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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University, Wellington. Vol. 21, No. 8. 2nd July, 1958

The Papacy & Fascism

The Papacy & Fascism

Mr. R. G. Hall is obviously a person in whose bonnet a large number of lively bees are buzzing, so that a general discussion of his remarks would be likely to lead to protracted controversy without fruitful results.

Instead, I propose to devote most attention to his remarks on two quite specific and concrete matters, the statements of the Papacy about Italian Fascism and German National Socialism. I say "concrete" because this is essentially a matter of what is and what is not contained in certain documents.

Mr. Hall asserts ("Salient," 6/5/58) that, contrary to popular belief, Pope Pius XI never condemned Fascism and Nazism in his page 9 [unclear: als] "Non Abbiamo Bisogno" [unclear: d] "Mit Brennender Sorge" [unclear: nd] that, as he puts it, "the [unclear: its] were wholly ecclesiastical, [unclear: ng] the lost privileges of the without condemning "poli-[unclear: d] social totalitarianism."

[unclear: e] it that Mr. Hall is not [unclear: g] to the Pope's defence of [unclear: rch] against these attacks but absence, as he believes, of [unclear: cern] for interests other than. [unclear: f] the Church. Of course, if [unclear: oking] for a condemnation of dictatorships (or autocracies) as of government he will not It has been the constant [unclear: ng] of the Church that no form [unclear: ernment] is good or bad in it-[unclear: hat] is, as a form. Its good-[unclear: or] badness depend upon the that pervades it, upon its lying philosophy, its purpose [unclear: its] methods. (This, I thnk, is [unclear: nly] reasonable interpretation of passage from "Non Abbiamo [unclear: no]" which Mr. Hall quotes: have not said that We wished [unclear: condemn] the [Fascist] party as Our aim has been . . . to [unclear: lemn] all those things in the pro[unclear: nme] and activities of the party [unclear: h] [are] contrary to Catholic [unclear: rine] and . . . practice . . .")

[unclear: The] Church's purpose is primar-other-worldly and it attempts to [unclear: e] to terms as far as possible, [unclear: hout] compromising its principles, [unclear: h] the governments of the various [unclear: untries] in which it finds itself; tries to establish a modus vivendi which its primary work—the [unclear: sal-tion] of souls—may be [unclear: accom-plished.] Mr. Hall asks why the [unclear: 37] encyclical did not break off [unclear: plomatic] relations with Germany. [unclear: ut] Concordats do not necessarily [unclear: xpress] approval of the other gov[unclear: rnment]—indeed they are usually [unclear: made] when relations are difficult—[unclear: nd] it is surely in times of great [unclear: crisis] that greater efforts should be [unclear: made] to retain the normal diplomatic links, despite the current habits of modern governments in this matter.

"Non Abbiamo Bisogno" is, of course, primarily a defence of Catholic Action against the actions of the Italian Government which Pius XI regarded as a breach of the Lateran Treaty of 1929. But it also contains a qualified disapproval of the Fascist Oath together with a condemnation as "eroneous and false doctrine" of the complete monopolisation of the young, "from their tenderest years . . . for the exclusive advantage of a party and . . . regime based on an ideology which clearly resolves itself into . . . a real pagan worship of the State—the "statology" which is no less in contrast with the natural rights of the family than it is in contradiction with the supernatural rights of the Church." Is this not a condemnation of totalitarianism as it is usually defined, that is, a situation in which all or most of the associations within a country are subordinate to or controlled by the State? Indeed, Mr. Hall himsel says that the Pope "simply (sic) denounced . . . fascist doctrines . . . which tended to place the supremacy of the State above everything' including the Catholic Church"!

"Mit Brennender Sorge" is also primarily a defence of the Church against the actions of the German Government which Pius VI regarded as contrary to the 1933 Concordat, but it, too, contains a condemnation of "whoever transposes Race or People, the State or Constitution, the executive or other fundamental elements of human society (which in the natural order have an essential and honourable place), from the scale of earthly values and makes them the ultimate norm of all things, even of religious values, and deifies them with on idolatrous cult, pervert[ing] and falsify[ing] the divinely created and appointed order of things" (para. 10). The Pope also condemns "certain contemporary prophets" of the "so-called myth of blood and race" (19) and those who "refuse to recognise the fundamental fact that man as a person possesses rights given him by God which must be preserved from every attempt by the community to deny, suppress, or hinder their exercise" and maintains that "society is willed by the Creator as a means to the full development of the faculties of the individual . . . for his natural and supernatural development and perfection" (3.4). Yet Mr. Hall claims that Pius XI "never protested against Nazism as such" (whatever exactly he means by this) and makes the quite unsupported and absurd assertion that the Vatican "could not afford to offend such a valuable political ally"!

In his first letter, Mr. Hall asserted that the Vatican promoted the Spanish Civil War. In his second letter, replying to Mr. Kelliher's effort to refute this contention, he claimed that "Spanish Catholics had contacted Mussolini with a view to planning it as early as 1933".

He thus adroitly shifts his ground by identifying the Vatican with Mussolini! This statement in the second letter—with its reference to the "Manchester Guardian" of 4/12/37 (which, incidentally, is unobtainable from any public institution in Wellington)—is completely irrelevant to the original assertion.

Russell Price.