Divini Redemptoris: Pope Pius XI on communism (1937)


Divini Redemptoris delivers a decisive condemnation of the communist regime of the Soviet Union and of the communist form of government in itself as being totally incompatible with the Catholic Faith. It is an ideology that threatens to undermine the entirety of the foundation of the Christian civil order by eliminating the public recognition of the rights of God over all human societies and countries. In the face of such a threat, the Church invites Catholics to disassociate themselves from communist movements in their own countries.

In essence, the doctrines of Communism as espoused by Karl Marx are incompatible with the doctrines of the Catholic Faith. Communism is based upon the principles of historical and dialectical materialism which teach that the governing forces of human history are material and not spiritual, and that through conflict man will eventually arrive at his final synthesis which is the perfection of a classless society. The Communist State is there to perpetuate revolution on behalf of the proletariat by whatever means it deems necessary until the utopia of a classless society is realised, after which it will disband. As such, the Communist movement is against both right reason and Divine Revelation because it simply denies the natural law at every level: in the individual, in the family and in society.

Pope Pius XI suggests that Communism finds so many adherents because of the worldwide economic crisis, causing hardship and anger, and the nature of liberal economics which has contributed to the religious and moral destitution of the working classes.

Another reason for the spread of Communism among the working classes can be attributed to the spread of propaganda: a propaganda which is so pernicious that little by little it corrupts the hearts of all men without them ever fully realising that they have fallen prey to it. It is then no surprise that the communistic fallacy finds itself increasingly popular in a society which is largely de-Christianised.

The third reason for the spread in the popularity of Communism can be found in the conspiracy of silence of the non-Catholic press who keep silent on the terrors that are taking place in Mexico, Russia, and Spain. The silence is the result of short-sighted political policies, and of occult forces that have been working to overthrow Christian Social Order.

Communism is opposed to everything that is godly; it considers religion to be the “opiate of the masses”, because it claims that all life is ultimately a terrestrial affair, and all of life ends at the grave. What better means is there to prepare a fertile ground for a Communist regime than to forbid all of the public ceremonies of the Church, to discourage and stop religious education in schools and remove it from public life?

The State needs the Church as a teacher of doctrine and inculcator of virtue in order to combat the errors of moral liberalism and, by seeking first the Kingdom of God, to attain the goal of earthly peace.

Catholic action in the public sphere is absolutely necessary in order to promote the Kingdom of God on earth, and to ensure the peace of nations. Catholics who are engaged in the body of politics should strive and work towards promoting the Social Kingship of Christ, the only True remedy there is for the ills that our present society faces. Pope Pius XI encourages Catholics to do so and guarantees that such actions will always have his blessing and blessings from God. Priests should be reminded of their sacred duties and should work with zeal to bring forth numerous souls into the fold of the Church, who through neglect or ignorance of sacred things, may fall prey to the deceptions and errors of our times.

With this in mind, it is necessary to turn to the protection of Saint Joseph, who was himself an exemplary workman, and a member of the working class. He bore the weight of poverty, and all of its burdens. To him was entrusted the care of the Divine Child when Herod’s assassins were let loose to kill Him. In a life of faithful performance of everyday duties, he left an example for all those who must gain their bread by the toil of their hands. The Church therefore places Her vast campaign in the fight against communism under his banner.

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