"Church and Social Order"


National Catholic Welfare Conference staff in front of the organization's facility in Washington, D.C., 1940

Courtesy of ACUA


It is almost impossible to exaggerate the significance of this statement.  First, Organized Social Justice represented the viewpoint of just the Social Action Department (SAD), but the one body authorized to speak for U.S. Catholics, the Administrative Board of the National Catholic Welfare Conference (NCWC), issued the "Church and Social Order." Second, as historian Francis A. Broderick argues, "it endorsed every major reform (except the child-labor amendment)" that SAD "had supported for almost two decades." On one hand, this is not surprising: Bishop Edwin V. O'Hara, a former student of Monsignor John A. Ryan and SAD's episcopal chair, asked Ryan to have his former students Father Francis A. Haas and Father Raymond McGowan help him draft the document. On the other hand, the U.S. hierarchy endorsed a program of reform - a "right social order" - that explicitly called for a sharp break with economic business as usual.


Church and Social Order


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

1. In what ways is this document similar or dissimilar to Quadragesimo Anno?

2. What connection did this document make between structural change and "a reform of morals and a profound renewal of the Christian spirit"?