The Great London Dock Strike

Courtesy of Catholic Westminster Last Sunday I attended Mass at St. Mary & St Michael’s Catholic church in Tower Hamlets. No ordinary Mass, however, this was celebrated by Cardinal Vincent Nichols and was a Thanksgiving Mass for Cardinal Manning in commemoration of the 125th Anniversary of the settlement of the Great London Dock Strike. Manning was a key player on resolving the Dock Strike as the following from Ben Tillett’s Memories and Reflections (1931) indicates “From the first the Cardinal showed himself to be the dockers’ friend, though he had family connections in the shipping interests, represented on the other side. Our demands were too reasonable, too moderate, to be set aside by an intelligence so fine, a spirit so lofty, as that which animated the frail, tall figure with its saintly, emaciated face and the strangely compelling eyes. I could not withstand this gentle old man, who touched so tenderly the heart-strings of his hearers with solemn talk about the sufferings of wives and children, or impress him with a summary of social needs and economic complexities multiplying in the prolongation of the Strike. I never look back on that meeting without a sense of nightmare, but there was a final judgment and the Cardinal won”.
Manning’s contribution to Catholic Social Action went on to inform Pope Leo XIII’s first social encyclical Rerum Novarum (New Things). Today such attitudes inform the campaign for paying people a Living Wage instead of the Minimum Wage. As might be expected from a visit by the Westminster Team the homily was spot on the button, very well delivered and engaging with the congregation. At the end of Mass, Cardinal Nichols took his place by the door of the church and like any other Parish Priest greeted people and exchanged kind words.

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