In the 'Manifesto of the National Catholic Rural Movement' we read these words of Archbishop Cicognani, Apostolic Delegate to the U.S.A.: "In the twenty centuries of her existence the Catholic Church has ever shown,even emphasised,her predilection for those who till the soil,and on whose work and efforts depends so large a measure of the well-bring of all".
Nevertheless,Catholic rural -policy is a thing of our own day.From the time of Leo XIII the Catholic Church has had a general social pohcy;but the implidations of this for rural life were,for a long time,not systemat ically worked out.
An important development took place during the twenties of this century,when Pius XI created an instrument of social action— 'Catholic Action.' This was meant,both bfr what it did of itself,and by what it inspired individual Catholics to do on their own responsibility, "To modify social pres sure,to direct it, to make it favourable to the spread of Christian life:to
let Christian life create a climate,an atmosphere,in which men can develop their human qualities and lead a really human life--- an atmosphere in which the Christian can breathe easily and stay a Christian".
Since Pius had prescribed that every form of environ ment in the modern world was to have its own specialised apostdate,Catholic social thinkers soon set about developing and systematising the application of Catholic social principles to rural life.Here the initiative was not taken by Romejbut,under Pius XII,statements were occasionally made which gave confirmation and further guidance.