Pius XI against Communism: Relevant Still!

Part 2

Since the 1960s the Magisterium has refrained from naming specific states in its condemnations of abusive governments. Even the word “communism” appears seldom if at all. We should not take this as a sign that the Magisterium has no competence to name defective governments, that it is only the role of the laity to judge these matters. For Pius XI mentions the Soviet Union explicitly and gives the name Atheistic Communism to the subtitle of his great encyclical. He mentions bolshevism. He indicates that the sundry revolutionary movements in the world are being directed from Moscow (art. 5). He mentions Mexico and Spain (art. 18ff).  He also lists his various previous condemnations of communism in the same article. He mentions Pius IX’s and Leo XIII’s defenses of private property against the communistic revolts, in art. 4.

The genus of communism is, Pius XI states, false messianism. Its specific difference is dialectical materialism. In short, Communism preys off the ravages of arrogant monopolistic enterprises of classical liberals. Note: Classical liberal = modern “economic conservative”. (Positions regarding individual morality are a different matter.) These were non-religious profiteers. The communists rebelled against this evil, but not for the good; rather, the communists sought only to drum up the masses to an only this-worldly hope to be achieved by sedition, revolution and war. The aim of communism: total egalitarianism in a classless society and, therefore, as means unto this end, the destruction of all private property.

The first society to be “hit” by this anti-hierarchical movement is the family, which is essentially hierarchical. For, children must obey the parents, and the wife is to obey the husband. This, the perennial teaching of the Church and the divinely revealed faith of our fathers.

In addition, the very notion of the family is that it is a primordial society. Thus, the family is anterior to every other union of persons, especially that which is the state. But since communism recognizes only the state as a “person” (the term is legal) with rights, it necessarily aims at the destruction of the family. It severs the married woman from her family and thrusts her into the public world of work, the pope points out. It arrogates to itself alone the duty and right of educating children, and, if it permits parents a role here, it only uses parents to accomplish its ends.

This world-bound hope of communism presents itself as the “New Gospel” of salvation for all.

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