Given by His
Holiness Pope Pius XI
March 19, 1937
Venerable Brethren, Health and Apostolic Benediction.
The promise of a Redeemer brightens the first page of the history of
mankind, and the confident hope aroused by this promise softened the
keen regret for a paradise which had been lost. It was this hope that
accompanied the human race on its weary journey, until in the fullness
of time the expected Savior came to begin a new universal civilization,
the Christian civilization, far superior even to that which up to this
time had been laboriously achieved by certain more privileged nations.
2. Nevertheless, the struggle between good and evil remained in the
world as a sad legacy of the original fall. Nor has the ancient tempter
ever ceased to deceive mankind with false promises. It is on this
account that one convulsion following upon another has marked the
passage of the centuries, down to the revolution of our own days. This
modern revolution, it may be said, has actually broken out or threatens
everywhere, and it exceeds in amplitude and violence anything yet
experienced in the preceding persecutions launched against the Church.
Entire peoples find themselves in danger of falling back into a
barbarism worse than that which oppressed the greater part of the world
at the coming of the Redeemer.
3. This all too imminent danger, Venerable Brethren, as you have
already surmised, is bolshevistic and atheistic Communism, which aims
at upsetting the social order and at undermining the very foundations
of Christian civilization .
4. In the face of such a threat, the Catholic Church could not and does
not remain silent. This Apostolic See, above all, has not refrained
from raising its voice, for it knows that its proper and social mission
is to defend truth, justice and all those eternal values which
Communism ignores or attacks. Ever since the days when groups of
"intellectuals" were formed in an arrogant attempt to free civilization
from the bonds of morality and religion, Our Predecessors overtly and
explicitly drew the attention of the world to the consequences of the
dechristianization of human society. With reference to Communism, Our
Venerable Predecessor, Pius IX, of holy memory, as early as 1846
pronounced a solemn condemnation, which he confirmed in the words of
the Syllabus directed against "that infamous doctrine of so-called
Communism which is absolutely contrary to the natural law itself, and
if once adopted would utterly destroy the rights, property and
possessions of all men, and even society itself." Later on, another
of Our predecessors, the immortal Leo XIII, in his Encyclical Quod
Apostolici Muneris, defined Communism as "the fatal plague which
insinuates itself into the very marrow of human society only to bring
about its ruin." With clear intuition he pointed out that the
atheistic movements existing among the masses of the Machine Age had
their origin in that school of philosophy which for centuries had
sought to divorce science from the life of the Faith and of the Church.
5. During Our Pontificate We too have frequently and with urgent
insistence denounced the current trend to atheism which is alarmingly
on the increase. In 1924 when Our relief-mission returned from the
Soviet Union We condemned Communism in a special Allocution which We
addressed to the whole world. In our Encyclicals Miserentissimus
Redemptor, Quadragesimo Anno, Caritate Christi, Acerba
Animi, Dilectissima Nobis, We raised a solemn protest against the
persecutions unleashed in Russia, in Mexico and now in Spain. Our two
Allocutions of last year, the first on the occasion of the opening of
the International Catholic Press Exposition, and the second during Our
audience to the Spanish refugees, along with Our message of last
Christmas, have evoked a world-wide echo which is not yet spent. In
fact, the most persistent enemies of the Church, who from Moscow are
directing the struggle against Christian civilization, themselves bear
witness, by their unceasing attacks in word and act, that even to this
hour the Papacy has continued faithfully to protect the sanctuary of
the Christian religion, and that it has called public attention to the
perils of Communism more frequently and more effectively than any other
public authority on earth.
6. To Our great satisfaction, Venerable Brethren, you have, by means of
individual and even joint pastoral Letters, accurately transmitted and
explained to the Faithful these admonitions. Yet despite Our frequent
and paternal warning the peril only grows greater from day to day
because of the pressure exerted by clever agitators. Therefore We
believe it to be Our duty to raise Our voice once more, in a still more
solemn missive, in accord with the tradition of this Apostolic See, the
Teacher of Truth, and in accord with the desire of the whole Catholic
world, which makes the appearance of such a document but natural. We
trust that the echo of Our voice will reach every mind free from
prejudice and every heart sincerely desirous of the good of mankind. We
wish this the more because Our words are now receiving sorry
confirmation from the spectacle of the bitter fruits of subversive
ideas, which We foresaw and foretold, and which are in fact multiplying
fearfully in the countries already stricken, or threatening every other
country of the world.
7. Hence We wish to expose once more in a brief synthesis the
principles of atheistic Communism as they are manifested chiefly in
bolshevism. We wish also to indicate its method of action and to
contrast with its false principles the clear doctrine of the Church, in
order to inculcate anew and with greater insistence the means by which
the Christian civilization, the true civitas humana, can be saved from
the satanic scourge, and not merely saved, but better developed for the
well-being of human society.
8. The Communism of today, more emphatically than similar movements in
the past, conceals in itself a false messianic idea. A pseudo-ideal of
justice, of equality and fraternity in labor impregnates all its
doctrine and activity with a deceptive mysticism, which communicates a
zealous and contagious enthusiasm to the multitudes entrapped by
delusive promises. This is especially true in an age like ours, when
unusual misery has resulted from the unequal distribution of the goods
of this world. This pseudo-ideal is even boastfully advanced as if it
were responsible for a certain economic progress. As a matter of fact,
when such progress is at all real, its true causes are quite different,
as for instance the intensification of industrialism in countries which
were formerly almost without it, the exploitation of immense natural
resources, and the use of the most brutal methods to insure the
achievement of gigantic projects with a minimum of expense.
9. The doctrine of modern Communism, which is often concealed under the
most seductive trappings, is in substance based on the principles of
dialectical and historical materialism previously advocated by Marx, of
which the theoricians of bolshevism claim to possess the only genuine
interpretation. According to this doctrine there is in the world only
one reality, matter, the blind forces of which evolve into plant,
animal and man. Even human society is nothing but a phenomenon and form
of matter, evolving in the same way. By a law of inexorable necessity
and through a perpetual conflict of forces, matter moves towards the
final synthesis of a classless society. In such a doctrine, as is
evident, there is no room for the idea of God; there is no difference
between matter and spirit, between soul and body; there is neither
survival of the soul after death nor any hope in a future life.
Insisting on the dialectical aspect of their materialism, the
Communists claim that the conflict which carries the world towards its
final synthesis can be accelerated by man. Hence they endeavor to
sharpen the antagonisms which arise between the various classes of
society. Thus the class struggle with its consequent violent hate and
destruction takes on the aspects of a crusade for the progress of
humanity. On the other hand, all other forces whatever, as long as they
resist such systematic violence, must be annihilated as hostile to the
10. Communism, moreover, strips man of his liberty, robs human
personality of all its dignity, and removes all the moral restraints
that check the eruptions of blind impulse. There is no recognition of
any right of the individual in his relations to the collectivity; no
natural right is accorded to human personality, which is a mere
cog-wheel in the Communist system. In man's relations with other
individuals, besides, Communists hold the principle of absolute
equality, rejecting all hierarchy and divinely-constituted authority,
including the authority of parents. What men call authority and
subordination is derived from the community as its first and only font.
Nor is the individual granted any property rights over material goods
or the means of production, for inasmuch as these are the source of
further wealth, their possession would give one man power over another.
Precisely on this score, all forms of private property must be
eradicated, for they are at the origin of all economic enslavement .
11. Refusing to human life any sacred or spiritual character, such a
doctrine logically makes of marriage and the family a purely artificial
and civil institution, the outcome of a specific economic system. There
exists no matrimonial bond of a juridico-moral nature that is not
subject to the whim of the individual or of the collectivity.
Naturally, therefore, the notion of an indissoluble marriage-tie is
scouted. Communism is particularly characterized by the rejection of
any link that binds woman to the family and the home, and her
emancipation is proclaimed as a basic principle. She is withdrawn from
the family and the care of her children, to be thrust instead into
public life and collective production under the same conditions as man.
The care of home and children then devolves upon the collectivity.
Finally, the right of education is denied to parents, for it is
conceived as the exclusive prerogative of the community, in whose name
and by whose mandate alone parents may exercise this right.
12. What would be the condition of a human society based on such
materialistic tenets? It would be a collectivity with no other
hierarchy than that of the economic system. It would have only one
mission: the production of material things by means of collective
labor, so that the goods of this world might be enjoyed in a paradise
where each would "give according to his powers" and would "receive
according to his needs." Communism recognizes in the collectivity the
right, or rather, unlimited discretion, to draft individuals for the
labor of the collectivity with no regard for their personal welfare; so
that even violence could be legitimately exercised to dragoon the
recalcitrant against their wills. In the Communistic commonwealth
morality and law would be nothing but a derivation of the existing
economic order, purely earthly in origin and unstable in character. In
a word. the Communists claim to inaugurate a new era and a new
civilization which is the result of blind evolutionary forces
culminating in a humanity without God.
13. When all men have finally acquired the collectivist mentality in
this Utopia of a really classless society, the political State, which
is now conceived by Communists merely as the instrument by which the
proletariat is oppressed by the capitalists, will have lost all reason
for its existence and will "wither away." However, until that happy
consummation is realized, the State and the powers of the State furnish
Communism with the most efficacious and most extensive means for the
achievement of its goal.
14. Such, Venerable Brethren, is the new gospel which bolshevistic and
atheistic Communism offers the world as the glad tidings of deliverance
and salvation! It is a system full of errors and sophisms. It is in
opposition both to reason and to Divine Revelation. It subverts the
social order, because it means the destruction of its foundations;
because it ignores the true origin and purpose of the State; because it
denies the rights, dignity and liberty of human personality.
15. How is it possible that such a system, long since rejected
scientifically and now proved erroneous by experience, how is it, We
ask, that such a system could spread so rapidly in all parts of the
world? The explanation lies in the fact that too few have been able to
grasp the nature of Communism. The majority instead succumb to its
deception, skillfully concealed by the most extravagant promises. By
pretending to desire only the betterment of the condition of the
working classes, by urging the removal of the very real abuses
chargeable to the liberalistic economic order, and by demanding a more
equitable distribution of this world's goods (objectives entirely and
undoubtedly legitimate), the Communist takes advantage of the present
world-wide economic crisis to draw into the sphere of his influence
even those sections of the populace which on principle reject all forms
of materialism and terrorism. And as every error contains its element
of truth, the partial truths to which We have referred are astutely
presented according to the needs of time and place, to conceal, when
convenient, the repulsive crudity and inhumanity of Communistic
principles and tactics. Thus the Communist ideal wins over many of the
better minded members of the community. These in turn become the
apostles of the movement among the younger intelligentsia who are still
too immature to recognize the intrinsic errors of the system. The
preachers of Communism are also proficient in exploiting racial
antagonisms and political divisions and oppositions. They take
advantage of the lack of orientation characteristic of modern agnostic
science in order to burrow into the universities, where they bolster up
the principles of their doctrine with pseudo-scientific arguments.
16. If we would explain the blind acceptance of Communism by so many
thousands of workmen, we must remember that the way had been already
prepared for it by the religious and moral destitution in which
wage-earners had been left by liberal economics. Even on Sundays and
holy days, labor-shifts were given no time to attend to their essential
religious duties. No one thought of building churches within convenient
distance of factories, nor of facilitating the work of the priest. On
the contrary, laicism was actively and persistently promoted, with the
result that we are now reaping the fruits of the errors so often
denounced by Our Predecessors and by Ourselves. It can surprise no one
that the Communistic fallacy should be spreading in a world already to
a large extent de-Christianized.
17. There is another explanation for the rapid diffusion of the
Communistic ideas now seeping into every nation, great and small,
advanced and backward, so that no corner of the earth is free from
them. This explanation is to be found in a propaganda so truly
diabolical that the world has perhaps never witnessed its like before.
It is directed from one common center. It is shrewdly adapted to the
varying conditions of diverse peoples. It has at its disposal great
financial resources, gigantic organizations, international congresses,
and countless trained workers. It makes use of pamphlets and reviews,
of cinema, theater and radio, of schools and even universities. Little
by little it penetrates into all classes of the people and even reaches
the better-minded groups of the community, with the result that few are
aware of the poison which increasingly pervades their minds and hearts.
18. A third powerful factor in the diffusion of Communism is the
conspiracy of silence on the part of a large section of the
non-Catholic press of the world. We say conspiracy, because it is
impossible otherwise to explain how a press usually so eager to exploit
even the little daily incidents of life has been able to remain silent
for so long about the horrors perpetrated in Russia, in Mexico and even
in a great part of Spain; and that it should have relatively so little
to say concerning a world organization as vast as Russian Communism.
This silence is due in part to shortsighted political policy, and is
favored by various occult forces which for a long time have been
working for the overthrow of the Christian Social Order.
19. Meanwhile the sorry effects of this propaganda are before our eyes.
Where Communism has been able to assert its power - and here We are
thinking with special affection of the people of Russia and Mexico - it
has striven by every possible means, as its champions openly boast, to
destroy Christian civilization and the Christian religion by banishing
every remembrance of them from the hearts of men, especially of the
young. Bishops and priests were exiled, condemned to forced labor, shot
and done to death in inhuman fashion; laymen suspected of defending
their religion were vexed, persecuted, dragged off to trial and thrown
20. Even where the scourge of Communism has not yet had time enough to
exercise to the full its logical effects, as witness Our beloved Spain,
it has, alas, found compensation in the fiercer violence of its attack.
Not only this or that church or isolated monastery was sacked, but as
far as possible every church and every monastery was destroyed. Every
vestige of the Christian religion was eradicated, even though
intimately linked with the rarest monuments of art and science. The
fury of Communism has not confined itself to the indiscriminate
slaughter of Bishops, of thousands of priests and religious of both
sexes; it searches out above all those who have been devoting their
lives to the welfare of the working classes and the poor. But the
majority of its victims have been laymen of all conditions and classes.
Even up to the present moment, masses of them are slain almost daily
for no other offense than the fact that they are good Christians or at
least opposed to atheistic Communism. And this fearful destruction has
been carried out with a hatred and a savage barbarity one would not
have believed possible in our age. No man of good sense, nor any
statesman conscious of his responsibility can fail to shudder at the
thought that what is happening today in Spain may perhaps be repeated
tomorrow in other civilized countries.
21. Nor can it be said that these atrocities are a transitory
phenomenon, the usual accompaniment of all great revolutions, the
isolated excesses common to every war. No, they are the natural fruit
of a system which lacks all inner restraint. Some restraint is
necessary for man considered either as an individual or in society.
Even the barbaric peoples had this inner check in the natural law
written by God in the heart of every man. And where this natural law
was held in higher esteem, ancient nations rose to a grandeur that
still fascinates - more than it should - certain superficial students
of human history. But tear the very idea of God from the hearts of men,
and they are necessarily urged by their passions to the most atrocious
22. This, unfortunately, is what we now behold. For the first time in
history we are witnessing a struggle, cold-blooded in purpose and
mapped out to the least detail, between man and "all that is called
God." Communism is by its nature anti-religious. It considers
religion as "the opiate of the people" because the principles of
religion which speak of a life beyond the grave dissuade the
proletariat from the dream of a Soviet paradise which is of this world.
23. But the law of nature and its Author cannot be flouted with
impunity. Communism has not been able, and will not be able, to achieve
its objectives even in the merely economic sphere. It is true that in
Russia it has been a contributing factor in rousing men and materials
from the inertia of centuries, and in obtaining by all manner of means,
often without scruple, some measure of material success. Nevertheless
We know from reliable and even very recent testimony that not even
there, in spite of slavery imposed on millions of men, has Communism
reached its promised goal. After all, even the sphere of economics
needs some morality, some moral sense of responsibility, which can find
no place in a system so thoroughly materialistic as Communism.
Terrorism is the only possible substitute, and it is terrorism that
reigns today in Russia, where former comrades in revolution are
exterminating each other. Terrorism, having failed despite all to stem
the tide of moral corruption, cannot even prevent the dissolution of
24. In making these observations it is no part of Our intention to
condemn en masse the peoples of the Soviet Union. For them We cherish
the warmest paternal affection. We are well aware that not a few of
them groan beneath the yoke imposed on them by men who in very large
part are strangers to the real interests of the country. We recognize
that many others were deceived by fallacious hopes. We blame only the
system, with its authors and abettors who considered Russia the
best-prepared field for experimenting with a plan elaborated decades
ago, and who from there continue to spread it from one end of the world
to the other.
25. We have exposed the errors and the violent, deceptive tactics of
bolshevistic and atheistic Communism. It is now time, Venerable
Brethren, to contrast with it the true notion, already familiar to you,
of the civitas humana or human society, as taught by reason and
Revelation through the mouth of the Church, Magistra Gentium.
26. Above all other reality there exists one supreme Being: God, the
omnipotent Creator of all things, the all-wise and just Judge of all
men. This supreme reality, God, is the absolute condemnation of the
impudent falsehoods of Communism. In truth, it is not because men
believe in God that He exists; rather because He exists do all men
whose eyes are not deliberately closed to the truth believe in Him and
pray to Him.
27. In the Encyclical on Christian Education We explained the
fundamental doctrine concerning man as it may be gathered from reason
and Faith. Man has a spiritual and immortal soul. He is a person,
marvelously endowed by his Creator with gifts of body and mind. He is a
true "microcosm," as the ancients said, a world in miniature, with a
value far surpassing that of the vast inanimate cosmos. God alone is
his last end, in this life and the next. By sanctifying grace he is
raised to the dignity of a son of God, and incorporated into the
Kingdom of God in the Mystical Body of Christ. In consequence he has
been endowed by God with many and varied prerogatives: the right to
life, to bodily integrity, to the necessary means of existence; the
right to tend toward his ultimate goal in the path marked out for him
by God; the right of association and the right to possess and use
28. Just as matrimony and the right to its natural use are of divine
origin, so likewise are the constitution and fundamental prerogatives
of the family fixed and determined by the Creator. In the Encyclical on
Christian Marriage and in Our other Encyclical on Education, cited
above, we have treated these topics at considerable length.
29. But God has likewise destined man for civil society according to
the dictates of his very nature. In the plan of the Creator, society is
a natural means which man can and must use to reach his destined end.
Society is for man and not vice versa. This must not be understood in
the sense of liberalistic individualism, which subordinates society to
the selfish use of the individual; but only in the sense that by means
of an organic union with society and by mutual collaboration the
attainment of earthly happiness is placed within the reach of all. In a
further sense, it is society which affords the opportunities for the
development of all the individual and social gifts bestowed on human
nature. These natural gifts have a value surpassing the immediate
interests of the moment, for in society they reflect the divine
perfection, which would not be true were man to live alone. But on
final analysis, even in this latter function, society is made for man,
that he may recognize this reflection of God's perfection, and refer it
in praise and adoration to the Creator. Only man, the human person, and
not society in any form is endowed with reason and a morally free will.
30. Man cannot be exempted from his divinely-imposed obligations toward
civil society, and the representatives of authority have the right to
coerce him when he refuses without reason to do his duty. Society, on
the other hand, cannot defraud man of his God-granted rights, the most
important of which We have indicated above. Nor can society
systematically void these rights by making their use impossible. It is
therefore according to the dictates of reason that ultimately all
material things should be ordained to man as a person, that through his
mediation they may find their way to the Creator. In this wise we can
apply to man, the human person, the words of the Apostle of the
Gentiles, who writes to the Corinthians on the Christian economy of
salvation: "All things are yours, and you are Christ's, and Christ is
God's." While Communism impoverishes human personality by inverting
the terms of the relation of man to society, to what lofty heights is
man not elevated by reason and Revelation!
31. The directive principles concerning the social-economic order have
been expounded in the social Encyclical of Leo XIII on the question of
labor. Our own Encyclical on the Reconstruction of the Social
Order adapted these principles to present needs. Then, insisting
anew on the age-old doctrine of the Church concerning the individual
and social character of private property, We explained clearly the
right and dignity of labor, the relations of mutual aid and
collaboration which should exist between those who possess capital and
those who work, the salary due in strict justice to the worker for
himself and for his family.
32. In this same Encyclical of Ours We have shown that the means of
saving the world of today from the lamentable ruin into which a moral
liberalism has plunged us, are neither the class-struggle nor terror,
nor yet the autocratic abuse of State power, but rather the infusion of
social justice and the sentiment of Christian love into the
social-economic order. We have indicated how a sound prosperity is to
be restored according to the true principles of a sane corporative
system which respects the proper hierarchic structure of society; and
how all the occupational groups should be fused into a harmonious unity
inspired by the principle of the common good. And the genuine and chief
function of public and civil authority consists precisely in the
efficacious furthering of this harmony and coordination of all social
33. In view of this organized common effort towards peaceful living,
Catholic doctrine vindicates to the State the dignity and authority of
a vigilant and provident defender of those divine and human rights on
which the Sacred Scriptures and the Fathers of the Church insist so
often. It is not true that all have equal rights in civil society. It
is not true that there exists no lawful social hierarchy. Let it
suffice to refer to the Encyclicals of Leo XIII already cited,
especially to that on State powers, and to the other on the
Christian Constitution of States. In these documents the Catholic
will find the principles of reason and the Faith clearly explained, and
these principles will enable him to defend himself against the errors
and perils of a Communistic conception of the State. The enslavement of
man despoiled of his rights, the denial of the transcendental origin of
the State and its authority, the horrible abuse of public power in the
service of a collectivistic terrorism, are the very contrary of all
that corresponds with natural ethics and the will of the Creator. Both
man and civil society derive their origin from the Creator, Who has
mutually ordained them one to the other. Hence neither can be exempted
from their correlative obligations, nor deny or diminish each other's
rights. The Creator Himself has regulated this mutual relationship in
its fundamental lines, and it is by an unjust usurpation that Communism
arrogates to itself the right to enforce, in place of the divine law
based on the immutable principles of truth and charity, a partisan
political program which derives from the arbitrary human will and is
replete with hate.
34. In teaching this enlightening doctrine the Church has no other
intention than to realize the glad tidings sung by the Angels above the
cave of Bethlehem at the Redeemer's birth: "Glory to God . . . and . .
. peace to men . . .," true peace and true happiness, even here
below as far as is possible, in preparation for the happiness of heaven
- but to men of good will. This doctrine is equally removed from all
extremes of error and all exaggerations of parties or systems which
stem from error. It maintains a constant equilibrium of truth and
justice, which it vindicates in theory and applies and promotes in
practice, bringing into harmony the rights and duties of all parties.
Thus authority is reconciled with liberty, the dignity of the
individual with that of the State, the human personality of the subject
with the divine delegation of the superior; and in this way a balance
is struck between the due dependence and well-ordered love of a man for
himself, his family and country, and his love of other families and
other peoples, founded on the love of God, the Father of all, their
first principle and last end. The Church does not separate a proper
regard for temporal welfare from solicitude for the eternal. If she
subordinates the former to the latter according to the words of her
divine Founder, "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His justice, and
all these things shall be added unto you," she is nevertheless so
far from being unconcerned with human affairs, so far from hindering
civil progress and material advancement, that she actually fosters and
promotes them in the most sensible and efficacious manner. Thus even in
the sphere of social-economics, although the Church has never proposed
a definite technical system, since this is not her field, she has
nevertheless clearly outlined the guiding principles which, while
susceptible of varied concrete applications according to the
diversified conditions of times and places and peoples, indicate the
safe way of securing the happy progress of society.
35. The wisdom and supreme utility of this doctrine are admitted by all
who really understand it. With good reason outstanding statesmen have
asserted that, after a study of various social systems, they have found
nothing sounder than the principles expounded in the Encyclicals Rerum
Novarum and Quadragesimo Anno. In non-Catholic, even in non-Christian
countries, men recognize the great value to society of the social
doctrine of the Church. Thus, scarcely a month ago, an eminent
political figure of the Far East, a non-Christian, did not hesitate to
affirm publicly that the Church, with her doctrine of peace and
Christian brotherhood, is rendering a signal contribution to the
difficult task of establishing and maintaining peace among the nations.
Finally, We know from reliable information that flows into this Center
of Christendom from all parts of the world, that the Communists
themselves, where they are not utterly depraved, recognize the
superiority of the social doctrine of the Church, when once explained
to them, over the doctrines of their leaders and their teachers. Only
those blinded by passion and hatred close their eyes to the light of
truth and obstinately struggle against it.
36. But the enemies of the Church, though forced to acknowledge the
wisdom of her doctrine, accuse her of having failed to act in
conformity with her principles, and from this conclude to the necessity
of seeking other solutions. The utter falseness and injustice of this
accusation is shown by the whole history of Christianity. To refer only
to a single typical trait, it was Christianity that first affirmed the
real and universal brotherhood of all men of whatever race and
condition. This doctrine she proclaimed by a method, and with an
amplitude andconviction, unknown to preceding centuries; and with it
she potently contributed to the abolition of slavery. Not bloody
revolution, but the inner force of her teaching made the proud Roman
matron see in her slave a sister in Christ. It is Christianity that
adores the Son of God, made Man for love of man, and become not only
the "Son of a Carpenter" but Himself a "Carpenter." It was
Christianity that raised manual labor to its true dignity, whereas it
had hitherto been so despised that even the moderate Cicero did not
hesitate to sum up the general opinion of his time in words of which
any modern sociologist would be ashamed: "All artisans are engaged in
sordid trades, for there can be nothing ennobling about a
37. Faithful to these principles, the Church has given new life to
human society. Under her influence arose prodigious charitable
organizations, great guilds of artisans and workingmen of every type.
These guilds, ridiculed as "medieval" by the liberalism of the last
century, are today claiming the admiration of our contemporaries in
many countries who are endeavoring to revive them in some modern form.
And when other systems hindered her work and raised obstacles to the
salutary influence of the Church, she was never done warning them of
their error. We need but recall with what constant firmness and energy
Our Predecessor, Leo XIII, vindicated for the workingman the right to
organize, which the dominant liberalism of the more powerful States
relentlessly denied him. Even today the authority of this Church
doctrine is greater than it seems; for the influence of ideas in the
realm of facts, though invisible and not easily measured, is surely of
38. It may be said in all truth that the Church, like Christ, goes
through the centuries doing good to all. There would be today neither
Socialism nor Communism if the rulers of the nations had not scorned
the teachings and maternal warnings of the Church. On the bases of
liberalism and laicism they wished to build other social edifices
which, powerful and imposing as they seemed at first, all too soon
revealed the weakness of their foundations, and today are crumbling one
after another before our eyes, as everything must crumble that is not
grounded on the one corner stone which is Christ Jesus.
39. This, Venerable Brethren, is the doctrine of the Church, which
alone in the social as in all other fields can offer real light and
assure salvation in the face of Communistic ideology. But this doctrine
must be consistently reduced to practice in every-day life, according
to the admonition of St. .James the Apostle: "Be ye doers of the word
and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves." The most urgent
need of the present day is therefore the energetic and timely
application of remedies which will effectively ward off the catastrophe
that daily grows more threatening. We cherish the firm hope that the
fanaticism with which the sons of darkness work day and night at their
materialistic and atheistic propaganda will at least serve the holy
purpose of stimulating the sons of light to a like and even greater
zeal for the honor of the Divine Majesty.
40. What then must be done, what remedies must be employed to defend
Christ and Christian civilization from this pernicious enemy? As a
father in the midst of his family, We should like to speak quite
intimately of those duties which the great struggle of our day imposes
on all the children of the Church; and We would address Our paternal
admonition even to those sons who have strayed far from her.
41. As in all the stormy periods of the history of the Church, the
fundamental remedy today lies in a sincere renewal of private and
public life according to the principles of the Gospel by all those who
belong to the Fold of Christ, that they may be in truth the salt of the
earth to preserve human society from total corruption.
42. With heart deeply grateful to the Father of Light, from Whom
descends "every best gift and every perfect gift," We see on all
sides consoling signs of this spiritual renewal. We see it not only in
so many singularly chosen souls who in these last years have been
elevated to the sublime heights of sanctity, and in so many others who
with generous hearts are making their way towards the same luminous
goal, but also in the new flowering of a deep and practical piety in
all classes of society even the most cultured, as We pointed out in Our
recent Motu Proprio In multis solaciis of October 28 last, on the
occasion of the reorganization of the Pontifical Academy of
43. Nevertheless We cannot deny that there is still much to be done in
the way of spiritual renovation. Even in Catholic countries there are
still too many who are Catholics hardly more than in name. There are
too many who fulfill more or less faithfully the more essential
obligations of the religion they boast of professing, but have no
desire of knowing it better, of deepening their inward conviction, and
still less of bringing into conformity with the external gloss the
inner splendor of a right and unsullied conscience, that recognizes and
performs all its duties under the eye of God. We know how much Our
Divine Savior detested this empty pharisaic show, He Who wished that
all should adore the Father "in spirit and in truth." The Catholic
who does not live really and sincerely according to the Faith he
professes will not long be master of himself in these days when the
winds of strife and persecution blow so fiercely, but will be swept
away defenseless in this new deluge which threatens the world. And
thus, while he is preparing his own ruin, he is exposing to ridicule
the very name of Christian.
44. And here We wish, Venerable Brethren, to insist more particularly
on two teachings of Our Lord which have a special bearing on the
present condition of the human race: detachment from earthly goods and
the precept of charity. "Blessed are the poor in spirit" were the first
words that fell from the lips of the Divine Master in His sermon on the
mount. This lesson is more than ever necessary in these days of
materialism athirst for the goods and pleasures of this earth. All
Christians, rich or poor, must keep their eye fixed on heaven,
remembering that "we have not here a lasting city, but we seek one that
is to come." The rich should not place their happiness in things of
earth nor spend their best efforts in the acquisition of them. Rather,
considering themselves only as stewards of their earthly goods, let
them be mindful of the account they must render of them to their Lord
and Master, and value them as precious means that God has put into
their hands for doing good; let them not fail, besides, to distribute
of their abundance to the poor, according to the evangelical
precept. Otherwise there shall be verified of them and their riches
the harsh condemnation of St. James the Apostle: "Go to now, ye rich
men; weep and howl in your miseries which shall come upon you. Your
riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten; your gold and
silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be for a testimony
against you and shall eat your flesh like fire. You have stored up to
yourselves wrath against the last days. . ."
45. But the poor too, in their turn, while engaged, according to the
laws of charity and justice, in acquiring the necessities of life and
also in bettering their condition, should always remain "poor in
spirit," and hold spiritual goods in higher esteem than earthly
property and pleasures. Let them remember that the world will never be
able to rid itself of misery, sorrow and tribulation, which are the
portion even of those who seem most prosperous. Patience, therefore, is
the need of all, that Christian patience which comforts the heart with
the divine assurance of eternal happiness. "Be patient, therefore,
brethren," we repeat with St. .lames, "until the coming of the Lord.
Behold the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth,
patiently bearing until he receive the early and the later rain. Be you
therefore also patient and strengthen your hearts, for the coming of
the Lord is at hand." Only thus will be fulfilled the consoling
promise of the Lord: "Blessed are the poor!" These words are no vain
consolation, a promise as empty as those of the Communists. They are
the words of life, pregnant with a sovereign reality. They are fully
verified here on earth, as well as in eternity. Indeed, how many of the
poor, in anticipation of the Kingdom of Heaven already proclaimed their
own: "for yours is the Kingdom of Heaven," find in these words a
happiness which so many of the wealthy, uneasy with their riches and
ever thirsting for more, look for in vain!
46. Still more important as a remedy for the evil we are considering,
or certainly more directly calculated to cure it, is the precept of
charity. We have in mind that Christian charity, "patient and
kind," which avoids all semblance of demeaning paternalism, and all
ostentation; that charity which from the very beginning of Christianity
won to Christ the poorest of the poor, the slaves. And We are grateful
to all those members of charitable associations, from the conferences
of St. Vincent de Paul to the recent great relief organizations, which
are perseveringly practicing the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.
The more the working men and the poor realize what the spirit of love
animated by the virtue of Christ is doing for them, the more readily
will they abandon the false persuasion that Christianity has lost its
efficacy and that the Church stands on the side of the exploiters of
47. But when on the one hand We see thousands of the needy, victims of
real misery for various reasons beyond their control, and on the other
so many round about them who spend huge sums of money on useless things
and frivolous amusement, We cannot fail to remark with sorrow not only
that justice is poorly observed, but that the precept of charity also
is not sufficiently appreciated, is not a vital thing in daily life. We
desire therefore, Venerable Brethren, that this divine precept, this
precious mark of identification left by Christ to His true disciples,
be ever more fully explained by pen and word of mouth; this precept
which teaches us to see in those who suffer Christ Himself, and would
have us love our brothers as Our Divine Savior has loved us, that is,
even at the sacrifice of ourselves, and, if need be, of our very life.
Let all then frequently meditate on those words of the final sentence,
so consoling yet so terrifying, which the Supreme Judge will pronounce
on the day of the Last Judgment: "Come, ye blessed of my Father . . .
for I was hungry and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me
to drink . . . Amen, I say to you, as long as you did it to one of
these my least brethren you did it to me." And the reverse: "Depart
from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire . . . for I was hungry and
you gave me not to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me not to drink . .
. Amen, I say to you, as long as you did it not to one of these least.
neither did you do it to me."
48. To be sure of eternal life, therefore, and to be able to help the
poor effectively, it is imperative to return to a more moderate way of
life, to renounce the joys, often sinful, which the world today holds
out in such abundance; to forget self for love of the neighbor. There
is a divine regenerating force in this "new precept" (as Christ called
it) of Christian charity. Its faithful observance will pour into
the heart an inner peace which the world knows not, and will finally
cure the ills which oppress humanity.
49. But charity will never be true charity unless it takes justice into
constant account. The Apostle teaches that "he that loveth his neighbor
hath fulfilled the law" and he gives the reason: "For, Thou shalt not
commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal . . . and if
there be any other commandment, it is comprised in this word: Thou
shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." According to the Apostle,
then, all the commandments, including those which are of strict
justice, as those which forbid us to kill or to steal, may be reduced
to the single precept of true charity. From this it follows that a
"charity" which deprives the workingman of the salary to which he has a
strict title in justice, is not charity at all, but only its empty name
and hollow semblance. The wage-earner is not to receive as alms what is
his due in justice. And let no one attempt with trifling charitable
donations to exempt himself from the great duties imposed by justice.
Both justice and charity often dictate obligations touching on the same
subject-matter, but under different aspects; and the very dignity of
the workingman makes him justly and acutely sensitive to the duties of
others in his regard.
50. Therefore We turn again in a special way to you, Christian
employers and industrialists, whose problem is often so difficult for
the reason that you are saddled with the heavy heritage of an unjust
economic regime whose ruinous influence has been felt through many
generations. We bid you be mindful of your responsibility. It is
unfortunately true that the manner of acting in certain Catholic
circles has done much to shake the faith of the working-classes in the
religion of Jesus Christ. These groups have refused to understand that
Christian charity demands the recognition of certain rights due to the
workingman, which the Church has explicitly acknowledged. What is to be
thought of the action of those Catholic employers who in one place
succeeded in preventing the reading of Our Encyclical Quadragesimo Anno
in their local churches? Or of those Catholic industrialists who even
to this day have shown themselves hostile to a labor movement that We
Ourselves recommended? Is it not deplorable that the right of private
property defended by the Church should so often have been used as a
weapon to defraud the workingman of his just salary and his social
51. In reality, besides commutative justice, there is also social
justice with its own set obligations, from which neither employers nor
workingmen can escape. Now it is of the very essence of social justice
to demand for each individual all that is necessary for the common
good. But just as in the living organism it is impossible to provide
for the good of the whole unless each single part and each individual
member is given what it needs for the exercise of its proper functions,
so it is impossible to care for the social organism and the good of
society as a unit unless each single part and each individual member -
that is to say, each individual man in the dignity of his human
personality - is supplied with all that is necessary for the exercise
of his social functions. If social justice be satisfied, the result
will be an intense activity in economic life as a whole, pursued in
tranquillity and order. This activity will be proof of the health of
the social body, just as the health of the human body is recognized in
the undisturbed regularity and perfect efficiency of the whole
52. But social justice cannot be said to have been satisfied as long as
workingmen are denied a salary that will enable them to secure proper
sustenance for themselves and for their families; as long as they are
denied the opportunity of acquiring a modest fortune and forestalling
the plague of universal pauperism; as long as they cannot make suitable
provision through public or private insurance for old age, for periods
of illness and unemployment. In a word, to repeat what has been said in
Our Encyclical Quadragesimo Anno: "Then only will the economic and
social order be soundly established and attain its ends, when it
offers, to all and to each, all those goods which the wealth and
resources of nature, technical science and the corporate organization
of social affairs can give. These goods should be sufficient to supply
all necessities and reasonable comforts, and to uplift men to that
higher standard of life which, provided it be used with prudence, is
not only not a hindrance but is of singular help to virtue."
53. It happens all too frequently, however, under the salary system,
that individual employers are helpless to ensure justice unless, with a
view to its practice, they organize institutions the object of which is
to prevent competition incompatible with fair treatment for the
workers. Where this is true, it is the duty of contractors and
employers to support and promote such necessary organizations as normal
instruments enabling them to fulfill their obligations of justice. But
the laborers too must be mindful of their duty to love and deal fairly
with their employers, and persuade themselves that there is no better
means of safeguarding their own interests.
54. If, therefore, We consider the whole structure of economic life, as
We have already pointed out in Our Encyclical Quadragesimo Anno, the
reign of mutual collaboration between justice and charity in
social-economic relations can only be achieved by a body of
professional and inter professional organizations, built on solidly
Christian foundations, working together to effect, under forms adapted
to different places and circumstances, what has been called the
55. To give to this social activity a greater efficacy, it is necessary
to promote a wider study of social problems in the light of the
doctrine of the Church and under the aegis of her constituted
authority. If the manner of acting of some Catholics in the
social-economic field has left much to be desired, this has often come
about because they have not known and pondered sufficiently the
teachings of the Sovereign Pontiffs on these questions. Therefore, it
is of the utmost importance to foster in all classes of society an
intensive program of social education adapted to the varying degrees of
intellectual culture. It is necessary with all care and diligence to
procure the widest possible diffusion of the teachings of the Church,
even among the working-classes. The minds of men must be illuminated
with the sure light of Catholic teaching, and their wills must be drawn
to follow and apply it as the norm of right living in the conscientious
fulfillment of their manifold social duties. Thus they will oppose that
incoherence and discontinuity in Christian life which We have many
times lamented. For there are some who, while exteriorly faithful to
the practice of their religion, yet in the field of labor and industry,
in the professions, trade and business, permit a deplorable cleavage in
their conscience, and live a life too little in conformity with the
clear principles of justice and Christian charity. Such lives are a
scandal to the weak, and to the malicious a pretext to discredit the
56. In this renewal the Catholic Press can play a prominent part. Its
foremost duty is to foster in various attractive ways an ever better
understanding of social doctrine. It should, too, supply accurate and
complete information on the activity of the enemy and the means of
resistance which have been found most effective in various quarters. It
should offer useful suggestions and warn against the insidious deceits
with which Communists endeavor, all too successfully, to attract even
men of good faith.
57. On this point We have already insisted in Our Allocution of May
12th of last year, but We believe it to be a duty of special urgency,
Venerable Brethren, to call your attention to it once again. In the
beginning Communism showed itself for what it was in all its
perversity; but very soon it realized that it was thus alienating the
people. It has therefore changed its tactics, and strives to entice the
multitudes by trickery of various forms, hiding its real designs behind
ideas that in themselves are good and attractive. Thus, aware of the
universal desire for peace, the leaders of Communism pretend to be the
most zealous promoters and propagandists in the movement for world
amity. Yet at the same time they stir up a class-warfare which causes
rivers of blood to flow, and, realizing that their system offers no
internal guarantee of peace, they have recourse to unlimited armaments.
Under various names which do not suggest Communism, they establish
organizations and periodicals with the sole purpose of carrying their
ideas into quarters otherwise inaccessible. They try perfidiously to
worm their way even into professedly Catholic and religious
organizations. Again, without receding an inch from their subversive
principles, they invite Catholics to collaborate with them in the realm
of so-called humanitarianism and charity; and at times even make
proposals that are in perfect harmony with the Christian spirit and the
doctrine of the Church. Elsewhere they carry their hypocrisy so far as
to encourage the belief that Communism, in countries where faith and
culture are more strongly entrenched, will assume another and much
milder form. It will not interfere with the practice of religion. It
will respect liberty of conscience. There are some even who refer to
certain changes recently introduced into soviet legislation as a proof
that Communism is about to abandon its program of war against God.
58. See to it, Venerable Brethren, that the Faithful do not allow
themselves to be deceived! Communism is intrinsically wrong, and no one
who would save Christian civilization may collaborate with it in any
undertaking whatsoever. Those who permit themselves to be deceived into
lending their aid towards the triumph of Communism in their own
country, will be the first to fall victims of their error. And the
greater the antiquity and grandeur of the Christian civilization in the
regions where Communism successfully penetrates, so much more
devastating will be the hatred displayed by the godless.
59. But "unless the Lord keep the city, he watcheth in vain that
keepeth it." And so, as a final and most efficacious remedy, We
recommend, Venerable Brethren, that in your dioceses you use the most
practical means to foster and intensify the spirit of prayer joined
with Christian penance. When the Apostles asked the Savior why they had
been unable to drive the evil spirit from a demoniac, Our Lord
answered: "This kind is not cast out but by prayer and fasting."
So, too, the evil which today torments humanity can be conquered only
by a world-wide crusade of prayer and penance. We ask especially the
Contemplative Orders, men and women, to redouble their prayers and
sacrifices to obtain from heaven efficacious aid for the Church in the
present struggle. Let them implore also the powerful intercession of
the Immaculate Virgin who, having crushed the head of the serpent of
old, remains the sure protectress and invincible "Help of Christians."
60. To apply the remedies thus briefly indicated to the task of saving
the world as We have traced it above, Jesus Christ, our Divine King,
has chosen priests as the first-line ministers and messengers of His
gospel. Theirs is the duty, assigned to them by a special vocation,
under the direction of their Bishops and in filial obedience to the
Vicar of Christ on earth, of keeping alight in the world the torch of
Faith, and of filling the hearts of the Faithful with that supernatural
trust which has aided the Church to fight and win so many other battles
in the name of Christ: "This is the victory which overcometh the world,
61. To priests in a special way We recommend anew the oft-repeated
counsel of Our Predecessor, Leo XIII, to go to the workingman. We make
this advice Our own, and faithful to the teachings of Jesus Christ and
His Church, We thus complete it: "Go to the workingman, especially
where he is poor; and in general, go to the poor." The poor are
obviously more exposed than others to the wiles of agitators who,
taking advantage of their extreme need, kindle their hearts to envy of
the rich and urge them to seize by force what fortune seems to have
denied them unjustly. If the priest will not go to the workingman and
to the poor, to warn them or to disabuse them of prejudice and false
theory, they will become an easy prey for the apostles of Communism .
62. Indisputably much has been done in this direction, especially after
the publication of the Encyclicals Rerum Novarum and Quadragesimo Anno.
We are happy to voice Our paternal approval of the zealous pastoral
activity manifested by so many Bishops and priests who have with due
prudence and caution been planning and applying new methods of
apostolate more adapted to modern needs. But for the solution of our
present problem, all this effort is still inadequate. When our country
is in danger, everything not strictly necessary, everything not bearing
directly on the urgent matter of unified defense, takes second place.
So we must act in today's crisis. Every other enterprise, however
attractive and helpful, must yield before the vital need of protecting
the very foundation of the Faith and of Christian civilization. Let our
parish priest, therefore, while providing of course for the normal
needs of the Faithful, dedicate the better part of their endeavors and
their zeal to winning back the laboring masses to Christ and to His
Church. Let them work to infuse the Christian spirit into quarters
where it is least at home. The willing response of the masses, and
results far exceeding their expectations, will not fail to reward them
for their strenuous pioneer labor. This has been and continues to be
our experience in Rome and in other capitals, where zealous parish
communities are being formed as new churches are built in the suburban
districts, and real miracles are being worked in the conversion of
people whose hostility to religion has been due solely to the fact that
they did not know it.
63. But the most efficacious means of apostolate among the poor and
lowly is the priest's example, the practice of all those sacerdotal
virtues which We have described in Our Encyclical Ad Catholici
Sacerdotii. Especially needful, however, for the present situation
is the shining example of a life which is humble, poor and
disinterested, in imitation of a Divine Master Who could say to the
world with divine simplicity: "The foxes have holes and the birds of
the air nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head."
A priest who is really poor and disinterested in the Gospel sense may
work among his flock marvels recalling a Saint Vincent de Paul, a Cure
of Ars, a Cottolengo, a Don Bosco and so many others; while an
avaricious and selfish priest, as We have noted in the above mentioned
Encyclical, even though he should not plunge with Judas to the abyss of
treason, will never be more than empty "sounding brass" and useless
"tinkling cymbal." Too often, indeed, he will be a hindrance rather
than an instrument of grace in the midst of his people. Furthermore,
where a secular priest or religious is obliged by his office to
administer temporal property, let him remember that he is not only to
observe scrupulously all that charity and justice prescribe, but that
he has a special obligation to conduct himself in very truth as a
father of the poor.
64. After this appeal to the clergy, We extend Our paternal invitation
to Our beloved sons among the laity who are doing battle in the ranks
of Catholic Action. On another occasion We have called this
movement so dear to Our heart "a particularly providential assistance"
in the work of the Church during these troublous times. Catholic Action
is in effect a social apostolate also, inasmuch as its object is to
spread the Kingdom of Jesus Christ not only among individuals, but also
in families and in society. It must, therefore, make it a chief aim to
train its members with special care and to prepare them to fight the
battles of the Lord. This task of formation, now more urgent and
indispensable than ever, which must always precede direct action in the
field, will assuredly be served by study-circles, conferences,
lecture-courses and the various other activities undertaken with a view
to making known the Christian solution of the social problem.
65. The militant leaders of Catholic Action thus properly prepared and
armed, will be the first and immediate apostles of their fellow
workmen. They will be an invaluable aid to the priest in carrying the
torch of truth, and in relieving grave spiritual and material
suffering, in many sectors where inveterate anti-clerical prejudice or
deplorable religious indifference has proved a constant obstacle to the
pastoral activity of God's ministers. In this way they will
collaborate, under the direction of especially qualified priests, in
that work of spiritual aid to the laboring classes on which We set so
much store, because it is the means best calculated to save these, Our
beloved children, from the snares of Communism.
66. In addition to this individual apostolate which, however useful and
efficacious, often goes unheralded, Catholic Action must organize
propaganda on a large scale to disseminate knowledge of the fundamental
principles on which, according to the Pontifical documents, a Christian
.Social Order must build.
67. Ranged with Catholic Action are the groups which We have been happy
to call its auxiliary forces. With paternal affection We exhort these
valuable organizations also tO dedicate themselves to the great mission
of which We have been treating, a cause which today transcends all
others in vital importance.
68. We are thinking likewise of those associations of workmen, farmers,
technicians, doctors, employers, students and others of like character,
groups of men and women who live in the same cultural atmosphere and
share the same way of life. Precisely these groups and organizations
are destined to introduce into society that order which We have
envisaged in Our Encyclical Quadragesimo Anno, and thus to spread in
the vast and various fields of culture and labor the recognition of the
Kingdom of Christ.
69. Even where the State, because of changed social and economic
conditions, has felt obliged to intervene directly in order to aid and
regulate such organizations by special legislative enactments,
supposing always the necessary respect for liberty and private
initiative, Catholic Action may not urge the circumstance as an excuse
for abandoning the field. Its members should contribute prudently and
intelligently to the study of the problems of the hour in the light of
Catholic doctrine. They should loyally and generously participate in
the formation of the new institutions, bringing to them the Christian
spirit which is the basic principle of order wherever men work together
in fraternal harmony.
70. Here We should like to address a particularly affectionate word to
Our Catholic workingmen, young and old. They have been given, perhaps
as a reward for their often heroic fidelity in these trying days, a
noble and an arduous mission. Under the guidance of their Bishops and
priests, they are to bring back to the Church and to God those immense
multitudes of their brother-workmen who, because they were not
understood or treated with the respect to which they were entitled, in
bitterness have strayed far from God. Let Catholic workingmen show
these their wandering brethren by word and example that the Church is a
tender Mother to all those who labor and suffer, and that she has never
failed, and never will fail, in her sacred maternal duty of protecting
her children. If this mission, which must be fulfilled in mines, in
factories, in shops, wherever they may be laboring, should at times
require great sacrifices, Our workmen will remember that the Savior of
the world has given them an example not only of toil but of self
71. To all Our children, finally, of every social rank and every
nation, to every religious and lay organization in the Church, We make
another and more urgent appeal for union. Many times Our paternal heart
has been saddened by the divergencies - often idle in their causes,
always tragic in their consequences - which array in opposing camps the
sons of the same Mother Church. Thus it is that the radicals, who are
not so very numerous, profiting by this discord are able to make it
more acute, and end by pitting Catholics one against the other. In view
of the events of the past few months, Our warning must seem
superfluous. We repeat it nevertheless once more, for those who have
not understood, or perhaps do not desire to understand. Those who make
a practice of spreading dissension among Catholics assume a terrible
responsibility before God and the Church.
72. But in this battle joined by the powers of darkness against the
very idea of Divinity, it is Our fond hope that, besides the host which
glories in the name of Christ, all those - and they comprise the
overwhelming majority of mankind, - who still believe in God and pay
Him homage may take a decisive part. We therefore renew the invitation
extended to them five years ago in Our Encyclical Caritate Christi,
invoking their loyal and hearty collaboration "in order to ward off
from mankind the great danger that threatens all alike." Since, as We
then said, "belief in God is the unshakable foundation of all social
order and of all responsibility on earth, it follows that all those who
do not want anarchy and terrorism ought to take energetic steps to
prevent the enemies of religion from attaining the goal they have so
brazenly proclaimed to the world."
73. Such is the positive task, embracing at once theory and practice,
which the Church undertakes in virtue of the mission, confided to her
by Christ, of constructing a Christian society, and, in our own times,
of resisting unto victory the attacks of Communism. It is the duty of
the Christian State to concur actively in this spiritual enterprise of
the Church, aiding her with the means at its command, which although
they be external devices, have nonetheless for their prime object the
good of souls.
74. This means that all diligence should be exercised by States to
prevent within their territories the ravages of an anti-God campaign
which shakes society to its very foundations. For there can be no
authority on earth unless the authority of the Divine Majesty be
recognized; no oath will bind which is not sworn in the Name of the
Living God. We repeat what We have said with frequent insistence in the
past, especially in Our Encyclical Caritate Christi: "How can any
contract be maintained, and what value can any treaty have, in which
every guarantee of conscience is lacking? And how can there be talk of
guarantees of conscience when all faith in God and all fear of God have
vanished? Take away this basis, and with it all moral law falls, and
there is no remedy left to stop the gradual but inevitable destruction
of peoples, families, the State, civilization itself."
75. It must likewise be the special care of the State to create those
material conditions of life without which an orderly society cannot
exist. The State must take every measure necessary to supply
employment, particularly for the heads of families and for the young.
To achieve this end demanded by the pressing needs of the common
welfare, the wealthy classes must be induced to assume those burdens
without which human society cannot be saved nor they themselves remain
secure. However, measures taken by the State with this end in view
ought to be of such a nature that they will really affect those who
actually possess more than their share of capital resources, and who
continue to accumulate them to the grievous detriment of others.
76. The State itself, mindful of its responsibility before God and
society, should be a model of prudence and sobriety in the
administration of the commonwealth. Today more than ever the acute
world crisis demands that those who dispose of immense funds, built up
on the sweat and toil of millions, keep constantly and singly in mind
the common good. State functionaries and all employees are obliged in
conscience to perform their duties faithfully and unselfishly,
imitating the brilliant example of distinguished men of the past and of
our own day, who with unremitting labor sacrificed their all for the
good of their country. In international trade-relations let all means
be sedulously employed for the removal of those artificial barriers to
economic life which are the effects of distrust and hatred. All must
remember that the peoples of the earth form but one family in God.
77. At the same time the State must allow the Church full liberty to
fulfill her divine and spiritual mission, and this in itself will be an
effectual contribution to the rescue of nations from the dread torment
of the present hour. Everywhere today there is an anxious appeal to
moral and spiritual forces; and rightly so, for the evil we must combat
is at its origin primarily an evil of the spiritual order. From this
polluted source the monstrous emanations of the communistic system flow
with satanic logic. Now, the Catholic Church is undoubtedly preeminent
among the moral and religious forces of today. Therefore the very good
of humanity demands that her work be allowed to proceed unhindered.
78. Those who act otherwise, and at the same time fondly pretend to
attain their objective with purely political or economic means, are in
the grip of a dangerous error. When religion is banished from the
school, from education and from public life, when the representatives
of Christianity and its sacred rites are held up to ridicule, are we
not really fostering the materialism which is the fertile soil of
Communism.? Neither force, however well organized it be, nor earthly
ideals however lofty or noble, can control a movement whose roots lie
in the excessive esteem for the goods of this world.
79. We trust that those rulers of nations, who are at all aware of the
extreme danger threatening every people today, may be more and more
convinced of their supreme duty not to hinder the Church in the
fulfillment of her mission. This is the more imperative since, while
this mission has in view man's happiness in heaven, it cannot but
promote his true felicity in time.
80. We cannot conclude this Encyclical Letter without addressing some
words to those of Our children who are more or less tainted with the
Communist plague. We earnestly exhort them to hear the voice of their
loving Father. We pray the Lord to enlighten them that they may abandon
the slippery path which will precipitate one and all to ruin and
catastrophe, and that they recognize that Jesus Christ, Our Lord, is
their only Savior: "For there is no other name under heaven given to
man, whereby we must be saved."
81. To hasten the advent of that "peace of Christ in the kingdom of
Christ" so ardently desired by all, We place the vast campaign of
the Church against world Communism under the standard of St. Joseph,
her mighty Protector. He belongs to the working-class, and he bore the
burdens of poverty for himself and the Holy Family, whose tender and
vigilant head he was. To him was entrusted the Divine Child when Herod
loosed his assassins against 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. He won for himself the title of "The
Just," serving thus as a living model of that Christian justice which
should reign in social life.
82. With eyes lifted on high, our Faith sees the new heavens and the
new earth described by Our first Predecessor, St. Peter. While the
promises of the false prophets of this earth melt away in blood and
tears, the great apocalyptic prophecy of the Redeemer shines forth in
heavenly splendor: "Behold, I make all things new." Venerable
Brethren, nothing remains but to raise Our paternal hands to call down
upon you, upon your clergy and people, upon the whole Catholic family,
the Apostolic Benediction.
Given at Rome, at St. Peter's, on the feast of St. Joseph, patron of
the universal Church, on the 19th of March, 1937, the 16th year of our
1. Encycl. Qui Pluribus, Nov. 9, 1864 (Acta Pii IX, Vol I, p. 13). Cf.
Syllabus, IV, (A.S.S., vol. III, p. 170).
2. Encycl. Quod Apostolici Muneris, Dec. 28, 1928 (Acta Leonis XII,
Vol. 1, p. 46).
3. Dec. 18, 1924: A.A.S., Vol. XVI (1924), pp. 494-495.
4. May 8, 1928: A.A.S., Vol. XX (1928), pp. 165-178.
5. May 15, 1931: A.A.S., Vol. XXIII (1931), pp. 177-228.
6. May 3, 1932: A.A.S., Vol. XXIV (1932), pp. 177-194.
7. Sept. 29, 1932: A.A.S., Vol. XXIV (1932), pp. 321-332.
8. June 3, 1933: A.A.S., Vol. XXV (1933), pp. 261-274.
9. Cf. Thessalonians, II, 4.
10. Encycl. Divini Illius Magistri, Dec. 31, 1929 (A.A.S., Vol. XXII,
1930 pp. 47-86).
11. Encycl. Casti Connubii, Dec. 31, 1930 (A.A.S., Vol. XX- II, 1930,
12. I Corinthians, III, 23.
13. Encycl. Rerum Novarum, May 15, 1891 (Acta Leonis XIII Vol. IV, pp.
14. Encycl. Quadragesimo Anno, May 15, 1931 (A.A.S., Vol. XXIII, 1931,
15. Encycl. Diuturnum Illud, June 20, 1881 (Acta Leonis XIII, Vol. I, .
16. Encycl. Immortale Dei, Nov. 1, 1885 (Acta Leonis XIII, Vol. II, pp.
17. St. Luke, 11, 14.
18. St. Matthew, VI, 33.
19. Cf. St. Matthew, XIII, 55: St. Mark, Vl, 3.
20. Cicero, De Officiis, Bk. I, c. 42.
21. St. James, I, 22.
22. St. James, I, 17.
23. A.A.S., vol. XXVIII (1936); pp. 421424.
24. St. John, IV, 23.
25. St. Matthew, V, 3.
26. Hebrews, XIII, 14.
27. St. Luke, Xl, 41.
28. St. James, V, 1-3.
29. St. Matthew, V, 3.
30. St. James, V, 7, 8.
31. St. Luke, VI, 20.
32. I Corinthians, XIII, 4.
33. St. Matthew, XXV, 34-40.
34. St. Matthew, XXV, 41-45.
35. St. John, XIII, 34.
36. Romans, XIII, 8, 9.
37. Encycl. Quadragesimo Anno, May 15, 1931 (A.A.S., Vol. XXIII, 1931,
38. Psalms, CXXVI, 1.
39. St. Matthew, XVII, 20
40. I Epist. St. John, V, 4.
41 Dec. 20, 1935, A.A.S., vol. XXVIII (1936), pp. 5-53. 42. St.
Matthew, VIII, 20.
43. I Corinthians, XIII, 1.
44. May 12, 1936.
45. Encycl. Caritate Christi, May 3, 1932 (A.A.S., vol. XXIV, p. 184).
46. Encycl. Caritate Christi, May 3, 1932 (A.A.S., vol. XX-IV, 1932, p.
47. Acts, IV, 12.
48. Encycl. Ubi Arcano, Dec. 23, 1922 (A.A.S., Vol. XIV, 1922,p.691).
49. II Epist. St. Peter, III, 13; cf. Isaias, LXV, 17 and LXVI, 22;
Apoc., XXI, 1.
50. Apoc. XXI, 5.