Page 13, 25th March 1937

25th March 1937
Page 13
Page 13, 25th March 1937 — THE POPE DE-BUNKS COMMUNISM

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Organisations: Christian Charity


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The third and main part of the encyclical is devoted to a positive and constructive exposition of the " luminous doctrine which has to be set up against the false teaching of Communism."

The Pope calls it " the true notion of the human city,' of the human society such as you know it to be, and such as reason and revelation through the intermediary of the Church, the magistra gentium, teach. First the existence of God: "The supreme reality of God is the most absolute condemnation of the impudent lies of Communism."

From God to man, who has God for his final end. " That is why God has endowed him with numerous and varied prerogatives: the right to life, to the integrity of his body, to the necessary means for existence . . the right of association, of property, and the right to use that property."

Society From man to society. " In the Creator's plan, society is a natural means of which man can and should make use in order to attain his end, for society is made for man, and not man for society. This does not mean, as individualistic liberalism understands it, that society is subordinated to the egoistic uses of the individual, but that, by means of organic union with society. mutual collaboration makes it possible for all to realise true happiness on earth."

Just as authority, the Pope explains, has the right to force the individual to do his duty whenever the individual refuses to do so without legitimate reason, so society may not deprive man of the personal rights which God has given to him, nor make it impossible for him to exercise them.

In the economic and social order Pius XI recalls the encyclical of Leo XIII and his own on the question of labour.

" We have insisted upon the secular leaching of the Church in regard to the individual and social character of private property. We have defined the right and the dignity of labour, the collaboration which should exist between those who possess capital and the workers, the wage due in strict justice to the worker for himself and his family."

The Just Mean

Contrasting this doctrine with Communism, the Pope points out that it springs from social relations as regulated by God, whereas Communism commits an unjust usurpation when it imposes instead a political party programme which springs from human arbitrariness which is filled with hatred.

Catholic teaching, says the Pope, remairis at an equal distance from extremist errors, " it keeps ever the balance of justice and truth, it defends the just mean in theory and ensures its progressive realisation in practice, trying to reconcile the rights and duties of all, authority with liberty, the dignity of the individual with that of the state, the human personality of the subject with the divine origin of power, a just submissiveness, a love for oneself, for one's family and for one's own country in harmony with a love for other families and other peoples . . "

Has the Church Lived Up to its Teaching?

All this may be true, the Pope suggests, and even the enemies of the Church are forced to recognise it, but has the Church lived in active conformity with its own teaching? Looking back into history the Pope shows how Christianity was the first to proclaim the true and universal fraternity of all men, how it powerfully helped to abolish slavery, how it, which adores the Son of God become the son of a carpenter, has consecrated the true dignity of manual labour, which even in the eyes of a good man like Cicero was despised and found to have nothing noble in it.

" Under the influence of the Church there have arisen admirable works of charity, powerful corporations of craftsmen and workers of all kinds; the liberalism of the past century mocked at them because they were mediaeval organisations, but today they impose themselves upon the admiration of our contemporaries who in various countries are seeking to revive them . . . It is enough to recall with what firmness, energy, and constancy our predecessor, Leo XIII vindicated for the worker that right of association which the reigning liberalism in the strongest states relentlessly persisted in refusing them."


What, then, are the weapons which we must employ to defend Christ and the Christian civilisation against this pernicious enemy, asks Pius 1U in the fourth part of his letter.

Like a father in the middle of his family, His Holiness undertakes, as it were, intimately and unofficially to talk of the duties which the great fight of today imposes on the children of the Church and even on those children who have strayed from her.

Surface Religion A work of spiritual renewal is the first remedy. The Pope complains of the numbers who are Catholic only in name, even of those who practise their religion more or less faithfully but do not care to perfect . their religious knowledge nor to acquire deeper convictions.

He speaks of that " surface religion, a vain and seeming appearance, exceedingly displeasing to the Divine Saviour." One whose religion is no more than that would not only be carried away by the deluge which threatens us, but would, in being so, make of the Christian name an object of derision.

Next comes detachment from the goods of the earth. The rich, the Pope warns us, should consider themselves to be simple administrators who are to use their wealth as a precious means given them by God to do good. The poor, in like fashion, while seeking in the spirit of charity and justice to obtain that which is 'necessary and even to improve their lot, should remain "poor in ,spirit." Calling for patience, the Pope reminds us that miseries, sufferings, and tribulations can never be made to disappear from the earth.

Christian Charity

Even more important is Christian charity, " that patient and kind ' charity which knows how to avoid the airs of humiliating patronisation and ostentation."

The Pope thanks especially all who have devoted themselves to spiritual and corporal works of mercy, from the Conferences of St. Vincent de Paul to more recently established organisations.

" But when we see," the Pope reminds us, " those masses of the needy overcome by misery and for !reasons for which they are them' selves not responsible, and standing beside them so many rich people who enjoy themselves without thought for others, who waste con' siderable sums on futile goods, we cannot help noting with pain that not only is justice not sufficiently observed, but that the command of charity remains still misunderstood and not exercised in our daily life."


The duties of strict justice form the fourth need, for charity must ever take account of justice. Addressing himself in particular to employers and industrialists whose task is rendered all the harder 'because of the heavy heritage of the faults of an unjust economic regime, he urges them to he mindful of their responsibilities.

" It is unfortunately too true that practices allowed in certain Catholic circles have contributed to the shaking of the confidence of the workers in the religion of Jesus Christ . What must we think of the manoeuvres of certain Catholic employers who in certain places have succeeded in preventing the reading of our encyclical Quadragesimo Anno in their churches? What shall we say of those Catholic industrialists who have not ceased even unto this day to show themselves to be hostile towards a workers' movement which we ourselves have recommended."

Lastly, there is the duty of social justice, whose function it is to impose on all members of the community all that is necessary for the common good. When it is realised, an intense activity of the whole economic life in peace and order will develop.

But it demands that workers should be assured the subsistence that is their due and the due of their family, the means of acquiring a modest fortune, in order to prevent a calamitous general .pauperism, and their protection in times of old age, sickness or unemployment by a system of private or public insurances.

The Catholic Press The Pope ends this section insisting upon the study and propagation of Catholic social doctrine. in particular by means of the Catholic Press, which " can and ought, first of all to try in different and attractive 'ways to make ever better known that social doctrine, to give exact but sufficiently full information about the activity of enemies, and indications of the means of combating them which have proved most efficacious in various countries, and finally to propose useful suggestions and cautions against the ruses and trickeries with which Communists set to work and which have already succeeded in gaining to their side even men of good faith.


The last section of the encyclical discusses the helpers in this social work of the Church. First of all the Pope addresses the priests and recalls his encyclical Ad Catholic' Sacerdoti, and then the laity who fight in the ranks of Catholic Action, slid in the organisations that support it.

In particular he addresses professional organisations of workers, agriculturists, technicians, doctors, employers, students, etc., organisations which the State itself has seen fit to assist and regulate, and to which therefore Catholic Action should not remain indifferent.

Address to Workers

Addressing himself to Catholic workers in particular, the Pope speaks of their " very noble and very arduous mission."

" Under the lead of their bishops and priests, it is they who must bring hack to the Church and to God those immense numbers of brothers in work who. exasperated by not having been understood nor treated with the respect due to them, have wandered from God. Let Catholic workers by their example and words cause their strayed brothers to understand that the Church is a tender mother to all who work and suffer, and that she has never failed, nor ever will fail in that sacred duty of a mother which is to defend her sons.

"If that mission which they must accomplish in mines, in factories, in yards, wherever they may be working, often demands great renunciation, let them remember that the Saviour of the world has given us the example not only of work, but also of sacrifice."

Dedication to St. Joseph

Insisting on the necessity for concord between Catholics and laying down the duties of the Christian state, and making a paternal appeal to those who believe in God and have strayed from the Faith, the Pope ends by solemnly placing the Church's fight against world atheistic Communism under the powerful protection of St. Joseph, who himself belonged to the working class, who experienced poverty for himself and the Holy Family, whose vigilant and loving chief he was.

Ilsia life of absolute fidelity in the accomplishing. of his daily work he has left an example to all who must gain their living by manual labour, and has merited the name of " The Just One," the living model of that Christian justice which should reign in social fifes

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