city. The farmstead should be made the laboratory for rural education.
48. A closer connection between farm groups and the federal extension service of state agricultural colleges is needed to bring to larger rural groups the benefits of experimentation. Short-term courses in state agricultural colleges would make a knowledge of scientific farming available to many rural youths unable to take extended courses. It would seem advisable to have units of the state agricultural college scattered about the state for the benefit of both youths and adults.
49. The false notion that successful farm operation requires only the minimum of education needs to be dispelled. Nor should rural youth be denied the advantages of cultural education. Education in Rural America should include cultural subjects in due proportion.
50. Needed changes in the scope and in the objectives of rural education postulate not only changes in the textbooks and content of courses, but especially changes in the selection and the training of rural teachers. Rural teachers, too, must recognize the advantages of farm life and possess the knowledge and the training necessary to prepare rural youth for its place in the rural community. There is a need for further adjustments in the curriculum of our teachers' colleges to prepare rural teachers for their work.
51. Vocational guidance should have a place in rural education. It is neither likely nor desirable that all who are born in the country remain on the land. An integral rural society needs priests, doctors, lawyers, teachers, nurses, farm leaders, and leaders in other professions. The countryside should continue to contribute its quota to the professional groups who serve both in the city and in the country. Rural youth needs direction in choosing careers. No youth should leave the farm without a reasonable understanding of what he is leaving and to what he is going.
1. Pius XI, "Christian Education of Youth" pp. 4, 5.
2. Ibid., p. 6.
3. Ibid., p. 12.
4. Matt. 28:19.
5. Pius XI, "Christian Education of Youth," p. 7.
6. Pius XI, "Christian Education of Youth," p. 31.
52. Youth is the material out of which the future is built. St. Gregory of Nazianzen calls the training of youth "the art of arts and the science of sciences."1 Among human activities the training and direction of youth occupies the place of primacy.
53. Our age is youth conscious. Schools, youth organizations, luxurious recreational centers, elaborate vacation camps-all these evidence the widespread interest in youth. Large sums of money spent by private groups and by governments on youth programs indicate that the age recognizes the importance of developing the potentialities of youth. Autocratic rulers, hostile to religion, recognizing that those who control youth control the future, seek exclusive control so that they can indoctrinate youth with their own political, social, and philosophic teachings.
54. The Church is interested in youth more than in any other class in society. She recognizes that in the plastic years of youth lasting impressions are made, habits and tastes are acquired, and character is formed. She strives, during these impressionable years, to implant a knowledge, love, and practice of the Faith and to protect youth from the false philosophies and immoral influences of the age. "It is no less necessary," writes Pope Pius XI, "to direct and watch the education of the adolescent, 'soft as wax to be molded into vice,' . . . removing occasions of evil and providing occasions for good in his recreations and social intercourse; for 'evil communications corrupt good manners.' More than ever nowadays, an extended and careful vigilance is necessary, inasmuch as the dangers of moral and religious shipwreck are greater for inexperienced youth. Especially is this true of impious and immoral books, often diabolically circulated at low prices; of the cinema, which multiplies every kind of exhibition; and now also of the radio, which facilitates every kind of communication."2
55. The spiritual in this world cannot be dissociated from the material, and the Church's interest in youth, in consequence, is not confined to things spiritual. She is interested in developing all the latent talent in the individual so that he may achieve greater happiness and make valuable contributions to society. She is not unmindful even of the value and worth of recreational activities which add to the joy and happiness of youth and absorb time which might otherwise be employed in acquiring what is evil.
56. The right to organize and direct youth, denied to the Church by rulers in many places, is guaranteed under our form of government. While the opportunity is given, it behooves Catholic leaders to make the fullest use of it.
57. On the home and school rests the chief responsibility for the training and education of youth. But there is also need for special youth programs to use to advantage leisure time which might otherwise be used in the acquiring of habits and tastes harmful to the individual and to society.
58. Leisure-time programs, motivated by the philosophy of naturalism, do not meet the needs of youth. There is need for a nation-wide Catholic youth program, impregnated with Christian principles. This program should embrace the whole field of youth interest and activity, including recreation, culture, education, and religion. It should be integrated with the life and the activities of the home and the school and be guided by the Church. These considerations are fundamental in every Catholic youth program.
59. A rural youth program, in its approach, technique, and content, will be distinct from the urban and vary with the needs of each farm group. A rural youth program can utilize existing organizations. Mention has been made of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine and its adaptability, through vacation schools and discussion clubs, to religious training in rural areas. The Junior Holy Name Society, sodalities, and kindred religious organizations can be used for the religious training of youth as well as for vehicles of Catholic Action.
60. These time-honored religious societies of the Church can be used to meet the spiritual needs of youth. A complete Catholic rural youth program should also meet the recreational, social, and cultural wants of youth, and provide for education in things of a practical nature. Certain national rural youth associations have social, cultural, and wholesome recreational features, as well as programs suited to the practical education of rural youth. Included in the programs of these associations is a practical training in the arts and crafts, in the use of the soil, in marketing, and in other practical techniques necessary for successful farming. These farm- youth organizations have received the endorsement and the encouragement of many bishops. As long as their activities are not in conflict with Catholic ideals, they can be utilized to advantage in a Catholic rural youth program. The rural pastor should take an interest in these youth groups. The understanding pastor can direct the programs among his people along the line of Christian principles and integrate them with the activities of his parish.
61. The Catholic rural youth program can be co-ordinated and integrated into the nation-wide Catholic youth program through the Catholic Youth Organization. A well-conducted and integrated rural youth program, supplementing the home and school, will give to rural youth a love of farm life and help prepare farm boys and girls for successful careers–two factors essential in overcoming the lure of the city.
1. "Oratio II," P. G., T. 35, 426.
2. Pius XI, "Christian Education of Youth," p. 34.
62. Culture is more than refinement in manners, habits, and tastes. It implies the development of the mental and the moral as well as the esthetic faculties. It is a product of true education, whether received in or out of the classroom. Practical as well as academic education contributes directly and indirectly to the development of culture. Culture is not something superficial; it is rooted deeply in the soul. Catholic culture is the flowering of Catholic faith and Christian virtue. It is the product of Catholic education and training.
63. By and large, the countryside is a place of cultural barrenness. The low economic status that prevails in many rural families and among many rural groups in part explains this condition. Culture presupposes leisure time in which the individual may develop his personality. Under present-day conditions, it usually presupposes the opportunity to use and to enjoy the conveniences made possible by modern discovery and modern invention. It presupposes the existence of economic conditions that will allow people to live decent lives as become rational beings and children of God. The hovel and the slum do not provide the soil suited to the growth of either virtue or culture. Pope Pius XI recognized the interrelationship between culture and virtue and a sound social organism when he wrote: "For then only will the economic and social organism be soundly established and attain its end, when it secures for all and each those goods which the wealth and resources of nature, technical achievement, and the social organization of economic affairs can give. These goods should be sufficient to supply all needs and an honest livelihood, and to uplift men to that higher level of prosperity and culture which, provided it be used with prudence, is not only no hindrance, but is of singular help to virtue."1
64. Sufficiency of income, however, is not enough to produce culture on the countryside. A taste for the finer things which make for culture and for its material expression is often lacking. In the days of plentiful incomes, many farmers, as already indicated, neglected to use the opportunity to develop themselves and give material expression to culture in better and more beautiful homes. An appreciation of the things that make for culture is needed on the countryside. This appreciation is a product of education.
65. The isolation of the farmstead has deprived the farmer of cultural and educational contacts. The radio and improved roads have destroyed in a large measure this isolation, although they have not always brought the farm family into contact with the things of cultural value. These instruments of modern progress, in fact, have often brought the rural dwellers into contact with the trivialities and even with the degrading influences emanating from the city. It has become necessary to counteract the debasing city influences, the by-products of urban culture, which are penetrating the countryside.
66. Farm and parish organizations, discussion clubs, parish and traveling libraries, books, papers, and magazines are useful mediums for elevating the cultural levels of country groups. Discussion groups, not only for the study of religion, but also for the study of social and economic problems, should have a foremost place in any well-ordered cultural program of a rural parish. From such discussion groups of youths and adults, there would develop a Catholic leadership in the fields of social justice and social charity, such as Pope Pius XI had in mind when he wrote the following words: "Many young men, destined soon by reason of their talents or their wealth to hold distinguished places in the foremost ranks of society, are studying social problems with growing earnestness. These youths encourage the fairest hopes that they will devote themselves wholly to social reforms."2 In speaking to the bishops of the world on the problems of industrial society, Pope Pius XI said: "It is your chief duty, Venerable Brethren, and that of your clergy, to seek diligently, to select prudently, and to train fittingly these lay apostles among working men and among employers."3 It seems right to conclude that the Holy Father would have these same words adapted to farm owners and farm laborers.
67. The rural parish school or parish hall should be the center of the social and cultural life of the community. In the parish school or parish hall, there can be developed the Little Country Theater, choral groups, glee clubs, parish orchestras, and similar activities of distinct cultural value. The parish school or parish hall can be used to advantage in carrying out an adult education program which should include not only religion but also other subjects, especially those which have a direct bearing upon rural conditions.
68. A rural parish with a social and educational program, in which cultural and economic activities are integrated with religion and centered in the parish hall or school, will be effective in developing among its members a spirit of neighborliness and a helpful sense of solidarity. The social relationships ensuing from such a program would help raise both the cultural and the economic levels of the group and serve also as a strong antidote against baneful urban influences. If we are to retain the better type of youth on the land, the cultural standards of the countryside must be raised.
1. Pius XI, "Reconstruction of the Social Order," p. 25.
2. Pius XI, "Reconstruction of the Social Order," p. 46.
69. The trend of farm life has been to find a focal point for its varied activities in some rural community. Even where farmers lived in isolation and where face-to-face relations were established with only a few neighboring farm families, there soon developed the necessity of finding a common place to buy and sell; to locate a smithy, sawmill, or gristmill; to establish church and school; and to provide for legal, medical, and other professional services. County seats and trade centers, with railroad stations, grain elevators, stock pens, warehouses, and stores, became the focal point of farm life for miles around.
70. The dependence of the farmer upon markets, better means of transportation, improved highways, and more rapid means of communication have brought about great changes in rural America. The drift, not only of population but also of all political, social, economic, educational, and religious activity, has been townward. Rural hamlets, if they have not disappeared, have stopped growing; rural villages have become smaller rather than larger; whereas rural towns, especially those in which the county seat is located, have grown from year to year in population and activity. These rural towns comprise the most important rural communities in the nation. They are distributing centers for merchandise of every kind; they have banks, stores, and schools; they offer the services of lawyer, physician, and other professional men; they often provide for clinical or hospital care; and in general they make possible economic, social, and recreational contacts of a varied kind. The Church offers the most important weekly contact from a religious, and not infrequently from a social, point of view in these rural towns.
71. Village settlements, in which farm families live grouped together and go to their tasks in the fields the same as factory workers would to theirs, did not develop in rural America, apart from certain planned rural communities, established recently as resettlement projects, either by private initiative or with government help. The land survey and homestead laws of other days, which parceled out whole sections of land to homesteaders and required that they live on them, tended to scatter farm families over the countryside. True, there are disadvantages arising out of the grouping of farm families in villages and towns, especially from an economic point of view; the homestead would in many instances be separated by a considerable distance from the work fields, entailing a loss of time and increased transportation costs. There would, however, be many advantages, especially from a social and cultural point of view. Neighbors would be nearer; living conditions would be better and cheaper than in the open country, with regard to water, sewage disposal, and electric current; religious activity would be intensified; schools would be improved; professional service would be more prompt, dependable, and efficient; organizations would be stronger and more active; the spirit of solidarity and cooperation would grow among the villagers and townspeople.
72. In any case, however, no matter what the form of rural community, much will depend on the leadership given its people. Since a closer proximity of city to country has brought about the expansion of urban influences, right leadership will seek to sort out the best of these influences, while conserving the best interests of agriculture and rural living. Rural leadership will develop an interest in the rural community, show forth its advantages, and stimulate pride in and loyalty toward local institutions. In looking after the interests of the rural community, rural leaders will not underestimate the racial and cultural history of the people of the community, but will rather seek to preserve what is best in their traditions, so as to inspire love of family, loyalty to country, and devotion to Christ's Church. The importance of the rural community should induce Catholic colleges to include in their aims the development of rural leadership.
73. The rural community merchant plays an important role in the life of the community. Usually a product of the community and sometimes of the business itself, often the owner of the establishment, he can be of special assistance to the people of whom he forms a part. He knows their needs and desires; with them he shares days of prosperity and days of adversity. His relationship with the community must not be founded entirely on the selfish profit motive which would lead him to seek more than reasonable returns for the services rendered. Unfortunately his influence is being undermined by chain stores, and even manufacturers, processors, and distributors, who dictate terms and policies not always to his advantage or to that of his patrons. Loyal to the institutions of the rural community, the honest merchant is deserving of the support of the people of his community. If the question of establishing a consumers' cooperative be raised, his interests should be properly consulted and safeguarded. The cooperative may in fact offer a solution to the difficulties of the merchant who is menaced by the competition of corporation merchandising; in such a case his experience would prove to be a valuable asset to the cooperative.
74. Closely associated with the economic life of the community is the banker. Where he retains his independent status and has not become the hireling of large urban banking institutions, he can be of great service to the citizens of the community, with whose many financial and economic difficulties he becomes intimately acquainted. In times of stress especially, his services as a friend and counselor of the people of the rural community will be invaluable. In adverse days he, better than anyone else, can join social charity to social justice.
75. There is a fruitful and undeveloped field of service for the local community editor. He is often an obscure personage with scanty income, especially in the smaller towns. There is an opportunity for the energetic rural-community editor to enhance his prestige and income and to render valuable services to his community. He can make his paper a vehicle of culture and education, an instrument for developing community solidarity, and a potent force in furthering the common interests of both town and country. As a further service, he can help make the dwellers in the town and in the country conscious of their interdependence.
76. The attorney in a rural community enjoys an exceptional opportunity to promote respect for law and order, to encourage harmony and peace, and to foster relations of good will among the people of his community. The attorney's contact with public life, together with his legal training, makes him an invaluable adviser and guide in things that concern the general well-being of the community. Because of his advantageous position, it is essentially important that he be guided in his advice and judgments by the principles of the moral code.
77. Aside from his contribution to the general health of the people, the physician should promote respect for God's laws in matters of health that touch on the moral code. In these days of false theories respecting sex life and marital relations, the physician carries a high responsibility to guide others along lines of sound moral principles.
78. The teacher likewise has many opportunities, not only during school hours but also as a citizen of the community, to influence the cultural life of the people. Rural culture has been very much handicapped because of a lack of the proper kind of leadership. The teacher can bring many cultural influences to bear on the lives of the people. This has become so much the more important since degrading urban influences are infecting the rural social group.
79. The rural pastor, too, should be encouraged to assume the responsibilities of leadership, not only in things religious but also in things social and economic. Attention to the principles of rural economics and agrarianism will build up confidence in his leadership among the people. The rural pastor has opportunities to shape the lives of the people of his community, such as are given to few others.
80. Catholic rural youth, which have received the benefits of a good Catholic education, should consider it a privilege and a duty to pass on to others the good things acquired during the years of Catholic training. If the graduates of our Catholic colleges would become more articulate in the life of their community, especially within the comparatively narrow confines of a rural community, they could wield a tremendous influence in enlarging the sphere of Catholic culture. Their leadership would be of priceless value to God and country.
81. The place of women in the social life of the rural community needs to be stressed. In any plan to elevate the status of the farm group and improve living conditions on the countryside, leadership should be sought among the women as well as among the men. Catholic women should take their places not only in parish organizations but also in organizations which are strictly agricultural.
82. The relations between Catholics and non-Catholics should be actuated by the spirit of Christian charity. No compromise, however, should be made with respect to the truths of religion; yet a kindly and neighborly attitude, one toward another, is one of the prime dictates of Christian charity. To do the truth in charity, as St. Paul exhorts, needs to be heeded under all circumstances. Mixed marriages usually become a problem in rural communities where Catholics mingle freely with non-Catholics in social and business affairs. Under such circumstances, parents and priest have a special duty, to prevent as far as possible such marriages; and when a mixed marriage cannot be prevented, it becomes the duty of parents and priest to lessen the dangers to the Faith that may arise out of it.
83. The rural community, affected by the change following in the course of modern invention and progress, is being subjected to influences, good and bad, from various sources. To bring into play the good influences with increasing force is one of the great tasks of all who are interested in rural life. Rural leadership is challenged as never before because of the awakening of rural people in late years to the possibilities of a healthy and wholesome life in rural communities.
84. Catholicism in the United States is urban. According to conservative estimates, five sixths of the Catholic population live in the cities. This fact gives the rural pastor a unique position in rural America. Here and there one finds rural areas solidly Catholic; and in such territories the Church is usually in a flourishing condition.
85. For the most part the rural pastor is in pioneering fields. He is a first-line messenger of God, exercising a ministry as simple and apostolic as that of the early Church. There are many unsung heroes doing God's work in isolated rural sections of our land. Their work is among a scattered flock on the prairies of the West, or in the hills of the South, or in the forests of the North, or in the lowlands of the East. They live far from fellow priests and have few of the comforting contacts of cultured men.
86. There are, however, many human compensations in their work. They are recognized "leaders of the faithful, the support of the stumbling, the teachers of the doubtful, the consolers of those who mourn, the unselfish helpers, and counselors of all."1 Their education is far above that of others in the community. Aware of this, Catholics and non-Catholics alike come to the priest with their varied problems, not only religious but also domestic, civic, educational, material, and moral. He is as one who speaks with authority. If properly exercised, the influence of his ministry may be very great.
87. His first concern is, of course, spiritual. All else is subordinated to that. Addressing the Mexican bishops and priests, Pope Pius XI wrote: "Then, too, by encouraging the spiritual formation and the interior life of those who are to collaborate with you, you put them on guard against dangers and mistakes that are always possible. Having in mind always the purpose of Catholic Action, which is the sanctification of souls, according to the gospel precept: 'Seek ye first the kingdom of God' (Luke 12:31), you will not run the risk of sacrificing principles for ends that may be immediate or secondary, nor will you forget that to that ultimate end are to be subordinated every social and economic work and charitable undertaking."2
88. But this priestly ministry should not be confined to the sanctuary. To attain his spiritual objectives, the priest must needs take an active interest in the material welfare of his people. "Let no member of the clergy," writes Benedict XV, "imagine that such action is incompatible with his priestly duties, because it is carried out on economic grounds, for it is precisely in this field that the salvation of souls is endangered."3 The rural pastor should give his attention to the grave social questions with which his people are grappling–"the agrarian problem, land distribution, the improvement of the living conditions of the workingmen and their families."4 The Holy Father's exhortation, "Go to the workingman, especially where he is poor, and in general go to the poor,"5 may be applied also with respect to the farmer, particularly the hired farmhand and those who have left their homelands; these latter, torn away from their country and traditions, more easily become the prey to the insidious propaganda of the emissaries seeking to induce them to apostatize from their faith.
89. Because of his influence and contacts as a religious leader, the rural pastor can be of great assistance to his people in helping them to obtain the facilities of state agricultural colleges, experiment stations, and government credit organizations. He should take an active interest in cooperative movements, in rural youth organizations, and in other activities planned to serve the social and economic interests of the community. Our Holy Father, no doubt, had activities of this type in mind when he wrote: "We are happy to voice Our paternal approval of the zealous pastoral activity manifested by so many bishops and priests who have, with due prudence and caution, been planning and applying new methods of apostolate more adapted to modern needs."6 Addressing the Mexican Hierarchy, the late Holy Father stated that "works, commonly called social service (do not lie), outside the scope of Catholic Action. Because these works aim at the practical application of the principles of justice and charity and are a means of winning the multitudes, since souls often are to be reached only by the relief of corporal suffering and economic need, We ourselves and Our Predecessor, Leo XIII of blessed memory, have recommended them frequently."7 It should be emphasized, however, that "Catholic Action should never take the responsibility in matters that are purely technical, financial, or economic because such matters lie outside the scope and purpose of Catholic Action."8 The rural pastor, becomes all to all men in order to win all for Christ.
90. Seminarians should be imbued with a love for the apostolic ministry on the countryside. But especially must "all candidates for the sacred priesthood be adequately prepared to meet their task by intense study of social matters."9 A great mission field lies before them in home mission work.
91. No efforts should be spared to make living conditions, even though modest and simple, as good as possible for the rural pastor. By means of a traveling or mail library, good books should come into his hands. The ambassador of Christ must not be denied the cultural contacts that would make his priesthood an effective influence even among simple rural folk.
1. Pius XI, "On the Church in Germany," n. 43.
2. Pius XI, "On the Religious Situation in Mexico," p. 9.
3. Benedict XV, "To the Bishop of Bergamo," 1920.
4. Pius XI, "On the Religious Situation in Mexico," p. 11.
5. Pius XI, "Atheistic Communism," n. 61.
6. Pius XI, "Atheistic Communism," n. 62.
7. Pius XI, "On the Religious Situation in Mexico," p. 10.
9. Pius XI, "Reconstruction of the Social Order," p. 46.
92. Although the Catholic philosophy of life is rooted in rural traditions, the membership of the Catholic Church in the United States is, as previously stated, largely urban. Most of the pioneer Catholics settled in the cities; and ecclesiastical authority, solicitous for their spiritual welfare, encouraged them to remain in the city, where they could avail themselves of the service of the Church. Many of the Catholic pioneers who moved westward to settle in rural communities were lost to the faith for lack of priest and church. The Church concentrated her efforts on the cities, where Catholics were in such large numbers; while the Catholics in rural sections were, to a great degree, neglected.
93. The growth and progress of the Catholic Church in the United States is dependent, in a special way, on the growth and progress of the rural church. The countryside, where only one sixth of her membership is found, is the chief source of the nation's population. City families are not reproducing themselves. Immigration from other countries has practically ceased. Without accessions from the countryside, the urban population tends to extinction. Unless the Church be strengthened and expanded in the rural sections, we are faced with the prospect of a dwindling Catholic population.
94. The countryside in the United States offers the most fertile field for missionary endeavor, both among Catholics and among the millions of unchurched people. A rural church expansion program should have as its first objective the development of a vigorous Catholicity among rural Catholics. Many rural Catholics have been denied the opportunity of drinking in Catholic culture and of acquiring Catholic learning. They would respond more readily to Catholic influences than does the average city Catholic, surrounded as he is with a multitude of unfavorable influences.
95. The millions of unchurched dwellers on the countryside also offer a promising field for missionary endeavor. In many areas of the South, the forebears of these were Catholic, three and four generations ago. Many are now ready to accept the Faith; they await the efforts of the zealous missionary.
96. Behold, therefore, the fields ripe for the harvest. Christ has given the command, "Teach all nations"1 and "Preach the Gospel to every creature."2 Christ has left the example after which our home mission activities should be patterned. He preached the Gospel on the mountainside, on the shores of the lake, in the cornfield, and in every hamlet and village of Palestine.
97. The Church from early times and through the centuries has evidenced a special interest in rural folk. Distinct parishes were first organized for rural groups, and the office of rural dean was created to serve the rural districts. The Confraternity of Christian Doctrine and the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament were founded to teach religion and to foster devotion among rural people.
98. A number of religious orders have shown a special concern for rural groups. "The bringing of religion into the lives of people wherever found," was the rule laid down for the Benedictine Order by its founder; and in carrying out this rule, the sons of St. Benedict have distinguished themselves by their devotion to agriculture and by their spiritual ministrations among rural people. Several religious communities were founded for the express purpose of serving in rural districts. With the concentration of the Catholic population in industrial centers and with the growth of the Catholic educational system in the city, the people on the land were soon forgotten; and the very religious communities which were established for rural missionary work found other activities for which the need seemed greater and abandoned for the time the cause of souls in rural areas. The countryside still remains the great home mission field.
99. The founding of the Catholic Church Extension Society of America at the beginning of the century marks the beginning of a new and definite interest in the underprivileged rural sections. Through the Catholic Church Extension Society, the Catholics of the nation were made conscious of the needs of neglected rural areas. Through the efforts of this foundation, subsidies have been given to the struggling Church at its weakest points. The Catholic Church Extension Society originated the chapel car, the forerunner of the motor mission and motor trailer chapel. The American Board of Catholic Missions is another agency which has helped to mother the struggling Church in the religiously neglected rural sections of the nation.
100. Conscious of the need for extending the arm of Holy Mother Church, members of both the diocesan and the regular clergy, with the approbation of bishops, have organized themselves into bands in several dioceses for the purpose of conducting missions for Catholics and non-Catholics, in churches, in halls, in public parks, and even on street corners. Through motor missions results have been achieved that warrant their further extension.
101. Religious communities of women, dedicated to the teaching of religion to the poor and neglected, are doing excellent work in certain rural areas. Seminarians and members of Catholic Evidence Guilds have explained and defended Catholic teaching on the public platform, with results that indicate a valuable field of training for seminarians and the possibilities latent in the lay apostolate.
102. There is an urgent need in the United States for a religious community of priests and lay brothers which will devote itself entirely to the rural mission field. There is also a need for a community of Sisters, dedicated to the same cause, whose work will be integrated with the religious community of men. The members of these religious communities should receive specific training for the rural mission field. Through the integrated efforts of these two communities and the grace of God, a solidarity would be given to missionary efforts in the home mission field.
103. The expansion of the rural church in the United States would receive a great impetus through programs of charity and through the successful efforts of the Church in furthering the economic and social welfare of rural groups. Both Catholics and those without the fold would come to recognize the truth contained in the following words of Leo XIII: "The Catholic Church, that imperishable handiwork of our all-merciful God, has for her immediate and natural purpose the saving of souls and securing our happiness in Heaven. Yet in regard to things temporal she is the source of benefits as manifold and great as if the chief end of her existence were to insure the prospering of our earthly life."3
1. Matt. 28:19.
2. Mark 16:15.
3. Leo XIII, "The Christian Constitution of States," p. 107.
104. Only with the aid of a rural health program can a Catholic rural welfare program, under present social conditions, achieve its immediate objectives and conserve its ultimate purposes.
105. The countryside, with its abundance of fresh air, sunshine, and broad open spaces, offers special natural advantages for healthful living. On the other hand, there are serious disadvantages. The countryside is characterized by a lack of proper sanitation and intelligent protection of food and water supply, lack of proper control of communicable diseases, and lack of adequate hospital and medical facilities. There is a widespread ignorance of food values, proper diet, and health habits, and a lack of information relative to preventive and corrective measures in respect to ailments and physical defects.
106. In the city health is a social achievement attained through the application of scientific knowledge and community effort. By and large, the use of science to improve health conditions has been neglected in the country. As a result, despite the natural advantages of the country, the city is gradually becoming a more healthful place of residence than the country. In many rural districts of the nation, deplorable health conditions exist, which grow worse from year to year. Because of the isolation of farmsteads, it is not possible to provide rural dwellers with the system of sanitation and food inspection, and with the hospital and medical service enjoyed by city dwellers. It is possible, nevertheless, because of the special natural advantages of country life, to achieve, through the application of scientific information and social organization, more healthful conditions in the country than are possible in the city.
107. The greatest health need of rural areas is health education. The rural dwellers must first be converted to the need and value of scientific means for improving and conserving individual and community health. A program of rural health education should include food values and proper diet; habits which promote both mental and bodily health; sanitation, including protection of food and water supply destruction of noxious weeds, and drainage to destroy harmful insects; proper housing; preventative and corrective measures in respect to ailments and physical defects.
108. Health education can be achieved through schools, farm organizations including adult and youth clubs, county nurses, county agents, and government bulletins. The promotion of public health is a proper function of government Without the intervention of the State, ordinarily no adequate health program can be realized. State intervention is needed for the prevention and the control of communicable diseases, for the elimination of noxious weeds and insects, for drainage and sanitation, and for health education. State aid is needed to help protect and conserve the health of the underprivileged.
109. Although the intervention of the State is necessary for an adequate health program, it is neither desirable nor necessary that the State arrogate to itself the whole field of community health. It is well to leave to private and cooperative endeavor as much of the work as such nonpolitical groups can and will carry on in an effective manner.
110. There is a need, and also a place, for a Catholic rural health program. A close relationship exists between health and religion. For this reason the health program should not be entirely secular. The care of the sick and especially the sick poor is charity.
111. A diocesan rural health program will vary with the resources of the diocese, the Catholic facilities available, the density of Catholic population, and the assistance it may receive from public sources for the care of the sick and especially for the care of the needy sick. Existing community health resources should be used. In some places it will be found advantageous to appoint a diocesan rural health director. This official might also serve as the diocesan hospital director. Needless to say, this official should be capable and thoroughly acquainted with the work. Special training is desirable, if not absolutely necessary. The staff will vary with the needs and resources of each diocese and be largely the result of development. A Catholic health program should be carried on in rural Catholic schools and in parish and farm organizations.
112. The Catholic Church, through its hospitals, clinics, laboratories, nursing schools, and schools of medicine, has made a distinguished contribution to the health program in the United States. Unfortunately the program is almost entirely urban. The time has come when the facilities of a Catholic hospital or health center should be extended to the smaller cities and towns to serve the needs of rural areas.
113. Catholic hospitals would be making a valuable contribution not only to the development of the Catholic rural health program but also to charity and religion, were they to adopt the policy of sending motor health clinics to neglected rural sections. This service would be a valuable adjunct to the motor mission service and would make for its greater success. Solicitude for the poor and sick, a mark of Christ's own, would draw, as nothing else would draw, the multitudes to accept the Church. The health consciousness which would result from such a service would pave the way for the Catholic hospital to serve the countryside.
114. Maternity Guilds should be organized in rural parishes and communities. A health and hospital insurance program is another health activity which may be developed under Catholic auspices. The development of such a program would help insure adequate hospital and medical services in rural communities.
115. There is a broad and yet untilled field for a Catholic health program on the countryside. This field offers special opportunities for promoting human welfare, the exercise of charity, and the spread of the Faith. Parish life, in this age especially, should be renewed in the spirit of works of mercy, spiritual and corporal, which in former ages brought rich harvests to the Faith.
116. Pius XI, in his encyclical on "Atheistic Communism," specifies charity as the chief remedy for the ills which afflict society, and the compelling argument against "the false persuasion that Christianity has lost its efficacy." "We have in mind, writes the saintly Pontiff, that Christian charity, 'patient and kind,' which avoids all semblance of demeaning paternalism, and all ostentation, that charity which from the very beginning of Christianity won to Christ the poorest of the poor, the slaves.... Its faithful observance will pour into the heart an inner peace which the world knows not, and will finally cure the ills which oppress humanity."1
117. Christ made charity the previous mark of identification by which His own would be known. In all human relationship charity should be present. Pope Pius XI says, "Charity 'which is the bond of perfection' must play a leading part" in the reform of the social and economic order2 and again, "social charity should be as it were the soul of this order."3 Charity cannot take the place of justice; but even after justice is done, there still remains a wide field for the exercise of charity.
118. Christ designated the poor and the unfortunate the special objects of our charity. The work of charity can be carried on among these underprivileged groups more effectively and fruitfully through group action, known today as organized charity. Organized charity is an expression of social charity toward the underprivileged.
119. Although the objective of Christian charity is primarily the welfare of the individual and only indirectly the welfare of society, the welfare of society is best promoted in this indirect way. Christian charity assumes no condescending attitude toward the recipient of charity. It sees in the one to whom it ministers a soul fashioned to God's image, a child of God, an heir of Heaven, a member of Christ's mystical body. In fact, Christ taught us to see Himself in those to whom we minister when He said, "As long as you did it to one of these, My least brethren, you did it to Me."4 This approach of Christian charity is not inconsistent with the best technique developed in modern schools of social service.
120. Secularized social service and government relief cannot take the place of Christian charity. Material relief without charity lacks the element necessary to elevate the recipient. Material relief without charity is often degrading.
121. An economic crisis, which has deprived millions of the opportunity to earn their daily bread and support their families, has been the occasion for the development in the United States of a nation-wide system of secularized social service, promoted by the government and financed out of government funds. The advocates of secularism would appropriate to the State the whole field of social welfare service, leaving no place for the Church or for private agencies of charity.
122. It is not only a proper function, but even a duty of the State to assist its needy and underprivileged citizens and provide for the care of the dependent and neglected child; but it is neither necessary nor expedient that the State arrogate to itself the whole field of social science. The area of service which a government welfare agency can render is a restricted one. A bureaucratic secular agency cannot supply the spiritual influences required to reform the erring and, often even necessary, to rehabilitate the underprivileged. Only an agency dominated by the spirit of religion and charity can effect rehabilitation in such instances. The State should encourage and aid private agencies of charity as far as possible, paying at least in part for services rendered in the rehabilitation of the underprivileged and the delinquent and especially for the care of the dependent, neglected, and delinquent child. It is wisdom on the part of the State to use private agencies in accomplishing ends which a government agency cannot effect.
There is need for an understanding and active Catholic interest, both clerical and lay, to help mold the public welfare program and impregnate it with the principles of Christian charity.
123. Although it is a proper function of government to extend aid to the underprivileged members of society, especially in emergencies, it is, however, desirable that funds for this purpose be derived, as far as possible, through voluntary donations to private charities. It would indeed be unfortunate if government relief programs were to interfere with donations to our private charitable institutions and agencies, especially at a time when the need for them is greatest. Government aid is no substitute for charity.
124. There is need for organized charity in the rural areas as well as in the urban centers. On the countryside are underprivileged families, broken homes, needy aged, erring and wayward youths, hovels and slums where children are reared to crime and poverty. The countryside offers a fertile and yet untilled field for the activities of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, the Ladies of Charity, and the Legion of Mary.
125. The parish is the natural unit of organized charity, especially in rural areas. The unfortunates in need of spiritual and material aid are the members of a parish who offer to the rest of the parish special opportunities for the exercise of charity. A small organized group of volunteer charity workers, carefully selected, is a need in every parish.
126. There is need in the rural diocese for a central diocesan agency or bureau with at least some trained personnel to co-ordinate and unify the work, to train and direct the volunteer parish workers, to provide professional service where professional service is required.
127. A study club in each parish, composed of parish social charity workers and others interested, would be very useful in training the workers in the principles of social charity and in the technique of social work. The course of study should be outlined and directed by the central diocesan agency.
128. It would be advisable to unite parish groups into county units with a priest living in or near the county seat as director. Where parishes are too few for county organizations, it might be more feasible to organize on deanery lines.
129. Current government policies, exemplified particularly through the grants-in-aid to states under social security legislation, tend to shift the solution of most cases of social distress back to the local community. Most of the dependent children, who heretofore would have been sent to the urban orphanage or urban charity bureau, will now be cared for in the local community. Case work, involving delinquent juveniles, delinquent adolescents, and needy aged, has also become a local responsibility. These new trends in social work make it imperative that there be Catholic groups of social charity workers in every community.
130. Parish social charity workers could safeguard the spiritual and material welfare of dependent Catholic children, securing placement in suitable Catholic homes when it is necessary to remove children from their own homes; render assistance to delinquent and pre-delinquent juveniles and adolescents; protect the needy aged against exploitation, secure them adequate assistance and bring them the solace of religion; minister to families in special need of spiritual and material aid.
131. The new trends in the welfare program of the government rather definitely indicate that the permanent population of child-caring institutions will be composed largely of mentally retarded, physically handicapped, and problem children. The program of care and training in our institutions should be adjusted to meet the needs of children falling into these classifications.
132. County units could be very effective in influencing public policy and procedure along the lines of Christian social charity. The diocesan organization, with ramifications running into every community and parish, would constitute a potent influence in molding along the lines of Christian principles public policies and legislation in respect to social welfare.
133. The closet cooperation should exist between public and private agencies in everything affecting their common work and common problems. Parish groups of social charity would develop in a parish the spirit of charity and a program of charity in which the parish as a whole would participate.
1. Pius XI, "Atheistic Communism," nn. 46, 48.
2. Pius XI, "Reconstruction of the Social Order," p. 44.
3. Ibid., p. 29.
4. Matt. 25:42.
134. Because of his great pastoral solicitude for the toiling masses, Pope Leo XIII has been called the Pope of the Workingman. In his celebrated pronouncement, commemorating the fortieth anniversary of his distinguished predecessor's encyclical on the "Condition of Labor," Pope Pius XI wrote of him: "In this document the Supreme Shepherd, grieving for 'the misery and wretchedness pressing unjustly' or such a large proportion of mankind, with lofty courage took upon himself to defend the cause of workingmen, 'surrendered, isolated and helpless, to the hardheartedness of employers and the greed of unchecked competition."'1
135. In his social encyclical on the "Reconstruction of the Social Order," Pope Pius XI showed himself no less solicitous for that "immense multitude of workingmen," who, "oppressed by dire poverty, struggle in vain to escape"2 from the difficulties which encompass them. His sympathy goes out to "the immense army of hired rural laborers, whose condition is depressed in the extreme and who have no hope of ever obtaining a share in the land. These, too, unless efficacious remedies be applied, will remain perpetually sunk in their proletarian condition."3 Many of these farm laborers live in wretched hovels rather than homes; they work long hours, receive little pay, and eke out their existence under conditions of abject poverty. Because of their squalid living quarters as well as insufficient and unbalanced diets, they are an easy prey to all sorts of illnesses. Such inhuman living conditions are a disgrace to a nation which has been endowed by the Creator with the unlimited bounties of nature. Refusing to bear this heavy yoke any longer, farm laborers have become restive and rebellious, especially since they have been goaded on by communistic agitators who, pretending to desire only their betterment, lure them on by all sorts of promises. Attempts, however, have been made by some earnest leaders and with some measure of success to organize this unfortunate group and improve their lot. Their efforts, however, have been confined to limited areas and the progress has been slow.
136. Social justice must not be denied to farm laborers. Their rights and liberties are not different from those of workers in industrial centers. The following observation of Pope Pius XI applies to farm laborers: "Social justice cannot be said to have been satisfied as long as workingmen are denied a wage that will enable them to secure proper sustenance for themselves and for their families; as long as they are denied the opportunity of acquiring a modest fortune and forestalling the plague of universal pauperism; as long as they cannot make suitable provision through public or private insurance for old age, for periods of illness and unemployment."4
137. Social charity also has its obligations toward these unfortunate laborers. Employers of hired farm labor should treat their workers as brethren in Christ. They should not do to them what they would not want to have done to themselves. Pope Pius XI bids them to be mindful of their responsibility. Their surplus income is not left entirely to their discretion. They have grave obligations of almsgiving, beneficence, and liberality, as well as a duty to use their property in a manner that will insure human living to their workers.
138. But farm laborers must also strive to help themselves. Wherever possible, they should organize for the protection of their rights and legitimate interests as well as for the provision of mutual help and for the pursuit of moral and religious duties. Their efforts will be brought to disaster, however, if they listen to men of evil principles who work upon the people with artful promises and excite foolish hopes, which usually end in futile regrets.
139. One of the objectives of organization should be to help farm laborers acquire farms which they can call their own. Not every farm laborer is qualified to own and manage a farm, but there are those who would improve their earthly lot if they were given an opportunity to till their own soil. By thrift, cooperative credit, and financial assistance from the government, they would be able to lift themselves out of their proletarian status. With regard to them the State has a special duty. If a family finds itself in great difficulty, utterly friendless, and without prospect of help, it is right that its extreme necessity be met by public aid; for each family is a part of the commonwealth.
140. While our objective is social justice and social charity for all, it should be recognized that the righting of a wrong economic system is not a speedy process. If the wrongs of farm laborers cannot be corrected immediately, the laborers should be patient and remember that there is blessing in poverty accepted in the spirit of Christ. Without giving up hope of improving their lot and without ceasing to use every lawful means to achieve for themselves social justice, "let them remember that the world will never be able to rid itself of misery, sorrow, and tribulation, which are the portion even of those who seem most prosperous.... 'Blessed are the poor!' These words are no vain consolation, a promise as empty as those of the communists. They are the words of life, pregnant with a sovereign reality."5
1. Pius XI, "Reconstruction of the Social Order," p. 5.
2. Ibid. p. 4.
3. Ibid. p. 21.
4. Pius XI, "Atheistic Communism," n. 52.
5. Pius XI, "Atheistic Communism," n. 45.
141. Men are groping about to restore to society its organic form which the extreme individualism of the past century destroyed. Some seek the restoration through a planned economy enforced by the State, others through the establishment of a socialistic or communistic government.
142. Group action, however, cannot be superimposed on free citizens by the State. Theodore Roosevelt remarked trenchantly: "The government is powerless to conscript cooperation." Cooperation must grow out of the consciousness of men that their social nature requires forms through which it may best express itself.
143. Farmers are untrue to their social nature if they do not organize their agricultural activities, as workmen, technicians, doctors, employers, students, and others of like character organize their respective activities. "These groups and organizations," writes Pope Pius XI, "are destined to introduce into society that order which We have envisaged in Our Encyclical "Quadragesimo Anno," and thus to spread in the vast and various fields of culture and labor the recognition of the Kingdom of Christ."1
144. The order envisaged by Pope Pius XI is that of an organic society, in which the various associations of men, organically linked together in vocational groups for the common good, promote the material, cultural, and religious interests of their members, men and women who live in the same cultural atmosphere and share the same way of life. The farmer, too, should unite with fellow farmers in vocational groups. Although cooperatives may not realize completely the ideal of vocational grouping the Holy Father has in mind, they contain in their fundamental principles the possibilities for vocational organization.
145. Farm cooperatives are voluntary associations of farmers organized with the prime purpose of giving greater stability and better security to their farming enterprise. There are consumer, production, purchasing, marketing, and credit cooperatives. Among American farmers, marketing cooperatives have advanced the farthest. A farm cooperative organized on sound principles of cooperation is controlled by the farmer. One vote only should be allowed to each member, no matter how large his investment in the cooperative. The profit motive should be subordinated to the general welfare of the members and to the common good.
146. Farm cooperatives are necessary. Were it not for cooperative enterprise, the family-type farmer would be at the mercy of the economically powerful in society. Unorganized, he would find himself pitted as an individual against the organized forces of concentrated wealth. The farmer cannot allow himself to become a slave either of a domineering State or of the economic dictatorship of the mighty of this earth. The farmer will be free only insofar as he is organized.
147. Relying on his native resourcefulness, the farmer should beware of professional promoters of cooperatives who come into the community, hold forth unfulfillable promises, and seek to mulct him through the organization of cooperatives that are such in name only. Especially should he be distrustful of political schemers who seek to use the cooperative movement for their own purposes.
148. Before organizing a cooperative, farmers should give the principles and technique of sound cooperation careful study, and only after considerable educational work has been done, should they attempt to organize. Without a membership educated in the principles of cooperation and without sustained interest, a cooperative is doomed to failure. The spirit of cooperation is always essential to the success of a cooperative.
149. Members of cooperatives should not allow themselves to be lured on by materialistic or utilitarian considerations. In the long run, as experience shows, materialistic objectives will be disastrous to them and will usher in the abuses of the amoral capitalism, which they seek to displace, by opening the door to graft and racketeering, to fraudulent administration, to misrepresentation of consumer's goods, and to other vicious and sinful abuses. Remote and absentee control is one of the hazards of a cooperative. Co-ordination of local units should be secured without sacrificing local autonomy through centralized control.
150. Social justice must form the groundwork of cooperatives. "It is of the very essence of social justice to demand from each individual all that is necessary for the common good."2 In the cooperative, the members must realize that only if they contribute their proportionate share to the common good, will the cooperative be of value to them.
151. Social charity must be the soul of every cooperative enterprise. Referring to the whole economic regime, Pius XI says that "social charity should, as it were, be the soul of this order."3 In the absence of social charity the wisest regulations come to nothing. "Then only will it be possible to unite all in harmonious striving for the common good, when all sections of society have the intimate conviction that they are members of a single family and children of the same Heavenly Father, and further, that they are 'one body in Christ and every one members one of another' so that 'if one member suffer anything, all members suffer with it.'"4
152. The foundations, therefore, of genuine cooperatives are Christian. It should be emphasized that in a genuine cooperative the members stand in a definite ethical and religious relation one to another; hence they have not only rights but also duties. Without the ethical principles and the religious ideals of the Christian religion, cooperatives will become close- knit oligarchies, actuated by selfish and monopolistic policies. The pursuit of selfish interests cannot but lead to economic warfare among the different cooperatives.
153. The State should foster and protect cooperatives through proper legislation and through loans at reasonable interest rates. The State, however, should refrain from exerting an arbitrary control over them.
154. While cooperatives are not proposed as a panacea for all conceivable economic and social ills, nevertheless soundly established cooperatives will be potent agencies for the protection of the farming group. Properly organized and properly managed, cooperatives should achieve the following results: fair prices to the farmer for his products and fair prices to the consumer, the maintenance of high standards in the marketing of quality goods, the prevention of proletarianism by bringing about a wider distribution of property, and cultural advantages for the farm family and for the community. By reason of the organic union, which they effect among their members and through mutual cooperation, "the attainment of earthly happiness is placed within the reach of all."5
155. Conducted in a truly Christian spirit, cooperatives will be valuable schools for training in social virtues, such as resourcefulness, responsibility, mutual helpfulness, justice, and charity. From cooperative enterprise will come other important social by-products, such as folk drama, folk song, folk music, and folk literature. Folk schools have achieved remarkable success in countries where cooperatives flourish among the rural people. Catholic rural life will be strengthened under a system of cooperatives conducted in accordance with well-tried democratic principles and inspired by ideals of social justice and charity.
156. Credit is the lifeblood of the economic body, necessary for the manufacturer and the merchant and necessary also for the farmer. The farmer needs long-term credit, furnished at reasonable interest and repayment terms, to buy his land and to build his home, barns, sheds, and other farm buildings. To make improvements on the land by clearing, draining, and fencing it, as well as to purchase the necessary machinery, horses, cattle, poultry, and other farm animals, he may need intermediate credit. Short- term credit may be needed to help the farmer obtain seed in the spring and carry the crop until he can get it to the markets in the fall. If it is necessary to hold his crop in crib, elevator, granary, or other storage place until the market is favorable, he may require additional short-term credit.
157. In the past the farmer obtained his credit in various ways Individual lenders, local people with money to invest including retired farmers, granted him the advances he may have needed to acquire his farmstead. Bankers in rural towns loaned him money for short-time needs. Implement companies arranged with him for the purchase on the installment plan of machinery needed to run the farm. Insurance, trust, and mortgage companies made him loans for various purposes.
158. But only too often the terms of the loans were onerous, interest rates were high, and the plan of payments on the loans was not flexible enough. As a result, if in a series of years crops failed because of drought, hail, insect pests, or some other calamity, or if prices of farm commodities were abnormally low, foreclosures of farms were not infrequent. Farmers lost their equities in the farms; years of savings vanished. They then either drifted into the city to look for work or continued to farm as tenants. The large increase in tenancy today is due, to no small extent, to the usurious methods used in the past in financing the farmer.
159. Whenever possible, the farmer should seek to lay aside some of his earnings for years when crops are poor or prices low. The virtue of thrift is very important for the farmer. He should avoid miserliness, on the one hand, and extravagance, on the other. Many farmers have been brought to ruin because they were greedy for land; they acquired more land than they could operate with the members of the family; they began to farm to make money rather than to make a living. Speculating in land, mortgaging all they had, they lost all and made themselves poor. Balanced thrift and joyous contentment are virtues indispensable to success in farming.
160. Since the individual farmer does not command much credit, he should strengthen whatever credit he may have, by joining it with the credit of other good farmers of the community. Pooling resources in cooperative credit associations is of great advantage to the member farmers. Interest rates can be kept low, repayments can be made on reasonable terms, character can be used as collateral, and in every way credit terms can be made more favorable. Wherever developed, such credit associations have been instrumental in reducing foreclosures on farms. Moreover, they have enjoyed the confidence of governmental loaning agencies.
161. The purpose of such credit associations should be to help not only the farmer already on the farm but also the young farmer who wishes to have a farm of his own. Properly organized, such credit associations can be the depositary of the liquid assets of a farmer for bad times and can serve as an agency for the elimination of commissions, high fees, and extra charges, usually incident to loans. These are all important items because they increase the costs of farming by a very appreciable amount. The State should assist such cooperative credit associations in their beginnings through favorable legislation and adequate money advances. In doing so, the State promotes public well-being because farm Ownership is rendered more secure, wealth is more equitably distributed, and a large portion of the nation's population is taught the important lesson of self-help. Healthy agrarianism is undoubtedly one of the chief assets, if not the chief asset, of a State.
1. Pius XI, "Atheistic Communism," n. 68.
2. Pius XI, "Atheistic Communism," n. 51.
3. Pius XI, "Reconstruction of the Social Order," p. 29.
4. Ibid., p. 44.
5. Pius XI, "Atheistic Communism," n. 29.
162. In his encyclical on the "Reconstruction of the Social Order," Pope Pius XI deplores the fact that "social life lost entirely its organic form."1 This resulted from the amoral individualism of the past century, which atomized societary life into different economic units, each independent of the other and each working for its own selfish purposes regardless of the well-being of others in society.
163. In the social order there are parts and parts, members, as it were, of one and the same social body; each member is different from the other and each has its special function; but each is necessary also for the well- being of the whole. If one part of the social body suffers, the whole suffers. A society that is founded on classes with divergent claims, each opposed to the other, cannot be healthy; social ills of a varied kind will afflict the social body in such a state of things. To be sound and well, all the members of the social body must work together in harmonious cooperation. This is an important principle in organic life.
164. This principle has been very much disregarded in the relations between agriculture and industry. Industry has gone its own way without much thought of the needs of agriculture, and vice versa. Yet the two are vitally dependent upon each other. If the thirty-five to forty million farm people of the nation receive an unfair price for agricultural products, their purchasing power is reduced. They can no longer buy what industry produces and places on the market for sale. When markets become glutted, merchants no longer place orders, manufacturers stop their machinery and send their workers home, and millions of factory workers and their families are in distress. If, on the contrary, workers in industry are underpaid, they cannot consume in sufficient quantities the products that come from the farms.
165. In all conferences called by the government to improve the economic order, not only should capital and labor be brought together, but the farmer, too, should have representation.
166. Organizations of bankers, businessmen, employers, and employees should not disregard agriculture, in drawing up their respective economic programs. Any improvement in the farmer's condition spells improvement for the banker. the manufacturer, the merchant, and the factory worker. In planning legislation, the entire organic life of the nation should receive consideration. Laws should be integral; piecemeal legislation is always harmful. Tariff legislation has often favored industry at the expense of the farmer. To protect by a high tariff the industrial products which the farmer must buy is equal to putting a tax on the farmer's income. His purchasing power is thereby reduced, and as a result other sectors of industry suffer.
167. Of great importance is the maintenance of a parity of prices between agriculture and industry. This is not an easy task; it bristles with difficulties. It may involve regimentation of the farmer by the government. It were better if the farming group were thoroughly organized; then, through the economic and the political power of organization, the farmer would achieve, in a notable degree, a balance between the prices he receives for his products and the prices he pays for the things needed on the farmstead.
168. Of concern to the farmer is the decline of the birth rate in industrial centers. Such a decline of birth rate is equivalent to a shrinking of markets. As markets shrink, the surpluses in wheat, corn, cotton, and other agricultural commodities will become more and more a serious problem. Technological progress allows the farmer to produce more per farm unit than in former years. Less man power also is needed on the farm. The advocacy of an economy of abundance in agricultural products stands in patent contradiction to the advocacy of an economy of scarcity in population. Upon a normal increase of people in the nation will depend a proper balance of markets. Legislative remedies will be of small avail in seeking balanced markets if the forces of birth control go about unhindered in undermining the supports of the market by advocating measures that make for a shrinking population.
1. Pius XI, "Reconstruction of thc Social Order," p. 26.
169. The primary purpose of taxation is to provide the several political units, such as townships, school districts, cities, counties, states, and the Federal Government, with the necessary funds to carry on their respective political functions in the interest of the public well-being.
170. In recent times, however, taxation has also been used for economic and social purposes; namely, to destroy business harmful to health or life, to make impossible bad financial practices, to prevent harmful concentration of economic power, to effect a better distribution of wealth, and to eliminate abuses in trade and commerce. Taxation may be legitimately used for such purposes. It may not be carried, however, to the point where private property can no longer exist. "The State is, therefore, unjust and cruel," writes Pope Leo XIII, "if in the name of taxation, it deprives the private owner of more than is just."1 Pope Pius XI amplifies this statement of his illustrious predecessor as follows: "Hence, the prudent Pontiff had already declared it unlawful for the State to exhaust the means of individuals by crushing taxes and tributes. 'The right to possess private property is derived from nature, not from man; and the State has by no means the right to abolish it, but only to control its use and bring it into harmony with the interests of the public good.'"2
171. If rural society is to be well served, an adequate amount of taxes must be collected. Indeed, rural society profits from a wise and prudent expenditure of tax money for roads, electrification, sanitation, flood control, conservation of natural resources, eradication of harmful weeds and insects, schools, libraries, and other social utilities provided by the State to promote public welfare. It would be false economy to neglect the greatest of all natural resources–human health, life, and culture–by failing to provide for the public services necessary to maintain them.
172. There has been a trend, however, to expand government functions beyond reasonable limits. Larger funds are required by governments than a generation ago. Governments, like individuals, may live beyond their means and heavily mortgage the future in order to maintain the new vested interests of public servants and officials. Government costs have been increased also through a waste of public funds by expending them on unwise and unprofitable projects; by duplicating governments, municipal, township, county, state, and federal; by erecting expensive school buildings and furnishing unnecessary equipment because of a false philosophy of education; and by the entrance of the State into fields of activity which should be reserved for private and cooperative endeavor. Public funds for social welfare and relief could be conserved through a fuller use of the facilities offered by private agencies, especially since these agencies, dominated as they are by the spirit of charity and religion, can rehabilitate where government efforts fail.
173. Since most of the taxes levied are property taxes, it is inevitable that taxes come to rest most heavily on the land. The farmer pays, in consequence, a disproportionately larger share of taxes than does the urban dweller. This is the conclusion of all economists who have gathered and studied the facts bearing on this question. It is, therefore, the better part of wisdom, if the farmer scrutinizes with keen vigilance new proposals for extending State activities that involve heavy expenditures of money.
174. Because of high taxes tenants become discouraged and do not strive for ownership; farm owners find themselves unable to pay taxes, with the result that farmsteads are lost through foreclosure or revert to the State as idle lands. The State is faced with the problem either of allowing the land to produce inferior species of trees, or of reforesting it at heavy public costs, or of letting other farmers occupy land that has failed to produce even its taxes. It is a known fact that high taxes tend to increase interest rates. And high interest rates make it difficult for tenants to become eventual owners. High taxes become a serious practical problem not only for the farmer but also for Church, school, and other social institutions.
175. Many correctives need to be applied to the tax structure in Rural America. The property tax puts a heavy burden on the farmer, especially in years of crop failure. This tax was once an equitable tax, when the nation was more than go per cent agricultural. But today property is held in other forms–stocks, bonds, savings accounts? and other less tangible and less visible forms. Those newer forms of property possession open avenues for tax escape. The farmer, on the other hand, cannot conceal his land and barns and sheds. They are seen by the assessor. Assessments are also often inequitable; great variations occur not infrequently within the same township. Assessments on small properties frequently represent a higher proportion of real value than assessments on large properties.
176. How can these inequalities be corrected? Various measures have been suggested. The exemption from taxation of farm homesteads up to a certain value is receiving wider and wider consideration. Some are urging a farm- products tax in order to relieve the farm owner from tax burdens when his crop is poor or when prices are low. Others advocate a progressive land tax. A progressive land tax would tend to promote the family-size type of farm, discourage large holdings for speculative purposes, and reduce to a necessary minimum commercialized farming, with its system of manager, foremen, and hired laborers. To achieve a more equitable apportionment of taxes, as between farm and city dweller, it has been proposed also to increase tax rates on intangible wealth, represented by stocks, bonds, and other instruments of ownership, as well as on income derived from inheritance. In considering all these proposals, the one aim to be kept in view constantly is the achieving of a better measure of social justice for the farmer by relieving him of inequitable tax burdens.
177. In order to prevent speculation in land, serious consideration should be given to fair and practical proposals to tax the unearned increment of land values. This would assure property rights to those who by their labor turned "the sands of the desert into gold" and who by unremitting toil applied brain and brawn to the resources of God's nature. Not by speculation do nations grow rich, but only by the toil of its workingmen.
178. The farmer should beware of rash promises held out by tariff legislation. Such legislation is usually nothing less than a tax which he as consumer pays for the things he needs for farm and home. While the farmer needs a tariff for protection against unfair practices of dumping agricultural products into his home market, nevertheless he should not allow himself to be deluded into believing that tariffs necessarily guarantee stable prices either in home or in foreign markets. Despite high tariff-walls, prices for his products not infrequently are very low. The tariff is often a double-edged sword used against the farmer. On the one hand, it raises the prices of the industrial goods which he buys; on the other, it leads to retaliatory measures of foreign nations against the agricultural surpluses which he cannot sell in his home market.
179. Schemes to lower the value of money often contain hidden forces, which in effect are those of taxation. Devaluation of money standards is equivalent to a tax on foreign importations; home manufacturers and merchants are protected in proportion to the amount of devaluation and consequently may raise prices behind this new wall of protection. The farmer as a consumer pays for this protection every time he buys an article on the industrial market. Theoretically, he too should benefit from higher prices because of the cheapening of money; but practically it does not work out that way, particularly in years when bumper crops automatically shut out foreign importations.
180. Taxation is a very important subject for consideration in any plan to improve the economic status of the farmer. Consideration should be given to the uses which are to be made of tax money as well as to the equitable distribution of the burden and to the types of taxation which exert a beneficial effect on the rural economy. Information is available for remedying many of the iniquities in our tax system. Further studies are necessary to provide a comprehensive reform.
1. Leo XIII, "The Condition of Labor," p. 27.
2. Pius XI, "Reconstruction of the Social Order," p. 17.
A number of persons, of the clergy and of the laity, aided directly and indirectly in the publication of the MANIFESTO. A group of them met in St. Louis, April 13-14, 1937, to discuss the scope and contents of such a MANIFESTO. They were: The Most Rev. Bishops Edwin V. O'Hara, Karl Alter, A. J. Muench, C. H. Winkelmann; Rt. Rev. Msgr. J. M. Wolfe; Revs. W. Howard Bishop, James A. Byrnes, J. M. Campbell, G. Estergaard, L. G. Ligutti, John LaFarge, S.J., Virgil Michel, O.S.B., K. J. Miller, C.SS.R., William T. Mulloy, J. H. Ostdiek, Felix N. Pitt, Vincent J. Ryan, Edgar Schmiedeler, O.S.B., Rudolph B. Schuler, Joseph Steinhauser, Louis N. Zirbes; Miss Dorothy J. Willmann, the Messrs. Frank Bruce, F. P. Kenkel, and Joseph Matt.
Out of this group committees were appointed to draw up statements on various phases of rural life. These statements furnished materials for a tentative draft of a MANIFESTO, which was submitted to the participants of the St. Louis group for criticism and suggestions. The tentative draft was revised and amended in accordance with suggestions and recommendations offered, and was submitted to the Executive Board of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference for further action. The Board suggested a Committee composed of the Most Rev. Aloisius J. Muench, Bishop of Fargo, the Very Rev. Dr. Vincent J. Ryan, and the Very Rev. William T. Mulloy, both of the city of Fargo, to prepare a revision of the tentative draft so as to secure greater uniformity of structure and style.
This Committee held a series of meetings throughout the winter of 1937-38 and prepared a final redaction of the MANIFESTO for further consideration by the Executive Board of the Conference. In preparing this redaction other authorities in the field of industrial or rural economics and sociology were consulted. Valuable comments and constructive criticism were obtained from Rt. Rev. Msgrs. John O'Grady, Francis J. Haas, and John A. Ryan; the Revs. Urban Baer, Dr. George Johnson, Marcellus Leisen, O.S.B., A. McGowan, J. C. Rawe, S.J., A. M. Schwitalla, S.J.; Mr. Francis M. Crowley, Mr. J. M. Sevenich, and Dr. O. E. Baker.
At the National Convention of the Conference in Vincennes, September, 1938, after careful consideration and thorough discussion, the MANIFESTO was approved and ordered to be published by the Board. It remained to compile the materials for the Annotations. This required painstaking research and many hours of labor. Special acknowledgment should be expressed to the Very Rev. Dr. Vincent J. Ryan for his editorial services in preparing the manuscript of the MANIFESTO as well as for his untiring labors in completing the Annotations. In the gathering of these, most valuable assistance was given by Rev. Dr. Edgar Schmiedeler, O.S.B., Secretary of the Catholic Rural Life Bureau, Rev. James A. Byrnes, Executive Secretary of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference, Rev. Marcellus Leisen, O.S.B., and his rural sociology class at St. John's University, Rev. J. H. Ostdiek, Rev. John C. Rawe, S.J., Rev. W. Howard Bishop, Rev. Rudolph B. Schuler, and Dr. H. L. Walster, Dean, North Dakota Agricultural College.
In making these acknowledgments there is no intention, it is superfluous to say, of making any one person accountable for the opinions expressed and the conclusions set forth in the MANIFESTO. It is a composite work of many minds who gave serious attentions to manifold, and at times, controvertible, positions taken in the MANIFESTO. ALOISIUS J. MUENCH Bishop of Fargo
The compilers acknowledge their debt of gratitude to the Most Reverend V. O'Hara, Bishop of Kansas City, for much of the material and phraseology in the first three paragraphs. Cf. the following works of Bishop O'Hara: "Church and the Country Community" (Macmillan Company, 1927), and, "Spiritual and Material Mission to Rural America," Catholic Rural Life Objectives (First Series, 1935).
"The family may be regarded as the cradle of civil society, and it is in great measure within the circle of family life that the destiny of the State is fostered."–"Chief Duties of Christians as Citizens," 1 p. 106.
1. In a letter to the Catholic people of Uruguay on the occasion of the Centenary Celebration of their National Independence, Pius XI wrote: "The family, because it is the fountain source of human existence and the fundamental bond by which through an unbreakable love one individual is bound to another, is the basic unit of society. Upon the material well- being and the moral purity of the family depend the morality and the well- being of the community. Steps, therefore, taken to improve home life physically or ethically or to give economic security to the home, are steps taken for the good of the community; and steps by which the dignity, the sanctity or the inviolable unity of the home are undermined are steps which lead straight to decadence endangering the very life itself of organized society."
2. "The family as a social institution is stronger in rural areas than in urban centers. The farmstead is not like a shop, office, or factory to which men and women go in the morning and leave again at night, but it is also a homestead. Where farm ownership is rendered secure the homestead is held in honor by generation after generation as it passes on from father to son. The farmstead is for all members an economic unit. Young and old, father, mother, and children have a common stake in it. The vicissitudes of the climate, the approach of the seasons for sowing and harvesting, the land, the seed, the machinery, the fowl and cattle–all evoke a daily interest around the table at meal time or in the evening as the family gathers around the fireside. These are all important elements to hold the family together."–Muench, Aloisius J., "The Catholic Church and Rural Welfare" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives" (Third Series, 1937), p. 16.
3. "In large metropolitan areas 19.0 per cent of the homes were broken in 1930; in villages the figure was 14.7 per cent, while in country areas it was only 8.1 per cent."–Kolb-Brunner, "A Study of Rural Society" (Boston: Houghton Mifflin), p. 26.
"The employment of married women is a subject of great importance today. It is linked so closely with the welfare of the home and the family and related so definitely in the long run to the health of the race and the progress of the Nation that it has become one of the most complex problems before the country."–Eleventh Annual Report of the Director of the Women's Bureau (U. S. Dept. of Labor, Women's Bureau, 1929), p. 25.
Cf. Haas, F. J., "Man and Society" (1930), pp. 171-175; on "Married Women Wage-earners." Monsignor Haas estimated that there were two million married women wage earners at the time his book was written.
4. "The causa causans of the declining birth rate within the western European sphere of civilization is the striving spirit, a derivation of capitalistic mentality."–Von Ungern-Sternberg, Roderick, "The Causes of Declining Birth Rate within the European Sphere of Civilization," Eugenics Research Association, Monograph IV (1931), p. 202.
"More important than the striving spirit, apparently, is the fact that in agriculture the family is the economic unit, whereas in industry and commerce the individual is the economic unit. In agriculture a wife, or at least a family to live with, is almost essential in operating a farm, and children can work and probably more than pay their way from ten years of age onward. This has been truer in the past than at present, when school takes so large a proportion of children's time up to the age of 14 years, and frequently to a later age. In urban occupations, on the other hand, a wife contributes little to the family income, unless she works outside the home, and under such circumstances it is difficult to raise a family. Children, likewise, contribute little, if anything to the income in the cities until they are about ready to start a home of their own. And in the professional and upper business classes, children not only must be sent through college, but sometimes need to be supported for a few years afterward. They are commonly an economic liability from birth till marriage. Under such circumstances, and assuming the absence of widespread religious or patriotic convictions, it is to be expected that rigid restriction will occur in the size of the family among urban dwellers, except, as previously noted, among the rich by inheritance."–Baker, O. E., "The Church and Rural Youth" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives" (Series One.
Dr. Baker sums up his conclusion in the following words "A civilization to be permanent must be based primarily on agriculture, or on some other culture in which the family is the economic unit. In the rural family, children have a place, and the work they do tends to strengthen rather than to weaken character. In the rural family the aged also have a place–a useful, respected place."–Loc. cit.
"The Problems of a Changing Population "(U. S. Printing Office, Washington, D. C.). A report of the Committee on Population Problems to the National Resources Committee, issued May, 1938. The majority report forecasts a decline In population starting by 1980. The minority report, with no little evidence to support it, states that the decline will begin by 1955 and by 1980 the population will have slipped back from its 1955 high by ten million.
5. "Taken all in all, in the rural family, ideals of virtue are sounder, religion is held in greater honor, children obtain a better training in affairs than the youth of the streets, and the spirit of democracy is more easily schooled where members cooperate on the same economic basis, than is the case in urban families who often live in congested city areas, whose members are in dally contact with the materialism and sensuality of the world and pursue each different ways of life independent of one another and motivated largely by selfish interests. Domestic or home virtues thrive better in the rugged atmosphere of the farm home than in the artificial and blighting air of the city."–Muench, Aloisius J., "The Catholic Church and Rural Welfare" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives" (Third Series, 1937), p. 17.
"Subsistence agriculture utilizes the services of all the adult and adolescent members of the family, with due regard for their divergent capacities, in the production, as far as is practical in a given locality, of the things which supply at least the food requirements of the family. Children are welcome on such family farms, because at an early age there is much wholesome work that they can do with profit to their character and health. Through this preservation of the family economy and family life, the family farm alone can give us the rising birthrate needed to replenish our dying populations."–Rawe, J. C., "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness in Agriculture" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives" (Second Series, 1936), p. 42.
The farm business has one special advantage, which is not to be minimized. It is really a family cooperative. Father and sons plow and cultivate and harvest; mother and daughters take care of the chickens, milk the cows, churn the butter; and even the little children do many chores–all so beautifully co-ordinated that the operation of their particular farm is a family accomplishment. If America needs anything today it needs just such solidly integrated family life.
8. "The problem, however, is not altogether economic. There are too many cases where farmers can easily afford modern houses equipped with modern conveniences and do not, to lay the deficiency all to inadequate incomes. It is often a matter of educating country people to a proper standard of living. Primitive standards carried over from pioneer days too often prevail. The habit of doing without things too often reigns. But when once the benefits to be derived are clearly demonstrated old standards and habits tend to give way. If one farmer in a neighborhood installs a modern heating, light or water plant others are likely to see the advantages and follow suit."–Sims, Newell LeRoy, "Elements of Rural Sociology" (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell), p. 455.
9. "There were, in the United States in 1929, approximately 1,700,000 farms which yielded gross farm income of less than $600, based on value of products sold, traded, or used; a few more than 900,000 farms that yielded less than $400 income; and almost 400,000 farms that yielded less than $250. On these farms yielding less than $600 income, approximately 7,700,000 men, women, and children lived, whose lives were disadvantaged because of the lack of purchasing power....
"During the depression, at least 31/2 million, or more than 1 out of every 4, rural families in the United States had received public assistance at some time."–"Disadvantaged Classes in American Agriculture," Social Research Report No. VIII (United States Dept. of Agriculture), pp. 5, 6.
"A study of 1,935 families living in 'submarginal land purchase areas' of Kentucky shows 28 percent of them living in log houses and 50 percent living in 'box' houses: 63 families with more than five members each were living in one-room houses; and in five such cases, the families had ten or more members....
"The value of 228 houses included in a study of Knott County in the same State averaged $340, ranging from $20 to $7,000. Twenty-eight percent of the home-makers interviewed in that county reported that the roof leaked. In a study of Grayson County in Kentucky it was found that the average value of houses was $931, the range being from $50 to $8,000. In a recent study of 816 Appalachian Mountain families, it was revealed that about 75 percent of their homes were heated by fireplaces and more than 90 percent were lighted by oil lamps. Approximately 38 percent used springs as their main water supply and less than 10 percent had telephones.
"In some semiarid sections, where correct, land-use adjustment had not yet been accomplished, thousands of families, after two or three generations of settlement, are still living in sod houses or modified dugouts."–Ibid., p. 59.
In comparing the laborsaving devices of the city and the country home, Bishop O'Hara made the following observation in 1927: "There are many farm homes now as well equipped with these conveniences as are the great majority of city homes, and with the rapid development of rural engineering, especially in the application of electricity to farm needs, the farm woman will not be greatly handicapped in this respect. Besides no small part of the farm woman's enjoyment will consist in progressively securing these labor-savers."–O'Hara, Edwin V., "The Church and the Country Community" (The Macmillan Co.), p. 41.
Since these words were written rural electrification has seen a great development. It promises to eliminate drudgery from many farm activities.
12. "More serious still is the possible loss of quality in the stock that is being sifted by migration. Rural exodus apparently often means stock depletion. It seems to be those with push and initiative who tend to migrate while the less enterprising and mediocre individuals are left behind. There is abundant evidence of depletion in many sections, as any observer of rural conditions can testify."–Sims, Newell LeRoy, "Elements of Rural Sociology" (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell), p. 319.
1. The Encyclicals of Pius XI are quoted from the N.C.W.C. editions of these works. References to Leo XIII's "Thc Condition of Labor" are to "Four Great Encyclicals" (Paulist Press). References to other Encyclicals of Leo XIII in "Great Encyclical Letters of Leo XIII," edited by Rev. J. J. Wynne, S.J., (Benziger Bros.)
13. "Man is older than the State and he holds the right of providing for the life of his body prior to the formation of any State. And to say that God has given the earth to the use and enjoyment of the universal human race is not to deny that there can be private property. For God has granted the earth to mankind in general; not in the sense that all without distinction can deal with it as they please, but rather that no part of it has been assigned to any one in particular, and that the limits of private possession have been left to be fixed by man's own industry and the institutions of individual peoples Moreover, the earth, though divided among private owners ceases not thereby to minister to the needs of all; for there is no one who does not live on what the land brings forth." Leo XIII, "The Condition of Labor," pp. 4, 5.
"With reason, therefore, the common opinion of mankind, little affected by the few dissentients who have maintained the opposite view, has found in the study of nature, and in the law of nature herself, the foundations of the division of property, and has consecrated by the practice of all ages the principle of private ownership, as being pre-eminently in conformity with human nature, and as conducing in the most unmistakable manner to the peace and tranquillity of human life."–Ibid., p. 6.
"Community of goods is set down as a part of the natural law, not as though it were a dictate of natural law that things should be possessed in common, and that there should be no private property, but because the marking off of separate possessions is not done by nature herself but rather according to human convention."–"Summa Theol.," 2a, 2ae, q. LXVI, art. 2.
St. Thomas Aquinas advances the following arguments to prove the necessity of private property for individual and social welfare:
"Every one is more careful to look after what is his own private concern than after what is common to all or many, since every one avoids labor and leaves to another to do the duty that belongs to a number of persons in common, as happens where there are many persons to wait on you. Human affairs are handled in a more orderly fashion where every individual has his own care of something to look to; whereas there would be confusion if every one indiscriminately took the management of anything he pleased. A peaceful state of society is better ensured, every one being content with his own lot. Hence we see that disputes arise not uncommonly among those who have any possession in joint stock."–"Summa Theol.," 2a, 2ae, q. LXVI, art. 2.
"Speaking generally, a division of goods and of ownership titles proceeds from the law of nature, for natural reason dictates such division as necessary in the present circumstances of fallen nature and dense populations."–Cardinal de Lugo, "De Justitia et Jure," d. 6, s. I. n. 6.
Courts throughout the United States have consistently recognized in their decisions that the right of ownership is a natural right. The following terse statement from a legal decision of Justice Patterson in the case of Van Horne v. Dorrance represents the American legal tradition in respect to ownership: "The right of acquiring and possessing property and having it protected, is one of the natural, inherent, and inalienable rights of man. Men have a sense of property; property is necessary to their subsistence, and correspondent to their natural wants and desires; its security was one of the objects that induced them to unite in Society. No man would become a member of a community, in which he could not enjoy the fruits of his honest labor and industry. The preservation of property, then, is a primary object of the social compact."–"Van Horne v. Dorrance," 2 Dall. 304 (1795).
14. "It is just and right that the result of labor should belong to him who has labored."–Leo XIII, "The Condition of Labor," p. 6.
15. "That right of property, therefore, which has been proved to belong naturally to individual persons must also belong to a man in his capacity of head of a family; nay, such a person must possess this right so much the more clearly in proportion as his position multiplies his duties. For it is a most sacred law of nature that a father must provide food and all necessaries for those whom he has begotten; and, similarly, nature dictates that a man's children, who carry on, as it were, and continue his own personality, should be provided by him with all that is needful to enable them honorably to keep themselves from want and misery in the uncertainties of this mortal life. Now in no other way can a father effect this except by the ownership of profitable property, which he can transmit to his children by inheritance. A family, no less than a State, is, as we have said, a true society, governed by a power within itself, that is to say, by the father. Wherefore, provided the limits be not transgressed which are prescribed by the very purposes for which it exists, the family has, at least, equal rights with the State in the choice and pursuit of those things which are needful to its preservation and its just liberty."–Leo XIIII, "The Condition of Labor," p. 7.
Referring to the teachings of his predecessor and theologians who taught under the guidance of the Church, Pius XI writes:
"Their unanimous contention has always been that the right to own private property has been given to man by nature or rather by the Creator Himself, not only in order that individuals may be able to provide for their own needs and those of their families, but also that by means of it, the goods which the Creator has destined for the human race may truly serve this purpose."–Pius XI, "Reconstruction of the Social Order," pp. 15, 16.
Cf., Ryan, John A., "Distributive Justice," Revised Ed., Chaps. IV and V (Macmillan Co., 1927); also Cram, Ralph Adams, "What is a Free Man?" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives" (Third Series, 1937), p. 35.
16. "Private Ownership must be held sacred and inviolable."–Leo XIII, "The Condition of Labor," p. 26.
"The right to possess private property is from nature, not from man; and the State has only the right to regulate its use in the interests of the public good, but by no means to abolish it altogether."–Ibid., p. 27.
"It follows from the two-fold character of ownership, which We have termed individual and social, that men must take into account in this matter not only their own advantage but also the common good. To define in detail these duties, when the need occurs and when the natural law does not do so, is the function of the government. Provided that the natural and divine law be observed, the public authority, in view of the common good, may specify more accurately what is licit and what is illicit for property owners in the use of their possessions."–Pius XI, "Forty Years After," p. 17.
In the same passage Pius XI quotes from his illustrious predecessor Leo XIII, the following qualifying words: "It is plain, however, that the State may not discharge this duty in an arbitrary manner. Man's natural right of possessing and transmitting property by inheritance must be kept intact and cannot be taken away by the State from man."–Ibid., p. 17.
Pius XI also speaks of "the boundaries imposed by the requirements of social life upon the right of ownership itself or upon its use."–Ibid., p. 16.
17. "It belongs to what is called commutative justice faithfully to respect the possessions of others, not encroaching on the rights of another and thus exceeding one's rights of ownership. The putting of one's own possessions to proper use, however, does not fall under this form of justice, but under certain other virtues, and therefore it is 'a duty not enforced by courts of justice.' Hence it is idle to contend that the right of ownership and its proper use are bounded by the same limits; and it is even less true that the very misuse or even the non-use of ownership destroys or forfeits the right itself."–Pius XI, "Reconstruction of the Social Order," p. 16.
"But if the question be asked, How must one's possessions be used? the Church replies without hesitation in the words of the same holy Doctor (St. Thomas Aquinas): 'Man should not consider his outward possessions as his own, but as common to all, so as to share them without difficulty when others are in need.... Whoever has received from the Divine bounty a large share of blessings, whether they be external and corporal or gifts of the mind, has received them for the purpose of using them for perfecting his own nature, and, at the same time, that he may employ them, as the minister of God's Providence, for the benefit of others. 'He that hath a talent,' says St. Gregory the Great, 'let him see that he hideth not; he that hath abundance, let him arouse himself to mercy and generosity he that hath art and skill, let him do his best to share the use and utility thereof with his neighbor.'"–Leo XIII, "The Condition of Labor," pp. 13, 14.
18. "There is, therefore, a double danger to be avoided. On the one hand, if the social and public aspect of ownership be denied or minimized, the logical consequence is 'Individualism,' as it is called; on the other hand, the rejection or diminution of its private and individual character necessarily leads to some form of 'Collectivism.' "–Pius XI, "Reconstruction of the Social Order," p. 16.
19. "It is true that there is a formal difference between pauperism and proletarianism. Nevertheless, the immense number of propertyless wage- earners on the one hand, and the superabundant riches of the fortunate few on the other, is an unanswerable argument that the earthly goods so abundantly produced in this age of industrialism are far from rightly distributed and equitably shared among the various classes of men."–Pius XI, "Reconstruction of the Social Order," p. 21.
"Among social institutions that touch upon the material well-being of people, postulate high moral qualities, and produce rich social by- products, few, if any, are the equal of private property. Basic to peace, order, and progress is the security of private property. On this account Pope Leo XIII, almost 50 years ago, in his celebrated encyclical, "Rerum Novarum"–"On the Condition of Workingmen"–developed at length arguments in behalf of private property. 'The law, therefore, should favor ownership,' he wrote, 'and its policy should be to induce as many people as possible to become owners.' Many excellent results will follow from such a governmental policy. First of all property will be more equitably divided. Many of the economic and social evils of our day go back to the fact that the distribution of wealth is not more equitable. 'Wealth, therefore, which is constantly augmented by social economic progress, must be so distributed amongst the various individuals and classes of society,' emphasizes Pope Pius XI in his encyclical on the "Reconstruction of the Social Order," 'that the needs of all, of which Leo XIII spoke, be thereby satisfied.'– Muench, Aloisius J., "The Catholic Church and Rural Welfare" in "Catholic Rural Objectives" (Third Series, 1937), p. 17.
20. "The general trend . . . has been toward tenancy, with a lessening ratio of equity in farm real estate held by the farm operator. In brief, farmers are gradually losing ownership of the land.
"The proportion of farms operated by tenants has increased from 35 percent in 1900, 37 percent in 1910, and 38 percent in 1920 to 42 percent in 1930 and in 1935. The percentage of farm land operated under lease has increased from 31 percent in 1900, 33 percent in 1910, and 37 percent in 1920 to 44 percent in 1930 and 45 percent in 1935. The equities of the farm operators of the Nation constituted 54 percent of the value of all farm real estate in 1900, 50 percent in 1910, 46 percent in 1920, 42 percent in 1930, and have presumably decreased even further since 1930.
"The proportion of farms operated by tenants who owned none of the land they farmed ranged in 1935 from 70 percent in Mississippi to 6 percent in Massachusetts. The proportion of farm land under lease to the operator in 1935 ranged from 62 percent in South Dakota to 8 percent in Maine and Massachusetts. The equities of the farm operators in all farm real estate in 1930 ranged from an average of less than 30 percent in the three states, Illinois, Iowa, and South Dakota, to an average of over 70 percent in the three states of Maine, New Hampshire, and West Virginia, with a low of 28 percent in South Dakota and a high of 78 percent in Maine...."– "Miscellaneous Publication," No. 261(U.S.D.A. 1936), pp. 1, 2.
Another way in which the increase of tenancy is shown is the following on a basis of counties: "There were only 180 counties in 1880 wherein as many as half the farms were tenant operated, and practically all these were in the South; but in 1935 such counties totaled 890, and they effectively blanketed the Cotton Belt and much of the more fertile parts of the Corn Belt as well. The number of counties wherein half or more of the land in farms was under lease to the operator was 403 in 1910, 772 in 1925, 1,020 in 1930, and 1,107 in 1935.–Ibid., p. 3.
"The increase in farm tenancy, in both numbers and percentage of all farmers was steady from 1880 to 1930, although at varying rates from decade to decade. The numbers added each decade for this 50-year period were as follows: from 1880 to 1890, 270,392; 1890 to 1900, 730,051; 1900 to 1910, 329,712; 1910 to 1920, 100,128; and 1920 to 1930, 209,561. Between 1930 and 1935, another 200,790 were added making the number of tenant families 2.8 times as many in 1935 as in 1880."–"Disadvantaged Classes in American agriculture," Social Research Report No. VIII (U.S.D.A), pp. 44, 46.
"The existence of almost 3,000,000 tenant families, the members of whose households constitute approximately 13,000,000 farm people, sets a social problem of the first magnitude with which the Nation must wrestle in an intelligent and constructive way, for farm tenancy in many of its aspects is a disadvantaging condition in the lives of those who live and work in that status. The fact that the rate of tenancy has moved up from 25.6 percent in 1880 to 42.1 percent in 1935, and the fact that the number of farm tenant families has almost troubled between 1880 and 1935 clearly indicate that this condition is being aggravated rather than alleviated as time goes on."–Ibid., p. 37.
At its worst, tenancy forces family living standards below levels of decency; develops rural slums; and breeds poverty, illiteracy, and disease. In such circumstances, tenant families live in houses of poor construction, almost universally in need of repair, often without doors and windows, with leaky roofs, and sometimes even without doors. Seldom are these houses equipped with running water, electricity, bathrooms, or indoor toilets. The surroundings are usually unsightly and devoid of beauty. The poorer tenant family's food is simple, lacks in variety, and often lacks some of the essentials of good nutrition. Their clothing, in a great many cases, is inadequate for the mere protection of the body, much less to provide any sense of satisfaction. The incessant movement from farm to farm and from community to community of families living under such conditions constitutes a disintegrating influence upon all social institutions and all forms and types of social participation. Systematic church attendance is impossible, neighborhood relations are constantly disrupted, and the children of tenant parents find their school attendance periodically interrupted."–Ibid., p. 38.
It is possible to conceive a tenancy system which works to the advantage of tenant and owner. A certain amount of tenancy is a normal condition. Where a tenancy system provides for long-term possession with reasonable rents and proper housing, although it is not as satisfactory as ownership, it is not wholly objectionable. Occasionally we have a condition of tenancy which approximates a copartnership between tenant and owner. Tenancy as a step toward ownership is not objectionable. But tenancy, in the United States, generally speaking, is away from ownership. It frequently follows on the loss of ownership. It usually is conditioned by short-term and insecure possession and lack of cooperation between owner and tenant.
21. Parish, cooperative, and community organizations are greatly hampered by a mobile tenant population which cannot be expected to take the necessary interest in a community where their residence is insecure and often only for a short period.
22. European countries that have made rapid strides in solving their tenancy problems are Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland. In each case the government has given some assistance.
23. Cf. "The Report of the President's Tenancy Committee" (Government Printing Office, Washington, D. C.). On the basis of this report the 75th Congress of the United States passed the Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act, approved July 22, 1937. The Act has four main subdivisions: Title I, dealing with loans for the buying of land; Title II, with rehabilitation loans and farm debt adjustment; Title III, with the retirement of submarginal land; Title IV, with certain administrative provisions. A popular summary of the Act is found in "Our Rural Proletariat," No. II Social Action Series (National Catholic Welfare Conference).
Cf., "Report and Recommendations of the Farm Tenancy Committee," a special committee of the Iowa State Planning Board. The findings of this committee indicate the extent to which the evil of tenancy has spread in the most fertile farming districts of America. The committee recommends definite legislative measures to improve tenancy conditions. Included in these recommendations are provisions for the improvement of tenant contracts.
24. Cf. MANIFESTO, Chapter XIII, on "Farmer Cooperatives." There is little or no real justification for the disgraceful tenancy situation of the United States. Considering our relatively small population and our normal needs there is certainly no scarcity of land. Indeed, the United States is blessed with an abundance of good, fertile soil. Land in farms amounted in 1935 to 1,055,180,009 acres. Of this, about 360,000,000 acres are normally under cultivation. Over against this abundant supply of land is a population of approximately 130,000,000, now not far from stationary.–Cf. "The Farmer Looks ahead," Farmers' Bulletin No. 1774 (U.S.D.A.), p. 7.
Dr. O. E. Baker sees a major hazard to farm ownership in the United States arising out of the transfer of wealth produced by the farm population from the country to the city. He writes as follows: "Moreover, as the more ambitious and better educated rural youth migrate to the cities and embark on professional or business careers, the wealth of the farm population tends to concentrate in the cities. If it costs $2,000 to $2,500 (at pre- depression prices) to rear and educate the average child on American farms to the age of 15, when he may be assumed to be self-supporting–and $150 a year does not seem an excessive estimate of the cost of food, clothing, medical services, education and all the incidental expenses–then the 6,300,000 net migration from the farms of the nation during the decade 1920-1929 represents a contribution of about $14,000,000,000. This contribution is almost equal to the value of the wheat crops plus half that of the cotton crops during these years.
"Nor is this all. When the farmer and his wife grow old and die, the estate is divided among the children. During the decade 1920-1929 about one-fifth of the farmers and their wives died, and their estates were distributed among the children. Nearly half of the children had moved to town, and many of those children who remained on the farms had to mortgage these farms to pay the brothers and sisters who lived in the cities their share of the estate. A rough estimate indicates that between $3,000,000,000 and $4,000,000,000 was drained from the farms to the cities and villages during the decade 1920-1929 incident to the settlement of estates.
"Although it is not intended to draw up a balance sheet of rural-urban contributions, it is worthy of note, in passing, that there are great movements of farm wealth to the cities in addition to those incident to migration. Interest on debt paid to persons other than farm operators amounted to about $7,500,000,000 during the decade 1920-1929, and rent paid to persons other than farm operators amounted to about $10,500,000,000. These payments are of a different character from the movement of wealth incident to migration, but there can be but little doubt that portions of these payments were for the use of capital that had been previously transferred to the cities as a consequence of migration.
"The only adequate solution I can see to this problem of farm tenancy is the transmission of the farm from father to son by inheritance. This involves a change in the attitude of many rural youth towards farming, a change in opinion as to things worth while, a different philosophy of life."–Baker, O. E., "Will More or Fewer People Live on the Land" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives" (Second Series, 1936), p. 66.
In many areas the wrong use of the soil is a major cause of the low economic status of farming groups and their consequent loss of ownership. Farmers sometimes persist in pursuing a type of farming which scientific studies have shown to be unprofitable in the long run. To cite an example, the findings of the agricultural experts have been ignored by farming groups in the Great Plains area. Owing to insufficiency of moisture this area, while suitable for grazing, has been found unsuitable for grain farming. Despite the recommendations made after scientific study, the farming group persists in making wheat their major crop. The Federal Government continues to make seed loans for this purpose, thus encouraging a type of farming that cannot be made profitable.
26. With large groups engaged in commercialized farming, overproduction is inevitable. The extended and large-scale use of power machinery results in increased production with a minimum of labor. This implies a constantly diminishing number of workers and a constantly diminishing number of families on the farm. In the days when the horse was the chief source of power both in the country and in the city, the farm supplied both the country and the city with power. Now the country buys its power from the city, and the farmer has found no other source of income to replace that which he once derived from the sale of power to the city.
With the mechanization of power, oat fields have been converted into wheat fields and other cash-crop fields, another factor in bringing about overproduction and consequent low prices for the things the farmer must sell. The family-size farm with its horses and oat fields would tend to lessen the economic unbalance. People settled on family-size farms would rear families, which would tend to absorb agricultural surpluses as well as the surpluses of the factory.
Cf. Rev. John Rawe, S.J., "Mechanical Technology on the Land" in "The Catholic Rural Life Bulletin," May, 1939.
"The implications contained in the conclusion that a civilization based primarily on an industrial and commercial system in which the individual is the economic unit is doomed to a declining population, strike deep and extend far.... The message I wish to leave with you is that the restoration of the family as the fundamental institution of society, the development of an economic system which does not penalize parenthood, the establishment of a social code which approves the self-sacrifice of parents for the sake of children, and the revival of emphasis on the duty of the individual to promote the welfare of the nation and the race, are, in my opinion, essential to the preservation of any civilization. If the American people continue in the way they are going, they are likely to bring upon the nation the fate which descended on ancient Rome."–Baker, O. E., "The Church and Rural Youth" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives" (First Series, 1935), pp. 17, 19.
27. Continued relief degrades those who receive it. The borrowing of large sums to meet the needs of relief clients upsets the economic balance and cannot be continued indefinitely. Both the social and the economic well- being of the nation require that relief funds, as far as possible, be used to place people in a position to help themselves. Industry will never again be able to absorb the man power of the cities. The relief rolls can be reduced permanently and wholesome living conditions can be assured by shifting a portion of our urban population to the land.
"There is no doubting the fact that overcrowded industrial cities must be decentralized; they are incubators of disease, poverty and immorality unspeakable. The sooner the crowding is relieved the sooner will a sane, normal mode of life come to those enjoying the change; the sooner too will the Communist bogey vanish. A list of the large industrial centers will give you a list of the Communistic hotbeds. It cannot be otherwise in a rankly capitalistic society, for Communism is the natural offspring of capitalistic industrialism.... If anyone has a solution for avoiding these extremes, more convincingly workable than this back-to-the-land movement, he has not been energetic in forwarding it."–Fichter, J. H., "A Comparative View of Agrarianism" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives" (Second Series, 1936), p. 113.
28. In 1935 Dr. O. E. Baker, Senior Agricultural Economist, Bureau Agricultural Economics, U. S. Department of Agriculture, stated that (op. cit., p. 25) "More than 2,000,000 youths are backed up on farms who would have migrated to the city under pre-depression conditions."
29. "The equilibrium between city population and rural population is a decisive presupposition for a healthy economic and social system–but trade unionism everywhere has not concerned itself with these questions. Why is it, that such viewpoints have escaped and still escape trade unionism although the depression should have forced them upon the unions? Two causes among many may be named: first, the fact that trade unions look foremost to wages and hours and at the price level; and second, they represent mostly the urban sector of labor. And we know that the urbanized mind and certainly the urbanized mass-mind is closed to any 'backward' trend."– Briefs, Goetz, "The Back to the Land Idea" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives"(Third Series, 1937), p. 95 .
30. Dr. Edgar Schmiedeler discusses three possibilities for part-time farming:
"One, people can live on small acreages or in villages, even though their work is in the city. Two, they can live on farms or in villages and devote part of their time to farming and part of it to rural industries. Third, they can live on farms and devote part of their time to commercial farming and part of it to home industry. In every case, whether engaged in urban, country, town or home industry, these people would be living in the country, they would not be cooped up in those modern whirlpools of destruction–our gigantic industrial cities. They would be enjoying, at least in considerable measure, the advantages of a rural mode of living."– Quoted in Johnson, George, "The Professional Preparation of Teachers for Catholic Rural Schools" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives" (First Series, 1935), p. 55.
"In the large cities it is becoming more and more difficult, apparently, to find a place to rear the child, and more and more difficult for the old to find employment. Any economic system which prevents the reproduction of the race will pass away.
"I am hopeful that part-time farming may preserve enough of the economic and social attributes of the rural family to maintain population stationary after such a mode of life is characteristic of a large portion of the people of the nation. But this is by no means assured. If a system of part- time farming, associated with industrial and commercial employment, does not accomplish this essential objective, it will be slowly replaced, I believe, by an agricultural civilization; in which, however, many industries will be carried on within the home, as they were a century ago."–Baker, O. E., Op. Cit., p. 19.
The Granger Homesteads project at Granger, Iowa, developed under the leadership of Rt. Rev. Luigi G. Ligutti, reveals the possibilities of similar projects under Catholic leadership. The following brief description of the project is found in government literature:
"The Granger Homesteads were constructed to provide 50 miners' families with modern homes at low cost, complete with large tracts of land and facilities to permit these families to raise and produce much of their food requirement, thus enabling them to raise the standards of living. Granger, located in the heart of the coal mining area in central Iowa, was chosen as the project site to demonstrate the effectiveness of the subsistence homesteads plan as adapted to the need of part-time workers. There are seven mines within seven miles of the project and nearly all of the occupants are employed in the mining industry. The industry in this area is characterized by seasonal employment and the period of inactivity, from April to September, coincided with the growing season, thus giving project occupants an opportunity to devote much of their time to the production of the subsistence gardens.
"A tract of 224 acres of rolling, well-drained land whose soil is suitable to the production of common garden vegetables was selected as the project site. The soil varies from fine sand loam to silty clay and gravel. Possible crops include corn, grains, hay, berries, and truck garden produce. Individual wells and pressure pumps supply water. Sewage disposal is provided by individual septic tanks. Electricity is provided through the power lines of a private utility, and telephone service is available to individual subscribers. A system of county roads connects the homesites with each other and with adjacent highways.
"The 50 homesteaders now in occupancy on the project represent the type whom the sponsors of Granger Homesteads had in mind when the project was planned. They are all normal families and there are no one-person families in residence. The husband-wife-child family predominates. The male head of each family was the chief wage earner and was gainfully employed at the time of application. There are 39 bituminous coal miners on the project together with 2 office workers employed in the mining industries. The remaining homesteaders have varied occupations. The average annual income of these families at the time of selection was $908. In spite of the severe drought of last summer, these families were able, through the subsistence gardening, to increase their annual incomes by $69 per household all the selected families had had previous farming or gardening experience."
For further information on the Granger Homesteads, cf. "Thesis" by Rev. Raymond Duggan, Ph.D., "A Federal Resettlement Project at Granger, Iowa," School of Social Work, Catholic University.
On the rural homestead projects of Nova Scotia, Bertram B. Fowler, in "The Lord Helps Those," p. 162, states:
"The important angle of the housing co-operatives in the mining districts lies in the acre that will surround each house. As they build co- operatively these men will become less and less at the mercy of seasonal layoffs. Taking part of their substance from the land they will in time find it unnecessary to work twelve months a year in the mines and mills."
31. For the administration's survey of its homestead projects, cf. "Report of Administrator of Farm Security ,Administration" (1938), pp. 15-18.
Government resettlement projects in the United States have been costly experiments. They can hardly be rated successful, especially if their cost be considered. They can be justified only as laboratory experiments. If settlement projects are to succeed, there must be a larger measure of local autonomy and local responsibility in formulating and in carrying out the plans.
The people of the United States could learn much from the successful housing projects now under way in Nova Scotia under the direction of the Extension Department of St. Francis Xavier University. The plans for these projects enable low-income groups to build modern houses which cost, plus their labor, $1,650 per unit. The houses are cooperatively built through the labor of the members of the cooperative and through loans from the Nova Scotia government. The government loans up to 75 per cent of the value of the building, and amortization plans for retirement of the debt are arranged with provision for payments of $12 per month. Complete local autonomy is preserved. With $100 in cash and through his own labor, an individual member of the cooperative may be able to provide himself with a home of his own. A program of education lasting for six months precedes construction work. The story of the project is told in the issues of the "Extension Bulletin" published at Antigonish, Nova Scotia.
Cf. Ralph Borsodi, "Flight from the City" (Harper & Bros.), Chap. V, on the unit plan of construction.
32. The racially homogeneous Catholic settlements of pioneer days were most successful. Dr. Edgar Schmiedeler has described a number of them in, "A Better Rural Life" (Joseph F. Wagner, Inc.). Racial homogeneity at the present time, except in isolated instances, is of relative importance for the success of a settlement, but oneness in religion is exceedingly important.
33. Without a suitable educational program a settlement program is doomed to failure from the start. For lack of such a program, past attempts at colonization have failed. With certain groups, years of patient effort will be necessary and much paternalistic direction. On the proposed rehomesteading of certain groups in the cotton belt, Dr. F. P. Kenkel writes:
"If the Southern tenants, and particularly the croppers, are so ignorant, backward, inefficient, and lacking in initiative, as the promoters even of their cause admit them to be, their regeneration cannot be accomplished except by a long protracted process of spiritual, moral, intellectual, and economic training. Grant every share-cropper in the South a plot of ground, a well-built cottage, the necessary livestock and tools, and in the course of not so many years the experiment will have proven a failure."–Kenkel, F. P., "The Economic Disfranchisement of the ShareCropper" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives" (Second Series, 1936), p. 97.
The project undertaken by Rev. F. McGoey of King City, Ontario, is an example of a Catholic project for settling the underprivileged of a city on the land. The project received the voluntary support of the citizens of Toronto, who recognized in it a means of reducing the cost of relief as well as a means of preventing permanent pauperism.–Cf. "Rural Catholic Action: Diocesan Directors' Series 1," Rural Life Bulletin, N.C.W.C., Washington, D. C.
36. If plant and factory owners were to assist their employees in acquiring their own homes with small acreages, there would be less interference on the part of government and fewer labor disputes.
38. "Education is essentially a social and not a mere individual activity. Now there are three necessary societies, distinct from one another and yet harmoniously combined by God, into which man is born: two, namely, the family and civil society, belong to the natural order; the third, the Church, to the supernatural order.
"In the first place comes the family, instituted directly by God for its peculiar purpose, the generation and formation of offspring; for this reason it has priority of nature and therefore of rights over civil society. Nevertheless, the family is an imperfect society, since it has not in itself all the means for its own complete development; whereas civil society is a perfect society having in itself all the means for its peculiar end, which is the temporal well-being of the community; and so, in this respect, that is, in view of the common good, it has preeminence over the family, which finds its own suitable temporal perfection precisely in civil society.
"The third society, into which man is born when through Baptism he reaches the divine life of grace, is the Church; a society of the supernatural order and of universal extent; a perfect society, because it has in itself all the means required for its own end, which is the eternal salvation of mankind; hence, it is supreme in its own domain.
"Consequently, education which is concerned with man as a whole, individually and socially, in the order of nature and in the order of grace, necessarily belongs to all these three societies in due proportion, corresponding according to the dispositions of Divine Providence, to the coordination of their respective ends–Pius XI, "The Christian Education of Youth," p. 6.
39. "In the first place it pertains to the State, in view of the common good, to promote in various ways the education and instruction of youth. It should begin by encouraging and assisting, of its own accord, the initiative and activity of the Church and the family, whose successes in this field have been clearly demonstrated by history and experience. It should, moreover, supplement their work whenever this falls short of what is necessary, even by means of its own schools and institutions. For the State more than any other society is provided with the means put at its disposal for the needs of all, and it is only right that it use these means to the advantage of those who have contributed them."–Ibid., p. 17.
"It also belongs to the State to protect the rights of the child itself when the parents are found wanting either physically or morally in this respect, whether by default, incapacity, or misconduct, since, as has been shown, their right to educate is not an absolute and despotic one, but dependent on the natural and divine law, and therefore subject alike to the authority and jurisdiction of the Church, and to the vigilance and administrative care of the State in view of the common good."–Ibid., p. 17.
Nothing can ever replace the home in the teaching of religion to children. The function of the Catholic school is to aid and supplement the home in the teaching of religion. In the sacrament of matrimony husband and wife receive a special grace to assist them in the proper rearing of their children. The most important phase of Catholic Action is the instructing of parents how to teach religion to their own children. With this thought in mind the leaders in the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine are developing a literature for the education of parents. Most valuable material for the guidance of parents in teaching their children religion is found in the "Parent-Educator."
40. The decision of the United States Supreme Court in the "Oregon School Case" safeguards the natural and inalienable right of parents in respect to the education of their own children and right of parents to send their children to a private school of their choice. This decision reads: "The fundamental theory of liberty upon which all governments in this Union repose excludes any general power of the State to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only. The child is not the mere creature of the State those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty to recognize and prepare him for additional obligation."–"Supreme Court of the United States," October term, 1924, Nos. 583 and 584.
"And let no one say that in a nation where there are different religious beliefs, it is impossible to provide for public instruction otherwise than by neutral or mixed schools. In such a case it becomes the duty of the State, indeed it is the easier and more reasonable method of procedure, to leave free scope to the initiative of the Church and the family, while giving them such assistance as justice demands. That this can be done to the full satisfaction of families, and to the advantage of education and of public peace and tranquillity, is clear from the actual experience of some countries comprising different religious denominations. There the school legislation respects the rights of the family, and Catholics are free to follow their own system of teaching in schools that are entirely Catholic. Nor is distributive justice lost sight of, as is evidenced by the financial aid granted by the State to the several schools demanded by the families."- -Pius XI, "The Christian Education of Youth," p. 31.
In colonial days religion had its proper place in the classroom of the primary and the secondary school and later even of the university. The divorce of religion from education is a rather recent experiment, adopted to meet the situation arising from divergent ideas about religion. The attempt to remain neutral on religion has not proved a success. It paves the way for the dominance of an irreligious philosophy in the field of education.
The development can hardly be pleasing to anyone who believes in God. It would have been better for the United States had our American system of education developed after the manner of the systems which obtain in England, in Holland, and in certain Canadian provinces–countries as democratic as our own–where provisions exist for the tax support of private schools on the basis of services rendered. It would be just and in keeping with wise public policy for the State to pay private schools, conducted by various religious groups, on a per-capita basis for services rendered in the education of its citizens. Incidentally, such a policy would effect a great saving to taxpayers inasmuch as the cost of education in many of our private religious schools is one fourth to one third the cost of education in the public school. Constitutional provisions prevent the acceptance of such a policy, but constitutions can be changed. The time seems opportune to educate the American public to the justice and the wisdom of such a policy, and the folly of our attempt at purely secular education.
Upwards of two million pupils are receiving their education in the Catholic schools of the nation without any expense to the taxpayer. It is unjust that the Catholics of the nation should be compelled to bear this heavy burden for reasons of conscience and in order that their children might have religion.
The United States Constitution and the constitutions of several states do not exclude the children of the private school from participation in the direct aid to parents provided at times out of tax money for the education of children, such as free transportation. This aid can be secured by proper legal enactments. The possibility of indirect aid to our schools through assistance given to parents should be further studied.–On these possibilities, cf. Johnson, George, "The Federal Government and Education for Rural Life" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives" (Third Series, 1937), p. 27.
41. "From such priority of rights on the part of the Church and of the family in the field of education, most important advantages, as we have seen, accrue to the whole of society. More over in accordance with the divinely established order of things, no damage can follow from it to the true and just rights of the State in regard to the education of its citizens.
"These rights have been conferred upon civil society by the Author of nature Himself, not by title of fatherhood, as in the case of the Church and of the family, but in virtue of the authority which it possesses to promote the common temporal welfare, which is precisely the purpose of its existence. Consequently education cannot pertain to civil society in the same way in which it pertains to the Church and to the family, but in a different way corresponding to its own particular end and object.
"Now this end and object, the common welfare in the temporal order, consists in that peace and security in which families and individual citizens have the free exercise of their rights, and at the same time enjoy the greatest spiritual and temporal prosperity possible in this life, by the mutual union and coordination of the work of all. The function therefore of the civil authority residing in the State is twofold, to protect and to foster, but by no means to absorb the family and the individual, or to substitute itself for them.
"Accordingly in the matter of education, it is the right, or to speak more correctly, it is the duty of the State to protect in its legislation, the prior rights, already described, of the family as regards the Christian education of its offspring, and consequently also to respect the supernatural rights of the Church in this same realm of Christian education."–Pius XI, "The Christian Education of Youth," p. 16.
44. Canon 711 orders the erection of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine in every parish.
"The religious vacation school is not in any sense a substitute for a parish school. But to a parish without a parish school it is like a spring in a desert land where there has been no way and no water."–O'Hara, Edwin V., "The Church and the Country Community," p. 61.
The Sisters of Service are carrying on a very effective program of correspondence instruction for the children of scattered rural Catholic families in Western Canada. Rt. Rev. Victor Day, V.G., Helena, Montana, is the author of a correspondence course or religious instruction.
Cf. O'Hara, Edwin V., "Religious Vacation Schools and the Diocesan Superintendent of Schools," "Proceedings of the National Catholic Educational Association" (1930); and by same author, "The Church and the Rural Community," Chap. IX; cf. also Schmiedeler, E., "A Better Rural Life," Chap. III.
45. Cf. Schmiedeler, E., op. cit., PP. 12, 47.
46. "Catholic educators should take into full account the difference between the city and the country in formulating the program of studies. While the large objectives of Catholic education are the same in all schools, the means of attaining them will vary according to the conditions of the locality. There is a vast divergence between the city and the country in educational resources, in materials of instruction and in the pupils' background of experience. Likewise, there is a big difference in the conditions of the community and in the needs of the children It is an accepted principle that education should be adapted to the conditions, needs and capacities of the pupils. Why then should diocesan authorities or religious communities in their zeal to enrich courses of study and raise standards of achievement endeavor to enforce uniformity over a diocese or a province and try to inflict on rural children a program of instruction which in every case is designed to meet the needs of city life?"–Ostdiek, Joseph, "The Rural Parish School Program" in "Rural Life Bulletin" (May, 1938), p. 25.
"Conference thought in the field of Agriculture has led it to give mature consideration to the problem of the rural grade and high schools–both public and parochial. On the side of the curriculum there is need of a readjustment to suit the needs of rural youth, to introduce an agricultural note into the daily school programs, to the end that agriculture may again be accorded the popular respect it deserves and formerly enjoyed. Unfortunately too many rural schools have had a definitely urban turn, textbooks and books of reference have been largely dominated by the industrial note, and too often the rural school children have been made to experience an unwarranted sense of inferiority of rural life as against the life of city populations. To counteract these serious defects there is also a definite need of introducing courses in the private and State normal schools that will have for their direct purpose the formation of teachers properly equipped in intellect and sympathies to serve the rural population in grade and high schools which dot the rural landscape."–Mulloy, Wm. T., "Presidential Address" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives" (Third Series, 1937), p. 148.
"For a number of years now, the occupation, the vocation, the profession of land cultivation has been without its proper educational safeguards in the fields of religion, sociology and economics. Farming or country living, as this Conference understands it, has for a prolonged period been without educational facilities devoted to its maintenance. Our family farm system is in the deplorable position that engineering would be in today, if there had been no engineering schools for the last fifty years."–Rawe, C. J., "Catholic Rural Social Planning" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives" (Third Series, 1937), p. 75.
Pointing out, then, that the philosophy and principles of the State agricultural schools are not Catholic philosophy or principles, Father Rawe discusses the need for a Catholic "agrarian cooperative school." He goes on to say that:
"There is a greater national need for such a Catholic School of Agricultural Economics and rural sociology than there is for a Catholic school of engineering, of business administration, of commerce or any of the trades."–Ibid., p. 76.
47. "The rural school curriculum should embrace all the essential features or subjects of the city schools plus other subjects and experiences which are needed in preparation for life in the country."–Pitt, F. N., "Youth Problems in Rural Areas" "Catholic Rural Life Objectives" (Third Series, 1937), p. 58.
". . . it is the proper specific function of the rural school to give the pupils an adequate understanding of country life, to create the proper attitude or outlook, to foster a spirit of intelligent and voluntary cooperation, to build up community activities and to train in the necessary formal, social and vocational subjects. This is a big assignment for the school, but it is essential to the welfare and progress of the people on our countrysides.–Ostdiek, Joseph, loc. cit., p. 12.
48. For a brief description of U. S. Extension Service, cf. Schmiedeler's "A Better Rural Life," pp. 105-111.
Dr. Chris Christensen, Dean of the School of Agriculture of the University of Wisconsin, reports on the new development of their Farm Short Course in the following words: "This revitalized Farm Short Course is in fact a farm folk school. It truly provides a broad cultural as well as practical training for farming, rural organization, and rural citizenship. Its curriculum, or course of study, is built around the social and cultural needs, as well as upon the vocational interests, of young men. In addition to practical training in production, emphasis is placed upon work in the economics of distribution, cooperation, marketing and consumption. Time and space in the curriculum is found for rural politics, rural sociology, discussion and public speaking. Courses in dramatics, music appreciation, art and literature help to provide for the cultural side."–"The Place of Youth in Agriculture" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives" (Second Series, 1936), p. 25.
A similar Folk School Plan is developing under Dean H. L. Walster, North Dakota State Agriculture College, Fargo.
49. "Denmark has showed the way in the development of rural civilization. The folk-schools for adults in that country operate during seasons when the farmers can take advantage of the courses offered. These schools do not specialize in agriculture. They are for the farmers but have for their object the development of his capacity to grasp general ideas. That, we repeat, is the cultural need of rural society, without which it will forever be impossible to keep intelligent and capable boys and girls on the farm."–O'Hara, Edwin V., "The Church and the Country Community" (The Macmillan Co.), p. 54.
50. "Certainly the schools should instill in the minds of the rural youth an interest in the country, give them a knowledge of rural problems and prepare them to take their part in building up a strong rural community. To achieve this the rural high-school teacher must be trained particularly for his work. He must know and love the country, and he must have a clear understanding of rural problems together with the attempted solution. The problem here is one of properly trained teachers and an adequately arranged curriculum."–Pitt, F. N., "Youth Problems in Rural Areas" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives" (Third Series, 1937), p. 59.
"Rural educators feel that the country parish schools are entitled to teachers who are not so much more prepared as differently prepared and better adapted to their job. They challenge the fitness of a teacher for any position in any school who has failed to acquire a full understanding of our complete national life, rural as well as urban, agricultural as well as industrial They challenge the fitness of a teacher for a position in a rural school who has failed to grasp the importance of the land foundations to the nation and to the Church; who has failed to discover the rich assets of the rural environment and neglected to learn the interests and needs of country children."–Ostdiek, Joseph, "The Rural Parish School Program" in "Rural Life Bulletin" (May, 1938), pp. 26, 27.
Cf. Winslow, W. T., "Youth: A World Problem." Winslow, Administrative Assistant, National Youth Administration, Washington, D. C. This publication of 138 pages, referred to as "A Study in World Perspective of Youth Conditions, Movements and Programs," covers 101 countries.
"Organize Youth ever more widely on that foundation of that piety and wisdom which is proper to you, and above all in exemplifying and applying the truths of the Gospel to the social life of the day. The security of our Catholic youth in their Christian life is a thorough knowledge of the teaching of our Holy Church, the guardian and expositor of the revealed truth of God. To give to our youth, particularly to the girls and young women of our day, a knowledge, a love, of Catholic truth and a determination to carry it out both in personal life and as members of Catholic organizations, is really a great crusade to which you may lend all the resources at your command."–Cicognani, A. G., Apostolic Delegate to the United States.
Organized Catholic effort in behalf of youth was strongly urged in a decree of the Holy Office issued in Rome on November 5, 1920, which read in part as follows: "The Holy Office calls the attention of Ordinaries of places to the fact that certain associations of non-Catholics are doing great harm to Catholic youth by drawing them away from the faith under the pretext of affording them opportunities for physical culture and education. The inexperienced can easily be deceived by the fact that these associations have the financial and moral support of very respectable citizens, and do very effective work in various fields of beneficence. Their real nature, however, is no longer doubtful, as it has been openly declared in the magazines which are their organs. They aim, as they say, to cultivate the characters and improve the morals of youth. This culture which is their religion, they define as 'perfect freedom of thought, dissociated from the control of any religious creed.'"
The decree continues:
"These youths . . . who are endangered are first shaken in their traditional faith . . . injury occurs in the case of those whose home training in religion has been wanting through negligence or ignorance."
After pointing out that certain associations attack the faith of youth under the pretense of purifying it and of giving youth a better knowledge of the true way of life "above all churches and apart from any religious creed," the Sacred Congregation asks all Ordinaries "to guard young people carefully from the contagion of these societies.... To warn the unwary and confirm those who are faltering in faith; build up strongly in the spirit of Christ such societies as you have among you; cultivate others of the same kind; call upon the wealthy of our faith to help, so that they may have the means to combat the enemy. At the same time exhort pastors and those who have charge of organizations of youth to do their duty vigorously and especially by the publication of books and pamphlets to check the errors that are being broadcast, to expose the wiles and deceits of the enemy, and to come to the assistance of those who are looking for the truth."–Cf. Bouscaren, "Canon Law Digest," Vol. 1, p. 607.
55. "The Church therefore is the educational environment most intimately and harmoniously associated with the Christian family.
"This educational environment of the Church . . . includes the great number and variety of schools, associations and institutions of all kinds, established for the training of youth in Christian piety, together with literature and the sciences, not omitting recreation and physical culture."–Pius XI, "Christian Education of Youth," p. 29.
"The solution (as suggested before) is parish and community centers together with good schools, a strong deep faith, a virile parish life and in particular true Catholic homes where God is the center, where night and morning prayers are said in common."–Pitt, F. N., "Youth Problems in Rural Areas" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives" (Third Series, 1937), p. 59.
58. "There are other youth organizations in charge of selfish leaders 'who leave no stone unturned in order to inoculate youth with a social, political, and economic philosophy which teaching, to say the least, is detrimental to the best interests of both State and Church.... Into these, undoubtedly, Catholic youth is being inveigled and the question is whether this should be permitted or a Catholic substitute offered."'–Treacy, J. P. (Quoting Rev. Vincent Mooney, C.S.C.), "Will Youth Be Served?" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives" (Third Series, 1937), p. 103.
"If there are no wholesome activities to fill up leisure hours, if there are no proper amusements, then boredom may create serious problems."–Pitt, F. N., "Youth Problems in Rural Areas" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives" (Third Series, 1937), p. 59.
"That there is definite need for an organized youth program under Catholic auspices at this time, none can deny. Neither can we ignore the challenge by refusing to participate in the development of this project. It is a magnificent chance to translate Catholic Action into Action, and no greater opportunity for service has ever come to us. We need but glance around us to learn that youth is being organized for every phase of activity. Various forces, many of which are obviously detrimental to faith and morals, are very active along these lines, and in many fields youth associations are multiplying rapidly. If we do not organize Catholic youth under the protecting arm of the Church, then other agencies will do it for us. Witness the tragedies following in the wake of Communism. Sordid literature, vicious amusements, countless counter-attractions, irresponsible leaders–these continually beckon to youth and consequently, self preservation requires more concerted action on our part. The C.Y.O. is a practical answer to this difficult question."–"C.Y.O. Manual," Diocese of Fort Wayne, Indiana.
59. "A rural youth program should be a part of a general rural program. It should be but one aspect of a comprehensive program to bring to farm life the many blessings which can and should characterize the agricultural mode of living. We cannot hope to instill in youth a permanent love for rural life if over forty per cent of our farmers are to be tenants; or if farm incomes are to be such that reasonable standards of living are impossible, even during so-called normal times; or if farmers are to be discriminated against in such matters as taxes, marketing, credit, and legislative protection. Every step toward improving the lives of adults is a step toward improving the lives of youth. Every social and economic evil surrounding the fathers and mothers of rural youth is an obstacle in the way of a successful youth program. That is why I consider every element of the Catholic Rural Life Conference enterprise of vital importance to a rural youth program. You take care of fathers and mothers, and our youth work will be comparatively easy....
"A rural youth program should meet the needs of all rural youth. It should not be for boys only, or for girls only; it should be for boys and girls. It should not be for the younger youth only, or for the older youth only; it should be for younger youth and older youth. It should not aim primarily to attract youth with athletic interests, or with social interests, or with cultural and recreational interests, or with guidance interests; a rural youth program should be as broad in its activities as are the interests and needs of youth. Every boy and girl should be able to find something of interest and profit....
"A rural youth program should be a rural program, and not an urban program. By this I mean that the nature of rural facilities, of rural needs, of rural people, and of rural living should be considered in planning the activities. It is true that rural urban differences are becoming less and less pronounced, largely because of modern transportation and communication. But there are still significant differences.
"The home is ordinarily more important to a rural youth than to an urban youth. More can be done to help youth through rural homes than through urban homes. (One is lucky to find members of many urban families at home long enough to influence them.) Incidentally, this is a point in favor of 4-H work; it draws boys and girls to the home; and not away from it. The rural home is such an important unit to the rural youth that many individual activities can and should be carried on there, which is one answer to the problem of distances in carrying on rural programs."–Treacy, John P., "Will Youth Be Served?" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives "(Third Series, 1937), pp. 105-107.
60. "4-H Clubs may be organized on a parochial basis. In fact, from the early days of the 4-H movement a number of parishes have had Clubs. In certain sections these parish groups are fairly numerous today. In not a few of them pastors, and in some instances even the teaching Sisters, take a definite and practical interest in them. During 1937 several Directors of Diocesan Rural Life Bureaus, with the approval of their respective Ordinaries, recommended the organization of clubs for all the rural parishes of their dioceses, and took steps to aid in their establishment. Such organization on a diocesan scale bids well to grow rapidly in the near future. This fact, among others, would seem to make it advisable at this time that a special Catholic investiture ceremony be devised, and that it be made use of in the case of Catholic candidates The colors and pins, for instance, might be blessed and presented at a religious ceremony."– Schmiedeler, E., "A Better Rural Life" (Joseph F. Wagner, Inc., 1938), pp. 127f.
"The 4-H Clubs offer a most comprehensive program for rural youth. Recreational, educational, vocational and cultural features aim to help youth to acquaint themselves with the modern problems of rural living; . . .
"Such a program, however, must needs be spiritually motivated. An appreciation of the home, home surroundings and interests, and an evaluation of parish and community life must be developed if the 4-H Clubs program is to nurture youth's complete life. Religious practices, spiritual values, and supernatural aims must be inculcated; habits along these lines must be established."–"Catholicizing the 4-H Clubs" (Study Project No. 7), Foreword (The Queen's Work).
The Future Farmers of America is another youth organization adapted to inspire rural youth with an appreciation of life on the land and to impart to rural youth practical education in rural living.
"A strong and successful Catholic Youth Organization in Europe and Canada is the "La Jeunesse Ouuriere Chretienne," popularly known as the J.O.C. or Jociste. In France there is a special branch for rural youth. This is known as the J.A.C. or Jaciste.... The Jeunesse Ouvriere Chretienne (J.O.C.) or Jocist Movement in foreign countries is a very commendable example of what can be done in the line of Catholic study clubs. These groups which are organized for the working class of Catholic Youth between the ages of 16 and 21 meet weekly at various private homes for their discussions and social activities. The single club is rather small in size in order to safeguard the essential element of individual participation in discussions which under the guidance of a priest center around current social problems and their relationship to Catholic thought. The Jocist organization, which is international in scope, publishes a paper and a magazine."–"Report, Twentieth Annual Franciscan Educational Conference," p. 113.
61. For the unification of Catholic youth work the establishment of a National Catholic Youth Council is under consideration by the hierarchy. This will be under the supervision of the Episcopal Committee on Youth. Diocesan Youth Councils, or their equivalent, under other names, are being rapidly established throughout the country. The parish is accepted as the basic unit. Then follow interparish tie-ups on a city-wide, district, or deanery basis. With such an official and nation-wide organization Catholic Youth can present a united front and become a vital force in Catholic Action. It can also safeguard the Church's interest on a national scale insofar as issues, programs, and policies centering about youth are concerned.
62. Culture is a word difficult to define. In fact, there is no universal agreement on what constitutes culture. The word connotes different things to different minds. The word "culture" as used in this text designates the result of the harmonious development of man's moral, intellectual, and esthetic faculties. The ideal of culture is a synthesis of the gentleman, artist, scholar, and saint. It needs hardly to be explained that the word "gentleman" as used here is not to be understood in its derived sense, connoting refined taste in respect to dress, possession of the lighter graces, and acquaintance with the meticulous forms of etiquette. However valuable those accomplishments may be, they do not identify the gentleman in the sense in which it is here used. The word is to be understood in its primary sense.
On its esthetic side culture is not limited to an appreciation of the fine arts nor to the ability to execute them. A rural group may have culture without acquaintance with either Shakespeare or Browning and without knowledge of the special difference between the art of Raphael and the paintings of the Georgian school. Culture may well find its chief expression in the popular arts. Tolstoi explains the distinction in the following words "The fine arts represent only an insignificant part of the real art with which we transmit our inner experience to or receive it from others. The whole human existence is full of art objects beginning with lullabies, dances, mimic intonations, and ending with religious services and public ceremonies."–Qu'est-ce que l'Art (Paris, 1903), p. 60.
Culture cannot be superimposed on a group. It must grow out of the life of the rural community. It will be deeply rooted in their modes of thinking and in their philosophy of living.
Culture implies a right appraisal of values and an appreciation of both material and spiritual good. Culture is best expressed in its creative aspect. Rural Catholic culture will find expression in refined manners; in artistic homes and neat farmsteads, equipped with modern conveniences and devices that eliminate drudgery; in music, art, and literature; in folk drama; in the liturgy and in church chant; in artistic church architecture; and above all in virtuous living. On rural church architecture, the noted architect, Dr. Ralph Adams Cram, makes the following observation:
"There is no gainsaying the fact that the average Catholic church in industrial centers, mining areas and the farming country is ugly and arid in its architecture.... It costs no more to build a good church than a bad one; less, in fact, for the trouble with many architects, and especially with the large class of pseudo-architects, is that they do not know how to stop when they get through. Good architecture is not measured in terms of monetary value; . . .
"The problem of 'the redemption of the Holy Places' of Christian art is now less in the hands of the artist than in those of the bishops, priests and professors."–Cram, Ralph Adams, "The Status of Church Art and Architecture" in "Rural Life Bulletin" (May, 1938), pp. 7, 9.
"I want to repeat that the task of those who would recover the creative values and zestful participation in folk culture is to discover and promote ways and means of building it back into rural life, not wholly on foundations that have partially collapsed, but on the basis of both old and new foundations. Let farmers produce for the market, but teach them and their families to produce also for home consumption and include in their home production objects of art and beauty at which they can become just as apt and in which they can have just as much creative experience and zest as anyone else. Let them have electric lights, running water, and other household conveniences in their homes, but help them to recover and rebuild their love for the beautiful and the simple. Let them mechanize their farms and reduce their hours of labor, but help them to utilize the leisure created thereby in reading good books, singing great oratorios, acting, and even writing drama, and in all other kinds of recreation. Let them go to the picture show and get acquainted with how the other segments of society live, but help them to know that personal, human association with family, friends and neighbors is to be cherished equally with all the numerous impersonal, more or less transient contacts of the outside world combined."–Taylor, Carl C., "The Restoration of Rural Culture" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives" (Third Series, 1937), p. 90.
63. Some object to the association of modern conveniences and laborsaving devices with culture, perhaps because certain groups identify culture with the bathtub, electric lighting, electric power, and other mechanical devices. Although the possession of the conveniences made possible by modern invention and discovery cannot be identified as culture, nevertheless a real culture would appraise them at their proper value and make a proper use of them.
Culture still exists on the countryside. One finds cultured families on the countryside and communities where high culture prevails. There are farm communities which possess a culture deeply rooted in their religious life. It finds expression in an appreciation of the finer things–in books, in music, in wellarranged houses and in neat farmsteads with their trees and flowers, in modern conveniences where they are available, in the artistic church, and in the community center where social contacts are established and mutual interests are promoted.
There are, however, vast reaches on the countryside characterized by a lack of culture. Without a doubt low economic conditions is the major cause of the lack of culture in many rural sections of the nation. In many areas it is a case of human erosion following upon soil erosion. In some areas, where prosperity reigned a few years ago, the development of culture has been arrested and even reversed by the agricultural crisis which has gripped the farm groups for two decades.
The farmers as a group were prosperous twenty years ago. As a group they did not use the opportunity to improve their homes and they did not use their money on the things which make for culture. Traditional habits and lack of appreciation is the explaining cause.
We have lost some of the constituents of our earlier rural culture through such changes as the commercialization of recreation and the growth of modern methods of communication and transportation. During the past decade there has been some effort to retrieve these losses.
"The things we have lost in rural life during the process of these transitions, or at least the things we want regained or built into rural life, are apparently: (1) not only the economic but social and psychological security which we had in the period when self-sufficient agriculture prevailed; (2) the richness of rural life which many less commercial agricultures have because of their art, music, drama, folk recreation, and community participation; (3) those qualities of personality and the social values which we think grow only out of family and neighborhood life; (4) some things which the rural life of the past could not have had because of its isolation and consequent limitation in the consumption of certain types of goods and services....
"The loss of folk arts, folklore and folk culture has come largely through the impact of commercialization. Again, I do not believe this needs to be so, but what we must do to keep it from being so is to spend time and energy for and be tremendously concerned about, the development here, there and every place in rural life of folk art, folk culture and folk life.
"As a sociologist, and somewhat as a social psychologist, I am convinced that Professor Cooley was right concerning the primary group values of love, loyalty, friendship and sympathy. They are tender and valuable plants which grow only, or at least best, in the face-to-face groups of the family, the neighborhood and the playground. These things have all tended to give way in the face of commercialization and wider social contacts. If they are valuable in and of themselves, then the promotion of every type of human association which recreates them and guarantees them to rural people should be assiduously undertaken everywhere in rural life....
"There is, however, a high degree of futility in simply crying out against the decadence of any culture, the ideologies of which no longer have roots in the daily life of the people. If the birthrate is falling, if the old folk culture is dying, if the old primary groups of the family and neighborhood are less prevalent, less dominant and less secure, the major attack is not to cry about, or even to preach about them, but to plant the seeds, nurture the roots and cultivate the elements of life which will reproduce the old culture or replace it with a better one. To do otherwise is to convict men and groups of men of their tins, but offer no way of salvation."–Taylor, Carl C., "The Restoration of Rural Culture" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives" (Third Series, 1937), pp. 89, 90.
"With the unbounded energy of youth something to do and some place to go will sooner or later be found. Improved highways and the prevalence of automobiles give them an opportunity to go places. These places are either the nearest city, or town;, the country road house or local cafe. These latter have multiplied and are constantly increasing in every locality. They are wayside cafes, with tables or booths, a dance floor, an electric victrola, and of course a bar. For summer there is the outdoor dance platform. Such places range all the way from a log cabin with a table or two to the sumptuous road house equipped with floor show and gambling rooms. Being out in the country they are free of any municipal regulations and consequently they are open all night with no restrictions except what the owner makes. Such places are becoming more and more the night haunts of our boys and girls in the country. If there is nothing for the young people to do and they have no means of getting anywhere, they soon become dissatisfied with their surroundings. Restlessness sets in and they are ripe for anything which offers any promise of relief from boredom."–Pitt, F. N., "Youth Problems in Rural Areas" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives" (Third Series, 1937), p. 56.
"Happily there has been a notable multiplication of various homespun activities in this field (rural art) during the past decade. It is a development that is as much in the nature of a revival as of something new. Early America was not without her art. Even the pioneer had his music, his drama, his festivals, his handicrafts. It is to be hoped that the present revival will be consistently stimulated and intelligently guided. If this is done, life in rural America will unquestionably be the gainer for it, for art has many genuine values. Thus, it interests and refines the individual. It recreates and rejuvenates him. It puts zest and enthusiasm into everyday living. It offers wholesome ways of spending leisure time. It puts dignity and spirit and interest into work. It uplifts and enriches all life."–Schmiedeler, Edgar, "A Better Rural Life" (New York: Joseph F. Wagner, Inc.), p. 280.
66. ". . . it is somewhat disconcerting to read in the report of the American Library Association (of 1927) that while 54,404,568 urban dwellers were using such service (only 3,415,415 were not), there were only 9,624,936 rural dwellers who were using the library facilities offered to them, while 47,054,168 were without such service.
"That was in 1927. In 1935 we are told that there were only 1,135 counties in the United States without some sort of library aid and 3,065 with it. But even that is too large a number without reading equipment easily accessible. Yet there are plenty of books on the market and publishing houses are constantly increasing, and book production is growing apace."– Willmann, D. J., "Reading in the Rural Home" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives" (Third Series, 1937), p. 164.
"Beginning first with novels, then, get your discussion group going. Let people agree. Let them disagree. That's one of the best ways to arouse curiosity. It's a wonderful way to get them to read something else. Swing then into your biographies and autobiographies, short stories, essays, poetry, history, apologetics, religion and spiritual reading."–Ibid., p. 166.
Much popular material on the application of Christian principles to our society, suitable for discussion-club purposes, is available at the headquarters of National Catholic Welfare Conference, particularly the Social Action Department. Special attention is given by this Department to Christian principles and their application in the fields of industrial relations and international relations in civic life, rural life, and family life.
67. "Every rural parish if at all possible should have a community house or hall. Such a building would serve as a meeting place for all the parish and community clubs, provide facilities for amateur theatricals, for moving pictures, socials, card parties, dances, for basketball and all sorts of indoor games. It should serve as a club house and gymnasium and be available at all times for the young people. In short the parish center would have to compete with the road house and the nearby city by providing amusements and places of meeting equally attractive but of a far more wholesome and cultural nature. In addition to the parish community house there should be societies and clubs of various kinds for the needs of young people at the various age levels. In addition to the usual parochial societies of a religious nature, there could be some of a purely social character. Dramatic clubs, card clubs, 4-H clubs, athletic teams, etc. Catholic young men and women should be brought together as much as possible under proper auspices. In one parish to my knowledge where there is such a center and a year round program of social activities, there has not been a mixed marriage in twenty-five years. With such a community center properly organized, there could be a planned program of leisure time activities for all seasons of the year. It would go far if not all the way, towards solving the social problem for young people in the country. It would keep them interested in their surroundings, content with rural life; it would be educational and cultural; it would also be a very effective means of overcoming native diffidence, timidity, awkwardness and give a training in the social graces oftentimes found wanting among rural people."–Pitt, F. N., "Youth Problems in Rural Areas" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives" (Third Series, 1937), p. 56.
"In speaking of rural dramatics the work that is being done by the agricultural colleges must not be overlooked. Not a few of these schools are today energetically promoting an active interest in the dramatic art. One or two institutions first pointed the way and others soon followed. Apparently the sources of revival are largely to be found in North Dakota."–Schmiedeler, Edgar, "Art in the Countryside" in "Catholic Rural Life Bulletin" (November, 1938), p. 27.
"The Little Country Theatre" originated on the campus of the North Dakota State Agricultural College under the direction of Prof. Alfred G. Arvold.
"Culture is the flowering of community spirit. The lack of it in the country has been due to the excessive individualism of the farm. Cooperative enterprises promise to build up real rural communities by creating common bonds of interest. When farmers work together, perhaps they will play together. Their recreation will be socialized if their business is socialized. The cooperative movement will be justified by its social as well as by its economic efforts."–O'Hara, Edwin V., "The Church and the Country Community," pp. 82, 83.
The following reference is to the adult education program carried on in Nova Scotia under the direction of St. Francis Xavier University:
"Economic education through action has emancipated them as a people. Herein lies the real importance of the movement. It is not so much that they are sure of themselves as business men as that they are sure of themselves as free men and women. The economic program becomes then but a step on the upward march."–Fowler, Bertram B., "The Lord Helps Those, pp. 160, 161.
It is useless to talk about elevating the cultural status of rural America without hope of improving the economic condition of the rural group. The economic, social, educational, and cultural advancement should be promoted through an integrated program in which religion plays a dominant part. Experience has proved in more than one instance the folly of trying to build with religion left out.
A recent study in one State has provided the following figures on the changed situation between time and distance in rural communities:
"Families that had lived on farms for the 25 years from 1905 to 1930 were asked about the cost to them, in minutes of time, of going to school, grange, church, bank, lodge, hardware, drug and grocery stores, and the like. The replies showed that while it took 1,000 minutes in 1905 to reach these institutions, in 1930 it took only 276 minutes. When measured in miles instead of minutes, the bank, the Church, and the grange had changed very little in their distance from the homes of the families who went to them; the time required to go, however, had been cut about 70 percent. While the average distance to the school had increased 70 percent during the period studied, the time required to go and come had lessened by about a half. Likewise, distance to shipping points and livestock markets as measured in miles had increased about a half while the time was lessened about 65 percent."–"Rural Communities: What Do They Need Most?" Discussion Club Booklet, p. 3 (United States Department of Agriculture, Washington, D. C.).
The rural parish can be an ideal community center for its members, providing many other contacts besides those that are on a strictly religious basis.
"Few social groups in our present civilization can compare in stability and efficiency with a well organized rural parish. The latter stands today like a rock of Gibraltar in the midst of the restless and shifting sea of modern life. Its members are drawn together into harmonious unison through a similarity of aspirations and hopes, ideals and ambitions, through sameness of fundamental beliefs in faith and in morals. They are closely knit together by the ties of many common interests. In spite of all our disturbing spirit of modern social change, the rural parish remains a thoroughly integrated and highly influential unit of society."– Schmiedeler, Edgar, "Rural Catholic Action; The Rural Parish" (N.C.W.C. publication), p. 19.
71. Cf. Sims, "Elements of Rural Sociology," Chaps. V and VI.
A volume that describes the village community of our day in many lands is "Village and Open-Country Neighborhoods," W. Terpenning (New York: D. Appleton-Century Company). After several introductory chapters, one of them dealing with the "History of Neighborhoods," the following community groups are described: The American Neighborhood, The Swiss Commune, The English Parish, The German Dorf, The French Commune, the Italian Commune, the Irish Neighborhood, the Danish Sogn, The Russian Mir. The part played by various community leaders, such as the local clergymen, is given attention.
An interesting volume describing the modern American scene is "Small Towns: An Estimate of Their Trade and Culture," W. Burr (New York: The Macmillan Company).
72. Cf. O'Hara, Edwin V., "The Church and Country Community," Rural Religious Leadership, Chap. VIII.
A small volume which points out the possibilities of leadership on the part of local merchants, bankers, editors, etc., is James Boyle's "Rural Problems in the United States" (Chicago: A. C. McClurg Co.).
What can be accomplished through sound rural leadership has been demonstrated in Nova Scotia under the direction of St. Francis Xavier University. (Cf. Fowler, Bertram B., "The Lord Helps Those.") It is futile for the farmer to seek deliverance in some magic formula or solely in political action. If the farmer is ever to get out of his difficulties, it will be on his own power under the direction of wise and unselfish leadership.
77. "There cannot be a worse calamity to a Catholic people than to have its medical attendants alien or hostile to Catholicity; there cannot be a greater blessing than when they are intelligent Catholics who acknowledge the claims of religious duty, and the subordination and limits of their own functions.... He (the doctor) is the companion of religion, its most valuable support or its most grievous embarrassment, according as he professes or ignores its creed."–Cardinal Newman, "My Campaign in Ireland" (1858).
79. Cf. "The Rural Pastorate," Chap. VIII; also Plater, Charles, "The Priest and Social Action."
81. Cf. O'Hara, Edwin V., "The Church and the Country Community," "The Catholic Farm Woman," Chap. V.
82. Mixed marriages often result in a weakening of the faith on the part of the children and not infrequently in the total loss of all religion. (Cf. "Mixed Marriages and Their Remedies," TerHaar, Pustet, 1933.) The statistics furnished by this writer represent conditions in Germany. There are reasons for believing that a survey in the United States would reveal similar facts.
There are arguments against mixed marriages which should appeal alike to Catholics and non-Catholics. All will recognize that the having of many things in common is essential for a happy and a successful marriage and that differences in points of view on fundamental things are not a secure foundation for a marriage. It is clearly evident that a marriage would be tragic if each party to it were so convinced of his own religion that he would be bound to have the children reared in it. In many instances, however, non-Catholics take the somewhat indifferent attitude expressed by the often repeated phrase, "One religion is as good as another." They regard religious differences as relatively unimportant and are usually sincere in stating their readiness to have their children reared in the Catholic faith. Their own indifference on matters of religion prevents them from understanding how fundamental religion is and how fundamental are the differences between Catholic and non-Catholic on religion and on certain moral questions. Failure to recognize the definiteness of Catholic conviction and the rigidity of the Catholic conscience is likely to prove a fruitful source of misunderstanding and conflict. The non-Catholic expects compromise especially where his own mode of living is in question, but the Catholic conscience cannot compromise.
The right sort of social, cultural, and recreational program, centered in the parish hall, would be a valuable means for lessening the number of mixed unions. In some parishes where such a program is in operation, mixed marriages are practically unknown.
Parents can do much to prevent mixed marriages by implanting in their children an understanding of the hazards to faith and happiness in such unions. If they start sufficiently early, they can train their children to seek Catholic associations.
In many dioceses a series of prenuptial instructions is required for both the Catholic and the non-Catholic parties. These instructions are more likely to end in conversion when the Catholic party makes the right approach to the non-Catholic party. The Catholic party to such a proposed marriage can exercise a greater influence than either parents or priest. The non-Catholic sometimes regards the interference of parents or priest as an unwarranted intrusion.
When the non-Catholic takes the instructions because the priest requires him to do so, his approach may even be hostile. But if the Catholic were to urge the instructions as prompted by her own conscience, explaining to the non-Catholic at the same time why they should be one in religion or at least why it is so necessary that he have an understanding of her faith, the non-Catholic might come to study the claims of the Church with a desire to accept them if possible. The desire to see the truth is of prime importance in the prenuptial course of instruction.
84. Descriptions of several of the stronger Catholic rural areas of the United States are given by Schmiedeler in "A Better Rural Life," Chap. IV.
86. "The importance of the little rural parish is sometimes underestimated. In the small parish the priest represents the entire Catholic Church; with him its influence rises or falls; and thus the best type of men should be selected for the rural charges. The large city parish can to some extent depend on its prestige; but the standing of a little country parish depends on the personality of the pastor. In the open country judgment, diplomacy, activity, progressiveness and leadership are the natural virtues required in a priest.
"We must have complete conception of the country pastorate. The country pastor must be a community leader. He must know the rural problems. He must have sympathy with rural ideals and aspirations. He must love the country; he must know the country life, the difficulties that the farmer has to face in his business, some of the great scientific revelations made in behalf of agriculture, the great industrial forces at work for the making or the unmaking of the farmer, the fundamental social problems of the life of the open country.
"The rural pastor in America, although confronted with difficulties that are unknown in urban surroundings, has advantages and opportunities of which his fellow-priest in the large city is deprived. Since he serves a small number of people, he is enabled to enter into their lives and become acquainted with their needs and difficulties. He has the opportunity to become the spokesman of the community not only in religious matters but also in social and economic affairs that affect the district in which he lives. In most cases the people look to him for aid and advice. The attitude of mind in rural people offers a problem for psychology. They transfer the priest's authority in matters religious to matters social and regard his word in many instances as final. Often, he is the only individual in the community, with the exception of the village doctor, who has received a college training and has an understanding of Sociology and Economics. Many priests and ministers realize the amount of confidence that rural people have in their pastors and respond to the situation, thereby aiding the community not only in a religious but also in a social and economic way."–Keaveny, T. L., "The Priest in the Rural Parish" in "St. Isidore's Plow" (March, 1923).
87. "Our previous Encyclicals were directed to throwing the light of Catholic doctrine upon the gravest of the problems peculiar to modern life. Our present Encyclical finds a natural place among these others, opportunely supplementing them. The priest is, indeed, both by vocation and divine commission, the chief Apostle and tireless furtherer of the Christian education of youth; in the name of God, the priest blesses Christian marriage, and defends its sanctity and indissolubility against the attacks and invasions suggested by cupidity and sensuality; the priest contributes most effectively to the solution, or at least the mitigation, of social conflicts, since he preaches Christian brotherhood, declares to all their mutual obligations of justice and charity, brings peace to hearts embittered by moral and economic hardship, and alike to rich and poor points out the only true riches to which all men both can and should aspire. Finally, the priest is the most valorous leader in that crusade of expiation and penance to which We have invited all men of good will."–Pope Pius XI, "The Catholic Priesthood," p. 5.
"I have been encouraged by statements made here recording the emergence of theology into the fields of economics and the social sciences, from which I am afraid it has for long been banished by many workers. I have been encouraged, I say, to preach a little at the last. For any Christian interpretation of the more abundant life must deal not alone with improvement, changing and even disappearing values, but chiefly with those values in this life here upon the earth which are absolutes, which will continue unchanged eternally....
"The Christian interpretation of the more abundant life takes the supernatural into account and, I am afraid, will continue to be a rock of offense to all those who will not see the life of man upon the earth against the background of the supernatural life, which is the more abundant life of which Christ spoke."–Boyle, Hugh, "The More Abundant Life" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives" (Third Series, 1937), p. 14.
88. Rev. Charles Plater, S.J. in "The Priest and Social Action" (p. 255), quotes the following from a letter of Leo XIII addressed to the Bishops of Italy on December 8, 1892:
"It is evident, Venerable Brethren, that all our above recommendations so far from prejudicing the social activity of the clergy, tend to promote it in the highest degree. Such social action has frequently been commended by Us as a need of our age. In exacting the faithful observance of the rules which We have recalled, We are helping to protect that which ought to be the life and soul of such action. Let it here be repeated once more and with greater emphasis: the clergy must go to the Christian people who are on all sides surrounded by snares and who are tempted by all sorts of delusive promises, and especially by Socialism, to abandon the faith of their fathers."
The Holy Father goes on to say that priests should promote among the laity those associations which are recognized to be really efficacious in promoting the moral and material amelioration of the people.
On pages 257-259 of the work just cited, Father Plater gives further information which may be summarized as follows:
Msgr. Radini-Tedeschi was chosen by Leo XIII to organize the Catholic movement in Central Italy. His address delivered at the Fourteenth Catholic Congress of Italy (Fiesole, September, 1896) may be regarded as an authoritative expression of the Pope's views regarding the social action of the clergy, and it received the special approbation of His Holiness. In the address the prelate pointed out that the viewpoint which sees the priest's sphere of work bounded by the church and sacristy, and which would bar him from all social action, is erroneous and pernicious. He went on to say that, for the enemies of the Church to take this line is not surprising; but it is astonishing and discouraging to find the view expressed by some of the laity and even of the clergy themselves. The priest must take his place in social life. He must make serious efforts to secure that place; and having secured it he must keep it. This is his mission, his imperative duty. Not to fulfill this duty, both as a citizen and as a priest, is to be guilty of treason, to disobey orders, to wrong his country, the Church, and Jesus Christ. Not every priest should occupy himself with all these matters but there is no sphere of work in which the clergy should not "take an interest."
In March, 1905, the Abbe Francois of the Diocese of Cambrai was received in private audience by Pope Pius X. Upon his departure His Holiness said to him: "Tell your venerable archbishop of the great satisfaction with which I learned that he has appointed two priests to devote themselves particularly to the farmers and their laborers. I wish that all the rural clergy know, together with their theology, those matters which interest the peasantry. They can never do too much to show how the Church loves the working classes."
89. Our advantages are unique. The smallness of our numbers should not frighten us; only our own apathy and lack of confidence are to be feared. But a small body of men and women with sound principles and a firm policy is capable of influencing profoundly the social currents of even a great nation. Effort and study, however, are essential, and this effort and study are demanded by our Faith. For social action, especially in these days, is not a matter that Catholics can regard as optional.–Cf. Plater, Charles, op. cit., pp. 252, 253.
The success of the clergy of the diocese of Antigonish in promoting through social action the spiritual and material welfare of their people indicates what might be done in other places.
In the development "of a carefully conceived and truly workable pattern for finer farm family living . . . the rural pastor will most likely be called upon to be a master artisan, a sociologist, a philosopher, an agronomist, a horticulturist, an agricultural engineer, an economist, a specialist in family relations, all in addition to being 'a dispenser of the mysteries of God.'"–Reynolds, Pauline, "Lived Nobly and Well" in "Rural Life Bulletin" (February, 1939), p. 8.
"As to the preparation required for this task, the priest should engage in serious study to be afterwards translated into practical work. It is for the Bishops to see whether and how the seminary students can be better trained than at present for social work. The social conferences of the clergy which are held in various countries are deserving of all praise. It is to be hoped that such conferences will be introduced, under the direction of the Bishops, among the priests of Italy, who might thus study methods and needs and encourage one another in their good works. There is need of much hard work, of plain speaking and bold action, of self- sacrifice and enterprising zeal."–Plater, S.J., Charles, Op. cit., pp. 259, 260.
The annual meetings of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference, the institutes for Diocesan Rural Life Bureau Directors sponsored by the Rural Life Bureau of the National Catholic Welfare Conference, and the literature published by both the Rural Life Conference and Rural Life Bureau, aim at preparing both clergy and laity for intelligent and energetic rural Catholic action.
Cf. Schmiedeler, E., "Planning Regional Institutes" in "Rural Catholic Action," Diocesan Directors Series I, pp. 49 ff.
92. "If you examine a missionary map of the United States you will perhaps be shocked to learn that about one-third of the three thousand counties in our nation are without resident priest. The disfranchised counties done in black, it will be noted that the black area thickens down here in the Southland from the Atlantic to the Mississippi and thence west to New Mexico, northwest into Colorado, Utah, and Idaho with a sprinkling of black also in every other State except New England, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Wisconsin, and Arizona. But don't get the idea that the entire white area is efficiently covered. There are hundreds of counties with only one priest, others where priests are to be found only in a town or city within the county's borders, leaving many wide stretches of terrain where, in the aggregate, millions of souls have no contact whatever with a representative of the Church."–Bishop, W. Howard, "The Organization of Catholic Resources for Missionary Effort in the Hinterlands" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives" (Third Series, 1937), p. 169.
Perhaps the nearest approach to a general survey of the rural church, Protestant and Catholic, in the United States, is Morse and Brunner, "The Town and Country Church." This volume, published by the Institute of Social and Religious Research, is based on data from 300 counties selected from nine different regions.
For brief description of the early development of the rural Catholic Church in the United States, cf. Schmiedeler, Edgar, "A Better Rural Life," Chap. IV.
A partial survey made by the Very Rev. Charles V. McCoy, Director of the Rural Life Bureau, of the Diocese of Little Rock, indicates the hazards to the faith at the present time arising out of migration to areas distant from a church. (Cf. "Contacting New Parishioners in Rural Districts," Rural Catholic Action: Diocesan Directors Series I, p. 31.) In a number of dioceses an effort is being made to counteract this unfortunate tendency by instituting on a diocesan scale a land location service that seeks to direct migrating families to places where parish plants have been established. Regarding this service, cf. Schuler, R. B., "The St. Louis Archdiocesan Program," Rural Catholic Action: Diocesan Directors Series I, pp. 8-11.
93. "And very little of our missionary labors have been expended in the rural sections where large families are plentiful and the birth rate is supplying both rural and urban sections with whatever increase they enjoy in native born population. If this situation is not corrected by vastly expanding our missionary efforts in the rural field, the future will bring a gradual decline of Catholic strength in the urban centers, which are the strongholds of Catholicity in America, with no compensating gains in the country where the Church is weakest. But if we throw a proportionately strong and persevering missionary offensive into the country, particularly into those backward sections where the birth rate is highest, we shall by that single strategy strengthen the Church's stand both rurally and in the cities."–Bishop, W. Howard, loc. cit., p. 170.
"The children are overwhelmingly in the country. We pointed out fifteen years ago that while very much more than half of the population of the United States lived in what was described as urban territory, far more than half of the children of school age were attending rural schools. Since that time, with the practical ceasing of immigration, the importance of the American farm as a source of population has become still more striking. The most careful students of the subject point out that owing to the drop in the birth rate a stationary population for the United States will be reached in the next few decades. The official statistics published at the beginning of this year throw a startling light on the subject. Only one city with a population of more than a hundred thousand has enough children to maintain permanently even a stationary population without accessions from the country districts. Most cities have only about three-fourths of the number of children necessary to maintain their present size, not to speak of further growth. With immigration practically stopped, our cities, both large and small, and consequently our city parishes, will depend for their increase mainly on the natural increase of the rural population. After allowing the most generous estimate of the increase of Catholic population by conversion, it will be recognized by all that the principal source of the growth of the Church in this country is to be found in births in Catholic families. From this will be evident the sound basis in Catholic policy provided by the major aims of the Catholic Rural Life Conference. Those aims have been stated in two principal formulas. First: the building up in the United States of ten thousand strong country parishes; and secondly: the anchoring on the land of a larger percentage of the strong, vigorous, and intelligent boys and girls who were born there."–O'Hara, Edwin V., "A Spiritual and Material Mission to Rural America" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectitves" (First Series, 1935), p. 4.
94. Cf. Chap. IV, "Catholic Rural Education."
95. "Would you know the desolation of living in a country where Mass is said only once a month by a visiting priest; would you know the hurt to religion to dwell in a land where children grow up with only the barest knowledge of their holy faith? Picture yourself traveling over miles and miles of country, through one town after another and never finding a cross lifted on high to mark the Tabernacle dwelling place of our Eucharistic Jesus. Yet it is true that the South is the land of few crosses and Tabernacles. Little wonder, then, that the roll calls and membership lists of the numerous non-Catholic churches are rich in familiar Irish, French and German Catholic names."–Mother Mary of the Incarnate Word, "Evangelizing the Disfranchised" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives" (Third Series, 1937), p. 120.
98. "American rural life cries out for a modern Benedict of Nursia. There is no substitute for the religious community as a vitalizing center for the Catholic rural community."–O'Hara. Edwin V., "The Church and the Country Community," p. 57.
In a statement read before the assembled Abbots of the American Cassinese Congregation, on the occasion of their General Chapter, held at St. John's Abbey, Collegeville, Minnesota, in August, 1938, by the Rt. Rev. Abbot Martin Veth, O.S.B., Abbot of St. Benedict's Abbey, Atchison, Kansas, attention was drawn to the phenomenal accomplishments of St. Benedict through the rebuilding of the ruined world of his day on a stable and Christian agricultural foundation and to the contrast between the disturbed social conditions of St. Benedict's day and those of our own. The statement then urged that Benedictines "lend their efforts, their resources, and their prayers to the building in our day of a renewed and more vigorous, a more enriched and more satisfying Christian rural culture." A resolution that was drawn up on the basis of the abbots' statement read: "The Chapter commends the efforts of every member of the congregation who in any way promotes the reintegration of rural life."
Similarly, a resolution was called for regarding missionary endeavor among the Negroes in the rural South. The recommendation was made that individual abbeys interest themselves in the founding of an agricultural school for Negroes, and the hope was expressed that such a school, when founded, would gradually develop into a Benedictine community of colored priests and lay brothers. "It is easy to see," it was remarked, "what a blessing such an undertaking might prove to be for the much neglected colored race in America."
99. The early work of the Catholic Church Extension Society is described by its founder, the Most Rev. Francis C. Kelley, in his volume, "The Story of Extension," published by the Extension Press, Chicago. The kind and extent of the Society's more recent activities are reflected in the following facts from its thirty-third (1938) annual report: 75 mission chapels and parish buildings costing from $3,000 to $5,000 were built or repaired with the help of the Society and for this work, nearly $100,000 was disbursed to 39 dioceses. Nearly $50,000 was sent out for monthly subsidies to priests in isolated districts. The subsidies to students for the missionary priesthood totaled $75,000. The Society, the report added, forwarded nearly $200,000 in Mass intentions to missionary Bishops for distribution among needy clergy. The sum contributed toward these various home mission projects amounted to approximately a half million dollars.
100. The North Caroline Apostolate, established by Father Frederick Price, for the conversion of North Carolina, is the forerunner, if not the parent, of most of the rural offensive missionary efforts in the United States today. It is also in a sense the parent of our American foreign missionary activities. Father Price, its founder, under the inspiration of his labors in North Carolina, became co-founder with Father James Anthony Walsh of Maryknoll. The work of spreading the Faith in non-Catholic sections of North Carolina has continued under Bishop Hafey and his successor, Bishop McGuinness.
Outdoor preaching in small towns and villages was begun in Oklahoma by Father Stephen A. Leven, who received his inspiration from the work of the Catholic Evidence Guild in London. Assisted by a few seminarians, he inaugurated the practice of driving out from his home parish in a motor car to small centers where there were no Catholic churches and giving talks on the Church, thus carrying the idea of street preaching into the rural areas for the first time. He is perhaps the first priest in the United States to pursue a motorized missionary program in rural places with a fixed parish as a center.
Father L. J. Fallon, C.M., a professor at Kenrick Seminary, St. Louis, was one of those who assisted Father Leven in his Oklahoma missions. He afterwards inaugurated a similar work in the Ozark Mountain country of Missouri, during the summer vacation months. He uses a public-address system to amplify his message, and is assisted by seminarians from Kenrick Seminary. The seminarians are given a six weeks' course of instruction and are sent out during the vacation months in bands under the direction of priests, to several different mission centers. A new development Father Fallon has introduced is the correspondence course for prospective converts. Listeners who become interested during the summer speaking tours are given a regular course of instruction in Catholic faith and practice by mail. For this purpose a certain portion of Kenrick Seminary is set apart and a corps of seminarians assist in the office work. The whole motor mission and follow-up program, as developed by the Vincentian Fathers, has spread to other dioceses where their community is represented.
Work is carried on by the Vincentian Fathers of Kenrick Seminary in the diocese of St. Joseph, under the direction of Father Frederick Coupal, C.M. A similar work is being conducted from St. Thomas Seminary, in the Diocese of Denver, by the Vincentian Fathers under the direction of Father Joseph L. Lilly, C.M.
Fathers Thomas W. Green and Alex G. Stremmel inaugurated the work of street preaching and the answering of questions about the Church in the Diocese of Wichita, Kansas, in 1935. The work has had a rapid increase. Catholic literature is sent by mail to those who become interested Seminarians assist in the work.
Father Thomas Mindrup, who, like Father Fallon, also received his first training under Father Leven in Oklahoma, is now engaged in motor mission work in the Diocese of Indianapolis. He works from Greenfield, Indiana, as headquarters. A large and interested class of prospective converts is practical evidence of the thoroughness of Father Mindrup's work begun in the autumn of 1938.
The Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity, a community of priests established by Father Judge at Trinity, Alabama, perform various missionary services for the preservation of the Faith among fallen-away Catholics and for the spread of the Faith generally.
While the chapel car has fallen into disuse, the trailer chapel and other mediums for conducting "motor missions" in religiously underprivileged areas are rapidly coming to the fore.
David Goldstein, a layman and convert from the Jewish faith (formerly assisted by Mrs. Martha Avery), has, for many years, been "campaigning for Christ" in various parts of the United States, on city street corners and in small towns and villages. Mr. Goldstein pursued his apostolate with the aid of a motor car for many years before the present vogue of motor missions began.
Fathers Joseph Cunningham, C.S.P., and Thomas Halloran, C.S.P., entered the motorized missionary field in September, 1937. With their motor chapel trailer, "St. Lucy," they have since been giving outdoor missions to non- Catholics in many rural places in the mountain country around Winchester, Tennessee, where their headquarters is located.
The Paulist Fathers have also established a headquarters for motor mission work at Vernal, Utah, from which they will pursue their apostolic labors in the Mormon country with the aid of their new trailer chapel, "St. Paul the Apostle." Fathers Maurice Fitzgerald, C.P., and Robert J. Murphy, C.P., have been detailed to this work.
The Rev. David L. Scully of the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois, assisted by a group of secular priests, began motor missionary activities in 1937. In 1938 they added to the string of towns they had visited in their own diocese, a newly formed itinerary in the Diocese of Amarillo, Texas, arranged for them by Rev. T. J. Drury.
A program of motorized missionary work is now under preparation in the Diocese of Savannah-Atlanta. The work, very appropriately, will be pursued from the building which was formerly the national headquarters of the Ku Klux Klan in the city of Atlanta.
In the Diocese of Mobile, Alabama, Father Harold Purcell, formerly editor of "The Sign," having relinquished his very successful editorial labors in favor of the home mission field, began his cherished work of establishing the "City of St. Jude" for families of the colored race, near Montgomery. His ultimate object is the conversion and the successful settlement of Negro families on the land, but a program of medical and sanitary aid, in which he is assisted by trained nurses, is also being pursued. Two other priests are engaged in the work with Father Purcell.
In the same Diocese of Mobile, Father Arthur Terminiello was the first priest in the United States to use the trailer-chapel type of motorized missionary work. He has been visiting a group of towns in the vicinity of St. Teresa's Village, which he established a few years ago to provide small homes and farming sites for share-cropper families. He, too, is assisted by seminarians in his motor mission activities.
Since 1937, Father C. M. Carty, of the Archdiocese of St. Paul, has been touring rural sections with a motor chapel, addressing audiences of non- Catholics.
On diocesan mission bands composed of secular priests, cf. Rev. Edward L. Stephens, "Rural Convert Making," Diocesan Directors Series II, Rural Life Bureau, N.C.W.C.
101. "The Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity now approximate three hundred members laboring for the preservation of the Faith in congested industrial cities of the East, among black and white, in the neglected outlying sections of the South, in scattered mining towns and far off Puerto Rico, among black and white, native Americans and foreign born, and wherever there is a leakage in the Church through the apathy and indifference of careless Catholics, and through proselytizing activities."- -Mother Mary of the incarnate Word, "Evangelizing the Disfranchised" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives" (Third Series, 1937), p. 111.
The Society of Missionary Catechists of Victory Noll, Huntington, Indiana, have for the past fifteen years been devoting themselves to the rescue of fallen-away Catholics of Mexican blood in the southwestern section of the United States. Their work is in a large measure rural. The society was founded in 1921 by Rev. John J. Sigstein.–Cf. Catechist Genevieve Sullivan, "Catechetical Enterprise in the Southwest" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives" (Third Series, 1937), p. 157; also cf. Schmiedeler's "A Better Rural Life," pp. 89-91.
The Catholic Evidence Bureau, N.C.C.M., 1312 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., Washington, D. C., was sponsored by the National Council of Catholic Men and has the approval of the Administrative Council of the N.C.W.C. The Bureau has gathered much valuable information and has published the only complete history of American Catholic Evidence Guilds. its services are available on request.
102. The Home Missioners of America, now in the initial stages of formation, under the patronage of the Archbishop of Cincinnati and under the direction of Rev. W. Howard Bishop, have as their object to labor for conversions in the rural sections of America which are not at present reached by priests. They have called these sections the "No-Priest Land of America." They take the same attitudes toward the home mission field that foreign mission societies like Maryknoll have taken toward the foreign field; namely, to settle down and live among the people to be converted. For this reason their program includes permanent canonical organization, thorough preparation for the mission field, and a definite plan of missionary action. Missionary preaching in small priestless towns near St. Martin, Ohio, the cradle of the new Society, is now being carried on.
Cf. Bishop, W. Howard, "Plan for American Society of Catholic Home Missions to Operate in the Rural Sections of the United States" in "Ecclesiastical Review" (March, 1936).
"Through the years of its existence the Conference has held to its purpose to serve the spiritual interests of rural America. its officers and membership dream by habit the dreams of its illustrious founder, Bishop O'Hara, that in God's own season and by God's own power to provide, ten thousand new Catholic parishes may come to decorate the landscape in our nation's remoter districts–ten thousand parishes manned by ten thousand 'quality' priests who recognize and respect the rural apostolate for what it is. Commensurately with its meager resources, the Conference has been privileged to initiate or foster the development of some projects of unquestioned merit. Through the agency, for example, of the literature it has produced, it has contributed to a better understanding of the economic, social and spiritual importance of agrarianism. By its annual convention, with the attendant nationwide publicity, it has drawn Catholic and non- Catholic notice to the Church's ability and desire to assist in the solution of rural problems of whatever nature. in the sphere of general education, Conference effort to adjust the service of rural Catholic grade and high schools to the specific needs of country boys and girls has met with some success. On the side of religious education, the religious vacation school movement has had its inception within the Conference. For many years before it acquired autonomy, the organization 'mothered' the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, and it takes no small satisfaction for having supplied some of the inspiration to one of its distinguished past- presidents, the Reverend W. Howard Bishop, to proceed with the foundation of the 'Home Missioners of America' for the evangelization of the rural United States."–Byrnes, James A., Foreword, "Catholic Rural Life Objectives" (Third Series, 1937), p. 8.
106. J. H. Kolb and Edmund de S. Brunner, in their "A Study of Rural Society" (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.), Chapter 12, present comparative notes on rural and urban health conditions. The following is a summary of their observations: "Rural leaders have boasted, and with justification, of the natural advantages of living in the country–fresh air, sunshine and access to a food supply. They have pointed to lower death rates in the country than in the city, to a longer life expectancy, and to less likelihood of contracting certain diseases, especially those spread by personal contact. Recently, however, a reverse trend in death rates seems to be under way. Dr. Lumsden, of the United States Public Health Service, has pointed out that in the twenty-five years after the turn of the century, the death rate in the entire registration area (states in which vital statistics are kept) fell, but that the decline was greater for cities than for the country. it was 4.7 per 1,000 population for places of 10,000 and over, and only 3.0 for rural areas" (pp. 540, 541). in 1929, according to Kolb and Brunner, for the first time in 20 years, the mortality among children under one year of age was greater in rural sections than in urban areas. "Arguments can be advanced, of course, that rural migrations worked in favor of the cities, but authorities seem to agree that the reduction in general urban death rates as well as infant mortality rates is traceable to organized efforts to improve sanitary conditions and to the building up of public health services. Natural advantages are no longer sufficient to keep rural society in the van of a better health movement. in a period when life must be made secure in local communities, a real task faces rural society."–Op. cit., pp. 541, 542.
These authorities present a table (Table 8, p. 543) from the Bureau of Census for 1931 on "Births, Still Births, and infant Mortality." in this table rural and urban areas are compared in respect to certain types of diseases fatal to both children and adults. The table indicates that in four of the specified types the mortality rates were higher for the rural than for the urban group. According to health authorities, "These higher rates reflect unsanitary conditions in many rural areas, and the failure to observe quarantine and other health regulations."–Op. cit., p. 543.
In respect to the higher old-age rate which still prevails in the country, these authors suggest that it is accounted for by the presence "of a proportionately larger number of old people in rural population." The allocation of deaths at the place where the deaths occur, which is the usual method in most states, rather than at the place of residence, may account for the lower mortality record of the country. On this Kolb and Brunner state significantly: "The Wisconsin mortality tables for 1932 and 1933 show that while the recorded general urban death rates are higher than the rural rates, the reverse is generally true when the deaths are allocated according to residence."–Op. cit., p. 545.
Lack of adequate health organizations and lack of adequate hospital and medical facilities characterize the countryside. Kolb and Brunner quote studies made on the exodus of physicians from the rural sections. These studies made for the period between 1906 and 1930 indicate "a steady decline in the proportion of physicians to population in all rural territory."–Op. cit., p. 550. An analysis made in the states of New York, South Carolina, Iowa, and Washington reveals the following: in the areas covered there was an increase in the rural population of 5.3 per cent and a decline in the number of rural physicians of about 22 per cent.
A further significant part of the study reveals the fact that "not only were there fewer doctors in rural areas in 1930 than in 1920, but the doctors who remained were older than the city physicians, and older, on the average, than in 1920" (p. 552). if the country is to secure the younger and better trained doctors, hospital and laboratory facilities must be made available and the problem of sufficient remuneration must be worked out.
Cf. L. L. Lumsden, "The Physical Status of Farm Youth" in "Rural America," March, 1927; "Births, Still Births, and infant Mortality" (U. S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Census, 1931); L. W. Hutchcroft, "The Truth About Rural and Urban Birth Rates," Wisconsin State Board of Health Bulletin, Vol. 5, No. 19, 1934; Sorokin, Zimmerman, and Galpin, "Systematic Source Book in Rural Sociology," Vol. 3 (University of Minnesota Press); "Municipal Doctor System in Saskatchewan" (University of Chicago Press, 1932).
Through the introduction of proper health programs in the rural areas, the country could achieve a health record far superior to the health record of the city.
107. "One of the main ends to be attained by an intensive educational campaign for sanitation is the creation of adequate local health organizations. The people of the average community need to be educated to appreciate that money intelligently spent for the prevention of disease is money saved from loss in diminished earnings and in the care and treatment of the sick. They need to know that an efficient whole-time county health officer is worth to the community many times over the amount of his salary. At the present time many of our rural people are willing enough to expend money liberally to secure the best treatment available for their sick but will offer strenuous objections to a thoroughly reasonable expenditure of public money for the employment of a health officer to prevent sickness. Without an adequate local health organization to direct the work, it appears that, in the average community, a reasonably good standard of sanitation will not be attained and maintained.
"The need of advancement of rural sanitation is all too obvious even from casual observation. in the cruder matters of sanitation, such as the cleanly disposal of human excreta, the safeguarding of water supplies against contamination with filth, and the protection of goods from invasion by flies, most of our country homes are lacking. As a result of the unsanitary conditions in our rural districts, thousands of our people every year needlessly die."–"Public Health Bulletin," No. 94 on Rural Sanitation, U. S. Public Health Service (Government Printing Office, Washington, D. C.), p. 13.
108. On the occasion of the White House Conference on Child Care and Protection the following recommendations regarding public rural health administration were made: "Rural health department should be based upon the county unit, and should be an integral part of the county government. For counties where the population is too small, or the financial resources inadequate to justify a separate organization, some plan of uniting with other counties to form a larger health district must be devised.
"Each county health department should be under the general direction of a board of health or health commission. The board or commission should include not more than seven members, appointed for long terms which expire in rotation. it should include representatives of the county government, the medical profession, and the general public.
"The health officer should be charged with all executive and administrative authority. He should be a physician trained and experienced in the administration of health departments and appointed without reference to his residence or political affiliations. He should not practice medicine or engage in any other business, but should be required to give his whole time to the duties of his office. He should receive a salary equivalent to the net income of the better class of practitioners in the county. He should be appointed for an indefinite term and should be removed only after charges have been preferred and a hearing held before some impartial body.
"The personnel of the county health department should include nurses, laboratory workers, clerks, inspectors, and in some cases sanitary engineers, statisticians and veterinarians and other technical and lay employees. The department should have the authority to employ on part time practicing physicians needed for clinical service, and provision should be made for their reasonable compensation. Subordinate employees should be appointed without reference to their political qualifications or residence. The salary scale should be adjusted to attract enough applicants so that the selection of satisfactory persons is assured.
"Appointments to county health departments should be made from certified civil service lists wherever a state or county civil service system exists. Where there is no civil service system, legal provision should be made for the examination and certification of health officers, nurses, laboratory workers, statisticians, engineers, and all technical employees by the state department of health, the state university, the state board of education or some other body. Such examinations, if rigidly and impartially conducted, offer the best guarantee of freedom from partisan political influences in making appointments.
"The system of state and federal subsidies used to promote and maintain county health departments had proved its utility and should be extended.
"It is usually desirable that the state department of health include an organization to promote county health departments in unorganized areas, to maintain standards of service, and to regulate the disbursements of funds granted the units.
"Federal funds for the promotion of rural health service should be disbursed through the state health authorities and should not be allocated on the basis of population alone. Federal funds should be expended for the promotion and maintenance of rural health organizations rather than for the promotion of special forms of health activity.
"A division in the Bureau of United States Public Health Service should be created equal in rank and importance to existing divisions, to assist the states in promoting rural health service, to expend federal funds appropriated for that purpose, and to assemble and publish information on rural health organization and administration in the United States. This might be accomplished by changing the title of the present Division of Domestic Quarantine and making promotion of rural hygiene its major function."–"Public Health Organization," White House Conference Series (New York: D. Appleton-Century Company), pp. 22, 23.
The Catholic Charities Review (November, 1938, p. 271) presents the following comments on the proposed National Health Program:
"In order to understand the proposed National Health Program it might be well to recall that in August, 1935, the President appointed the interdepartmental Committee. This committee set up a Technical Committee on Medical Care. The interdepartmental Committee called a National Health Conference in Washington last July 18, 19, and 20. At this Conference the Technical Committee presented certain concrete proposals for discussion. These proposals were substantially five in number, providing for the expansion of public health services–including maternal and child health services; Federal assistance for the expansion of hospital facilities; Federal assistance for the care of the indigent sick; a program of medical care for wage earners to be supported by general taxation; payroll taxes, or a combination of both; compensation for wage losses due to ill health.
"The American Medical Association does not raise much question about the need for expanded public health facilities, about the need for hospitals in uncovered areas, and a more adequate program for the medically indigent. It is even willing to go along on a program of compensation for the wage losses due to ill health. The fundamental conflict centers around the proposed program of medical care for self-supporting persons. The Medical Association is unalterably opposed to a program of compulsory health insurance as a means of providing medical care for wage earners. Apparently organized medicine is in favor of a medical benefit as a part of a workmen's compensation program. it may be, after all, that the differences of opinion are not as wide as they seemed. Careful discussion may help us to avoid the mistakes that we have made in unemployment compensation. if we try to get a perfect and complete system in the beginning, the chances are that we will get something which will never work."
109. The problem of providing an adequate health program for the neglected rural areas, including hospital and medical facilities, as well as adequate health organization, is too vast for private and cooperative endeavor. Federal assistance even is required at least in a number of rural states. The entrance of the State, however, should not destroy the programs of private and cooperative groups or arrest their development. Best results will be attained if the traditional American system of cooperation between government and private groups is retained and expanded.
An example of a cooperative health association is that of Altura, Minnesota. This association procures the services of a physician for all of its members. The doctor cares for all sick calls and gives a twice-a-year examination to all members, and in addition does some inspection and educational work for the good of the association. The physician's salary is $3,000 a year. Family memberships are $24.
"The Cooperative Method really begins when a group of 150 to 500 families unite to employ a physician full time. The number of people necessary and the costs depend upon their ability to pay. in the country, or in a small town, 200 families, representing 800 people, may put in an average of $20 per family. That is at the rate of $5 per person. This gives $4,000 a year. Physicians are entering into this arrangement for salaries varying from $3,000 to $7,000. it is best that the annual costs per member be graded according to family income. if a group is divided into three classes of families, one group would pay $40 a year, one $20, and one $10–making an average of $20. A plan which would be equitable would be to make the average cost $10 for one individual, $15 for man and wife, and $2 for each child or dependent. Thus, in a group of 200 married couples, of 380 children, and of 24 single adults, the income would be $4,000."–Warbasse, J. P., "The Doctor and the Public" (New York: Paul B. Hoeber, inc. Medical book dept. of Harper and Bros.), p. 498.
110. In an address given in 1938 on "Mobilization for Human Needs," President Franklin D. Roosevelt said:
"Private community effort is not contradictory in principle to government effort, whether local, state or national. All of these are needed to make up the partnership upon which our nation is founded. The scope of voluntary action cannot be limited because the very desire to help the less fortunate is a basis and spontaneous human urge that knows no boundary lines. it is an urge that advances civilization. I like to think that it is a national characteristic."
112. According to the American Medical Association, 1,779 counties in the United States have one or more general hospitals and 1,296 counties are entirely without hospitals within their boundaries.–"Important Hospital Facts," Bulletin 30, American Medical Association, March, 1935, pp. 34, 35.
For descriptions of Catholic hospital facilities in several rural dioceses, cf. Schmiedeler, Edgar, "A Better Rural Life," pp. 228–231.
Representatives of the American Hospital Association, The Protestant American Hospital Association, and the Catholic Hospital Association submitted a joint statement at the National Health Conference (July, 1938). The following excerpts are from this statement:
"It is not our place at this moment to urge upon those who are to formulate our legislation the motives which we believe should urge them to recommend any particular pattern, but it is our place here to stress what we believe to be the important, guiding and controlling principle in any future development, namely, the principle that whatever programs and procedures are drafted, they should be such that, in the words of a particularly valuable and experienced member of our Committee, 'they may alter to the least necessary extent the existing plan of cooperative understanding between public and private agencies.' This principle does not imply that the representatives of the Hospital Associations have blinded themselves to shortcomings in our present system. We may well admit that on the part of the voluntary agencies there should be developed greater coordination, continuity and unity of effort; that on the part of the governmental agencies there should be extension of function into hitherto unaffected geographical, psychological and social areas; and with reference to the mutual cooperation of the two that there should be more careful and effective planning, more extensive mutual subsidy of effort. Wherever possible the governmental agencies should place at the disposal of the private agencies those resources which are required to accomplish the work which the private agencies could perform more effectively than the governmental agencies.
"All of this we frankly admit. There still remains, however, the outstanding fact that consistent with American trends, the Government has allowed the private agencies the fullest exercise of their initiative and their prudent zeal in the promotion of ever so many of our national responsibilities. Now that we welcome the increased interest of the Federal Government as well as of the state and local governments inspired by the Federal Government in the health problems of the Nation, we are convinced that this increased and stimulated interest should manifest itself in deeper insight into and a far-reaching influence toward the relationships between the private and the public agencies. . . . With reference to the increase in the number of hospitals, the representatives of our Three Associations recommend a measure of prudent reserve no less than of effective activity." Here the statement warns against the erection of hospitals where the need does not exist thus "weakening the effective operation of existing institutions." The statement continues: "But it certainly seems to be the part of wisdom to authorize the expenditure of public funds only when the need for which they are to be expended has been frankly ascertained and when the multiplication of facilities does not operate against the continued employment of facilities already created.... in the pronouncements of the interdepartmental Committee great stress is laid upon the Government's responsibility for the care of the indigent. With this again we are in accord but that responsibility surely cannot be visualized as an exclusive responsibility nor as one which must absorb the social resources that have been developed through our existing American procedure. Here again we should like to emphasize the development of cooperative plans by the public and private agencies. Here again if the cooperative plan is to be intensified, there may be an opportunity for the wise and profitable expenditure of public funds to remunerate in part the private institutions for the public service which they are rendering and thus to increase their effectiveness for the promotion of the public welfare. The allocation of tax support for these public services would stimulate the private institutions towards still greater efforts and would, we hope, place at the disposal of the medically indigent and the indigent, facilities which the Government would undoubtedly find it extremely difficult to duplicate."
On the government and Catholic institutions of health, cf. "Bishop LeBlond Loolis at the Hospital Situation" in "The Catholic Charities Review "(November, 1938), p. 288.
113. Cf. Mother Mary of the incarnate Word, "Evangelizing the Disfranchised" in "Rural Life Objectives" (Third Series, 1937), p. 113.
114. On Maternity Guilds, cf. Schagemann, J. J., "Maternity Guild Series," Central Bureau, St. Louis, Missouri; also cf. articles by Schmiedeler, Edgar, "That's Something Practical" in the "Catholic Family Monthly "(June, 1935), and "The Maternity Guild" in "The Sign" (March, 1939).
A group composed of persons with average incomes are able, as a group, to meet the cost of medical and hospital care, but as individuals they are unable to meet the expense arising through the incidence of unexpected illness. This is a fundamental reason for both health and hospital insurance. A further reason for group protection is given on page 57, "Proceedings" (1938), National Health Conference, as follows:
"Recent studies provide a basis for estimating the cost of adequate medical care as defined by competent professional judgment. "if purchased on an individual basis for minimum fees." such care (exclusive of the costs of community services, dentistry, medicines, or appliances) would cost, on the average, about $76 per person a year or about $310 for a family of average size. Obviously, such expenditures for medical care would be possible for the great majority of all families only with extraordinary adjustments in the distribution of income, in budgets, and in standards of living.
"Alternatively, the cost of adequate care may be estimated crudely on the assumption that care is purchased by groups rather than by individuals. From the experience of various organized medical service and insurance plans, about $17.50 per person a year appears to be a reasonable minimum estimate of the cost of furnishing adequate care, exclusive of dentistry. Adequate dental care would cost at least an additional $7.50 per person a year. This gives $25 per person or $100 for a family of four as an estimated minimum cost of adequate care purchased collectively by groups rather than by individuals."
Systems of group hospital insurance are working out successfully in many cities of the nation. The success in urban centers warrants experimentation with group hospital insurance in rural sections.
On the recommendation made by the Technical Committee to the Interdepartmental Committee of the National Health Conference in respect to public medical care and compulsory health insurance, the statement presented by the three hospital associations contains the following observation:
"Concerning the prepayment of hospital care, our three Hospital Associations are in accord that through non-profit plans, on a voluntary basis, sound programs under professional leadership, and extension of these plans to rural areas with a liberalization of the membership requirements and the extension of benefits, should be strongly urged. The hospital insurance plans which are so young, have, nevertheless already shown their ability to face the national needs with a vigorous effectiveness. These plans should be given the fullest encouragement. if effective, as they undoubtedly will be, they will reach larger sections of our population. They will reach down more and more into the less privileged groups as financial reserves are built up which will make them actuarially and financially sound and will encompass, we honestly believe, a major part of the needs towards the alleviation of which the National Health program is devised. The suggestion has been made and is seriously entertained to request the interdepartmental Committee that steps be taken to formulate legislation enabling these Associations to secure Federal charters not only as a stimulation to them in their endeavors but also to facilitate administration and extension.
"With reference to compulsory health insurance, our three Associations have not as yet reached a complete unanimity. To this much all three Associations would subscribe, that if provisions for compulsory health insurance are to be understood as a prescription for every citizen to provide for some form of health and sickness security, all of us would be in complete accord. in other words, if it were left to the individual citizen to adopt this or that form, provided he adopts a form of economic protection in sickness, all of us would subscribe to such a program.
116. "We are grateful to all those members of charitable associations, from the conferences of St. Vincent de Paul to the recent great relief- organizations, which are perseveringly practicing the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. The more the workingmen and the poor realize what the spirit of love animated by the virtue of Christ is doing for them, the more readily will they abandon the false persuasion that Christianity has lost its efficacy and that the Church stands on the side of the exploiters of their labor."–Pius XI, "On Atheistic Communism," n. 46.
117. "Charity will never be true charity unless it takes justice into constant account.... And let no one attempt with trifling charitable donations to exempt himself from the great duties imposed by justice. Both justice and charity often dictate obligations touching on the same subject- matter, but under different aspects."–Pius XI, "On Atheistic Communism," n. 49.
"Justice is fundamental in the social order because it defines and defends the individual at points where he is in danger from others or from social conditions against which he is helpless. Charity is fundamental in the social order because it corrects the selfish impulses of strength and reinforces those who are weak with a view to a more perfect realization of the cultural and spiritual ideals of life. Were there no sense of justice individuals would be crushed by the community. Were there no sense of charity the community would perish because self-seeking would disintegrate it. Justice involves full respect for the rights of others no less than insistence on one's personal rights. Charity includes all life and all attitudes in life. it is not confined to the giving of relief. it engages the solicitude of every form of strength and wisdom for every kind of weakness and despair. The law of charity is universal in the Kingdom of Christ. The qualities upon which our Divine Lord laid emphasis are the offspring of charity which is the bond of union among men. Kindness, forgiveness, humility, freedom from resentment, the discipline of ambition are required for the corporate unity of life and they are insisted upon in the teaching of Christ because of His desire to see social relations express the Divine Will. Hatred, scorn, crass selfishness are forbidden because they break the divine harmony of life."–Kerby, Dr. William J., "The Social Mission of Charity" (New York: The Macmillan Co., 1921), p. 83.
118. "Sympathy with the poor will never master poverty. Dealing with isolated cases of it will never give us insight into its real nature. Assumptions concerning its nature, gratuitous theories about it, self- sufficient attitudes that excuse us from efforts to learn facts and their meaning can only hinder progress, prolong suffering and delay the day of social justice. Thinking, courage, industry, docile minds and impersonal devotion to intelligent ideals, these and these alone will prepare the modern good samaritan for the divine tasks of Christian Charity in the modern world."–Kerby, William J., op. cit., p. 4.
Cf. also, Haas, F. J., "Man and Society," Chaps. IV, V (New York: D. Appleton Century Company).
119. "The philosophy of the Catholic Charities stresses the importance of the individual, of the human being, and of the dignity of the human personality."–Duggan, R. P., "Catholic Charities in Rural America" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives" (Third Series, 1937), p. 182.
"The practical realization of the full and accurate meaning of charity (is) not mere relief but neighborly personal service."–Fitzgerald, J., "The Society of St. Vincent de Paul and Rural Life" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives" (Third Series, 1937), p. 175.
The impelling motive of charity stressed in the St. Vincent de Paul Society is the sanctification of the one who dispenses charity." In Catholic Charity the motive is static; the methods, dynamic."–Cf. Kerby, W. J.
The prevalent philosophy of social service differs fundamentally in its objective and its approach from Christian social charity. The primary objective of the prevalent philosophy of social service is the betterment of society, through the eradication of crime, poverty, and other social ills. The welfare of the individual is a secondary consideration. its aim to better society often finds expression in such quack remedies as birth control and sterilization. The social worker trained in this secular philosophy of social service assumes an attitude of condescension toward those to whom he ministers. His clients are looked upon as a distinct class. He is taught, it is true, to make a kindly and sympathetic approach; still his attitude is that of a being of finer clay ministering to "socially inadequate personalities." Social work of this type lacks in its objective and its approach the element of charity necessary to rehabilitate the erring, the unfortunate, and the underprivileged.
121. The tendency toward State monopoly is recognizable. State monopoly was advocated by certain groups of sociologists for at least two generations. Many of these sociologists recognized no legitimate place for religion and regarded private agencies as pioneers who were to prepare the way for eventual state monopoly. The public welfare program in the United States is not confined to the dispensing of relief; it seeks also to rehabilitate the underprivileged; it tends to appropriate to itself the mission of the Church in respect to the underprivileged and the delinquent. The tendency is to make psychiatry and social work substitutes for religion. We do not imply that the place for religion and the private agency is everywhere ignored, but there are definite trends which should cause deep concern for the future.
Unless we are prepared to surrender the field to the State, with its bureaucratic social service and its secular approach to the problems of child and family, organized charity must extend the field of its activities to the countryside. Organized charity should enter the field, not as a rival to public welfare but rather in the spirit of friendly cooperation. The final form which the public welfare program will take will depend in no small measure on the influences exerted by the private groups in shaping it. The general welfare will be promoted through this type of cooperation.
122. In many States children under the care of private agencies are supported in part out of tax money.
123. The not uncommon attitude is expressed thus: "Since the Government is caring for the underprivileged, there is no longer any need for private charities." But expansion of private charities is one of the best methods of reducing government costs.
124. "We are growing accustomed to the belief that something should be done to eradicate urban slum conditions, but relatively few people are aware of the fact that we have rural slum conditions as well. Farm houses in many parts of the country would have been condemned for occupancy long ago had they been in urban areas and open to the scrutiny of public officials and welfare workers. They are old, dangerous as fire hazards, devoid of household facilities, badly in need of repair, and in many cases not even adequate as shelter. Certainly they do not inspire any pride of ownership or joy of occupancy. They are isolated, run-down, and unfit to house human beings."–"Disadvantaged Classes in American Agriculture," Social Research Report No. VIII, p. 109 (U.S.D.A.).
"The city slums are being cleaned up, but the rural slums are continuing to exist without disturbance."–Bruce, Frank, "Is There a Rural Charity Problem?" in "Rural Life Bulletin" August, 1938, p. 12.
"In 1930 almost 1,000,000 farm families–15 per cent of the total number– received an income per family of less than $400. During the depression approximately 1,400,000 rural families were on our relief rolls....
"Today approximately 50 per cent of our farms and farmlands are operated by tenants. These developments (decreased farm ownership, increased share- cropping, farm tenancy, and transiency of agricultural workers) have produced the resultant social problems of economic insecurity, familial instability, domestic disintegration, and the insecurity of rural childhood."-Duggan, R. P., "Catholic Charities in Rural America" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives" (Third Series, 1937), p. 180.
"We must go to his aid (the country priest); not go to supplant him in charity nor attempt to transplant our city methods upon the countryside. We must go to our rural life leaders to learn from them and with their advice and cooperation develop a new rural social service unfettered by urban techniques many of which are not standing up any too well even in the cities, a social service in which the country parish and mission are the units and units as nearly as possible autonomous and not mere appendages of a top heavy central metropolitan headquarters. We must ask the country priests how we can help them and then as nearly as can be, help them that way."–Fitzgerald, J., "The Society of St. Vincent de Paul and Rural Life" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives" (Third Series, 1937), pp. 175, 176.
"The objectives of Catholic social work in rural areas is to preserve family life where it is threatened, to protect helpless childhood, to seek the remedies for the basic causes of economic insecurity and conditions of maladjustment, and to provide the care and proper social facilities which are commensurate with the dignity of the human personality.... The stability of our society and existing social order is only as strong as our weakest families."–Duggan, R. P., "Catholic Charities in Rural America" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives" (Third Series, 1937), p. 180.
Cf. Albert, C., "A Rural Program for Vincentians" in "Ecclesiastical Review," August, 1937, pp. 159-170.
125. The parish is the natural unit of Catholic charity. The care of the underprivileged of the parish is an obligation of the parish. The underprivileged of the parish offer to the priest and the people an opportunity to exercise the virtue of charity. While the entire parish should participate in the parish charity program, there is a need in each parish and mission for a small group of volunteers to look after those who need either spiritual or material assistance, namely, the dependent, neglected, and delinquent child; the erring juvenile and adolescent; and the needy or maladjusted individual or family. We cannot surrender total responsibility for them to the state or county. Although it may be necessary to accept assistance from the state or county, it should be remembered that there are spiritual needs that the state and county cannot supply.
"A plan for such volunteer service has been recently inaugurated in the diocese of Fargo. The volunteers–all women–are carefully selected and known as Parish Social Charity Workers. There are three in each parish and three in each mission of the diocese. Parish workers are united into county units with a chairman residing at the county seat and a priest director living in or near the county seat. The parish unit constitutes a special study club. The central diocesan bureau of Catholic Charities coordinates and unifies the program and outlines the study and work.
"Parish and county chairmen keep the central bureau informed of conditions in their locality and refer to the bureau matters that require assistance and intervention on the part of the bureau. They help in locating suitable Catholic homes for Catholic children placed either by the Catholic or the public agency. Parish and county units are centers of influences for molding modes of procedure. This, of course, necessitates a knowledge of Catholic social principles. The united efforts of county units under the central bureau provide a potent influence in the State.
"The interest of the pastor is essential for the success of this plan in his parish. Parish social charity workers are concerned with all social and charity problems of their community including child welfare."–Ryan, Vincent J., "Religious Welfare of Children Under the Child Welfare Service Section of the Social Security Act" in "Proceedings of the Twenty-third National Conference of Catholic Charities," p. 373.
Cf. Ryan, Vincent J., "The Fargo Plan" in "Rural Life Objectives" (Third Series, 1937), p. 133.
Cf. Emma O. Lundberg, U. S. Children's Bureau, "The Child in the Rural Community," also Third Series of "Catholic Rural Life Objectives."
"The Federal Social Security Act makes special provision for the development of social welfare programs in areas that are predominantly rural.
"The Federal Act provides for financial participation by the States so as to enable each State to extend and improve services for promoting the health of mothers and children, especially in rural areas. A definite sum is allotted for maternal and child welfare each year to each State, together with an additional sum determined on the basis that the number of live births in each State bears to the total number of live births in the United States. Provisions are made for the extension and improvement of local maternal and child-health services administered by local child-health units, for the development of demonstration services in needy areas, and for the cooperation with medical, nursing, and welfare groups and organizations.–Duggan, R. P., "Catholic Charities in Rural America" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives" (Third Series, 1937), p. 181.
129. Our Catholic charities must decentralize and expand to meet the conditions resulting from the decentralization and expansion of the public welfare. We need in every county and community Catholic representation to protect the Catholic interest and to supply what the public welfare cannot give. The plan for coverage in rural dioceses varies with the conditions in each diocese. The urban pattern is unsuitable for rural areas.
Cf. "Social Security Act," Public, No. 271, 74th Congress, H.R. 7260; Schmiedeler, Edgar, "A Better Rural Life," Chap. XV.
"For every child a home and the love and security which a home provides; and for that child who must receive foster care, the nearest substitute for his own home." This statement from the "Children's Charter," White House Conference on Child Health and Protection (1930), should be the objective of both public and private agencies.
130. In many States there are specific statutes to protect to a certain degree the religion of the child. Only an active interest on the part of the Catholic group in each community will safeguard the religious welfare of the child even where the statutes have protective provisions.
The needy aged not infrequently are subjected to exploitation. They require the protective interest which charity can provide even where they are recipients of assistance from the State. Material assistance does not meet all of the needs of old age. Old age is not a useless time spent in contemplation of death. Old age is a time for the contemplation of eternity. Religion is the great solace of the aged. The parish worker can brighten the declining years of the forgotten aged poor by frequent visits and often by bringing to them the consolation of religion.
132. "A strong, understanding, Catholic lay interest is needed to make effective Christian principles of morality and charity in the field of public welfare and perhaps it is needed to safeguard our private agencies from extinction. Unless we can secure such active lay interest, modern secular notions on birth control, sterilization, child welfare, care of the poor, and treatment of delinquency will prevail. Parish units of social charity serve as centers of influence in formation of public opinion."– Ryan, Vincent J., "The Fargo Plan" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives" (Third Series, 1937), p. 135.
134. "Rich men and masters should remember this–that to exercise pressure for the sake of gain, upon the indigent and destitute, and to make one's profit out of the need of another, is condemned by all laws, human and divine. To defraud anyone of wages that are his due is a crime which cries to the avenging anger of Heaven."–Leo XIII, "The Condition of Labor," p. 11.
135. The status of the farm laborer is presented in Chapter II, "Disadvantaged Classes in American Agriculture," Social Research Report No. VIII, prepared by Carl C. Taylor, Helen W. Wheeler, and E. L. Kirkpatrick (April, 1938). The following excerpts from this chapter are pertinent to the points under consideration:
"The systematic, gradual path to land ownership, which has been virtually synonymous with success in agriculture, is allegedly accomplished by way of the so-called 'agricultural ladder.' The assumption is that the ambitious beginner starts his climb as a hired hand, serves an indeterminate apprenticeship in this capacity, then steps rung by rung from wage-worker to sharecropper, tenant, and eventual owner. Whether this process works or not, the farm laborer occupies the lowest rung on this agricultural ladder and is today finding it increasingly difficult to move up even to the next higher rung as sharecropper or tenant; the prospect of eventual land ownership is scarcely within the realm of possibility for the great majority.
"Not only is the farm laborer's status at the bottom of the scale, but his living conditions, working conditions, annual income and degree of insecurity in the pattern of American rural life are relatively unknown" (p. 19).
The report estimates that exclusive of sharecroppers and unpaid family workers, there were over 2,700,000 paid farm laborers in the United States during the peak season of 1930. "The farm laborers stand at the bottom of the social as well as the economic ladder. During periods of low farm- commodity prices they, together with other farm people, suffer a decline in annual income. . . . During periods of high prices, the farm laborer's wages and perquisites increase, but he is not in a position to gain by rising land values, nor, because of competition for farms, does he find it easier to become a renter or owner. . .
"At worst, these laborers are part of that great mass of migratory farm workers whose paths weave a network over three-fourths of the States in this country. The living conditions of this latter group are admittedly deplorable and shocking, described by the Secretary of Labor as 'a threat to the development of good citizens.' Their unfortunate situation is accentuated by the prejudice of local communities against absorbing migrant workers, both because of their undesirability and because it will probably increase their relief burden and other community expenses...."
"Housing of seasonal farm laborers is inadequate in most sections. In the mid-western farming areas, the worker is usually furnished at least a decent place in which to live, but in the South, housing conditions of permanent laborers are notoriously poor. As described by one writer, 'They stay in shacks, thousands of which are unfit to house animals, much less human beings.' Seasonal labor is found housed in the 'veriest makeshift– improvised habitations made up of boxes, burlap, brush, or packing cases– to groups of substantial farm or adobe cottages.' . . .
"Many farm laborers cannot, or do not, even send their children to school. They do not know the stability and security of being a real, integral part of a community, and therefore enjoy almost no social participation of any kind. They are a socially isolated, sometimes shifting, sometimes stagnant group, without anchor, without keel, and without direction. They do not enjoy adequate legal protection by the State or Federal Governments, and often do not have local standing sufficient to give them social or business protection. Their lot is to eke out a mere existence now and apparently in the future.
"Another factor that contributes considerably to their general condition of instability, particularly among the migratory seasonal workers, is the lack of direction and guidance available to them in their job-hunting. They are ineffectual in locating new jobs, often incurring a serious expenditure of time and meager resources, because the means of finding jobs are haphazard and unorganized. These workers must rely for job information chiefly on chance, rumor, gossip, radio, letters from previous employers, posters, and advertisements....
"Although the annual income of the agricultural worker fluctuates considerably, especially in the case of the migrant worker, it is almost without exception far below the level required for a decent standard of living. According to a survey in 10 counties in 8 States in different sections of the country, the average annual earnings of farm laborers ranged between $125 and $347 for the crop year 1935-36....
"According to a study made in 1936 of 11 counties in different parts of the country, the average reported ranged from $62 among female Negro cotton pickers and $178 among male Negro cotton pickers in Louisiana and $125 among white male workers in a Tennessee county, to $347 among the white laborers in Pennsylvania, and $748 among the Orientals in Placer County, California . . ." (pp. 20-25).
"In 1930, 70 percent of the children, aged 10 to 15 years, who were gainfully employed in the United States were engaged in agricultural pursuits and it is highly probable that many more than the 171,000 women reported as working for wages on farms by the 1930 Census were actually engaged in such work, especially during the summer or harvest period of that year.... In California alone, in 1927, approximately 37,000 migratory children were engaged in agricultural work....
"Local school boards and parents of resident children are often indifferent or even opposed to having migratory children attend their schools....
"Little is known about migratory farm laborers except that many of them move almost ceaselessly throughout the year in search of work, and that this search takes them not only great distances, but in some cases into a number of States. Many of them are small farmers or mill-hands, seeking to supplement their income by seasonal farm labor. Many of them travel about in second-hand cars with their whole families, all looking for employment....
"His (the migratory agricultural worker's) income even during the short working season is both low and insecure.... His working conditions are unfavorable and his standard of living is extremely low. His period of employment averages from only 40 to 60 percent of the year. His ascent up the agricultural ladder is next to impossible....
"Another type of farm laborer is known in the Census as 'Croppers': in other words, those tenants whose landlords furnish all the work animals and pay them by means of part of the crops they produce....
"Many present-day sharecroppers have slipped back into cropper status through loss of land ownership or capital investments, or because of reversals or misfortune....
"The independence of the sharecropper is, by and large, only nominal, and his cash income is generally too low to give him much chance of bettering his economic status" (pp. 27-31).
136. "Every effort, therefore, must be made that at least in future a just share only of the fruits of production be permitted to accumulate in the hands of the wealthy, and that an ample sufficiency be supplied to the workingmen. The purpose is not that these become slack at their work, for man is born to labor as the bird to fly, but that by thrift they may increase their possessions and by the prudent management of the same may be enabled to bear the family burden with greater ease and security, being freed from that hand-to-mouth uncertainty which is the lot of the proletarian. Thus they will not only be in a position to support life's changing fortunes, but will also have the reassuring confidence that when their lives are ended, some little provision will remain for those whom they leave behind them."–Pius XI, "Reconstruction of the Social Order," p. 22.
By a family living wage is meant an income sufficient to support the wage earner and his family at least in frugal comfort. The individual has a right to marry and to rear a family. Insofar as the average wage earner is concerned, the only means that he has at his disposal for supporting his family is the wage he gets in return for his labor. That wage should be a family living wage. The family living wage is rapidly coming to be accepted, in theory at least. A few statements by those in high position are given in the following paragraphs. Pope Pius XI, in the Encyclical, "Reconstruction of the Social Order," p. 24, says:
"Every effort must therefore be made that fathers of families receive a wage sufficient to meet adequately ordinary domestic needs. If in the present state of society this is not always feasible, social justice demands that reforms be introduced without delay which will guarantee every adult working man just such a wage."
On this subject, the Pastoral Letter of the Archbishops and Bishops of the United States (1919) states (p. 6):
"The right of labor to a living wage, authoritatively and eloquently reasserted more than a quarter of a century ago by Pope Leo XIII, is happily no longer denied by any considerable number of persons. What is principally needed now is that its content be adequately defined, and that it should be made universal in practice, through whatever means will be at once legitimate and effective. In particular, it is to be kept in mind that a living wage includes not merely a decent maintenance for the present, but also reasonable provision for the future needs as sickness, invalidity and old age."
The following words of William Green, President of the American Federation of Labor are also to the point:
"American labor is definitely committed to the idea that the family is the unit upon which society can build constructively with best opportunities for all individuals to continue developing.... The man's productivity has increased more than enough to supply things formerly made in the house. His wage should increase in proportion. As a fundamental principle American labor feels it is far wiser and of greater permanent value to strive to keep the wages of the "head of the family" adequate to maintain standards of living for the family than to sanction the practice of outside employment of the mothers. In response to those who agree that this policy is desirable but that there are conditions under which it is necessary for both mother and children to secure gainful employment in order to bar poverty from the family hearth, we affirm it is no permanent remedy for low wages for the wife to seek employment in the factory when her husband works elsewhere. The result is inevitably lower wages for additional individuals and degradation of home standards. The only real remedy lies in an insistent and intelligent drive for higher wages for the head of the family."
The theory is one thing, the practice is another in only too many cases. This the following few selected facts should show: The "Yearbook" of the United States Department of Agriculture, 1930, contains a table showing the average yearly farm wage per month and per day, from the year 1866 on up to 1928, the eve of the depression. In 1866 the agricultural laborer in the United States received on the average, without board, $15.50 per month, or about 90c per day. In 1928 the wage, without board, stood at $48.65 a month or $2.43 a day. The highest average wage ever to be reached was that of 1920, namely, $65.06 a month or $3.56 a work day.
It is a rarity of note that in European countries in which "family allowances" have been current for some time, the practice of extending them to agricultural workers has recently grown quite rapidly. (Cf. "International Labor Office Yearbook," 1937–38.)
137. The individualism of the farmer has inclined many, even in prosperous days, to treat hired labor as a chattel in the market to be bought at the lowest possible figure. Labor agitation in the cities has awakened industrialists to a realization of the just claims of labor to decent living and working conditions.
"There should be reestablished the American tradition which is thoroughly Catholic, viz., a partnership in a modified form between the operator and the laborer. It might take a different form than dividends and profit- sharing but it would be more valuable to the worker. A cow, some chickens, some pigs, a good garden spot for the farm help, and the laborer could eventually step up to tenancy and proprietorship. Such arrangements have helped in the past; they have helped the community; they have social advantages. That which helps one family helps the whole world and helps the very ones who do the helping. We never lose or suffer by doing good to others."–Ligutti, Luigi G., "The Catholic and the American Solution of the Farm Labor Problem" in "Proceedings of the Twenty-Third Annual Meeting of the National Conference of Catholic Charities," p. 305.
Dr. Lowry Nelson, Professor of Rural Sociology, University of Minnesota, sees a need for extending to farm laborers provisions of the Social Security Program.
138. Speaking before the A. F. of L. convention delegates at Tampa, Florida, December, 1936, Secretary of Labor France Perkins, stated: "There is a very solemn obligation in which I think you share, to whole groups of wage earners, including the agricultural workers, and the sharecroppers and tenants who are actually wage earners though not legally, who in the past have not been too closely within the picture of the high standard of living which we think belongs to America. I want to recommend to you at this time that you look into the problems of the agricultural workers...."
Both the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations are now giving some attention to the organization of agricultural workers. At least some progress has been made. The Southern Tenant Farmers' Union has existed for some time and, in spite of the great odds against it due to conditions in the South, has, with at least some measure of success, been able to protect the rights of the great number of underprivileged croppers.
The provisions of the Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act which it administers refer to agricultural laborers and sharecroppers quite as well as to tenants.
140. "So long as there was government land to be had, the way was open from the position of farm hand to that of farm owner, to anyone who cared to take the trouble to go West and take a claim. Even in the older states where there was no government land to be had, it was not difficult for a farm hand to become a farm owner."–Kenkel, F. P., "The Economic Disfranchisement of the Sharecroppers" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives" (Second Series, 1936), pp. 91, 92.
"Many countries are faced with grave social and economic problems arising out of the existence of large numbers of poorly paid farm laborers with no claims upon the soil they till. We in the United States will do well to take steps to prevent a permanent landless class of farm workers."– Christensen, Chris L., "The Place of Youth in Agriculture and Rural Life" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives" (Second Series, 1936), p. 20.
141. "It might even be questioned whether the human will to cooperate, if it can be estimated at all, has not successively decreased according as the work of members of the community has become more and more specialized and thereby given them less opportunity to form a correct opinion of the connection between production and consumption.... It is one of the main aims of social reformatory work to direct developments in such a way that people's feeling of affinity with each other as well as the community shall continuously be made stronger and stronger. The consumer cooperative movement offers a splendid way of bringing about that social solidarity for which our age is yearning. '–"Youth and Cooperation," a report prepared by the Secretariat of the Swedish Women's Cooperative Guild and Groups.
"The economic formula contained in the cooperative movement may not be "The Solution," but it seems to be "A Solution." It seeks no particular favors but aspires to victory by reason of its inherent economic superiority over both individualism and socialism. It is superior to them because it lays the economic foundation for building up those social and ethical virtues which are, after all, the purpose of life."–Basenach, F., "Cooperation," Free Leaflet, No. LXIX (St. Louis, Mo.: Central Bureau).
144. "The cooperative movement, the full significance of which the American people have been rather slow to recognize, is undoubtedly one of the most singular, and at the same time one of the most important of social phenomena of the past hundred years. Like so many other great movements of lasting value it has had a humble beginning, and a slow but steady growth. It did not make its appearance, as some may think, like a meteor in the sky, suddenly, at Rochdale in England go years ago. The Rochdale pioneers, 23 poor mill hands who pooled their meager resources in order to buy and distribute within their group cooperatively the goods daily consumed in the household, had precursors, among whom Robert Owen, the wealthy manufacturer, was the most distinguished. But where this potent rationalist and communist failed, the poor men of the mills succeeded–a significant fact which has its counterpart in the experiences of communism and monasticism in our country. Well financed New Harmony in Indiana, sponsored by Owen, the master of New Lenark, failed quickly and completely between 1825 and 1827. By way of contrast, St. Vincent's in Pennsylvania, founded by Archabbot Boniface Wimmer twenty years later, has continued to exist and to flourish; it has, in fact, planted a considerable number of other abbeys in all parts of the United States, among which St. John's Abbey in Minnesota and St. Benedict's Abbey in Kansas are perhaps the most distinguished. Robert Owen excluded religion from New Harmony; he was in this respect the typical modern man of his age. He was a self-made man, of the rising bourgeoisie who were unwilling, to quote Professor H. M. Robertson, 'to be bound by what is considered to be antiquated rules.'"– Kenkel, F. P., "Ethical and Religious Background of Cooperation" in "Rural Life Objectives" (First Series, 1935), p. 43.
145. The statistics of the Cooperative Division of the Farm Credit Administration, for marketing and purchasing associations, estimated business, show the following picture for the 1935-36 marketing seasons: 10,500 associations; 3,660,000 members; $1,840,000,000 in business transactions. Regarding the last item it is pointed out that some associations engaged primarily in marketing also engage in purchasing, and some associations engaged primarily in purchasing engage to some extent in marketing. The purchasing business handled by the marketing associations amounted to $68,000,000 and the marketing business done by the purchasing associations amounted to $7,000,000. The final figures, after making proper adjustments are: marketing, $1,525,000,000; purchasing, $315,000,000; total, $1,840,000,000.–Cf. "Statistics of Farmers' Cooperative Business Organizations," Bulletin No. 6, May, 1936 (Farm Credit Administration, Washington, D. C.).
"Perhaps the most highly developed cooperatives in the United States are the farmers' mutual life insurance companies.
"The older among the organizations that can properly be described as farmers' mutual fire insurance companies have been in business well over a century. About half of the 1,941 such companies now in operation began business more than 50 years ago. The total volume of insurance carried by these companies exceeds 11 billion dollars. This insurance is sufficient to cover to three fourths of its value considerably more than half of all the farm property in the United States that is subject to insurance against fire.
"The insurance on the books of these companies, however, is not strictly limited to farm insurance. The demarcation between farmers' mutual fire insurance companies and urban mutuals, or general mutuals that write essentially all kinds of insurable property, is rather indefinite in some States–particularly in the East. Elsewhere in the country, and also in some Eastern States, these farm mutuals have generally been treated in law and in State supervision as a distinct class of fire insurance companies."- -Valgren, V. N., "Problems and Trends in Farmers' Mutual Fire Insurance," Bulletin No. 23 (Farm Credit Administration, Washington, D. C.), p. 1.
The cooperative principles ascribed to the Rochdale pioneers have been found essential for the success of consumer cooperatives. These principles may be summarized briefly as follows: (1) Democratic control and management with one vote to each member irrespective of the amount he may have invested in the cooperative, (2) fixed and limited earnings on the investment in capital stock, (3) sales at current rates and current prices and the distribution of the profits to the patrons on the basis of purchases made by cash.
146. "Much consumption at the point of production and the restoration of extensive local marketing, such as the well-trained farmer could manage, can easily bring to light the enormous economic damage that is being wrought in natural and human resources by the virtual private food monopolies–the exploiters of commercial farmers and the wasteful and inefficient long distance processors and distributors of inferior foods for the consumers."–Rawe, J. C., "Catholic Rural Social Planning" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives" (Third Series, 1937), p. 76.
"Farmers and industrial workers can defy the present unjust price- production system only by taking matters into their own hands. It is highly dangerous to wait for the government to do this, for as we have indicated the price paid for this intervention is usually dictatorship or a crushing bureaucracy." . . . "Cooperation is no simple matter. It is born of study, of mutual trust, and of understanding. It cannot be sold to America on a purely materialistic basis: saving money and cutting prices. That is too shallow and does not do justice to the great spiritual content of socio- economic cooperation. Cooperation can liberate the people, but only if it is intelligently presented to them as a practical method of bearing one another's burdens."–Deverall, Richard, "The Industrial and Rural Proletariate" in "Rural Life Bulletin," February, 1939, pp. 18, 19.
"We must bear in mind, what is too often forgotten, that farmers are manufacturers, and as such are entitled to buy the raw materials for their industry at wholesale prices. Every other kind of manufacturer in the world gets trade terms when he buys.... The farmer, who is as much a manufacturer as the shipbuilder or the factory proprietor, is as much entitled to trade terms when he buys the raw materials for his industry. His seeds, fertilizers, ploughs, implements, cake, feeding stuffs are the raw materials of his industry, which he uses to produce wheat, beef, mutton, pork or whatever else.... Is it any wonder that agriculture decays in countries where the farmers are expected to buy at retail prices and sell at wholesale prices?"–Russell, G. W. (A. E.), "National Being" (New York: The Macmillan Co.), p. 52.
148. Some of the cooperatives in the United States are established on the wrong lines. They are organized from the top down with little preliminary education on the spirit and technique of cooperation, while the actual control is retained at the top. The successful cooperative is democratic. It is essential that the organization start with the local unit and that the control be retained by the local units. Unless the members be educated in the spirit of cooperation, the cooperative will fail of its objective. Selfish individualism is the chief barrier to overcome in establishing successful cooperatives. The individualist who joins the cooperatives solely or primarily to get something for himself will cooperate only so far as he thinks it is in his own interest to cooperate. His desire will be to get without giving. He lacks the loyalty especially essential in times of stress, and unless there are immediate returns to him he deserts the cause.
Since cooperation is the democratic way, it is essential that the members be schooled not only in the spirit of cooperation but also in the technique of cooperatives. The success of a cooperative depends on the active, sustained, and intelligent interest of the members. It often happens in the United States that the members leave the thinking and the management to the leaders. The success of a cooperative depends upon a group of healthy units whose members have been schooled in the spirit of co-operation and in the technique of cooperatives, and who retain an intelligent and active interest. This principle is exemplified in the successful cooperative system in some of the European countries and in Nova Scotia. The American people could learn much from the study of these systems, especially the one that has met with so much success in Nova Scotia.
"The study of cooperation is an important part of the adult education program in Nova Scotia, since only through enlightened study will the people be prepared to give loyal support to the cooperative enterprises which are such a potent factor in the regeneration of our people."–Gillis, M. M., "The Adult Education Movement in Nova Scotia" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives" (Second Series, 1936), p. 77.
The following excerpts from Bertram B. Fowler, "The Lord Helps Those," indicate the educational method followed in Nova Scotia: "Government agencies and farm organizations tried to work out painless cures for the ills of the farmers. Farmers were told, with fine oratorical fervor, to vote for this or that self-appointed Moses in order to be led smoothly and effortlessly out of the economic wilderness–the wilderness into which their own ignorance of economic practices and organization had betrayed them.
"The men of St. Francis Xavier University therefore approached the job as one primarily of education." . . . "Out of these studies came the credit unions." . . . "Through their study clubs they began the marketing of their lobsters." . . . "Thus, through education, we see the old system of cooperatives marketing being given totally new outlooks and meanings." . . . "The work of St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia proves by contrast the difference between the old bureaucratic idea and the new and vital ideal of progress through increased knowledge and sound self-help." . . . "In Nova Scotia the store grows directly out of the little study clubs which meet during the winter evenings in the kitchens of the community. The store takes shape, is organized, and finally appears as a direct result of an intellectual and philosophical rebirth of the people who are to be its members. Such a membership is necessarily active and loyal." . . . "In too many places in the United States when the store is once set up the membership immediately ceases work and study and leaves everything to directors and management." . . . "In the final analysis, the men of Antigonish have given the consumer cooperative a new breadth. They have accepted the technique as worked out by British and American groups and handed this on to the people through the study clubs as a program of economic reform. They have poured into the cold and formal system built by the British a warm vitality of community understanding that is pure brotherhood in action. That is why the Nova Scotian cooperators today are looking forward to a new economic era that lies beyond the credit unions, stores, and marketing organizations." . . . "This education, further, is beginning to break down the barrier that the profit system erected between producer and consumer. Since all men are naturally producers, just as all are naturally consumers, the rights and duties of the two are co-incidental and co-dependent. To insure justice to a man as producer he must also be protected as a consumer."–Chaps. VI, VII "passim." (New York: The Vanguard Press.)
149. "The (cooperative) movement does not look upon the material goods of this world as an end in itself to which human life and action must be subordinated. It does not live for a maximum profit of the few at the expense of others not even for the enrichment of the cooperators at the expense of outsiders, since the cooperative movement is not a closed system, being open to all to join. Instead the movement aims at common cooperative work for all for the sake of a decent livelihood for all; it aims at the maximum distribution of goods among all men. Its attitude towards material goods is the true Christian attitude based on the principles that the goods of this earth are there to serve as instruments for the decent living of men as moral and intellectual personalities, and for the decent living of all men without exception."–Michel, Virgil, O.S.B., "The Cooperative Movement and the Liturgical Movement" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives" (Second Series, 1936), p. 16.
Organization from the bottom combined with active, sustained, and understanding interest on the part of the members is essential in preventing remote and absentee control. Under remote control a cooperative may easily be drawn into partisan politics and may be used by individuals to promote their own ends. The ideology of the true cooperative implies that through united loyalty and united and persistent effort, combined with an understanding of their problems, a group can become masters of their own economic destiny. The true cooperative is committed to a belief that the peaceful, democratic method is the way out. It attacks the problem with reason and not with emotion.
152. "Christian life is the life of a supernatural fellowship in which all the members pray and live in mutual spiritual cooperation. For a right living of the supernatural life, all the members of the fellowship need a sufficiency of material goods as instrumental means; and they need to obtain these with relative ease in order to give time and effort to their moral and spiritual development. For the acquiring of the necessary material goods by all with relative mutual ease, the mutual cooperation of the members of the fellowship is necessary. Hence the members of the Christian fellowship must give one another mutual or cooperative aid also in the economic field."–Michel, Virgil, O.S.B., "The Cooperative Movement and the Liturgical Movement" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives" (Second Series, 1936), p. 18.
" . . . it is a question of showing youth that the cooperative societies are not merely mechanical distributive apparatuses but also human organs for cooperation with high social aims."–"Youth and Cooperation," A report by the Swedish Women's Cooperative Guilds and Groups, p. 5.
154. "They did more than teach the fundamentals of cooperation, these men of Antigonish. They encouraged the students to look outward and read and study other movements that were going on in the world. They encouraged them to look into the current history of Russia and Germany and Italy. They encouraged them to study and decide whether the totalitarian methods and forms were orders to be desired and worked for.... Directors and officers of credit union and cooperative units were trained, not only as distributors of credit and groceries, but also as distributors of culture and reading habits. In most of these economic units there is a library committee. They meet periodically to plan new methods of book distribution, to outline campaigns whereby new members and students in the little clubs may be introduced to the newest and best in the current publications."– Fowler, Bertram B., "The Lord Helps Those," pp. 62, 149.
For a decade the American people have been struggling with a great financial depression. Millions have sunk down to the proletarian level. Millions are without opportunity to earn their daily bread. Moral and cultural degradation has resulted from depressed economic conditions and from relief. Billions have been spent on relief and to prime the economic pump. The end is not yet in sight. During the same decade the proletarian fisherman, the propertyless miner, and the depressed farmer of Nova Scotia, through well-organized cooperative action, have made rapid and constant strides in the improvement of their economic, social, and cultural status. The following isolated case indicates the progress of the cooperatives among the fishermen, miners, and farmers of Nova Scotia: "Of all the fishing villages on the Nova Scotia coast, Dover was one of the most destitute, most isolated and most illiterate. In less than five years Dr. Thompkins had those fishermen studying and reading literature on economics and cooperation, as well as religion and Christian doctrine. Today they have a cooperative lobster factory, cooperative store, two fishing schooners owned and managed cooperatively, a credit union, a two-department school and going strong. The best description of the work here is found in 'The Catholic Church and Adult Education,' thesis of Dr. M. MacLellan for his Ph.D. at the Catholic University."–Gillis, M. M., "The Adult Education Movement in Nova Scotia" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives" (Second Series, 1936), p. 78.
It was mainly through cooperatives that the farmers of Belgium, Holland, and Denmark recaptured the ownership of the land. During the period in which cooperatives were the main factor in effecting the restoration of the ownership in these countries, there was a progressive decline of ownership among the American farming group. Less than 58 per cent of the American farmers have an equity in the land they operate today. When mortgages are considered, the equity of those who have a title in many instances is very small. In Denmark, on the other hand, over go per cent own the land they operate. Similar conditions would be found in Belgium and Holland.
"The members of the Boerenbond Belge are chiefly Flemish peasants–all Catholics–who inhabit the northern half of Belgium. They are small land holders. The average farm contains twenty-five acres or less. They are noted for large families so there is little hired labor among them. Like most of the European peasants, and unlike the farmers of America, they live in villages and go out from the villages to till their farms. The village is centered in the church and the country pastor becomes the economic and social as well as the religious leader of his flock.... It was to further the religious, social, and economic interests of the peasants that the central organization was founded at Louvain in 1890 during an agricultural crisis. This it has accomplished by organizing the parish units with the cooperation of the pastor, and then by furnishing these groups with valuable assistance. The most notable expansion of the Boerenbond has come since the War, it having increased its membership from fifty-six thousand to more than one hundred thousand families since the armistice. As a result of its efforts, the Belgian peasant today enjoys a comparatively satisfactory economic position, and he has been saved from the devastating influences of anti-religious socialism which have engulfed his neighbors where the Boerenbond is not established.... The motto of the Boerenbond Belge is 'all for each and each for all.'"–O'Hara, Edwin V., "The Church and the Country Community" (New York: The Macmillan Co.), pp. 96-98.
Cf. "Sweden, The Middle Way" by M. Childs for the story of the cooperative movement in Scandinavian countries.
155. "Cooperation makes for trust in self-help and mutual-help, self- reliance and independence. It is not a useful weapon in the class war. It would lift up the lowly by inculcating thrift and other virtues necessary to the husbanding of one's resources. It cultivates moral responsibility in the consumer and educates him to an appreciation of quality. If the cooperator is a producer, the cooperative demands of him standards as high as those maintained by the guilds in the days of their glory. Cooperatives both of consumers and producers relieve those dealing with them of the fear that the buyer must beware. Cooperation could, should it succeed generally, reintroduce the just price and abolish the usurious practices inseparable from the capitalistic system.
"All in all, the cooperative system is well adapted to the great purpose to which our Holy Father has dedicated the Encyclical, "Quadragesimo Anno," the reconstruction of society through the deproletarization of the masses. It undoubtedly aids the moral renovation of which the nations stand in need, while it promote.. at the same time their economic well-being."– Kenkel, F. P. "The Ethical and Religious Background of Cooperation" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives"(First Series, 1935), p. 47.
156. "The American farmer has had many credit needs. He has borrowed for practically every conceivable purpose related to farm life. He has borrowed to buy the farm, to equip and operate it, and finally to market the farm products. The farmer often found it necessary to borrow food, clothing, and general household supplies until he could produce a crop. It is difficult to separate consumption loans from production loans on the farm, since the farm provides both a home and the business plant for the farmer and his family. The ability to borrow food for a season has often enabled the farmer and his family to continue farm operations and to become substantial citizens of the community. On the other hand, such loans, with many farmers, have developed habits of indolence and inefficiency which have been disastrous to effective production and to high standards of living on the farm. Credit abuse must be studied as closely as the proper use of credit."–Sparks, E. S., "History and Theory of Agricultural Credit in the United States" (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Co., 1932), pp. 1, 2.
"The extensive use of credit by American farmers is a recent development. It is explained largely by the phenomenal increase in the value of the investment and operating capital used in farm production, and in the commercialization of agriculture. The increase in investment capital is due, in the first place, to the increase in the price of farm lands, building materials, machinery, and livestock; and, secondly, to the improved quality and increased quantity of machinery, livestock, and improvements which are necessary in the more intensive stage of agricultural development which we are entering.
"Likewise, the commercialization of agricultural production has had a great influence upon the use of credit, particularly operating credit. From the semi-self-sufficing stage of agriculture of the early nineteenth century we have developed to a high degree of specialization. The practice of specializing in the production of one or a very few crops and depending upon buying in the market, rather than producing a great variety of commodities and consuming them at home, has increased the farmer's credit operations in two distinct ways.
"In the first place, the necessity of buying the goods he needs during the year, rather than operating on his own stored-up products of the previous year, has led to his dependence upon others, in greater or less degree, for operating capital.... The primary cause of this practice is specialization and the resulting dependence upon outside sources for most of the goods needed by the farmer. Also, the farmer's income is in the form of money, and cash is easily spent....
"In the second place, commercial or specialized farming has greatly extended the time intervening between the maturity and consumption of agricultural products. Time is required to locate markets and to transport the commodities to all parts of the world. The modern process of refrigeration alone has greatly extended the markets for meats and other perishable products. In fact, one of the purposes of refrigeration is to extend the time between the maturity and consumption of the product. While this development has resulted in a great advantage to both the producer and the consumer, it has, nevertheless, accentuated the importance of credit in financing the marketing of farm products.... Frequently farmers themselves have considered it desirable to hold the crop for better market conditions. In such cases, the responsibility of having 'money tied up' is shifted to the farmer, and he often finds it necessary to borrow from the bank.
"The recent growth of farmers' cooperative selling agencies which follow the policy of marketing products gradually through the year, has greatly increased the significance of market financing to the farmer. The development of the cooperative marketing movement is, of course, a direct outgrowth of the problems created by specialization in agriculture."–Lee, Virgil P., "Principles of Agricultural Credit" (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1930), pp. 5-7.
The National Catholic Rural Life Conference is committed to the belief that the self-subsistence, family-size farm provides the basis for security and independence. The specialization to which Professor Lee refers may be necessary under certain conditions of soil and climate.
157. In "Financing Agriculture" (1930), L. J. Norton gives a study of the borrowing sources of 1,055 Illinois farmers in 1935. He submits the following data in regard to long-term credit: 65.5 per cent was borrowed from the Federal Land Bank and Land Bank Commissioner, 13.6 per cent from insurance companies, 12.5 per cent from individuals, 6.9 per cent from banks, 1.5 per cent from other sources. The data for short-term credit was as follows: from individuals 49.9 per cent, from banks 34.8 per cent, from production credit associations 5.5 per cent, from implement companies 4.5 per cent, from others 5.3 per cent. "One interesting point," observes the author, "is the great importance of individuals in financing these farmers, particularly for short-term loans."
158. "A striking phenomenon of American life is the tolerance displayed by Americans in their treatment of the usurer. But it is not so much an attitude of tolerance as it is one of resignation."–Crowley, Francis M., "Absentee Landlordism in a New Form" in "Rural Life Objectives" (Second Series, 1936), p. 31.
Professor Virgil P. Lee in his "Principles of Agricultural Credit" (1930) gives reasons why the farmers must pay higher rates of interest than the businessman and the speculator. He speaks of conditions that obtained in 1930. Although the reasons cited do not explain the excessively high rate the farmer has been called upon to pay, the points this author sets forth in the following should be given consideration:
"What determines the commercial banker's policy with regard to interest charges? Why are large merchants and speculators in the cities able to obtain short-term loans at 4 or 5 per cent, while the farmers of Texas, Georgia, and Montana commonly pay 8 to 10 per cent, or even more? Is the difference due to the lack of competition among country bankers, the greater risks involved in farm loans, or the inefficiency of country bankers? . . .
"In the first place, the typical bank of the farming community is a very small scale business as compared to the city bank.... The process of making and collecting a $100 loan is the same as that for a $10,000 loan.... Farmers are proverbially poor depositors and liberal borrowers. Their deposit accounts are commonly small in proportion to their loan accounts. Farmers as a class have never become as thoroughly convinced of the advantages of maintaining a checking account as have merchants and other classes of businessmen. Their purchases are less frequent and they often prefer to make payments in cash. Moreover, the fact that most of the farmer's income is commonly received during one season of the year often results in the withdrawal of his deposits long before the harvest season. This applies particularly to the so-called 'one crop' farmers.
"Likewise, the farmer borrower often withdraws the full amount of his loan immediately, whereas it is common for the city borrower to maintain about twenty percent of his loans on deposit with the bank.... The fact that farm loans are concentrated in one season of the year tends to increase the cost of banking. In the first place, the concentration of loans during the producing season often compels the banker to rediscount paper or to obtain direct loans from other banks. Second, the concentration on loan maturities during the harvest season often leaves the bank with surplus funds which must remain idle or which must be placed outside of the community at a considerable sacrifice in interest rates....
"Farmers have often been accused of being unbusinesslike. While such an accusation is not true to the extent that it was formerly, and while it does not apply to all farmers, they are comparatively slow in meeting their bank obligations. This is the case partly because they are not as conveniently located as are merchants, but a far more important cause of delay in paying notes is the uncertainty of timely income from which to pay the loan. This does not mean that the risk in farm loans is greater–rather the uncertainty of payment at a given time is greater.... Farmers' notes are frequently renewed and extended.... The necessity for renewals often places the bank in an embarrassing position in its relation to depositors.
"The great majority of small-town banks are not members of the Federal reserve system and, therefore, do not have as ready access to the country's loanable funds as do their city neighbor banks. This usually means that such bankers suffer the disadvantages of paying a higher rate for borrowed funds. They reach the great discount markets of the country by the indirect route of a correspondent bank."–Op. cit., pp. 200-203.
"The farmer's chief credit need is for mortgage credit, with a subsidiary need for intermediate credit. But the market for farm mortgages is a notoriously poor one. The principle is very simple. Farm mortgages cannot be standardized and sold on grade or brand. The first buyer of the mortgage must inspect very closely, not only the property, which is mortgaged, but the character of the mortgagers and even the administration of justice where the property lies. In general, anything which has to sell on inspection does not sell so readily as a standardized article which can be sold on grade. The problem of improving the market for farm mortgages is, therefore, that of enabling lenders to advance the money without having to go through the expensive process of inspecting the security offered.
"The Federal Farm Loan system is an attempt to solve that problem. This system, supplemented by the intermediate credit system, is the culmination of a long series of experiments in trying to overcome the various resistances, or to remove the various obstacles to the free flow of capital to the farms."–Carver, T. N., From the Foreword to "History and Theory of Agricultural Credit in the United States," by E. S. Sparks (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, Co.), p. xii.
Cf. "The Fifth Annual Report of the Farm Credit Administration" (1937) for information concerning the "Emergency Crop and Feed Loans" in the United States, 1921-1937.
"The year 1937 marked the twentieth anniversary of the establishment of the 12 Federal land banks, first of the units comprising the cooperative system of agricultural financing now embraced by the Farm Credit Administration....
"Over a quarter of all mortgaged farms in the United States carry their debt with the Federal land banks."–"Fifth Annual Report of the Farm Credit Administration," 1937 (U. S. Government Printing Office), p. 1.
"The Farm Credit Act of 1937 established a provision for the making of 'conditional payments' on land bank loans. Under terms of this enactment a borrower finding himself with a comfortable surplus at harvest time, or other occasion, may make a conditional payment with the Federal land bank holding his mortgage, out of which future maturing installments shall be drawn. The unused balance may draw interest until such time as it has all been applied to loan payments. So in a 'good year' a borrower has opportunity to provide for future installments which–when they fell due– might be hard to meet because of crop failure or other hazard of the farming business. This new plan does not deny the established privilege of making advance payments; rather it supplements."–Ibid., pp. 5, 6.
159. The problem of providing the farmer with needed credit is closely related to other problems which afflict the farming group, as is indicated in the following excerpt from "The Future of the Great Plains," a report of the Great Plains Committee, December, 1936 (M 93-96):
"The primary purpose of any readjustment of the financial situation in the Great Plains area should be progressive reduction, and elimination at the earliest practicable moment, of the necessity for grants and subsidies; substitution therefor of needed capital loans on a sound credit basis; and establishment of a sound credit basis–which means one which is safe for the borrower as well as for the lender–by bringing land use into conformity with the requirements imposed by fundamental climatic and other physical factors, and by market conditions....
"In the recent past, three major factors have affected the soundness of loans and investments in the Great Plains area: (1) the decline of the general price level of agricultural commodities; (2) the great variability in crop yields; and (3) the fictitious values attributed to much of the land during periods of intense speculation.
"Although increasing deposits and bank reserves indicate improvement in conditions in the Plains, there is little likelihood that the Region by itself will be able to contribute greatly to the capital requirements for a general program of rehabilitation and development....
"All possible reliance should be placed on private sources of capital, and lending by them should be encouraged; but . . . it is probable that a considerable time will elapse before the Great Plains area will invite renewed interest by private lenders to any consequential degree. Although the proportion of these loans by life insurance companies, commercial banks, and private investors has declined while that held by the Federal land banks and the Land Bank Commissioner has increased so that these public agencies hold a larger proportion than any other single lending institution; nevertheless, the private lenders still are heavily loaded with delinquent mortgages of the region and with real estate from foreclosures and defaults.
"In one respect this hesitation of private lenders in the long run may be beneficial. It may give time for the establishment of new lending standards. It was outside capital which built up the economy of the Great Plains Region, but also it was the lending without foresight of this private capital that is in large part responsible for rapid and destructive developments of land use."
Referring to the breakdown of the credit mechanism in the Great Plains, the memorandum goes on to say:
"The problem falls into three parts: (1) the adjustment of existing debts; (2) the meeting of the normal credit demand; and (3) the provision of additional credit for new undertakings."
The report stresses throughout that no credit plan will suffice unless through credit a new pattern of land use and of institutional reorganization may be elected.
160. The recommendation for cooperative credit associations presupposes the proper use of the soil and the family-size self subsistence farm. The recommendation also presupposes the active, sustained, and understanding interest essential for the success of every cooperative enterprise.
Cf. Bulletin No. 4, Farm Credit Administration, Cooperative Division, Washington, D. C., May, 1936, entitled "Cooperation in Agriculture," a selected and annotated bibliography with special reference to marketing, purchasing, and credit, compiled by Chastina Gardner.
161. "Credit unions represent the type of strong and resolute cooperation we need to preserve the independent ownership of the small farmer and to give the propertyless tiller of the soil a stake in the land."–Crowley, F. M., "Absentee Landlordism in a New Form" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives" (Second Series, 1936), p. 31.
In Nova Scotia the Credit Union is regarded as the first step on the ladder that leads to economic security. The Nova Scotian cooperative movement began with the Credit Union. The results obtained in Nova Scotia reveal the possibilities inherent in the Credit Union which have not yet been discovered in the United States.
In "The Lord Helps Those," Bertram B. Fowler contrasts its development in Nova Scotia with its development in the United States:
"Today the American credit union is a monument built by the hands of the common people. But it is, in the final analysis, little more than a small- loan system, notable and constructive as it admittedly is. There has been no widespread system of adult education to awaken its members to its real significance. Except in isolated groups and sections, it is not tied up to the great consumer movement of which it is inescapably a part. Because of this the credit union in the United States has failed to play the emphatic part it should now be playing in the building of a new and democratic economic system" (p. 73). "In most of its operations in the United States the credit union completes its job when it has wiped out uneconomic credit, installment-buying, and the like among its members. In Nova Scotia, when this point has been reached, the job has only begun. After that the credit union begins to expand into the local banking institution" (p. 83). "A new use of credit unions in the United States is necessary if the destroying system of share-cropping and enervating tenancy is ever to be broken. The credit unions must expand from their present position as mere lending agencies in the industrial areas into the field of actual regeneration in small communities and rural districts. To do this the same type of practical education adopted by Nova Scotia is needed" (p. 87). "The credit union that today does no more than take care of the necessary short-term loans of the workers and curtail somewhat the spread of the pernicious habit of installment-buying fostered by the commercial system is weak and antiquated in comparison with the credit unions of Nova Scotia. For the Nova Scotian people's bank today stands solidly behind cooperative consumer, marketing, and producer action, housing, resettlement, and regeneration. It has become the active tool of the people rather than a medium that does little more than mitigate a few of the chronic and oppressive ills that beset the wage earner" (p. 88).
162. "The essence of the Pope's program is a system of occupational groups. In each industry the occupational group should include all interested parties, labor as well as capital, employees as well as employers. Employers and labor and other subdivisions of other occupations would keep their rights of separate assemblage and vote inside the occupational groups and their right of separate organization. These groups, says Pope Pius XI, would 'bind men together not according to the position which they occupy in the labor market but according to the diverse functions which they exercise in society.' The occupational groups would seek to modify competition by maintaining standards of fairness with regard to wages, hours, prices and business practices; to avoid private industrial dictatorship by enabling labor to share in all industrial policies and decisions, and to exclude political or bureaucratic industrial dictatorship by keeping the immediate and day-to-day control in the hands of the agents of production. They would be prevented from injuring the consumer or the common good by governmental action, 'directing, watching, stimulating, and restraining, as circumstances suggest or necessity demands.' This form of government control is very different from and very much less than that contemplated by collectivism. Moreover, the consumers could protect themselves through some form of representation in relation to the governing bodies of the occupational groups."
"In a word, the occupational group system would aim to bring into industry sufficient self-government to reduce to a minimum the conflicting interests of the various industrial classes, to place industrial direction in the hands of those most competent to exercise it and to permit only that amount of centralized political control which is necessary to safeguard the common good."–"Organized Social Justice," Social Action Department publication, National Catholic Welfare Conference, pp. 10, 11.
"We have indicated how a sound prosperity is to be restored according to the true principles of a sane corporative system which respects the proper hierarchic structure of society; and how all the occupational groups should be fused into a harmonious unity inspired by the principle of the common good. And the genuine and chief function of public and civil authority consists precisely in the efficacious furthering of this harmony and coordination of all social forces."–Pius XI, "Atheistic Communism," n. 32.
"Every department of agriculture should be organized cooperatively to function harmoniously with similar organizations of industry, business and the professions as vocational groups, with the Government standing by as monitor or referee to prevent abuses and conflicts, but leaving the actual work of managing the various occupations for their own best interests to the autonomous action of the organized groups themselves."–Bishop, W. Howard, "Agrarianism, the Basis of the New Order" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives" (First Series, 1935), p. 52.
At least one State, namely Portugal, is attempting to carry out the plan of occupational grouping recommended by Pius XI for the reordering of society. Article XXXIV of the new Portuguese Constitution reads: "The State shall encourage the formation and the development of the national corporate economy. It shall guard carefully lest the elements which comprise it tend to establish among themselves an unrestricted competition such as is contrary to the just ends of society and of themselves, but that they rather are encouraged to collaborate with one another as members of the same collectivity."
The teachings set forth in the social Encyclicals on the family, ownership of property as a natural right, the family living wage, just distribution, etc., are embodied in the Portuguese Constitution.
For information concerning the practical application of these teachings in Portugal, cf. Michael Derrick's "The Portugal of Salazar."
163. "Just as the unity of human society cannot be built upon class warfare, so the proper ordering of economic affairs cannot be left to free competition alone."–Pius XI, "Reconstruction of the Social Order," p. 28.
164. "There is then, in this country as well as in Europe, a mutual non- rapprochement between the industrialist and the farmer. The industrialist when he turns farmer, as he frequently has done in such places as Iowa and Nebraska, reforms his land into a potential, mechanized factory. He conflicts with the elemental interests of individual and State by attempting to grow rich where others attempt to grow produce that is sufficient unto the day. He pretends to be in sympathy with Napoleon's axiom: 'Agriculture is the soul, the foundation of the State,' but carries it on in such a fashion that it is no longer agriculture but industry.' "– Fichter, J. H., "A Comparative View of Agriculture" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives" (Second Series, 1936), p. 112.
"Despite our recently developed huge cities, our rural society maintains a position of transcending importance in any social planning. More capital is invested in agriculture than in any other type of enterprise. Farming gives employment to more persons than are employed in any single industry. When rural people have an adequate purchasing power, their consumption demands alone keep the wheels of industry turning for one third of the year or even more of the time."–Rawe, J. C., "Catholic Rural Social Planning" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives" (Third Series, 1937), p. 71.
The farm problem is perhaps the crux of the nation's economic problems. Distress in agriculture has its repercussions in industry.
"Fortunately, I believe, farmers, laborers, and corporation heads are coming more and more to appreciate their mutual interdependence, and the fact that there can not in the long run be prosperity for the United States while there is depression on the farm. Our people recall the great agricultural abundance of 1922 and how it turned out to be a waste because it destroyed farm purchasing power and thus increased unemployment in the cities. It is no secret that farm income, factory pay rolls and business profits rise and fall together.
"Those persons who understand that the amount of farm income has profound effects upon city jobs realize that we cannot afford to keep the agricultural part of our population in economic bondage. The dollars that find their way into the farmer's pockets not only determine the living condition of the 25 percent of our people living on farms. Those dollars affect very markedly the lives of another 20 percent of the people who live in villages and towns in the rural areas. Finally, they affect, though less directly, every last person in New York or Chicago and every other city whose economic welfare is dependent in any way at all upon farm purchases.
"There is no doubt but that the decline of farm purchasing power between 1920 and 1929 accelerated and accentuated the 1929 depression. Neither is there doubt but that the entire nation suffered when farm income fell by more than 50 percent to a little over four billion dollars in 1932. It has been estimated that 4 million workers walked the streets during the worst of the depression because farmers lacked the purchasing power to buy urban products.
"If the purchasing power of the farmers in 1937 had been in the same relation to the purchasing power of non-farmers that it was in 1909-1914, their buying power would have been about 25 percent greater than it was. The importance of raising and stabilizing farm income at this level, and thereby providing steadier urban employment and a powerful force for avoiding repetitions of 1929 can hardly be over-estimated."–Wallace Henry, "The Farmer's Problem" in "The Acolyte," January, 1939, pp. 4, 5.
165. "A national congress to represent all economic life, organized around similarly constituted occupational associations, could plan and order our whole economic structure, which needs planning and fair distribution of rewards as a whole and in its parts as much as does farming. Farmers in such a national economic congress would see it to their interest in the marketing of their crops to strengthen the hand of the propertyless wage workers in the various occupations so that they would all have their own self-governing unions and would come to share equably in the income of their industries, in the administration of them, even in the ownership and in the organization of the occupation–something the encyclical proposes. Such a congress would soon become not simply an advisor of government, but a true arm of government."–McGowan, R. A., "Property–Organization- Government Action," pp. 11, 12. Catholic Conference on Industrial Problems, Washington, D. C.
"I am certain that much progress could be accomplished toward developing a long-time, stable, expanding industrial program with appropriate inducements to capital, labor, farmers, and consumers for putting it into effect, once we could bring together some of our broad-minded industrial and labor leaders to consider production schedules, payrolls, numbers of workers, fair profits, for our major basic industries as a group, and for the country as a whole."–Wallace, Henry A., "Whose Constitution?" (New York: Reynal and Hitchcock, Inc.), p. 293.
166. "One of the reasons why nations try so hard to export surplus products is that the people within the country who have the income to buy at least part of these-products are already supplied, while those who need them lack the buying power. Surplus producing groups thus go to all lengths to open up markets abroad, instead of devising ways of increasing consumption among low-income groups at home. At the same time, other producing groups, anxious to keep as much as possible of the limited domestic market to themselves, seek to raise tariffs in order to keep out competing foreign products which they themselves can produce, though at a higher cost. The result, as we have noted before, is less of either foreign or domestically produced goods to distribute within the country and at higher prices.... Farmers particularly should be wary of policies which might result in further loss of mutual trade. While at first glance they might believe it a good thing if all competitive farm exports were excluded, they should realize that for every bushel or pound of foreign stuff that might be kept off the domestic market by the exclusionist policy, there are some four or five bushels or pounds of stuff produced on our own surplus export acres which are waiting and ready to be dumped on the home markets."–Ibid., pp. 136, 138.
167. Following the World War the export market was closed. Through scientific farming and application of machinery, there were vast increases in the products the farmer had to sell. As a result the price fell below the actual cost of production. Those conditions have obtained now for two decades. The first decade was a period of advancing prices on the things the farmer had to buy. Between 1929 and 1933 the price of one type of such commodities, namely, farm machinery, dropped 6 per cent but in the same period the price of farm products dropped 63 per cent. The farmer sells on an open market, whereas the products of industry are sold on a controlled market. How effect a parity between the prices of agricultural commodities and manufactured products? Controlled production combined with a "processing tax" is one suggestion. The "processing tax" has been ruled out by a Supreme Court decision. Revision of tariff as a means of reopening foreign markets has been suggested. It is self-evident that in order to sell abroad we must also buy from abroad. It is further suggested that the exchange of farm products for low priced "handcraft and semi-manufactured" foreign products, made possible through proposed tariff revision, would tend to raise the price of farm products to a point nearer a decent level. The amount of manufactured products the farmer would buy with his increased purchasing power would be much larger than the amount of goods imported. The sponsors of tariff revision believe the consumer and the laborer as well as the farmer would benefit from it. Incidentally, such a plan would be a type of international cooperation, of benefit to trading nations and a measure to promote international peace.
In the article referred to ("The Acolyte," 1939), Secretary Wallace sets forth his plan for stabilizing farm products–his EverNormal Granary plan. The plan aims at securing constant prices through crop insurance and through loans to enable the farmer to store his products in years of abundance. Mr. Wallace makes the following observation on his plan: "The purpose of the EverNormal Granary, then, is to achieve stable, balanced abundance and thus promote a harmonious relationship between farmers and other economic and social groups. This is in line with the principle of "Quadragesimo Anno" which holds that there must be a 'harmonious proportion' between prices which will enable man's various economic activities to 'combine and unite into one single organism and become members of a common body, lending each other mutual help and service.' "– p. 6.
The problem of parity of price between agricultural and industrial commodities is the crux of the economic farm problem It is a difficult problem and concerns the banker, the factory owner, and the laborer as well as the farmer.
168. Considering the matter of future production of American farms, it is essential that the question of prospective population be kept in mind. For decades past our domestic markets grew rapidly because of a large annual increase in our population. While there is still some increase each year, the rate of growth has been decreasing since the World War. This check in growth has been due to two causes, restrictive immigration legislation and a striking decline in the birth rate.
An actually diminishing population for the United States in the not far distant future is highly probable and even a rapid decline is altogether conceivable. The effects of such an eventuality upon home markets would seem self-apparent. The National Resources Committee of the Federal Government has given much attention to the subject of our future population prospects, as witnessed by its elaborate study, "The Problems of a Changing Population."
Cf. Wallace, Henry A., "Whose Constitution?," Chap. IX; also Murray and Flynn, "Social Problems," pp. 169-185.
170. "While the maintenance of government is the primary object of taxation, its ultimate end, the ultimate end of government itself, is the welfare of the people. Now if the public welfare can be promoted by certain social changes, and if these in turn can be effected through taxation, this use of the taxing power will be quite as normal and legitimate as though it were employed for the upkeep of government."–Ryan, John A., "Distributive Justice" (New York: Macmillan, Rev. Ed., 1927), pp. 92, 93.
On limiting fortunes through taxation, cf. Ryan, op. cit., p. 263; cf. Cahill, Edw., "Framework of the Christian State" (London: Gill & Son, 1932).
172. Through the operation of an unjust price schedule, which obtains particularly between the rural and urban sections of the nation, the rural sections are not compensated for the wealth they produce; and as a result the wealth gravitates to the great financial and industrial centers. It seems fair that a portion of this concentrated wealth should be returned to the financially weaker States in the form of grants-in-aid. It would be better, however, if price parity were effected so that the grants could be eliminated.
The right use of funds for education always represents a wise expenditure of tax money. The right use of funds for education will provide opportunity for all underprivileged youths who have the capacity and the desire for academic studies and will also provide special vocational training for those who lack the ability or the desire for academic and professional training. Public funds for education could be conserved if the State were to encourage private schools through payment, at least in part, on a per- capita basis for services rendered in the field of education.
Elaborate and costly public welfare services, patterned after the populous urban East, are economically unsound in the sparsely settled midwestern rural states. Tax money would be conserved if a wider use were made of the private agencies and institutions especially for such services as they can render more efficiently and at a lower cost. The State is paying for a lot of service that ought to be donated.
173. "Even before the 1930's the National Industrial Conference Board of New York City estimated that the farmer was paying one fifth of the tax bill of the nation, in spite of the fact that his share of the national income was only one tenth. About a score of the colleges of agriculture have made taxation studies in the last ten years."–Kolb, John H., and Brunner, E. de S., "A Study of Rural Society" (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1935), p. 323.
For a summary of fifteen of the studies mentioned, cf. "Taxation of Farm Property," by Whitney Coombs, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Bulletin 172, February, 1930.
"As compared with non-agricultural groups, the rural population contributes more than its proportionate share of taxes, and receives far less than its fair share of the total tax moneys collected. One of the principal reasons for this inequality is the existing system of levying taxes, particularly, the general property tax. This tax is the most important source of tax revenue in the United States, as it provides three-fourths of the tax money required for the maintenance of State and local units of government. The general property tax, however, places a disproportionately heavy burden on agriculture, because it rests almost exclusively on land, which, unlike most personal property, cannot escape the assessor's eye.
"Furthermore, the general property tax fails to reach a considerable portion of wealth owners who possess intangible personal property, such as stocks, bonds, and bank deposits, the total volume of which probably exceeds the total volume of real estate."–Haas, Francis J., "Man and Society" (New York: D. Appleton-Century Co., 1930), p. 426.
174. "First and foremost lies the fact that land prices and local taxes have in general been too high for the revenue-producing capacity of the land. Men have not been able to afford land ownership. This has meant a growing land tenancy. In eight of the Great Plain States 15 percent of the farmers were tenants in 1880; by 1910, 30 percent of them were tenants, and by 1935, 40 percent."–Walster, H. L., "Backgrounds of Economic Distress in the Great Plains" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives" (Second Series, 1936), p. 105.
Cf. "The Farmer's Tax Problem." House Document No. 406, 73rd Congress, 2nd Session. Transmitted June 16, 1934.
This document states facts on farm taxes and discusses tax revision with special reference to farm property taxes. The appendix gives State tables pertaining to tax delinquency. The Letter of Transmittal gives the following summary of the main data:
"Taxes per acre of farm real estate in the United States as a whole reached their peak in 1929, at 241 percent of the tax per acre in 1913. Since 1929, however, these taxes have declined about one-third of the 1913 level, or to 163 percent of the pre-war year. Comparable figures are available in the enclosed report, by years and for all States and geographic divisions, from 1913 to 1932, and for 23 States for 1933....
"The relation of property taxes to farm-land values is, we believe, a significant indication of the burden of these taxes. Although taxes per acre have declined substantially since 1929, land values declined even more up to the past year, thus increasing the burden of the tax in relation to the value of property. In 1932 taxes were nearly three times as high as in 1913, relative to land values. In the past year, however, estimated values of farm real estate per acre increased 4 percent while taxes declined about 13 percent, thus reversing for the first time in a decade and a half, the trend of taxes relative to land values. In 1932, farm real estate taxes took on the average $1.50 per 5100 of full value of land and buildings, as compared with $1.25 in 1933.
"The trend of farm property taxes relative to that of prices of farm products and of income in agriculture shows even more strikingly the increase in the farm tax burden. In 1932 gross income per acre from farm production was $5.08 compared with $7.73 in 1913 and $12.24 in 1929; the 1932 figure being 34 percent below that of 1913, while taxes per acre were 89 percent above the pre-war level. In 1932 the gross income from 9 acres was required to pay the taxes on 100 acres of land, whereas the gross income from only 3 acres was sufficient in 1913. Improvement is noted in 1933, income having increased and taxes declined, with the result that the number of average acres, the gross income from which was required for the real estate taxes on 100 acres, was reduced from 9 to 6. Taxes must be paid out of net income, unless paid out of saving or with borrowed money. Such data as are available on this point show that taxes in recent years have taken a very large part, in many cases all or more, of the net income in farming.
"Out of all this tremendous pressure of taxes upon property values and income in agriculture, has resulted an alarming growth of tax delinquency in recent years, as shown by preliminary data compiled in a nation-wide survey conducted by this Bureau in cooperation with the State agricultural experiment stations and financed by Civil Works funds. In 1,040 counties in 18 states, the number of tax-delinquent farm properties in 1932 was more than two and a half times as great, and the amount of tax delinquency about two and a third times as great as in 1928. This increase in extent of farm tax delinquency occurred despite the fact that the average tax per acre in the United States declined a fifth from 1928 to 1932.
"Facts such as these indicate plainly that taxation presents one of the most important problems confronting farmers, and that some practical means to help meet this problem is urgently needed. This problem is due primarily to increased expenditures for State and local purposes and continued dependence on the general property tax as a means of raising nearly four- fifths of the combined tax revenues of the latter. Under the pressure of high rates and administrative difficulties the property tax has come to be little more than a real-estate tax, as large amounts of personal property– principally intangibles–escape taxation. The farmer's property consists of real estate and tangible personalty, such as livestock, implements, etc., which cannot be hidden from the tax assessor or removed to another taxing jurisdiction. Hence, his property does not escape taxation. The farmer's dependence on these forms of property makes him especially subject to the 'general' property tax. His income from sources other than his farm ordinarily is small, and his property taxes are high in relation to his income. Even in years when crop failures, low prices, or both, deprive him of net income, he must pay the property tax because, unlike income taxes, it is levied even in years when the taxpayer has no income.
"In view of these facts, there are suggested in the enclosed report certain considerations which in our judgment must be taken into account in any attempt to meet the farmers' tax problems. These considerations relate primarily to economy in local expenditures through possible reorganization and consolidation of local government and reallocation of functions. Consideration also must be given to fundamental questions of tax revision aiming to reduce property levies by securing more of the necessary revenues from other sources to replace a part of the property tax."–pp. iii, iv.
For three consecutive years, tax levies on farm real estate showed an increase, with the index rising to 161 for 1937 as compared with 156 for 1936, and 155 for 1935. Farm taxes per $100 of value amounted to $1.15 in 1937 as compared with $1.13 in 1936 and $1.50 at the high point of 1932.– Cf. "Facts for Farmers," Farm Research, Inc., Washington, D. C.
175. One of the gravest problems connected with property tax is this, that assessors are inexpert in making assessments.–Cf. Kolb-Brunner, op. cit., p. 326.
"Over and above the matter of discovering taxable property there is the further difficulty of properly assessing it. Equality of taxation demands assessment of all taxable property on relatively the same basis. But studies show that, as a matter of fact, pronounced inequalities in assessment exist. Differences of over 100 percent per acre assessed valuations in practically contiguous farms are not unknown. There also seems to be a definite tendency, judging from studies made, for the assessment on small properties to represent a higher proportion of full value than on large ones. Furthermore, the great bulk of real estate assessments in the United States are largely based upon the personal opinions of assessors or reviewing bodies. Many assessors have no particular training for their work. And there is not a little room for favoritism."–Schmiedeler, Edgar, "The Farmer's Taxes," Unpublished lectures (Washington, D. C.: The Catholic University of America).
176. "Inequalities in the apportionment of tax burdens can be corrected by taxing the value of the products of the land, averaged over a period of five or ten years, instead of taxing the land itself; by increasing the tax rates on intangible wealth such as stocks, bonds, and other securities; and by increasing the tax rates on income and inheritances. This plan would obviate the need of curtailing necessary governmental expenditures, and at the same time would remove the disproportionately high tax burden now resting on agriculture."–Haas, op. cit., p. 427.
There is an increasing trend in the direction of the sales tax because it is easily collectible. Luxury taxes are justifiable, but a sales tax on the necessities of life places an inequitable burden on the poor and low-income group and should be abolished. It is an unwise public policy to tax those with incomes insufficient to procure the necessities and decencies of life, whether the tax be direct, as for instance sales tax, or hidden consumer's tax. Such taxes tend to depress further the low economic status of the underprivileged with resultant injury to health, morale, and character, thus creating new economic liabilities for society. Taxes which fall on those with insufficient incomes tend to depress business inasmuch as they limit their purchasing power. This group, of necessity, spend all they receive. What is gained through the tax is lost to business as a whole through decreased volume. A tax which falls on those who have surplus incomes increases the volume of business. It does not limit consumption and the tax money goes eventually into the channels of trade. Ability to pay should be the usual basis for taxation. Since ability to pay is the fairest basis of taxation, it would seem wise that the tax levied on homesteads be as far as possible replaced with the graduated income tax (from whatever source it may be derived) and the graduated inheritance tax.
The proposed tax on the value of farm products is in effect an income tax. It is similar to the tree crop tax which has been enacted by some States, for instance, Wisconsin, in order to encourage reforesting. Under the tree- crop-tax law the land is taxed very little, in some instances only ten cents an acre, in order to provide for administrative costs; taxes are levied on the tree crop as it is transported to market. The farm-products tax would require considerable administrative machinery, whether it would be a tax of products as they are brought to market or whether a tax on the value of the products of the land, averaged over a period of five or ten years. Nevertheless, it is deserving of careful consideration. Its great merit lies in this, that no money would be taken from the farmer by the State for taxes when he has none or little. But in any case, it ought to be a replacement tax. The farm-products tax should not be levied in addition to the property tax; nor should it be in addition to the income tax. Income on which products tax is paid should be exempt from income tax.
Cf. Messrs. C. W. Thompson and Verle McElroy, "Homestead Tax Reduction in Iowa," Bulletin No. 17, Bureau of Business Research, College of Commerce, Iowa University, Iowa.
"Leo XIII says . . . that ownership cannot be extended, and the benefits of peace between labor and capital cannot be obtained, if the government imposes unjust taxes. It would seem to be his thought that taxes should be applied to farms on a progressive scale, so as to make it undesirable for any individual to seek to own a very extensive tract of agricultural land."–Kenkel, F. P., "The Economic Disfranchisement of the ShareCropper" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives" (Second Series, 1936), p. 53.
On the progressive land tax, cf. Henry C. Taylor, "Outlines of Agricultural Economics," p. 284 (New York: The Macmillan Co., 1935).
177. A differential land tax providing for the exemption of homesteads combined with the progressive land tax is recommended primarily because of its social implications. It would shift the burden to the owners of large tracts and absentee landowners.
It would discourage large holdings and thus promote the ownership of family-size farms operated by owners.
A tax on the future increment in land values arising from other sources than improvements is also a social measure. Such a tax would curb speculation, stabilize prices, and promote stable ownership by farmers. A tax on the future increment of land values was established in England in 1909 and throughout the German Empire in 1911.
Cf. Ryan, John A., "Distributive Justice," pp. 93-104, on the morality and the social effects of increment taxes.
For the purpose of discouraging the concentration of large landholdings, the Iowa Tenancy Committee recommends a system of differential taxation. The committee also recommends a "capital gains," or increment tax, to be collected when land is sold.–Cf. "Report of Recommendations of the Farm Tenancy Committee," Iowa State Planning Board, October, 1938.
"We were convinced from the beginning as we are today that you cannot modernize agriculture by taking the ownership to the profit-seeking hands of absentee landlords, or the greedy hands of distant managers and irresponsible stockholders. We know that such land tenure would finally give us in the domain of agriculture the same big, exploiting, usurping, private monopolies that claim the industrial world, and our rural families would under such land tenure be broken up and exhausted, economically, morally, spiritually, as so many industrial families are."–Rawe, J. C., "Catholic Rural Social Planning" in "Catholic Rural Life Objectives" (Third Series, 1937), p. 73.
178. A tariff for protection against the dumping of foreign agricultural products is necessary. A tariff for the maintenance of prices for agricultural products, however, is useless. Despite tariffs, prices in 1938 were very low. Prices on farm products are determined by supply and demand, and the greater the supply of wheat, cotton, corn, etc., the lower the price. Home tariffs cannot effect or control prices made in the international market.
Secretary Henry A. Wallace ("Whose Constitution, an Inquiry into the General Welfare," pp. 76-79, New York, 1936) shows to what extent high tariff walls, while preventing an inflow of goods from foreign nations, also prevent the outflow of agricultural products. Tariff barriers have been one of the main factors in reducing foreign markets for surplus agricultural products.
179. The gold dollar was devaluated by the Monetary Act of January 1, 1934, by fixing the price of an ounce of gold at $35 as compared with its former price of $20.67. As may be seen at a glance, it cut the value of a dollar almost in half; to be exact, the value of the dollar was decreased by 41 per cent. To buy the imports from other lands required, therefore, almost two dollars instead of one. The American consumer, consequently, had to use almost two dollars to buy a dollar's worth of products from foreign lands; in effect, it was the same as raising the tariff wall by 41 per cent. Since these products are largely industrial and not agricultural, added protection was given the American manufacturer. In order to offset the advantages given American products, foreign nations retaliated either by raising new tariff walls against American goods, or by inaugurating economic self-sufficiency programs, as did Italy, or by allowing only certain quotas of American goods to enter, as did France, or by subsidizing their own exports, as did Germany. Under such conditions the American farmer found it difficult to dispose of his wheat and cotton. International retaliation is one, even though not the sole, reason why there is a carryover of between 200 and 300 millions of bushels of wheat and a surplus of 11,000,000 bales of cotton (1939). Whether devaluation was responsible in a marked degree for the subsequent behavior of internal prices, cannot be demonstrated with accuracy because many factors enter into the price situation.
Cf. Spahr, et al., "Economic Principles and Problems," Vol. I (New York: Farrar and Rinehart, 1936), pp. 599-605.
The woes of the farmer are not to be cured by manipulating the money system; so much has been demonstrated in American history. "Farmers who are caught in the trap think they benefit from land speculation, 'soft money,' and debt repudiation. Actually the whole thing is a nightmare to everyone concerned."–Wallace, op. cit., p. 37. Coming from an ardent champion of the farmer's cause, this is a most significant statement.
The National Catholic Rural Life Conference is committed to the belief that the well-being of the nation rests to a large measure on a healthy agrarianism. The conference regards the betterment of rural conditions as the starting point in the regeneration of society. Its objectives are the improvement of the spiritual, religious, social, cultural, and economic status of the rural group. These objectives are so closely related that one is dependent on the others. Right living conditions are essential for spiritual and cultural development. Reconquest of the soil, which has been depleted through improper use and exploitation, is a fundamental consideration, for human erosion is closely related to soil erosion. Reconquest of ownership is another fundamental consideration, inasmuch as ownership is essential for independent, successful, and self-satisfying farm life. The multiplying of family-size, owner-operated farms is an important safeguard against the exploitation of our greatest natural resource, namely, the land.
An intensive educational program is needed in order that rural youth might learn to appreciate the singular blessedness of life on the land and in order that the farming group might be enabled to retain its economic independence and develop a spiritual and self-satisfying rural culture. This education should be adapted to the special needs of the farming group and should be grounded on the Christian philosophy of life.
The rural problem is complex and varies in type and in intensity with geographical areas. Wrong attitudes toward agriculture and wrong appraisals of what constitutes fundamental values, deeply rooted in the thinking of both rural and urban groups, are barriers that must be surmounted. Although the rural problem presents great difficulties, we cannot admit that it is insoluble, for the fate of human society rests on the solution. The rural problem is so important that it should engage the greatest minds of the nation.
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