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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 79

Pastoral on Socialism Francis, — By the Grace of God and Favor of the Apostolic See. — Archbishop of Wellington and Metropolitan — To the Clergy and Faithful in the Said Diocese. — Health and Benediction in the Lord

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Pastoral on Socialism Francis,

By the Grace of God and Favor of the Apostolic See.

Archbishop of Wellington and Metropolitan

To the Clergy and Faithful in the Said Diocese.

Health and Benediction in the Lord.

Dearly Beloved Brethren and Dear Children in Jesus Christ—

Some years ago we issued a Pastoral on Socialism, which we criticised more as an economic system than as a foe of Christianity. But the subject of this Pastoral shall be Socialism versus the Catholic Church.

In his immortal encyclical (on the 'Conditions of Labor'), the late supreme Pontiff, Leo XIII., raised his voice in no uncertain and faltering tone against this most insidious, specious, and dangerous error. With great eloquence and irresistible argument he demonstrated the utter untenableness of the principle on which it is based—namely, that the State should contrive, sooner or later, to appropriate all private property and convert it into common property, to transfer all capital, or the material of labor, or productive goods, to the State, whether the central or local Government. He showed how detrimental such a theory would prove to the laboring class for whose benefit it was invented; how it opposed the natural rights of every human being; how, in fact, it perverted the true purpose of the State, and would render the peaceful development of social life impossible.

As this great Pontiff's teachings on this subject are but those of the Catholic Church in relation to one particular species of modern error, it behoves us to provide you with a clear and forcible presentation of the same. And, in doing so, we shall be most careful to attribute no doctrine to Socialism which its chief scientific and accredited exponents have not again and again claimed and proclaimed to be their own.

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In this exposition you will see that Socialism aims at a fourfold destruction—the destruction of Christianity—the destruction of Church authority—the destruction of the rights of property—and the destruction of the family; in other terms, the utter ruin of the four main foundations of Christian society and civilisation.

I. Socialism would Destroy Christianity.—Socialism assails Christianity, because it is based upon principles, religious, philosophical, and economic, which are directly antagonistic to Divine Revelation, The educated out-and-out Socialist of our day admits no distinction of spirit and matter in the universe. Everything is matter and motion. Man is a mere evolution from the brute. There is no such thing as a spiritual and an immortal soul. No immutable and eternal truth is set before the mind of man. There is no personal God, no Providence governing mankind, whose history, in all its phases and developments, has been shaped by two factors—production and exchange. Each age varies according to its economic conditions, and these—not any higher or holier influences—have by degrees wrought the present development of the human race. No interference of God in His own world, no mission of His only-begotten Son to save us—because there is no God, no Christ, no wrath to come from which we need salvation. Death ends all; and he is a fool who refuses to strive with might and main to have as large a share as he can grasp of the good things of this world, and to drink whatever he can drain from the cup of life.

II. Socialism would Destroy all Church Authority.—It assails the very principle of authority on which the Church of Christ stands. What does the principle of authority mean in practice? It means obedience for conscience sake; it means that the Christian conscience is trained to obey those who hold the place of God in this world—namely, those who are the legitimate representatives of order in the family, in the State, and in the Church. Among Christians worthy of the name the child is taught obedience to its parents; the wife due submission to her husband; the citizen obedience and loyalty to his Sovereign; the priest reverence and obedience to his Bishop; and the Bishop obedient veneration to the Vicar of Christ upon earth—the Pope. But the Socialist contends that all these inequalities in society, all distinctions between class and class, originated in fraud and are maintained by oppression. For him no authority, no yoke of law, page 3 except such as his own judgment has ratified and approved. Setting up as his own legislator, he resents any interference with his privilege; he repudiates with particular abhorrence and detestation the Catholic Church which claims to have received from Christ her Founder authority to teach and judge, and power to bind and loose the souls of men. For this reason alone, not to speak of others, the Catholic Church must ever appear to the consistent Socialist his deadly and unrelenting foe, to be combated, and, if possible, utterly annihilated. But this antagonism grows in him sevenfold when he realises that on almost every article of his system she joins issue with him. Therefore she must be resisted all along the line. First of all, and above all, must the education of the young be wrested from her grasp, and secular schools set up, that her influence may be restricted, if it cannot be completely destroyed. If such hatred of the Catholic Church does not conspicuously assume such bitterness and violence in this land as in some others, it is owing to the fact that in other lands the basic tenets of Socialism are better understood, and the Catholic Church better known. Hence the war that is being waged against the freedom of her influence and institutions in France, in Italy, in Germany, in Portugal, and elsewhere at this moment. Hence, too, the readiness with which we see Socialists, all the world over, join in any angry outcry against the Church, on no matter what unjust pretext.

III. Socialism would Destroy the Rights of Property.—It attacks every man's natural right to acquire and to hold property. It denounces that rational and stable bond which the moral law protects, which humankind in all ages has respected, which enables man, by some just title, to unite to himself the good and useful things of creation. And so, here again, it antagonises Christianity. Sweeping away all the old titles to ownership, it erects in their room but one—that of labor. Labor alone, it says, and not the intrinsic usefulness of a thing, determines a thing's value as an article of exchange. Hence in its eyes accumulated wealth of any kind, whether in land or capital, is nothing but the hoarded yield of labor, and is unjustly withheld from the working-man whose labor went to make it. As though these things, the creation of God Himself, had no value independently of labor, when they become matter of barter, and labor, instead of being a mere marketable commodity which gets its price, were the sole producing factor in the fruits of agricul- page 4 ture and the works of industry ! Nay, carried on further by his theories, the Socialist boldly contends that whatever can be used as a means of production, distribution, or exchange, in short, the whole capital of a country, should be wrested from private hands and placed in those of the State, for the State to maintain all citizens alike.

On this proposal we need only remark: (1) That if all the inhabitants of a country, or members of a community, consented to such a wholesale transfer of their property, justice indeed would not be violated, but the experiment would most certainly prove a huge economic failure. We may, however, rest assured that so vast a revolution, bent upon ruthlessly uprooting one of man's most powerful instincts j could not be effected without the most awful bloodshed ever seen in the world. And for this all thorough-going Socialists—to judge by their publications—seem prepared. (2) That the sole object which individuals and families sought, by coalescing into a State, and establishing a civil government, was that it might safeguard their already existing rights, and might maintain the substance of these rights, whilst adjusting them properly in their exercise. Consequently, the civil government possesses no greater power or authority than that which belonged to the individuals and families which constitute the State; and this, because no effect is greater than its cause, and no one can give what he has not got. As, therefore, neither individuals nor families surrendered any one of their existing rights, and could not give away one another's rights, when they united to form a State, the civil government is incompetent to confiscate their rights of property. (3) That Christianity has but one reply—and a peremptory one—to the Socialist, for Christianity is but the fulfilment of the Old Law, and in the Old Law we read: 'Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his house, nor his field, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything which is his' (Deut. v. 21). And again: 'Thou shalt not steal' (ib., v. 19).

IV. Socialism would Destroy the Family.—As though all this were not enough, Socialism aims at the destruction of the family. No doubt it is untrue that all who call themselves Socialists preach the abominable doctrine of free love, yet the dissolution of the family is a necessary consequence of their official teaching, and their official demands. Because their tenets are grounded on Materialism and Atheism, they afford no page 5 security for the permanence of the marriage-bond, but rather encourage and urge the severance of that bond, whensoever a marriage has resulted in disappointment or disagreement. The unity of the family necessarily requires one supreme head. Socialism would fain abolish all laws subordinating woman to man in private as well as in public life. But the Socialist's anxiety and concern chiefly regard the family's offspring, in which he discerns the promise of the future Socialistic Commonwealth. So, by a detestable inversion of the order of facts, he claims that the child is born into the State and not into the family; and, as the child belongs at once to the State, it is for the State to tend and train the child, and to determine both the character and the quality of its education. Thus the chief duty of parents, and their main right (for what is of duty is eminently of right) are torn from them, in violation of natural instinct, sound reason, and plain-spoken Christianity. And here let us hearken to the grave words of our late Holy Father, Pope Leo XIII.: 'Paternal authority can neither be abolished by the State, nor absorbed; for it has the same source as human life itself. The child belongs to the father, and it is, as it were, a continuance of the father's personality; and, to speak with strictness, the child takes its place in civil society not in its own right, but in its quality as a member of the family in which it is begotten. And it is for the very reason that the child belongs to the\father, that, as St. Thomas of Aquin says, "before it attains the use of free will, it is in the power and care of its parents." (Summa 2a 2oe. 2q. x, Art. 72.) The Socialists, therefore, by setting aside the parent and introducing the providence of the State, act against natural justice, and threaten the very existence of family life.' (Encycl. 'On the Conditions of Labor.')

From all this it follows that Catholicism and Socialism are utterly incompatible—they are opposed to each other as much as light is opposed to darkness. Wherefore we solemnly warn Catholics not to let themselves be cajoled into error by such as think that they see in the establishment of the Socialistic State a cure for all the plagues of suffering humanity. Socialism is a Utopian dream or craze. It is impracticable, and would bring about a far worse condition of things than the one which in many ways is most deplorable. Above all, it is flatly adverse to the teaching of our faith. No real Catholic can be a thorough-going Socialist. But page 6 Socialism is a ward bandied about in a very vague, loose, and ill-defined meaning. Often it means only 'Social Reform'; and a 'Social Reformer' is what the Catholic Church is, and must be, and so also should every Catholic be. We must meet the new social gospel not with more negations, but with positive measures of reform. Accordingly, Catholics should press for many of the reforms which Socialists themselves demand—and the absence of these reforms affords the Socialist's most telling argument on the ignorant masses. Verily the present evils are terrible in many lands, though much less in this than in others. The lowest of the poor should everywhere be enabled to lead a life worthy of a human being. His wages should be made sufficient in accordance with his state of single or married life. His health and his life ought to receive the care of his employer. He should not be overburdened with labor; he should not be 'sweated.' He is to be treated, not only with fairness and consideration, but with generous love. Wise, moderate, timely legislation can do much in this direction, and has done much, particularly in this country. But it is to the teaching of Christianity alone, to the charity of Christ pervading all classes, both rich and poor, employer and employed, that we must look for the truest and surest means of lessening or assuaging the inequalities of human life. Equality all round of rank and means there never will be, just as the earth will never be flat. But when the rich everywhere realise that they are but the stewards of the substance given them by God, and that the poor are in very deed members of the same body as themselves; when the poor man looks for strength and comfort to the example of his Saviour, Who, though the Master of all, toiled with His own hands, and, though the Lord of all, had not whereon to lay His head; when we all feel how fleeting and how brief is this our span of life, in the light of a fast-approaching eternity, whose rewards incomparably surpass the sufferings of this life—much will have been done to reconcile class with class, and make this world a happier one than it is.

Our flock will now know how to gauge at its true value the frequent assertion of Socialists, anxious to gain over unwary Catholics to their evil cause, that the 'Socialist party is primarily an economic and political movement. It is not concerned with matters of religious belief.' (Resolution of Socialists in National Convention assembled at Chicago, May 10, 1908,) The page 7 beat comment on this resolution is the accurate record of the circumstances attending its adoption. The first recommendation of the Platform Committee at the meeting was worded differently, viz., 'That religion be treated as a private matter—a question of individual conscience.' Its rejection was instantly moved by a leading Socialist author and lecturer (Arthur M. Lewis). 'If we must speak,' he said, 'I propose that we shall go before this country with the truth and not with a lie.' Honesty, however, he admitted, might not be the best policyj and therefore he preferred that nothing be said about the matter. This was, at least, negative truthfulness. Then another noted Socialist (Morris Hillquit) put as an amendment the clause quoted by us in the first instance as the famous subterfuge of the Socialist agitators. It was intended for this purpose, he declared. Socialist orators must have a ready answer when suddenly asked the question, 'Yes, but won't Socialism destroy religion?' They will answer, 'No, we don't agree on it. I personally may not be religious, but Socialism has nothing to do with religion.' After various discussion, one Van der Porter—more honest than his comrades—thus challenged the assembly: 'Is there a man who will dare to say that religion is not a social question?' None took up the gauntlet. He continued: 'Let us say nothing,' or say the truth. To spread forth to the world that religion is the individual's affair, and that religion has no part in the subjection of the human race, we lie when we say it.' This sentiment—says the report—was greeted with great applause. The resolution was, however, carried for campaign and propaganda purposes—mark the hypocrisy—by a majority of only one vote out of 157 votes cast. One of the speakers asserted—and he was not contradicted—that 99 per cent of the Socialists are Atheists or Agnostics. If out of a hundred Catholics who join the Socialist party in the United States of America 99 finally become Agnostics, or virtually so, it is simply an untruth to assert that Socialism is not concerned with religion. And the true reason for the loss of faith on the part of Catholics, is not any profound science or truth contained in Socialist literature, since in both it is glaringly deficient, but the fact that in affiliating themselves with Socialism, they have by that very act disregarded the authority of Christ and His Church, by associating themselves with an organisation which is begotten and reared in Materialism, and which has never cleared itself of this original sin; an organisation whose page 8 first principle would demand the injustice of annul-ling all private right to productive property, and whose entire method in warfare is essentially un-Christian, promoting a universal discontent and hatred of class against class over the whole world.

Let Catholics remember that, wherever Socialism is rife and aggressive, its danger for them is its ultimate absorption of Labor unions. That is its ambition and object. Beware of its insidious advances and its hollow mendacious promises. Its attitude towards the Church is sufficiently clear. Its interest in the trade unions, as Socialists themselves declare, is to change them into revolutionary centres. 'Unionism,' says a noted one of them, 'is the body, and Socialism is the soul of the Labor movement.' Such is at least their dream.

Accordingly, we solemnly warn Catholics to keep aloof from all Socialist propaganda. Socialism is—we repeat—founded on a class hatred which is anti-Christian and anti-National. Eschew it in every shape and form, and follow the noble ideal of justice for all, the ideal of Christ and His Church. He wished to be descended from royalty and wealth and to be laid in a tomb of the rich; but He was born into the labor-world, and in this He chose to live. It was a school of laborers He drew about Him, in the persons of His Disciples, and by the mouth of workers did He evangelise the world, having neither hatred towards the rich, nor contempt for authority, but justice and love for all, and the coming of the Kingdom of God. Healing like Him the temporal wounds of mankind, we shall lift up our gaze to the Cross whence alone salvation can come to the world.

We terminate by setting before you for your earnest consideration the recommendation of the Joint Circular of the Archbishop and Bishops of New Zealand, issued at their Conference in Wellington last June: 'The Clergy are recommended to study social questions, to watch the trend and progress of the social movement, and to provide for the extended circulation of the various pamphlets of the Catholic Truth Society dealing with Socialism from various points of view.'

Given at Wellington, on this the 29th day of January, A.D., 1912.


Archbishop of Wellington and Metropolitan.

N.Z. Tablet Print, Octagon, Dunedin—162