Page 12, 16th April 1937

16th April 1937
Page 12
Page 12, 16th April 1937 — " Divini Redemptoris"
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" Divini Redemptoris"

[We print below the third instalment of the encyclical on Atheistic Communism, explained and commented on (in smaller print) by Mr. Stanley B. James.] Summary of sections 8-1$ in the Catholic Herald for April 9.

The mysticism of a false messianic ideal gives emotional force to the philosophical and economic creed of Communism. Marx transferred the JewiSh belief in a coming Messiah to the proletariat. the ultimate triumph of which, he declared. would be the inevitable consequences of the conditions created, by capitalism. This was in accordance with his theory, known as the materialistic interpretation of history. 'which taught that the classwar constitutes the main theme of history and that the outcome of this " war " is due to the action of industrial conditions. The thought and feeling characteristic of any part:miller era he attributed to the interaction of the material forces employed in produetion.

This' system gives no recognition to the spiritual oharacter of personality. The individual is wholly sunk in the community, he has no property right of his own, and with the disappearance of individual property go all those differences of rank 'which give society its social hierarchy. Marriage and the family become merely civil institutions. The woman's concern with the home is taken over by the community. With the complete absorption or extermination of other classes the proletariat through its industrial organisations assumes the functions of government and the political State " withers away."

The success of Communistic propaganda is attributable in the first place to the agnostic mentality created by a science which, while accumulating a vast number of facts, fails to give any account of the phenomenal world. Modern science is in the hands of specialists whose work has got beyond the control of any co-ordinating philosophy. Into the vacuum thus created rushes the wind of a dogmatic materialism. Next. as a factor preparing the way for the triumph of Atheistic Communism are the Liberal Economics which find in the self-regarding motive the true driving force of' coin-messes and industry. This school of thought by abolishing religious and moral control and allowing competition a free hand set the stage for the proletariat revolution. The conspiracy of a press organised wholly as a profit-making business and withoul regard to truth assisted the process which was farther aided by the secret and subversive activities of Free Masonry.

SAD CONSEQUENCES Russia and Mexico 19. Meanwhile the sorry effects of this propaganda are before our eyes. Where communism has been able to assert its power-and here We are thinking. with special affection of the people of Russia and Mexico-it has striven by every possible means, as its champions openly boast, to destroy Christian civilisation and the Christian religion by banishing every remembrance of them from the hearts of men, especially of the young. Bishops and priests were exiled, condemned to forced labour, shot and done to death in inhuman fashion; laymen suspected of defending their religion were vexed, persecuted, dragged off to trial and thrown into prison.

Horrors of Communism in Spain 20. Even where the scourge-of communism has not yet had time enough ts) exercise to the full its logical effect, as witness Our beloved Spain, it has, alas, found compensation Tritreflercer violence of its attack., Not only this or that church or isolated monastery was sacked, but as far as possible every church and every monastery was destroyed. Every vestige of the Christian religion was eradicated, even though intimately linked with the rarest monu ments of art and science! The fury of communism has not confined itself to the indiscriminate slaughter of bishops, of thousands of priests and religious of both sexes; it searches out above all those who have been devoting their lives to the welfare of the working-classes and the poor. But the majority of its victims have been laymen of all conditions and classes. Even up to the present moment, masses of them are slain almost daily for no other offence than the fact that they are good Christians or at least opposed to atheistic communism. And this fearful destruction has been carried out with a hatred and a savage barbarity one would not have believed possible in our age. No man of good sense, nor•any statesman conscious of his responsibility can fail to shudder at the thought that what is happening today in. Spain may perhaps, be repeated tomorrow in other civilised countries.

Logical Result of System 21. Nor can it be said that these "atrocities are a transitory phenomenon, the usual accompaniment of all great •revolutions, the isolated excesses common to every war. No, they are the .natural !fruit of a system which licks all inner restraint. Some restraint is necessary for ,man .considered either 'as an individual or in society. Even the barbaric peoples had this inner check in the natural law written by God in the heart of every man. And where this natural law was held in higher esteem, ancient nations rose to a grandeur that still fascinates more than it should l-certain superficial students of human history. But tear the very idea of God from the hearts of men, and they are necessarily urged by their passions to the most atrocious barbarity.

" The natural fruit of a system which lacks all inner restraint."

The horrors perpetrated in countries in the grip of Communism are not abusei to be corrected as the system works more smoothly, they are the logical outcome of the. system. Revolutionary violence with its accompanying butcheries, instead of being something exceptional, is " according to plan." Remove the very idea of spiritual and moral control as a means of securing social order and only physical force is left.

" The natural law."

See the Epistle to the. Romans, i, 19-20, ii, 14-15. The Vatican Council laid down that " If anyone say that the One and True God, our Creator and Lord, cannot 'through the things that are made' he certainly known by the light of reason-let him be anathema!" Atheistic; Communism is opposed not only to supernatural religion but even to that natural religion according to which men are able to recognise God and obey the laws Re hos

inscribed on the human heart.

Struggle Against All that is Divine 22. This, unfortunately, is what we now behold. For the first time in history we are witnessing a struggle, cold-blooded in purpose and mapped out to the last detail,

between man and " all that is called God."

Communism is by its nature anti-religious. It considers religion as " the opiate of the people " because the principles of religion which speak of a life beyond the grave dissuade the proletariat from the dream of a soviet paradise which is of this world.

"hr. dream. of a Soviet paradise."

Materialism attempts le compensate for the loss of Heaven by affirming the possibility of utopian blessedness on cavil'. 1 ti any case this cannot affect the indivirinul hatoven as regards the community the hope is fallacious. When the spiritual nerve is cut. and faith in immortality abandoned lientioi nature's morale is destroyed and with it goes every hope of healthy social conditions in this world.

Terrorism 23. But the law of nature and its Author cannot be flouted with impunity. Communism has not been able and will not be able, to achieve its objectives even in the merely economic sphere. It is true that in Russia it has been a contributing factor in rousing men and materials from the inertia of centuries, and in obtaining byall manner of means, often without scruple, some measure of material success. Nevertheless We know from reliable and even very recent testimony that not even there, in spite of slavery imposed on millions of men, has communism reached its promised goal. After all, even the sphere of economics needs some morality, some moral sense of responsibility, which can find no place in a system so thoroughly materialistic as communism. Terrorism is the only possible substitute, and it is terrorism that reigns today in Russia, where former comrades in revolution are exterminating each other. Terrorism having tailed despite all to stem the tide of moral corruption, cannot even prevent the dissolution of society itself.

Fatherly Concern for Oppressed Russians 24. In making these observations it is no part of Our intention to condemn en masse the peoples of the Soviet Union. For them We cherish the warmest paternal affection. We are well aware that not a few of them groan beneath the yoke imposed on them by men who in very large part are strangers to the real interests of the country. We recognise that many others were deceived by fallacious hopes. We blame only the system, with its authors and abettors who considered Russia the best-prepared field for experimenting with a plan elaborated decades ago, and who from there continue to spread it from one end of the world to the other.

III

Doctrine of the Church in Contrast 25., We have exposed the.errors and the violent. deceptive. tactics of Bolshevistic and atheiStic communism. It is now time,

Venerable Brethren, to contrast with it the

true notion, already familiar to you, of the civitas hurnona or human society, as taught by reason and Revelation through the mouth of the Church, Magistra gentian!.

"The civitas humane.' or human society."

Christianity as interpreted by the Church is not IL merely spiritual and individual thing. It regards mon as a social being with reciprocal rights and duties. tI expressos itself therefore in a charkietr•T-isl it type of civilisation. And this type has lin vor sd I validity. It, is not simply a type of eisilis,11 ion; it is civilisation. To attack the nisi Li litions of this Christian Society is to attack the outworks of the Church. itself.

God the Supreme Reality 26. Above all other reality there exists one supreme Being: God, the omnipotent Creator of all things, the all-wise and just Judge of all men. This supreme reality, God, is the absolute condemnation of the impudent falsehoods of communism. In truth, it is not because men believe in God that He exists; rather because He exists do all men whose eyes are not deliberately closed to the truth believe in Him and pray to Him.

Man and Family According to Reason and Faith

27. In the Encyclical on Christian Education We explained the fundamental doctrine concerning man as it may be gathered from reason and Faith. Man has a spiritual and immortal. soul, He is a person, marvellously endowed by his Creator with gifts of body and mind. He is a true microcosm, as the ancients said, a world in miniature. with a value far surpassing that of the vast inanimate cosmos. God alone is his last end, in this life and the next. By sanctifying grace he is raised to the dignity of a son of God, and incorporated into the Kingdom of God in the Mystical Body of Christ. In consequence he has been endowed by God with many and varied prerogatives: the right to life, to bodily integrity, to the necessary means of existence; the right to tend toward his ultimate goal in the path marked out for him by God; the right of association and the right to possess and use property.

28. Just as matrimony and the right to its natural use are of divine origin, so likewise are the constitution and fundamental prerogatives of the family fixed and determined by the Creator. In the Encyclical on Christian Marriage and in Our other Encyclical on Education, cited above, We have treated these topics at considerable length.

"Man has a spiritual and immortal soul."

The connection between ths Chervil's ['Minition of human nature and the institutions of marriage. the family and private property is not arbitrary. These institutions arc the logical outcome of the Catholic conception of man as a child of God endowed with reason and possessing an eternal destiny. for they are such as best enable him to NM/ this destiny. Catholic sociology is not something tacked on to the Creed but is integral to the whole Catholic system. li is trot dictated by expediency but rests lilt iiimi ely on the unchangeable Faith of the Church.

(To be continued)




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