And Shows Wherein It Fails
St. Catherine's branch of the Catholic Young Men's Society at Birmingham heard a lecture lately by Mr. Curley, of the Birmingham Catholic Evidence Guild. The members of the branch are mostly young men, keenly interested in social questions, and they followed with much interest the speaker's line of thought in discussing and answering the question: " What is wrong with Communism? "
The question has been asked : Mr. Curley said, "Can a Catholic be a member of the Communist Party? " There could be no more plain or decisive answer than that of the Holy Father himself in a recent encyclical, " Let none of the faithful be deceived. Communism is intrinsically wrong, and seeks the downfall of Christian civilisation. There must be no collaboration with the Communist under any pretext whatsoever." These were words which conveyed no other meaning for Catholics than condemnation.
The Red Ideal
Yet many were drawn to Communism by certain ideals proposed by it. It was a sort of religion, recognising a common brotherhood of man. The proposed Communistic remedies for the present evils in the world were based on the teaching of Karl Marx, which was concerned only with the material benefits to be obtained: the question of a just wage. better conditions for workers, the establishment of the State as the supreme authority.
No one would dispute the unhappy state of affairs existent in Russia before the Revolution. These were considered to be due to the corruption of the Russian Church by the rich, who, themselves seeking only material satisfaction, created all that was necessary for a revolution : greed. dissatisfaction, and above all, lack of social justice.
Such conditions also arose from the state of schism, for the Russian Church failed to get among the people. A revolution was prepared promising a Utopia wherein master and man were equal and the State became the sole administrator of justice and social well-being. Everyone therefore must become subject to the State, which deprived man of individual rights. Yet man possessed rights essentially his own, such as the right to bring up his family in a correct manner.
Here was a point where the Communist went wrong. In the Communist State. family rights, individual rights.. did not count. Communistic belief was that truth and justice could not be superficial or half-hearted, but must be accepted and practised without delay or comptiomise.
What then was to become of the individual? Revolution prompted man to look backward, and tended towards degeneration. whereas man should always look forward. Religion was described as the opium of the people : God and Communism were incompatible; yet the Communist proposed a brotherhood. One could not conceive of a universal brotherhood of man without a common Father, yet Communism denied God. Herein lay its failing. The contention was that Christianity had failed. We knew that where Christian principles had been applied success was certain.
How were we to tackle the problem? That many Catholics could not do so was due to their attitude of self-complacency. " We have heard," said Mr. Curley, " of Catholic Action, and many ask : who is going to start? The lead has been given, and we have Catholic papers which show how the Communists have led men astray; for example, Spain illustrates their handiwork."
As Christians. the lecturer said, we were faced with the quiestion as to whether we took Christianity seriously or not. The remedy lay with us, to ensure that we really intended to practise our faith. The struggle today Was between the Church and Communism, and unless we gave proof of our activity Communism would ultimately triumph.
Many of the fundamentals held by the Communists were to he found in the teachings of the Church. 'They were not new. Christ showed at the way to remedy the evils of today. The Popes hail been untiring hi urging all Catholics to live their faith.
We should read the encyclicals. Many had said these were difficult to understand, yet how many really attempted to understand them?
We had no excuse. There were four good Catholic newspapers, which did not get the support they should. These splehdid papers contained the very information necessary. No Catholic who read a Catholic paper regularly could fail to answer the Communist.