Bishops condemn ‘senseless’ war between employers and workers
Cardinal Logue (right) and the Catholic hierarchy in Ireland issued a joint pastoral outlining the Church's position on the relationship between Capital and Labour. Photo: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C., USA

Bishops condemn ‘senseless’ war between employers and workers

Published: 22 February 1914

‘Masters and men have a common interest in industry – and that is the way to maintain it for the common good,’ says a pastoral issued today by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in Ireland.

The Pastoral calls for the immediate establishment of well-formed Conciliation Boards to resolve disputes between workers and employers.

Written in response to the recent Lockout in Dublin, the Pastoral refers to it as a ‘deplorable quarrel’ that has ‘left us with the humiliating memory that in a year of plenty many thousands of the toiling masses in the capital city of our country were left for months in idle dependence on rations and strike-pay from England, and that large numbers of children had to be fed by charity away from their homes, when not deported into strange fosterage across the channel.’

The letter continued: ‘The sense of misery caused by this deplorable strife was deepened by the fact that, whatever is to be said about the instigation, the contest arose and went on between Irish employers and Irish workers, to the serious prejudice of the nation’s interests at a time when the near prospect of native government should have raised the hearts of true Irishmen and drawn them together in harmonious and dignified relations.’

The Catholic hierarchy acknowledges that the right to association and to unionise is vital for workers, and roots its plea for industrial peace in the encyclical of Pope Leo XIII, released in 1891, Rerum Novarum, which addressed social inequality and social justice issues, as well as discussing the rights and duties of capital and labour.

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