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Socialism and the Pope

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I. The Papal Attitude Defined.

Pope Pius XI. solemnly commemorated the fortieth anniversary of the publication by Pope Leo XIII. of his famous Encyclical, "Rerum Novarum," by radioing a new pronouncement to the world. This new Encyclical, "Quadragesimo Anno," was summarized in the ordinary press and published at length in the Catholic press. There is no dispute concerning its tone or character. It is a definite challenge to Socialism in every shape and form. Henceforth, the Catholic working man, if he would be emancipated from wage slavery, must give up his Catholicism, not because some Socialist has declared that Socialism means Atheism, but because the Vatican has elected to take its stand by Capitalism. The Pope has made acceptance of wage-slavery a question of faith and morals. He has reduced the eternal verities to the servitude of capitalism and, in consequence, with much unwisdom, he has signed the social and economic death-warrant of the Church of Rome. For the workers must, and will be emancipated. If the Pope opposes the struggle towards that emancipation, like any other princeling of mammon, he must be thrust aside. There is neither holiness nor piety, neither genius, nor affection, in condemning the mass of mankind to want, servitude, disease, crime and murder. Whose opposes Socialism and the working-class struggle is guilty of this conspiracy of crime against the mass of mankind. As such, he must be indicted and, in due course, condemned. Socialism is not on trial. Capitalism is.

Pope Pius XI. declares that the publication of the "Rerum Novarum"-otherwise called "The Workers' Charter"-on May 15, 1891, was both necessary and opportune. We confess that we fail to see that it was either necessary or opportune. It was marked throughout, with dullness and mediocrity: and the world has dullness and mediocrity in excess. Neither are ever necessary, since they represent but the pomp and vanity of the parade of power and authority. It is notorious, however, that the Pope, like every monarch, priest, judge and premier, speaks without the one thing that each of these persons, in the plentitude of the arrogance and economic circumstance, claim: authority. Those in power, in class or slave society, have everything-except authority. Hence their pompous dullness. This declaration of truth and fact is not merely sound Socialism and sound Atheism. It is also sound Christian teaching and sound human experience. The priest is too dull to be inspired and too mediocre to be a Christian.

Pope Pius XI. states that the "Rerum Novarum" has become the great charter of Catholic Social Action. This may be true. But it is also true that the great Charter of Catholic Social Action has achieved nothing. Otherwise, why is it necessary for Pope Pius


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