- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 2 Feb 1967, p. 203-210
- Pocock, The Most Rev. Philip F., Speaker
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- Citizenship, democracy and freedom: an explanation by the speaker of the meaning he attaches to these words. The speaker's thesis that "democracy, properly understood, as an ideal towards which we must strive, is the child of Christianity whose roots are sunk deep in the religion of Israel. Before the Advent of Christ there were no true democracies." Principles, the planks of Christ's platform, out of which has grown the ideal of democracy. Youth today and their confusion. A time for rededication to the virtue of citizenship and to provide leadership that will inspire youth with hope and confidence.
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- 2 Feb 1967
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- Full Text
- FEBRUARY 2, 1967
New Concepts Of Freedom And Democracy
AN ADDRESS BY The Most Rev. Philip F. Pocock, D.D. COADJUTOR-ARCHBISHOP OF TORONTO
CHAIRMAN, The President, R. Bredin Stapells, Q.C.
The early history of Canada is the heroic stories of the "Black Robes" such as Brebeuf and Lalemant and the merchant explorers. Saturday night in Canada then was Souls versus Furs. The urge of mission and of money was the birth of the nation. And in the struggle for survival in a rugged inhospitable but beautiful land was the freedom given by space and the dignity of the individual who had to stand on his own because there was no complex society to support him. In these matters, both the Jesuit and the fur trader had no doubt as to where each stood.
In 1967, the concepts of freedom and democracy cannot be seen with such clarity. The realms of science and faith appear to clash. An Anglican priest can protest his Chris tianity while denying the mystery of Christ and indeed, a God. Words and ideas are turned upside down by the propagandists of the world.
But the search for truth can sometimes be embarrassing as a kindly priest found out upon questioning one of his little parishioners.
"Do you know the Lord's Prayer, Mary", he asked. She nodded shyly in the affirmative.
"And do you know the Ten Commandments?" Again she nodded.
"And the Creed?"
Her little chin still moved up and down. "And how about the catechism?"
Mary took her finger out of her mouth"Damn it all", she said, "I'm only seven!"
We are honoured today by the presence of His Grace, Archbishop Pocock, who has a most distinguished record of service in his Church, commencing with his ordination in 1930 in London, Ontario. Scholarship is the hallmark of the serious cleric, the quest for which took His Grace to Washington and Rome for postgraduate studies. By 1944 he had become Bishop of Saskatoon and by 1952, Archbishop of Winnipeg. With the free wheeling experience that only the west can give, His Grace was ready to return to his native Ontario as Coadjutor Archbishop of Toronto in 1961.
The ecumenical efforts of all churches have brought about some remarkable changes in attitude. But there remain many differences to be resolved, as we all know. I am told that when Dr. Howse, who is also with us today, remarked that he and our guest of honour had been good friends notwithstanding these differences, Archbishop Pocock could have replied,-That is as it should be. After all we both teach the same lessons and we both teach the same gospel
you in your way, and I in HIS!
It is my pleasure to introduce to you an outstanding civic and church leader, The Most Reverend Philip Francis Pocock, D.D.,J.C.D., Coadjutor Archbishop of Toronto.
Doctor Mortimer Adler in his very important and little known publication entitled "How to Read a Book", has said that a reader must first determine the exact meaning of the terms used by the author. It follows that the first obligation of a speaker or a writer is to define his terms. Since the principal terms I shall use in this address are citizenship, democracy and freedom, I shall begin by explaining the meaning I attach to these words.
Citizenship is defined in the dictionary as a status,-a legal status acquired by birth, residence or naturalization, involving rights and privileges conferred by law. In this sense St. Paul claimed to be a citizen of Tarsus. Now I do not intend to speak of citizenship as a status, but rather as a virtue. But even as a virtue it has a double meaning.
In the broad and commonly understood sense of the word, citizenship is a virtue which inclines a man to obey the laws of the land, to pay his taxes, to serve his country in time of need, to live on friendly terms with other members of the community, to mind his own business. This is usually what we mean when we say of the deceased, "he was a good citizen".
However in the highest and truest sense of the wordand it is of this kind of citizenship I speak-it may be defined as devotion to perfection in government. In this sense it is
a virtue akin to patriotism which in turn is a virtue allied to love.
By patriotism a man loves his country, its people, institutions, mountains, hills and plains so much that in time of need he will lay down his life for its homes and traditions.
By citizenship a man loves his country and its people to such an extent that he wishes to see it governed in accordance with principles which will best respect the dignity and freedom of its people while attaining the common welfare of all. This kind of citizen aspires to perfection of government and in him two qualities are required:
(1) He must have an ideal of perfect government -a concept, an objective towards which he can strive. (2) He must devote himself to attaining that ideal through a self-sacrificing dedication of his talents, ability and resources. In summary, a citizen in the highest sense of the word is one who, inspired with love for his country and its people and possessing a true and noble ideal of government, devotes himself to bringing this ideal to realization in the interest of his fellow countrymen. It is in this sense that the Fathers of Confederation were citizens. They caught a glimpse of the kind of nation Canada might be, and they set to work to achieve their dream.
When Canadians speak of perfection in government the word that instinctively spring to our mind is democracy, for we know that democracy, better than any other system, guarantees the atmosphere in which we can live full, free lives in accord with human dignity. But democracy, a word much abused, also requires definition. Properly understood I know of no better definition than that given by Abraham Lincoln-"democracy is government of the people, by the people, for the people".
(1) It is government of the people, of all the people, a people's government. Therefore to the extent that any group or class of people are excluded from an active voice in government, democracy limps. On the other hand the greater the participation of all the people in government, the truer the democracy. (2) It is government by the people, which means that those who govern are responsible to the people. Therefore National Socialism, be it Fascist or Communist, even though it claim the title "democracy" is disqualified. (3) It is government for the people. A democracy must strive to attain the welfare of all while respecting the freedom of each. Herein rests the crucial problem of democracy, for the connom good inevitably requires the restriction of some freedoms. To favour the common good to the neglect of personal freedom is socialism as the word was understood in the nineteenth century. To favour individual freedom to the neglect of the common good is liberalism, economic liberalism, as that expression was understood in the nineteenth century. Perfect government must maintain a delicate balance between the common good on the one hand and the freedom of the individual on the other. True democracy will be recognized by the solicitude by which it defends minority rights while maintaining the common good.
Now my thesis which may surprise you is as follows: democracy, properly understood, as an ideal towards which we must strive, is the child of Christianity whose roots are sunk deep in the religion of Israel. Before the Advent of Christ there were no true democracies. Do not speak to me of the democracies of ancient Athens and Rome, for as Henri Bergson correctly points out: these cities of antiquity were false democracies based on the iniquity of slavery and thus relieved of the biggest and most excruciating problems which face a true democracy.
Even following the limitation of monarchies beginning with the Magna Carta or the replacement of monarchies by republicanism in the nineteenth century, feudalism remained to stain the countenance of democracy. The unlimited economic liberalism of the nineteenth century was based on the restricted freedom, one might say the enslavement, of the masses, and therefore could not be called democracy in the fullest sense. In so far as there are people in our own nation today who because of the system are restricted in their freedom to a fair share of national wealth, to proper housing, to the exercise of legitimate educational aspirations, or by discrimination of any kind, our own democracy limps. True democracy is on the way, but the child is not yet fully born.
During the last war I can recall a politician, Henry Wallace by n4me, declare, "The idea of freedom is derived from the Bible with its extraordinary emphasis on the dignity of the individual ... Democracy is the only true expression of Christianity". During the last war I recall Franklin Roosevelt stating, "We shall seek the establishment of an international order in which the spirit of Christ will rule the hearts of men".
It is clear from Scripture that the purpose of Christ was not to establish a temporal regime or a political system. But He did lay down certain principles out of which has grown the ideal of democracy, and these principles, one might say the planks of His platform, are as follows:
(1) Christ gave us a new concept of the essential equality of all men as children of the same God redeemed by the same Christ. The idea of a chosen people was preserved but it was universalized to exclude no one. (2) He taught a new concept of freedom-freedom that becomes the sons of God, not freedom to do as we please which is license, but freedom to follow after truth, goodness and duty within the law of love. (3) He taught a new concept of the dignity of man, fashioned after the image of God and called to divine life and sonship. (4) He gave us a new concept of the dignity of labour and of the poor, having chosen such a life Himself. (5) He gave us a true concept of the inviolability of the human conscience and of the sanctity of truth, particularly when confirmed by an oath. (6) He taught us the obligation of those who govern to govern as ministers of God, of responsibility to God as well as to man-responsible government: "all authority comes from God". He insisted upon the obligation of those who have possessions to administer them as God's stewards. (7) He taught the indissolubility of marriage and the sanctity of the family, the very rock and basic unit of organized society. (8) From Christ we learned how blessed are the poor and they who suffer persecution; the meek and they who mourn; how blessed are they who hunger and thirst after justice; the pure of heart and they who cherish peace. (9) Finally, He taught as no one else had ever taught the law of brotherly love, reaching out to men of every social group and nation and race, because they are members of God's family, His own adopted brothers, Sons of God-"a new commandment I give unto you that you love one another as I have loved you".
These words are spirit, these words are life. Breathe this Spirit into the dry bones of our own social structure and you have democracy, not democracy as we know it, but democracy as it could be.
I have been speaking to you on citizenship, democracy and freedom., Is there any need to labour the argument? Citizenship as a virtue is devotion to democracy and freedom within the law of love. The highest concepts of democracy and freedom are the fruit of Christianity which in turn is the outgrowth of Israel.
The whole purpose in so doing is to suggest that in this our Centennial Year our most valuable project would be the rededication of ourselves to the virtue of citizenship. Our
project should be to capture new concepts of democracy and freedom and to strive with might and main to realize these concepts within our own nation.
In so doing I do not believe it necessary to wear our religion on our sleeves nor to mix religion and politics. But the true citizen and the dedicated politician must be a man of principle, a man of vision. These principles and this vision can be found in authentic Judeo-Christian teaching, and when found they will be for us new concepts, not old ones.
Our youth today for all its faults has a keen eye, although a confused head. A keen eye: The intelligent beatnik, if you can draw him into conversation, will tell you that the estab lishment, the system-political, educational, ecclesiasticalhas abdicated its dedication to true values. They are in revolt against an affluent society that is marching into a brave new technological world which they fear and do not want, because, as they say, it is devoid of human and artistic values, devoid of the search for philosophical and moral truth, devoid of dedication to the relief of world poverty and starvation, devoid of peace and love and order. They consider modern progress to be basically phoney. Their heads, however, are confused, because with lack of leadership they are bewildered to the point of despair. They believe there is no hope and they have given up the struggle.
Surely the time has come for men who are capable of catching a vision of what democratic society should be to rededicate themselves to the virtue of citizenship and at the cost of great personal sacrifice provide the leadership that will inspire youth with hope and confidence. That, I submit, is the one Centennial Project that is worth while.
Thanks of this meeting were expressed by The Very Rev. Ernest M. Howse.