Page 5, 23rd April 1937

23rd April 1937
Page 5
Page 5, 23rd April 1937 — " Divini Redemptoris "

Report an error

Noticed an error on this page?
If you've noticed an error in this article please click here to report it.


People: God, Adam Smith


Related articles

Vatican Radio Champions Late Cardinal Against Nazi Calumnies

Page 1 from 2nd April 1943

Destruction Of Ownership

Page 2 from 5th September 1947

Rebuilding Christendom Xii By Stanley B. James

Page 4 from 26th June 1942

Communism : Vatican Is Still Anxious

Page 1 from 22nd September 1944

British Offer To U.s.s.r.

Page 1 from 29th November 1940

" Divini Redemptoris "

Summary of sections 19-28 in the Catholic Herald for April 15.

The anti-religious eharacter of Communism is loot a passing phase but belongs to its essence. The same may be said concerning its use of violence. Because Commonism denies all inner restraint. whether of the natural or supernatural kind, it must rely on terrorism for the maintenance of social order.

From this conclusion the Pope turns to the constructive aspects of Catholic teaching, describing the positive basis of the Christian SoMety. Affirming the existence of an unwise and just God, lie describes the marvellous gifts with which His creature, man. has been'eudoWod. It is on the dignity of human nature as defined by the Church that the institutions of a Christian civilisation depend. Those institutions are not determined in any arbitrary fashion, but are so ordered as to

serve man's true end. Humon rights are granted in order that we may fulfil the divine purpose in our creation.

NATURE OF SOCIETY Mutual Rights and Duties

29. But God has likewise destined man for civil Society according to the dictates

of his very nature. In the plan of the Creator, society is a natural means which man can and must use to reach his destined end. Society is for man and not vice versa. This must not be understood in the sense of liberalistic individualism, which subordinates society to the selfish use of the individual; but only in the sense that by means of an organic union with society and by mutual collaboration the attainment of earthly happiness is placed within the reach of all. In 'a further sense, it is society which affords the opportunities for the development of all the individual and social gifts bestowed on human nature. These natural gifts have a value surpassing the immediate interests of the moment, for in society they reflect the divine perfection, which would not be true were man to live alone. But on final analysis, even in this latter function, society is made for man, that he may recognise this reflection of God's perfection, and refer it in praise and adoration to the Creator. Only man, the human person, and not society in any form is endowed with reason and a morally free will.

" Society is far man and not vice versa."

Communism subordinates the individual to society, but this inverts tho true order a things. This does not mean, however. that the individual is free to use society for us own selfish ends. Man is a social being who. for the sake of his own development, needs to subordinate himself to civil society, without. however, allowing the maintenance of society to become an end in itself with powers of coercion inimical to the salvation of the individual.

30. Man cannot be exempted from his divinely-imposed obligations toward civil society, and the representatives of authority

have the right to coerce him when he refuses without reason to do his duty. Society,

on the other hand, cannot defraud man of his God-granted rights, the most important of which We have indicated above. Nor can society systematically void these rights by making their use impossible. It is therefore according to the dictates of reason that ultimately all material things should be ordained to man as a person, that through his mediation they may find their way to the Creator. In this wise we can apply to man, the human person, the words of the Apostle of the Gentiles, who writes to the Corinthians on the Christian economy of salvation : " All things are yours, and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's." While Communism impoverishes human personality by inverting the terms of the relation of man to society, to what lofty heights is man not elevated by reason and Revelation!

" All material things should be ordained to mon as a person."

Man stands in ay between God and nature in order (hot, through hini. the natural C11'1111011 may return to its Source. He exercises a priestly function in consecrating and sacrificing to God the material things of this world.

Social-Economic Order 31. The directive principles concerning the social-economic order have been expounded in the social Encyclical of Leo XIII on the question of labour. Our own Encyclical on the Reconstruction of the Social Order adapted these principles to present needs. Then, insisting anew on the age-old doctrine of the Church concerning the individual and social character of private property. We explained clearly the right and dignity of labour, the relations of mutual aid and collaboration which should exist between those who possess capital and those who work, the salary due in strict justice to the worker for himself and for his family.

This section refers to Leo XIII's Eney" Rernin Norarum." and Pius XI's Encyclical, " Quadragesimo Anno."

32. In this same Encyclical of Ours We have shown that the means of saving the world of today from the lamentable ruin into which a moral liberalism has plunged us, are neither the class-struggle nor terror, nor yet the autocratic abuse of State power, but rather the infusion of social justice and the sentiment of Christian love into the

social-economic order. We have indicated

how a sound prosperity is to be restored according to the true principles of a sane corporative system which respects the proper hierarchic structure of society; and how all the occupational groups should be fused into an harmonious unity inspired by

the principle of the common good. And the genuine and chief function of public md civic authority consists precisely in the afficacious furthering of this harmony and co-ordination of all social forces.

" Amoral Liberalism."

Ecouomie Liberalism released men from the religious and moral obligations imposed by

the guilds. 'nese bodies, which organised them in groups according to their ocelipa. Lions, by safeguarding the quality of the work done and imposing standard prices and a fixed wage on a basis of equits, restrained cupidity. The dissolution of the guilds' twhich, possessing, cinch in its respective sphere, monopolies, were in no fear of competition) left the way open for a system based on the idea that a just level for prices and wages would be best reached by permitting unrestricted competition. This dependence of the self-regarding motive as the sole regulative principle was endorsed by Liberal economies. Adam Smith. their spokesman, wrote in The Wealth of Nations: "The effectual discipline which is exercised over a workman is not that of his corporation, but of his customers. It is the fear of losing their employment which restrains his frauds, and corrects his negligeoce.The Pepe pleada for Ilie repent-dilution of these

I ional groups in place of the present competitive chaos. Further reference to the guilds is made in Section 37.

Social Hierarchy and State Prerogatives

33. In view of this organised common effort towards peaceful living. Catholic doctrine vindicates to the State the dignity and authority of a vigilant and provident defender of those divine and human rights on which the Sacred Scriptures and the Fathers of the Church insist so often. It is not true that all have equal rights in civil society. It is not true that there exists no lawful social hierarchy. Let it suffice to refer to the Encyclicals of Leo X11I already cited, especially to that on State power, and to the other on the Christian Constitution of States. In these documents the Catholic will find the principles of reason and the Faith clearly explained, and these principles will enable him to defend himself against the errors and perils of a communistic conception of the State, The enslavement of man despoiled of his rights, the denial of the transcendental origin of the State and its authority, the horrible abuse of public power in the service of a collectivistic ter

rorism, are the very contrary of all that corresponds with natural ethics and the will of the Creator. Both man and civil society

derive their origin from the Creator, Who has mutually ordained them one to the other. Hence neither can be exempted from their correlative obligations, nor deny or diminish each other's rights. The Creator Himself has regulated this mutual relation

ship in its fundamental lines, and it is by an unjust usurpation that communism arrogates to itself the right to enforce, in place of the divine principles of truth and charity, a partisan political programme which

derives from the arbitrary human will and is replete with hate.

"ft is not true that all hare equal rights in civil society."

It is to he observed that the Holy Father is not speaking of those universal and fundamental rights which belong to men as men (see Section 27), but of those which attach to the different classes oll civil society. Over against the Communist ideal of ml classless society. he sets the hirki on conception of a society ordered according Inn the varying dignity of the services rendered by its citizens. It may be added that ihis hierarchical arrangement has nothing lo do with degrees of wealth and that One sequence of honour it accords differs greatly from that observed in a plutocratic community. The Christian society is not only a elass-ified one, but the classes found therein art. arranged according to their moral and intellectual dignity. Thus, the middleman occupies a lower position than the producer.


34. In teaching this enlightening doctrine the church has no other intention than to realise the glad tidings sung by the Angels above the cave of Bethlehem at the Redeemer's birth: " Glory to God . . . and . . . peace to men . . .," true peace and true happiness even here below as far as is possible, in preparation for -the happiness of heaven—but to men of good will. This doctrine is equally removed from alt extremes of error and all exaggerations of parties or systems which stem from error. It maintains a constant equilibrium of truth and justice, which it vindicates in theory and applies and promotes in practice, bringing into harmony the rights and duties of all parties. Thus authority is reconciled with liberty, the dignity of the individual with that of the State, the human personality of the subject with the divine delegation of the superior; and in this way a balance is struck between the due dependence and well-ordered love of a man for himself, his family and country, and his love of other families and other peoples, founded on the love of God, the Father of all, their first principle and last cad, The Church does not separate a proper regard for temporal welfare from solicitude for the eternal. If she subordinates the former to the latter according to the words of her divine Founder, "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His justice, and all these things shall be added unto you," she is nevertheless so far from being unconcerned with human affairs, so far from hindering civil progress and material advancement, that she actually fosters and promotes them in the most sensible and efficacious manner. Thus even in the sphere of social-economics, although the Church has never proposed a definite technical system, since this is not her field, she has nevertheless clearly outlined the guiding principles which, while susceptible of varied concrete applications according to the diversified conditions of times and places and peoples, indicate the safe way of securing the happy progress of society.

" 7'he Church does not separate a proper regard for temporal welfare from solicitude for the eternal."

The teaching of this paragraph is not to be confused with that which advocates making " the best of both worlds." " Seek first the Kingdom of God " is unconditional and implies no ulterior motive such as that suggested by the proverb, "Honesty is the best policy." Moreover. it will frequently happen that the individual who is faithful to conscience thereby suffers serious material loss. A society fashioned on un.Christian lines penalises the conscientious Christian. Nevertheless, the Communist assertion that, I) y directing our attention to -spiritual and other-worldly objects, the Church " dopes " the worker and makes him indifferent to Material betterment, is false. it is only as society seeks first the kingdom of God that " these things " which pertain to this life are made legitimate and secure possessions.

35. The wisdom and supreme utility of this doctrine are admitted by all who really understand it. With good reason outstanding statesmen have asserted that, after a study of various social systems, they have found nothing sounder than the principles expounded in the Encyclicals Rerum Novarum and Quadragesitno Anno. In nonCatholic, even in non-Christian countries, men recognise the great value to society of the social doctrine of the Church. Thus, scarcely a month ago, an eminent political figure of the Far East, a non-Christian, did not hesitate to affirm publicly that the Church, with her doctrine of peace and Christian brotherhood, is rendering a signal contribution to the difficult task of establishing and maintaining peace among the nations. Finally, We know from reliable information that flows into this Centre of Christendom from all parts of the world, that the communists themselves, where they are not utterly depraved recognise the superiority of the social doctrine of the Church, when once explained to them, over the doctrines of their leaders and their teachers. Only those blinded by passion and hatred close their eyes to the light of truth and obstinately struggle against it.

(To be continued)

blog comments powered by Disqus