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Published Monthly Except July and August
THE CATHOLIC EDUCATION PRESS
Under the Direction of the
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
The Catholic Educational Review
THE BISHOPS' PASTORAL LETTER
An event the importance of which it is impossible to exaggerate will take place early in January, 1920, when from every Catholic pulpit throughout the United States there will be read, on a Sunday to be designated later, the joint Pastoral Letter now being prepared by a committee representing the entire Hierarchy of this country. The Pastoral will be the united utterance of every American cardinal, archbishop and bishop.
Not since 1884, following the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore, have the bishops issued a joint Pastoral letter. Important as was their pronouncement at that time, the circumstances of to-day-the crisis that now faces civilization, the acute struggle between the forces of utter anarchy and of law and order, of atheism and religion-combine to give the message which now will issue from the American bishops a gravity and a significance of unparalleled importance.
The Pastoral Letter will express the views of the bishops concerning all the problems now confronting the Church in America, as these problems were discussed at the meeting of the Hierarchy at the Catholic University in Washington between September 24 and 27, of this year. Ninety-two archbishops and bishops were present at these sessions and formed the Natioanl Catholic Welfare Council-which is the Hierarchy of America, functioning between annual meetings through an Administrative Committee having under its jurisdiction a number of important sub-committees, such as education, social work, lay societies, and the press. At this meeting there was also formed the Board of Home Missions and Foreign Missions, which is responsible directly to the annual meeting of the Hierarchy.
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Archbishop Hanna of San Francisco is chairman of the Administrative Committee of the National Catholic Welfare Council, and Archbishop Mundelein is chairman of the Board of Home and Foreign Missions.
A movement is now under way, approved by bishops and priests, and rapidly spreading throughout the country, to have all Catholics receive Holy Communion, on the Sunday when the Pastoral Letter will be read, for the intentions of the bishops, and of our Holy Father the Pope, as expressed in the Pastoral Letter. Those who have already pledged themselves to take this action are also actively spreading the pledge among their friends and acquaintances and asking these again to continue the apostolate. The heads of several educational institutions have promised to instruct their pupils as to the importance of the coming pronouncement of the bishops pointing out to them that in this manner the leaders of the Church are endeavoring to give the entire nation a message which will aid the leaders of the people, and the people themselves, to arrive at a peaceful and just solution of the great problems now confronting the whole world. These teachers are pointing out to the Church that Marshal Foch, the Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Armies and the greatest of all living generals, has declared repeatedly that he attributed his victory to the prayers of the children as much as to any other cause.
When the American Cardinals issued their pronouncement to American Catholics at the beginning of the World War they not only called them to work and to fight for their nation's cause, but they also urged them to pray without ceasing.
The war has left as its awful heritage a condition of sorrow and trouble and danger in all the world. And unless the efforts now being made by all men and women of good will to reconstruct human society are inspired and guided by God's grace, how shall such efforts prevail? The Holy Spirit speaks through our bishops. Their united voice will at the opening of the new year summon us all to heed the everlasting and immutable principles laid down by God himself through Christ Jesus our Lord. If all Catholics everywhere in our country-the rich and the poor, the leaders and the led, all kinds and conditions of men-shall not merely listen to the words of our bishops, but shall also kneel down together at the Holy Table, what a demonstration the event will be of Christian unity! What an outpouring of grace will follow! The bulletin deems it to be its duty to commend this great movement, and to spread the news of it among our readers.
FROM POPE LEO XIII'S ENCYCLICAL ON CHRISTIAN DEMOCRACY”
For no one lives only for his personal advantage in a community; he lives for the common good as well, so that when others cannot contribute their share in the general object, those who can do so are obliged to make up the deficiency. The very extent of the benefits they have received increases the burden of their responsibility, and a stricter account will have to be rendered to God who bestowed those blessings upon them. What should also urge all to the fulfillment of their duty in this regard is the widespread disaster which will eventually fall upon all classes of society if this assistance does not arrive in time; and therefore is it that he who neglects the cause of the distressed poor is not doing his duty to himself or to the state."