Cardinal O'Connell, "Between Employers and Employed," 1912


Cardinal O'Connell & Cardinal Gibbons
Courtesy of ACUA

Inspired by Pope Leo XIII's encyclicals, Cardinal O'Connell adopted the practice of writing pastoral letters to his flocks. He first began this practice during his tenure as Bishop of Portland, Maine, addressing particular events or conditions of the time in these letters. In this pastoral letter, Cardinal O'Connell shares his thoughts on the issue of employer-employee relations. Promulgated in November of 1912, he wrote it during the West Virginia miners' strike, in which Mother Jones participated. By that time, the months-old strike had been marred by violence, the governor's declaration of martial law, and the arrest and court-martial of Mother Jones for violating martial law.


"Between Employers and Employed," from Pastoral, November 1912


As you read the document, reflect on the following questions:

  • In examining how to avoid social dangers, to which two Christian virtues did Cardinal O'Connell turn?
  • Why does Cardinal O'Connell see the problem of relations between employers and employed as a moral and not simply an economic problem?
  • Like Fr. Ryan, Cardinal O'Connell accepts the principle of a living wage. Who does he see enforcing it? The state? The employed? Unions?
  • In "Solving the Problem," on what basis must the social problem of the relations of employers and the employed be solved? What does this mean for the role of the state?