Excommunication Of Communists
By Michael de la lledoyere
recall having been obliged
on several occasions during the war to answer correspondents (usually non-Catholic, if not antiCatholic ones) who were clamouring for the excommunication by the Church of Hitler and the Nazis. To this question the answer was easy. The demand in Allied quarters for the excommunication of the Nazis was obviously political.
Time was when the Pope, as universally acknowledged spiritual head of Christendom, could use the weapon of excommunication for reasons which today would probably be considered political. Yet in the conditions of those days the weapon even then was not political.
The Pope in those days acted as a moral arbiter between nations, and on spiritual and moral grounds condemned political evil impartially. (This is not to suggest that there may not have been abuses of the proper spiritual function.) If then, one argued, all nations were prepared to recognise the moral iudgment as between them of the Holy See, the question of the excommunication of the Nazis might well have been raised— and with it, for example, the question of the justice of the modes of conducting warfare among all belligerents. Such an answer was not considered satisfactory by inquirers who in fact were merely concerned to invoke yet another weapon against their enemies.
Now, a few years later, the world has been startled by the fact that the Holy See has specifically applied its permanent taw on the excommunication of formal apostates to all who wilfully profess and propagate what is in effect the heresy of Communism.
Why Then Communism THE reason for this is strictly spiritual and moral, as indeed might be deduced from the fact that the excommunication is but an application of long existing Canon Law. No doubt, there were sufficient spiritual reasons for excotnmunicating Nazis and Fascists, but these, while accepting diverse and unformulated doctrines incompatible with Christianity and often enough involving themselves in a position of blasphemy against Almighty God by their actions and words, did not normally presume to set themselves up as prophets of a new, ideologically worked out, gospel of materialism which must destroy and supersede the Gospel of Christ. Nor was their racial-nationalistic doctrine so specious as to tempt Christians in large numbers to fall for its central heresies, even though these might well fall fur the principle of order and authority within it—a principle in itself not without a just basis.
In the case of Communism we have something that apes certain characteristics of true religion far
more closely. Though in practice many can be nominally Communists for economic and social reasons only—and these are not covered by the excommunication—Communism itself rigidly claims the absoluteness which is the prerogative of God alone. In practice, too, it enforces this absolutism, demanding total subservience in everything and from everyone. In Marx-Lenin it claims to possess sacrosanct prophets and teachers of the new religion. Lastly, it so happens that the Communist aggression has succeeded in flooding over Catholic countries, thereby powerfully tempting otherwise good Catholics to side with the new masters in order to live and make a career.
Such circumstances, taken together, have induced the Holy See, at length and surely most unwill ingly, to invoke the Church's Canon Law and thus put the position in crystal-clear terms to all Catholics who may be tempted into the delusion that somehow Christianity and Godless Communism are compatible. Thus. the answers of the Sacred Congregation do no more than enforce the necessary consequences of the Church's long-standing condemnation, on purely spiritual and moral grounds, of this grave and infinitely dangerous heresy.
ANGLICANS AND THE COMMISSION ON POPULATION
WE were glad to see a letter in
The Times over the signature of leaders of the Anglican Mothers' Union strongly protesting against the secularist assumptions of the Royal Commission on Population. This letter ends with the welcome words: " As there are many people in this country besides Roman Catholics (who are the only ones specifically mentioned in the Report) who have conscientious objections to the using of contraceptives as a method of family limitation, we believe that it is improper for the State to use public funds for instruction in their use."
In this connection we may in passing refer to a number of articles appearing in a Sunday paper which read rather like a half-hearted application to this country of the American Kinsey Report. Whatever may be said of the publication of that Report in book form, ostensibly for the use of experts and the like, it is surely indefensible and highly unnecessary for a popular paper to publish what purports to be an investigation, on mass observation lines, into private conduct in this sphere. Such publicity will hardly help anyone, and must inevitably do great harm to many. However, even in these matters there may be compensatory good, and it was because of this that we referred to the ques tion at all. For even this survey seems to reveal the shortcomings, both emotional and practical. of the use of contraceptives, thus furnishing evidence to strengthen the Christian teaching that contraception
is unnatural and therefore immoral.
The more one considers the Royal Commission's Report, the more amazed one is at the cool cheek of the Commissioners in utterly disregarding in their findings the whole spiritual and moral aspects of this intimate human problem. Even if they felt themselves to have no specific spiritual commission, an honest scientific spirit alone should have prompted them to pay the closest attention to an aspect of the problem which directly and closely governs human behaviour in this question.
THE Spanish question, as we
know, still continues to trouble many people, not excluding a good number of Catholics, especially of the Labour Party and particularly those concerned in democratic-social questions. Undoubtedly a good many of the difficulties are the result of lack of knowledge. For this there can be only one remedy. It is that those who are shocked or puzzled should go and see for themselves. Equally, it would be all to the good if more and more patriotic and loyal Spaniards could come to this country and study for themselves the conditions of our democratic experiment in shaping a socially equitable society. In point of fact, we believe that both sides in doing this would be surprised to find the number of points of practical resemblance between the social experiments carried out under such very different conditions and with such diverse ideological backgrounds.
We understand that Spain is most anxious to promote this type of contact and not least in the case of serious investigators on the Labour side, and still more when it is a case of Catholic inquirers. Indeed to promote such contact Spain is most generous in offering the means of travel and hospitality. Nor should this typical Spanish generosity be construed as imposing any obligation whatsoever on those who benefit by it. In our experience the Spaniards will hide nothing and expect nothing but sincere and objective reports. All publicity should be given to these visits which honour those who make the invitations and those who accept them.
Unfortunately, there is, as far as we know, no comparable hospitality on our part for Spaniards wishing to come to England and see for themselves our successes and our short comings. This is surely a matter which could be looked into by our British representatives in Madrid.
R. Norman Smith, the Labour member for Nottingham, made a most interesting and valuable speech in Monday's debate on the economic situation.
Recently, orthodox finance which for sonic years has been through heavy weather has been returning to popularity because of the chaotic international financial situation after the war. But the fundamental causes of this situation have little directly to do with finance. They are the result of the diversion during the war of production towards noneconomic ends and for this country in particular of the spending in that cause of practically all our resources. The consequences of this have, in our view, been greatly aggravated by the experiment of creating a welfare State without any guarantee of a real and increasing production adequate to compensate for our war losses and debts, and to meet the demands of this welfare State.
Mr. Smith, as a good Labour man, would doubtless not emphasise to such an extent the cost of the establishment in these conditions of the welfare State. On the contrary, he sees in it a form of long-term real saving—which it may be, if the term taken be long enough. But in any case he sees the real remedy in terms, nationally, of fixing prices in terms of the collective purchasing power available, and, internationally by trade payments, not in terms of dollars or gold or sterling, but " through a series of exchange clearing houses on a multilateral basis, with exporters being remunerated by their own Governments in local cur
What stands in the way of such a
development, he contends, is the system of orthodox finance, established at Bretton Woods, according to which all currencies are linked to a fixed gold price. And therefore as a first short-term measure it is necessary at least to devalue considerably all currencies in terms of gold by substantially raising the price of gold. In this connection, Mr. Smith formulates "with becoming modesty" "Smith's Law" which says: "So long as gold is accepted as the basis of the monetary system, then for every world war financed by massive credit creation, there must be sooner or later a revaluation of gold in terms of the dollars and, therefore, under Bretton Woods, of all currencies."
We do' not see how in this way Mr. Smith is going notably to increase our British productive capacity to the degree needed even for successful barter, nor do we see how his international ideal differs greatly from the once decried Fascist systems which closed national economies to the detriment of human freedom, but at least there can be little doubt of the immediate advantages of raising the price of gold, as well as of considerable modifications of the old financial orthodoxy whose real basis was the value of uneatable and unwearable gold as compared with food and real wealth.