Page 9, 25th March 1937

25th March 1937
Page 9
Page 9, 25th March 1937 — "I Have Loved justice And Hated Iniquity

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People: Gregory VII


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"I Have Loved justice And Hated Iniquity

These famous words of Saint Gregory VII come to mind when one considers the two Encyclicals with which Pius XI, in his eightieth year and after lying for weeks on what the world had believed to be his death-bed, has startled the whole world_ Moreover, the sad words with which Gregory VII conchided, " . . therefore I die in exile," are not inapplicable to the case of his successor in the Chair of Peter.

Pius XI is not literally dying in exile, but there can be little doubt that many, not entirely excluding Catholics, had reconciled themselves to the thought that the Pope had reached the end of his effective career without having given the distressed world the spectacular lead and direction for which they had hoped. Because of this there was some disappointment; and the Sovereign Pontiff, patient apparently beyond wisdom in the face of German State idolatry, himself, so it was alleged, dependent upon Mussolini, and content negatively to decry Communism—was in exile from the minds and hearts of some worried Catholics.

How little ground there was for such worry is now dramatically made clear. Had these people paused to reflect on the career of our strong but infinitely charitable and supremely wise Pontiff, they would have seen that he has never compromised by one hair's breadth in his declarations as to the religious and moral principles upon which the Church stands, but that he alone has known—and always chosen wisely—the best moment at which to strike.

Even now, it is true to say that these two powerful Encyclicals contain nothing that is, properly speaking, new. In their reliance on the fundamental truth that man is at once God's creature and yet made in God's image and redeemed by Christ, they expose the pervading error, common to both Communism and Nazism, the error of attempting to make man into a God and succeeding therefore in reducing him to a brute. In the case of Divini Redemploris, this fundamental truth, illustrated and worked out in the Redemption, is opposed to the specious ideal of a false Communist redemption; but the Pope, realising that the fight between Christianity and Communism has reached a critical stage, insists on bringing home to every Catholic and every non-Catholic who will listen the full implications of this opposition. if false Communism has had such success in the face of true Christianity it is because Communism has emphasised and exaggerated such elements of partial truth which it contains while Christians have failed to understand and live up to all that is implied in their philosophy.

In writing of the remedies and means whereby a stronger and betterconceived resistance may be put up, Pius XI does not mince words. In a striking passage he denounces those whose religion is but a surface one (and among these he seems to include even those who practise their religion, but fail to deepen their religious knowledge and their intimate convictions) and says that such " will not be able to resist the wind of persecution, but will be miserably carried away by the new deluge, and, in being so, will make a mockery of the name of Christian into the bargain."

The Pope who can write such flaying words to his own subjects can also show the indulgence of the kindest father towards sons who have suffered that clever, subtle, hypocritical persecution at the hands of the servants of an ideology—in its present form as false and perhaps more dangerous because containing more truth—the modern German worship of State, race and man. On their behalf he has turned against their enemies and denounced Nazism's lies, faithlessness and deceit—yet at the same time, knowing that the falsehood of Nazism lies in gross exaggeration of son-.:thing that has its truth, the truth, namely, of the authority of the State, the dignity of man and the virtue of patriotism, the Holy Father leaves the door ajar in the hope and prayer that even yet the German authorities may hold out their hand and that that door once kept half-open by mutual promise, may again be opened fully.

it is to be hoped that every Catholic will in due course study these historical and inspiring documents—for comment on them can only be the poorest of substitutes—and, above all, urge their nonCatholic friends to study them too. We on our part are ready enough, too ready perhaps, to follow the sincerest documents presenting the case against Christianity in order that we may find some • possible common ground front which to persuade our opponents of the truth. Let them, if they are sincere, take the trouble to read the Pope's own presentation of the Christian case.

Between them these two documents do not cover all the troubles of the modern world, but in the face of them any who may have felt that Pius XI was slow to speak will surely be convinced that there is little, he has overlooked and that, when the proper time comes, he will strike again fearlessly wherever he knows the enemy to lie.

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