The Social Justice Vision of Ozanam

From Vincentian Encyclopedia

Antoine Frederic Ozanam: A Life

The Social Justice Vision of Ozanam

Ozanam’ s socio-political-economic view was rooted in his classical liberal, social Catholicism, which was grounded in St. Thomas Aquinas’s philosophy of the common good. He was opposed to laissez-faire free markets, which he believed exacerbated rather than ameliorated poverty. At age twenty-one, he wrote, “Ii ate any form of government; I regard them as different instruments to make men better and happier. I believe in liberty as ameaJn.charii an..end. [1] The notion of the common good was a cornerstone of his vision: “[T]he sacrifice of each for the advantage of all: that is the Christian republic of the primitive Church of Jerusalem. It is also perhaps that of the end of all time, the last and highest state to which humanity can aspire.” [2]

In 1838, he wrote to an artist friend traveling to Italy:

The question which divides men in our day is no longer a question of political forms, it is a social question—that of deciding whether the spirit of egotism or the spirit of sacrifice is to carry the day; whether society is to be a huge traffic for the benefit of the strongest, or the consecration of each for the benefit of all, and above all for the protection of the weak. There are many who already have too much, and who wish to possess still more; there are a greater number who have not enough, and who want to seize it if it is not given to them. Between these two classes of men a struggle is imminent, and it threatens to be terrible—on one side the power of gold, on the other the power of despair. It is between these two opposing armies that we must precipitate ourselves. [3]

The Natural Wage

From his lifelong commitment to and understanding of the poor, coupled with his Catholic liberalism, Ozanam was convinced that the ideals— liberty, equality, and fraternity—of the revolutions that roiled France beginning in 1789 and continued into his lifetime (those of 1830 and 1848), were not fundamentally political; rather, he believed they were social. For Ozanam, the core problems were unemployment, poverty, and insufficient wages for the working poor. [4]

In his twenty-fourth of forty-seven published lectures on commercial law given as a professor at Lyon, Ozanam developed his central thesis of the salaire naturel—the natural wage, a concept that became the precursor to the minimum wage and the living wage movements.[5]

Because most French Catholic elites aligned themselves with reactionary royalists and not with the poor masses, the country remained unstable and volatile. Ozanam believed that the masses, not the upper classes, were the true allies of the Church; he wrote, “[T]he Church would do better to support herself upon the people, who are the true ally of the Church, poor as she is, devout as she, blessed as she by all the benedictions of the Savior.[6]

In his essays in the wake of the Revolution of 1848, Ozanam chastised the middle class for abandoning and betraying the working class in the Revolution of 1830, which he believed led inexorably to the renewed warfare of 1848.[7] Ozanam described himself in 1850, at age thirty-seven, as “worn out in the service of my faith.[8]

From these experiences, Ozanam developed his concept of the natural wage. He understood the congruence between work and proportionate, just compensation as rooted in Christianity’s manifest superiority to pre-Christian slavery: “[S]alary is the price of work,” he wrote, “all pain merits salary.” Arguing Pope Leo Xlii’s famous formula in Rerum Novarum in 1891 that labor and capital need one another, Ozanam insisted, “[S]alary be proportionate to profit.[9] In his twenty-fourth lecture at Lyon, he reminded his audience that the one who “regenerated the hidden world is a divine person who was hidden for thirty years in the workshop of a carpenter.[10] [11]

He propounded the workers’ right to form voluntary unions, and he saw the natural wage as an important instrument to combat poverty. “The workingman, he believed, was by nature entitled, at a minimum, to a wage sufficient to provide for the necessities of life, the education of his children, and for the support of his old age.[12]

Opposed to free-market laissez faire, Ozanam’s advocacy of the natural wage for workers became a cornerstone of liberal, social Catholicism.

For the modern Social Catholics of France considered their propaganda essentially as an attempt to revive and apply the kindly medieval Christian doctrines enforcing the duty of charity, the sinfulness of avarice, the dignity of human labor, and the social responsibility of property, as substitutes for the individualistic counsels of the classical Liberal economists. If the Social Catholics were quick to discern the potential merits of the trade- union movement, it was because they admired the medieval guilds.[13]

Importantly, Ozanam’ s notion of the natural wage was not synonymous with the minimum wage. The latter is pegged to subsistence existence and is usually much less than what a worker needs to rise above poverty, as experience in the United States has painfully demonstrated for several decades. Ozanam’ s natural wage does not depend on any particular mechanical, quantitative formula. Instead, the natural wage is a dynamic based on human dignity the common good, and is intended to provide worker with and feed the family as well as to provide for retirement security. Ozanam, for example, regarded the natural wage as an absolute condition for retirement, which, in turn, he regarded as “sacred property.[14]

Workers’ Rights to Form Unions

Ozanam’ s socio-political-economic vision was markedly opposed to the laissez-faire markets that concentrated wealth, oppressed workers, and exacerbated poverty.[15] He believed that enhancing workers’ rights to decent wages and to organize into unions were legitimate, affirmative instruments that could alleviate poverty. Ozanam did not propose a mature conceptual architecture of sophisticated labor unions peacefully engaged in productive collective bargaining of labor contracts with corporate private-sector employers. Nor did such notions develop fully until a half-century later in Pope Leo Xlii’s great labor encyclical, Rerum Novarum. But these notions were previewed, in part, in the thought of Frederic Ozanam. An historian of the Social Catholic Movement in France concluded that Ozanam “might have used the same words” as did Pope Leo XIII in Rerum Novarum.[16] An active member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, Giuseppe Toniolo, professor of political economy at the University of Paris, became the leading Italian authority on Catholic social teaching, and was consulted for technical assistance by Pope Leo XIII as he drafted Rerum Novarum.[17] Thus, it is certainly fair to say that Ozanam developed some of the key precepts of fair wages and labor unions that were more fully elucidated in Rerum Novarum.

He personally witnessed searing examples of desperate mobs in action during the 1830 and 1848 insurrections, and he was well aware of the violence of the mobs during the French Revolution. Rather than being reflexively repulsed, Ozanam appreciated that the masses were capable of galvanized social action for the collective good through, for example, the collective action of the voluntary labor union.

The St. Vincent de Paul Society was not designed or intended to be any sort of indirect mechanism to mollify and placate collective labor. Systematic social reform was never the objective of the Society; rather, the Society sought direct, immediate, and personal charitable relief of the individual poor.

That the charitable activities of the St. Vincent de Paul Society did not provide any solution to the problem of the urban poor is unquestionable. Christian charity could do little more than pick away at the edges of this desert of human misery that was the life of many of the lower class.[18]

Grinding poverty, exacerbated by the neo-liberal laissez-faire insouciance of the government, virtually guaranteed constant ferment and inherent volatility. “Faced with misery in the midst of opulence, with a government indifferent and even hostile to their interests, exploited by the prosperous upper class, the workers responded with a bitter hatred of society.[19] Collective labor action, from Ozanam’s experience, took literally to the streets, and was a direct threat to the government, indeed, to the entire social order. This was not confined to Paris. In his hometown of Lyon after the Revolution of 1830, the silk workers regularly demonstrated in the streets to protest their abysmal economic living and working conditions.[20]

In 1834 one of these street disturbances grew into a virtual civil war on a small scale as the silk workers and the army engaged in a battle of several days’ duration in which artillery and other weapons of war were used against the rioters.[21] Ozanam reported in a letter to a friend upon the evidences of battle visible in Lyon. The desperate situation of the workers is shown by a banner carried by them which read, “To live working or to die fighting.[22]

He wrote, in 1840, that more than 60,000 workers in Lyon were completely demoralized.[23] The French upper classes stubbornly refused to recognize, let alone address, “the basic problem of employment for the workers.[24]

Ozanam ‘s Theory of Work

Ozanam regarded work as “the common law of mankind; it is the law of the mind as well as of the body.[25] He defined work as “the act which defends the wishes of man, applying his abilities to the satisfaction of his needs.”[26]

Living most of his adult life under cynical governments that fostered a political economy of neo-liberalism antithetical to the poor and to the alleviation of their plight, Ozanam was repulsed by the grasping bourgeois materialism of society. Materialism then, as now, was the prevailing cultural aspiration.[27]

Poverty in Paris in the 1830s was palpable and pervasive.[28] Paris was fully comparable to the destitution of Charles Dickens’s London of the same period. But, after all, “poor and suffering” could describe most of the human condition throughout most of history.

But the tectonic social shifts of the embryonic Industrial Revolution were inexorably underway, as Europe shifted from a rural, agricultural society to an industrial, urban economy. Ozanam sensed it; so did Karl Marx; and later, so did Pope Leo XIII. Beyond his obvious grounding in the scriptures and in the magisterium of the Catholic Church, Ozanam was an exquisitely astute observer of his times.

In 1824, when Ozanam was eleven, after the elimination of Napoleon, the Bourbons returned to the throne of France. Under Louis XVIII, the deep and old hostilities of the masses toward the Church, which the people perceived as the ally of the corrupt ancien régime, resurfaced. In 1830, a revolt caused the abdication of the Bourbon Charles X, the successor to Louis XVIII, and the ascendancy of the Bourbon Louis-Philippe.”[29]

King Louis-Philippe’s purportedly liberal, economically laissez-faire, middle-class government, from 1830 to 1848, was a corrupt fraud.

In actuality, the implied impartiality and nonintervention of the government in disputes between employers and workers was a fiction, for the power of the State was used entirely to strengthen the position of the moneyed class. The attitude of the July Monarchy to the poor was expressed by Guizot, the leading minister of Louis-Philippe, when he answered the complaints of the poor against the privileges of the rich with these words, “Get rich yourselves.[30]

While the neo-liberal bourgeois government of Louis-Philippe sought to control and suppress the seething masses who were detested by the elites, Ozanam predicted cataclysmic disaster, due to the ever-skewing disparities between the privileged and the poor. He foresaw deeper class warfare a decade before Marx’s Communist Manifesto. In a letter to Father Lallier, Ozanam summarized the stark stakes: “It is the battle of those who have nothing and those who have too much; it is the violent collision of opulence and poverty which makes the earth tremble under our feet.”[31] From 1846 through 1847, the French economy collapsed into economic depression, and the famine began in Ireland. Widespread and deep poverty was immediate and pervasive in the European life and its theoretical consciousness.

Ozanam did not romanticize the poor, recognizing that their own ignorance and immorality contributed significantly to their predicament.[32] Although he was an incisive and astute assessor of the plight of the poor and of the workers, Ozanam proposed no broader social solutions. [33] He never developed any platform for realistically defusing tensions.

While he was opposed to socialism per se, he appreciated the integration of the otherwise potentially atomized individual into the broader community of caring persons. Ozanam saw that a person will often subordinate pure self-interest and take on duties and responsibilities for the greater good of his family.’[34] He accepted the legitimacy of private property, provided that the property owner was careful not to be seduced by greed and materialism.’[35] “Ozanam’ s economic theory, then, was that private property was a right and individual liberty a necessity; nevertheless, the voluntary sacrifice of a part of this right for the good of society was desirable, even imperative.” Family and private property were necessary; the former was indispensable. [36] He distrusted government, but admitted, grudgingly, that a legitimate government can have a necessary leadership role.[37]

His theory of work was rooted in the classic Catholic conception of the common good.[38] He considered work as the “law of regeneration” applicable to everyone. Likewise, everyone, in their own way, was called to work:

“Useless servants of God we may be . . . lazy ones never.[39]

Ozanam also believed that work could be inherently good and dignified, and that all workers should be treated with dignity. He summarized, “All can do honor to the work-room by probity and sobriety, by the charity which respects masters, unites companions, protects apprentices.[40]

He understood free labor as reflecting the essence of Christianity, triumphing over the slavery of paganism.

His works abound in fine passages on labor as one of the regenerating forces of the world, and of arguments and examples tending to show how the laborer, oppressed and despised by Paganism, was rehabilitated by Christianity. “Let us see what Christianity has done for the ouvriers . . . Free labor has no greater enemy than slavery, consequently the ancients, who held to slavery, trampled free labor under foot; they spurned it and stigmatized it with the most offensive names.[41]

Until Pope Leo XLII’s first labor encyclical in 1891, the Church institutionally and officially remained silent on workers’ rights throughout virtually all of the nineteenth century and for much of the Industrial Revolution. The Church’s institutional silence makes Ozanam’ s accomplishments all the more startling, and perhaps explains why the work of the St. Vincent de Paul Society was so immediately attractive to so many persons with material means. Working from classic, timeless Catholic precepts, he galvanized—virtually overnight and by his personal example—a worldwide and enduring movement to alleviate poverty.

Workers, infuriated with the reactionary Church that was allied with the repressive Bourbon Charles X, directed much of their rage against the Church during the 1830 Revolution. Due perhaps in part to the social outreach to the poor by the St. Vincent de Paul Society, however, some degree of reconciliation occurred between labor and the Church, which was, during the Revolution of 1848, perceived by many workers as an ally and friend.[42] Workers who sacked the residence of Archbishop de Quelen of Paris in 1830 respectfully attended his funeral in 1840.’[43] Catholicism was reinvigorated, and thousands returned to services in Paris alone.[44]

In the Revolution of 1848, the Church in Paris was closely allied with the revolutionaries in the streets. The 1848 uprising was directed only against the unpopular monarchy of Louis-Philippe, and not also against the Church (unlike in 1830). King Louis-Philippe had not been popular with the Church, and many bishops, including Ozanam’ s Archbishop Affre of Paris, endorsed the republican revolutionary government after Louis-Philippe fled for exile in England.[45] Archbishop Affre allowed churches to be used as hospitals to treat the wounded and to collect money for their support. During the street fighting in Paris in February 1848, fighters went to mass, and “revolutionary pamphieteers and agitators spoke of Jesus, the proletariat of Nazareth, and announced that the victory of the Republic was the coming of the kingdom of God.[46]

But during June 22—25, 1848, the army sealed off and methodically crushed the workers’ barricades throughout Paris, destroying any viable liberal Catholic and workers’ alliances in France for a century. Perhaps most poignantly, Archbishop Affre, accompanied by Ozanam to the barricades to mediate a ceasefire, was shot dead when gunfire erupted.[47] Affre’s last words were “At least let my blood be the last that you shed.[48] De Tocqueville estimated that one hundred thousand workers were involved in the summer street battles against the army in Paris, a conflict that was the starkest class warfare, literally, to have thus far occurred in Europe.[49] More than sixteen thousand were killed, and the army took another fourteen thousand as prisoners.[50]

Working-class consciousness consequently became radicalized with the communist Left over the next several decades, and abandoned as futile any liberal Catholic-centrist alliance. After June 1848, the rest of France— peasant, bourgeois, and aristocrat—became very conservative, and Napoleon III ruled until 1870.[51]

Ozanam was disillusioned by the violence, the anarchy, and the fighting in the streets.[52] This violent “barbarian invasion [53] was hardly his vision of a liberal Catholic workers’ coalition. In April 1848, he became a member of the Parisian National Guard, consisting primarily of upper class elites. Temperamentally and physically unsuited for military duty, he willingly joined; fortuitously, he was not in combat in the streets of Paris.[54]

Unlike many of his formerly liberal Catholic colleagues, Ozanam did not despair or lose hope in the ultimate possibilities of broad social justice for workers through liberal Catholic apostolates and alliances. He remained convinced that the poor’s and the workers’ causes, albeit not always their means, were just. In September 1848, he wrote that he continued “to believe in the possibility of Christian democracy.”[55]

In newspaper essays concurrent with the Revolution of 1848, he renewed his “journalistic campaign of social justice for the workers.”[56] He regarded economic misery as the source of the waves of insurrection; in late 1848, two hundred and sixty-seven thousand people in Paris suffered from hunger and, in one representative Paris district where street fighting was concentrated against the army, seventy thousand of ninety thousand people required public assistance.[57] He urged a “crusade” of “charitable agitation” and a reform of institutions after the Revolution.[58] Shortly thereafter, however, he despaired about the ineffectiveness of sociopolitical journalism to influence substantive change, and, for the five remaining years of his life, he did not actively pursue any active journalistic role.[59]

Ozanam, perhaps, put too much faith in technology—he did not foresee the dehumanizing negatives of the mechanization of work accelerated by the Industrial Revolution. He most immediately hoped that mechanization would substantially relieve workers from the drudgery and danger of much of early nineteenth-century work.[60]

Ozanam certainly developed broad social awareness of the necessity of justice for workers, belief in the possibilities of social progress, and social consciousness of the plight of the urban poor.[61]

Subsequent influences

Ozanam’s influences on the practice of personalism continues most tangibly today in the work of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, and in symmetrical groups such as the Catholic Worker movement. His concept of the natural wage was a precursor to the minimum wage movement during the New Deal, and has a continuing legacy in the contemporary living wage initiatives successfully implemented in many municipalities throughout the United States.

A century after his death in 1853, the worker-priest movement in Belgium and France put into practice his counsel of priests devoting themselves to the poor.[62] He wrote, concerning the priests,

[B]usy yourselves always with the servants as well as with masters, and with workers as well as the rich; it is henceforth the only way of salvation for the Church in France. It is necessary that pastors give up their little bourgeois parishes, flocks of the elite in the midst of an immense population which they do not know.[63]

He also wrote, in 1848, “If more Christians and especially the clergy had been concerned with the problems of the workers for the past ten years, we would be more certain of the future.”[64]


Ozanam is a complex, courageous figure. He is an important role model for those striving to build the good society, coupling academic and intellectual insight with direct, personal action. The St. Vincent de Paul Society is his most impressive achievement. His intellectual contributions to social justice, especially the notion of the natural wage and the advocacy of greater workers’ rights, also have a powerful, tangible legacy worthy of study and continued effectuation today through, for example, the living wage initiatives.

He was a champion of classic liberalism, not to be confused with the more narrow political liberalism.[65] He unequivocally aligned himself with liberal Catholicism, seeking harmony, rather than intractable opposition, between the Church and modern society.[66] “From the period of his arrival in Paris, Ozanam was heart and soul devoted to the liberal Catholic movement. His historical studies convinced him that the Church had to work in the modern world. As one biographer summarized,[67] “Catholic Liberalism meant that the adjective ‘Catholic’ governed the noun ‘Liberalism,’ and indicated unquestioned doctrinal orthodoxy, submission to the teaching authority of the Church, and a correct, indeed ardent, attachment to the Sovereign Pontiff.[68]

Ozanam urged that the Church reconcile itself with modern society, and accept the legitimate achievement and fundamental principle of the French Revolution, liberty, as fully compatible with Catholicism. Ozanam was a champion of liberty, which he believed was fostered and developed especially by the Catholic Church in the early Middle Ages, and, more recently, was advanced as one of the legitimate features of the French Revolution. He understood liberty not as raw exultation of individual absolute autonomy, but, rather, as positive, social regard for one another[69]

He opposed the reactionary Bourbon motif of Charles X, deposed in 1830. He rejected the Bourbon theme of the purported union of the throne and the altar,[70] and he advocated the separation of church and state as conducive to liberty.[71] He considered himself a monarchist in the abstract, but pronounced democracy more workable and acceptable.[72] His adult life was bracketed by the Revolutions of 1830 and 1848, the latter of which swept Europe and crushed the liberal Catholic French alliance Ozanam worked so hard to foster all his life.[73]

He believed in vigorous, intellectual, respectful, rational engagement in debate and discussion as the best means to address those opposed to Catholicism. He rejected invective, polemics, and condemnation. He believed in his opponents’ right to speak.[74] He subscribed to the Augustinian notion that truth is integrated, and that all truths, even those completely divorced from all religion, will lead to the source of all truth—to God. He wrote, “[I]t is not permissible to deny any truth, however profane, however embarrassing . . . God is at the end.[75]

While these are unproblematic axioms in the contemporary liberal state, and in the Catholic Church after Vatican II, they were hardly so in France and in the Catholic Church in the mid-nineteenth century.[76] Pope Pius IX had yet to condemn many of the tenets of modernism and liberalism in the Syllabus of Errors in 1864, and the Papal States were a temporal presence in European politics. Slavery continued in many parts of the world, and the Civil War in the United States did not occur until eight years after Ozanam’s death.

Liberalism was deeply suspect in many royalist and conservative quarters of the Catholic Church of nineteenth-century France; however, the conservative Archbishop de Quelen eventually became a supporter of Ozanam, and his successor, Archbishop Affre, publicly endorsed Ozanam’ s work and writing.[77]

More broadly, however, the Church’s antipathy toward liberalism accelerated dramatically during the reign of the charismatic Pope Pius IX, who, ironically, was initially perceived as liberal when he began his papacy in 1846.[78] Two years later, during the instability of the Revolution of 1848, Pius IX fled from Rome.[79] Sadly, any realistic prospects for the flowering of liberal Catholicism in France were completely crushed when the army ruthlessly annihilated the working poor in pitched street battles throughout Paris in June 1848.[80] Napoleon III, who then seized control of the government, cemented the conservative alliance with the completely disillusioned former liberal (and henceforth archconservative) Pope Pius IX, when his French army drove the Italian republicans from Rome and restored Pope Pius IX to the Vatican from exile in 1849.[81]

Even the St. Vincent de Paul Society was suspect in some reactionary quarters for its hints of liberalism, perhaps even for being revolutionary; it was banned in the Grand Duchy of Tuscany in 1852 for alleged liberalism. [82] Reactionaries feared that the charity of the Society might be used to further political, secular agendas opposed to prevailing power.

Ozanam testified that one of the obstacles to the extension of the Society was the vague fear that under the veil of charity there was a political end. For this reason the leaders of the organization made every effort to divorce it from all political connections; all Catholics were welcome to join, no matter what their political philosophy or position.[83]

Paradoxically, Ozanam, one of the Church’s great champions and its premier practitioner of Catholic social teaching through the work of the Society, operated firmly within the liberal intellectual motif to provide the platforms for the natural, living wage and for the rights of workers.

At a time when the Catholic Church was on the defensive and under assault, especially in France, Ozanam was unfailingly optimistic, affirmative, and progressive. Indeed, the “positive character” of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, in those challenging first few decades, was its, and perhaps Ozanam’s, most significant feature.[84] Unlike many liberal French Catholics (to say nothing of conservative royalists), he did not fear and loathe the poor; he literally embraced them. “Ozanam can be placed beside his astute Catholic contemporary, Alexis de Tocqueville, in his conviction that the future is in the hands of the masses, for better or for worse.”[85] Even after the Revolution of 1848, Ozanam championed democracy, “not simply as a political system, but as a new, popular, mass, egalitarian society.” [86] He urged that Catholics ally with “the barbarians,” a term that he understood to mean—not ‘anarchists’ or ‘extremists’—but, rather, the democratic masses of the people. [87]

Perhaps there was considerable utopianism and naiveté in much of Ozanam’ s worldview, in believing that private charity could significantly ameliorate deeply embedded structural poverty.[88] Nevertheless, he firmly believed that the widespread practice of direct, personal, individual charity to individual poor was the best hope for avoiding social disaster.[89]

The primary means by which Ozanam hoped to improve the life of the urban poor was the widespread practice of Christian charity. It was upon this virtue that he placed his chief hope for the future. Catholics, through the practice of charity, must mediate and reconcile the conflicting interests of the rich and the poor; this was an idea that constantly reoccurred in his correspondence in the years prior to the Revolution of 1848.[90]

After the Revolution of 1848, Ozanam remained hopeful, though chastened by the realization that the struggle for social justice would be longer and much more difficult than he had initially imagined in the 1830s and 1840s.[91] In his book, Civilization in the Fifth Century, he wrote,

It remains therefore to leave a place for liberty in human destiny, and consequently a place for error and crime. There will be some days of sickness, some lost years, some centuries that do not move forward, some centuries that retrogress. . . . In these periods of disorder God lets the people be masters of their own acts, but He has his hand upon society; He does not permit it to deviate beyond a certain point, and it is there that He awaits it in order to lead it by a painful and shadowy detour to this perfection that they have forgotten for the moment.[92]

Liberalism simply did not have sufficiently deep roots in France after the Revolutions of 1789, 1830, or 1848 to allow Ozanam’s agenda for workers’ rights to gain positive traction. His idea of the masses of the people—the “barbarians”—being the future of liberty and democracy was, at best, deeply suspect among the French and Catholic elites. Other than perhaps a few years in the 1840s, when Ozanam and the supportive archbishop of Paris coalesced around liberal Catholic ideas and initiatives, the Catholic Church in France remained aligned with conservative, reactionary, and royalist power.

Through the work of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, Ozanam helped French Catholics develop a social conscience.[93] And, even if the Society did little to ameliorate embedded, structural poverty, it unquestionably alleviated many individual instances of suffering and want.[94]

Ozanam is a refreshing exception to another norm. In the Catholic litany of saints, very few are married laypersons. Likewise, especially before Vatican II, very few married laypersons founded and led major Catholic organizations. One of the early and enduring attractions of the Society has been its lay character and leadership.[95] Ozanam found great solace and spiritual strength in his family life, and refined the necessity of selflessness in marriage to spur his ideas regarding external charity.[96]

He did not live to see Rerum Novarum promulgated, which incorporated his advocacy of the natural wage and of broader workers’ rights. He would have been pleased to see the practice of personalism given deeper philosophical structure by Edmund Mounier in his journal L ‘Espirit in the 1920s and 1930s. He would have been even more gratified to see the practice of personalism given renewed vigor by French peasant expatriate Peter Maurin, co-founder with Dorothy Day of the Catholic Worker houses of hospitality for the poor and homeless in New York City in 1933.

He would have been pleased to see French worker priests living and working among laboring and poor people a century after his death. He would have been profoundly disappointed when they were suppressed by the hierarchy. He would have been pleased to see the living wage initiative, based on his theory of the natural wage, successfully moving forward in many municipalities in the United States today.

Ultimately, Ozanam was an exemplary Catholic scholar and eloquent public intellectual in a cultural milieu often overtly hostile to the Catholic Church. He fearlessly championed workers’ rights, and his concept of the natural wage took root in the great labor encyclicals and in secular wage legislation that continue to resonate today in the living wage initiatives. He was, however, that rarest of intellectuals: one who served—directly and personally, and throughout his entire adult life—the immediate needs of the poor. The poor were not an abstraction; they were, and are, his brothers in Christ.

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  1. Schimherg, supra n. 9, at 213.
  2. Id.
  3. O’Meara, supra n. 71, at 108.
  4. Auer, supra n. 82, at 106, 125.
  5. Renner, supra n. 21, at 9, 12.
  6. Auge, supra n. 19, at 106.
  7. Id. at 123.
  8. Id. at 132.
  9. Frédric Ozanam & J-J Ampere, Oeuvres completes de A.F. Ozanam (4th ed., Lecoffre 1872—73).
  10. Id.
  11. Id.
  12. Schimberg, supra n. 9, at 212.
  13. Id.
  14. Ozanam, supra n. 120.
  15. Schimberg, supra n. 9, at 206—07.
  16. Id. at 308.
  17. Id. at 315—16.
  18. Id. at 35.
  19. Auer, supra n. 82, at 34.
  20. Id.
  21. ld
  22. ld. at 34—35.
  23. Id. at 35.
  24. Id. at 123.
  25. O’Meara, supra ii. 71, at 190.
  26. Ozanam, supra n. 120.
  27. Id. at 34.
  28. One sixth of the population of some quarters of Paris was on relief. Auer, supra n. 82, at 31. In 1836, 30,500 men in Paris had no regular work, and 50,000 were entirely unemployed. Id. at 31 —32. Factory workers’ children had an average life span of less than two years. id. at 32.
  29. Schimberg, supra n. 9, at 201.
  30. Auer, supra n. 82, at 34.
  31. id. at 36.
  32. Id. at 122.
  33. id. at 125—26.
  34. id. at 37.
  35. Id. at 37, 122.
  36. Id. at 38, 122; see also Renner, supra n. 21, at 67.
  37. Auer, supra n. 82, at 38.
  38. Id. at 37.
  39. Id. at 61.
  40. Schimberg, supra n. 9, at 246.
  41. O’Meara, supra n. 71, at 189.
  42. Auer, supra n. 82, at 40.
  43. Id. at 95.
  44. Id.
  45. Id. at 105.
  46. id.
  47. Id. at 116. In 1871, his successor as Archbishop of Paris was kidnapped and murdered by radical insuffectionists during the Paris Commune.
  48. Schimberg, supra n. 9, at 221.
  49. Auer, supra n. 82, at 112—17.
  50. Schimberg, supra n. 9, at 219.
  51. Auer, supra n. 82, at 112.
  52. Id. at 113.
  53. ld at 114
  54. Id.
  55. Id. at 121.
  56. Id. at 124.
  57. Id.
  58. Id. at 126-27.
  59. Schimberg, supra n. 9, at 190.
  60. Auer, supra n. 82, at 94.
  61. id. at 90.
  62. The worker priest movement in Belgium and France (1943—1954) began with priests sharing labor with and among the people incarcerated in Nazi forced labor camps during World War II. Their mission was the Christianization of the working classes. After the war, many priests continued their apostolate of living and working secular jobs among the general populations, rather than living apart from the people in clerical rectories. Because of concerns with affinities with the Communist Party, Pope Pius XII suppressed the movement in 1954. See generally Oscar L. Arnal, Priests in Working Class Blue: The History of the Worker Priests (1943—1 954) (Paulist Press 1986).
  63. Auer, supra n. 82, at 107.
  64. Renner, supra n. 21, at 65; see also Schimberg, supra n. 9, at 209.
  65. Auer, supra n. 82, at 83—84.
  66. Id. at 79—80.
  67. Id. at 81.
  68. Schimberg, supra n. 9, at 225.
  69. Auer, supra n. 82, at 89.
  70. Id. at 85. He compared the old royalism to a “glorious invalid,” which, with its “wooden leg, cannot march at the same speed as the new generation.” Id. at 87.
  71. Id.
  72. Id. at 86.
  73. Id. at 100—03. During the spring of 1848, Ozanam wrote an essay, “The Danger and Hopes of Rome,” arguing that a good new liberal order would confidently emerge from the dissolution of the former regime, just as the fall of Rome led to the civilization and culture of the Middle Ages.
  74. Auge, supra n. 19, at 14.
  75. Id. at 61, 70.
  76. Id. at 81. Pope Gregory XVI condemned L’Avenir (The Future), a liberal Catholic newspaper urging the Church to come to terms with the French Revolution. The paper was the project of some of Ozanam’ s friends at the University of Paris in the early 1 830s.
  77. Id. at 95.
  78. Id. at 96. The Church’s distrust of modernism and liberalism did not dissipate substantially until Vatican U.
  79. Id. at 98.
  80. Id. at 97.
  81. id. at 119.
  82. Auge, supra n. 19, at 27.
  83. Id.
  84. Id.
  85. Id. at 86.
  86. Id. at 103.
  87. . Id.
  88. Id. at 38—39, 42.
  89. Id. at 38.
  90. Id.
  91. Id. at 136—37.
  92. Id. at 138.
  93. Id. at 41.
  94. Id. at 42.
  95. Id.
  96. Id.