Choose a topic from Vol 4:

Religion - Yes or No

Necessity of Religion
Reality of Religious Experience
Religion and life
Religious statistics
Nature of religion
Necessity of worship
Neglect of religion
Religion and history
Conversion of mankind

The Christian Church

Nature of the Church
Necessity of the Church
Visible organisation
Hierarchical constitution
Papal supremacy
Perpetuity of the Church

"This Shall Be the Sign"

Notes of identification
Unity of the Church
Holiness of the Church
Catholicity of the Church
Apostolic succession
"Roman" but not "Roman Catholic"

Dogmatic Authority of the Church

Authority in religion
Catholic Church infallible
The Pope infallible
Papal definitions
Dogmatic spirit of the Catholic Church
"Religion of the spirit"
Individual freedom
Re-stating Christianity
Athanasian Creed
Meaning of faith
Faith and reason
Faith and science
Religion and education
Religion and morals
Catholic countries backward
Universities and religion
Natural Moral Law
Christian principles of morality
Catholicism versus the world

The Power-Complex Illusion

Legislative power of the Catholic Church
Coercive power of the Catholic Church
Catholic Church and political ambitions
Divided allegiance of Catholics
Rome and totalitarianism
Aim of the Catholic Church in America
Catholic Action
Political freedom of Catholics
Catholic infiltration of civic life
Catholicism anti-democatic
Rival totalitarianisms, Rome and Moscow
Catholic attitude to Protestants
Spanish Inquisition
Church and State
Federal Union or "One World State"

Life-Or-Death Social Problems

Social reform necessary
Trade unions
Protestant Churches and Communism
Social apathy of Churches
Catholic social teaching
Family life
Primary purpose of marriage
Religion and marriage
Form of marriage
Mixed marriages
Birth control
"Catholic birth control"
Divorce and re-marriage
Catholics and civil divorce
Nullity decrees
Therapeutic abortion
Euthansia or mercy-killing

Those Exclusive Claims

Divided Christendom
Do divisions matter?
The "Only True Church" claims
Cause of sectarian bigotry
Reunion Movement
Catholic non-cooperation

Religious Liberty

Religious freedom
Catholic intolerance
Protestants and the principles of religious liberty
Rome and the "Four Freedoms"
Heresy and heretics
Religious rights of Protestants
Religious persecution
"Rome's historical record"
Protestant missionaries in Spain
In Italy
In South America
Conditions in Colombia

Are Only Catholics Saved

"Outside the Catholic Church no salvation"
Beliefs of Catholics
Salvation of Pagans
Salvation of Protestants
Why become a Catholic?
Duty of inquiry
Salvation of apostate Catholics
Test at the Last Judgment
Obstacles to conversion
Truth of Catholicism


846. I have heard you say that the Catholic Church forbids its members to be socialists.

That is true of socialism in the strict sense of that word. Such socialism holds that human beings should be concerned only about their material welfare in this world. Since religion is held to interfere with this by teaching a destiny beyond this world and of much greater importance, such socialism completely ignores religion, where it does not seek to abolish it altogether. Moreover, to secure the material welfare of everybody, socialists say that everybody must own all the means of production, distribution and exchange. In other words, individual private ownership of property must give way to collective ownership. The result in practice would be that all citizens would become wards or even slaves of the totalitarian socialist State. Such socialism no Catholic may support.

847. How would you define socialism?

Socialism is a system of State ownership and administration of property. I give that general definition to cover a bewildering variety of forms taken by socialism according to the many theories of it. For example, agrarian socialism advocates the nationalization of land, allowing all other forms of ownership to remain. Douglas Credit advocates the nationalization of credit, supporting private ownership in other matters. Fabian socialism advocates the nationalization of large industries, leaving small businesses to private owners. All these are mitigated forms of socialism. In the strict sense of the word, socialism is a system of political economy which advocates State ownership of all capital and of all the means of production; and the public administration and distribution of all economic goods. As distinct from Communism, it condemns recourse to physical force and relies on democratic means such as education and legislation by elected representatives of the people to attain its ends.

848. What do you mean by private property?

The right to private property is the right to secure, own, use and dispose of things according to one's own will and without hindrance from others.

849. On what grounds do you base such a right?

In general, the natural moral law itself gives men the right to own things, provided they are legitimately obtained. This is evident from the individual person's right to both his existence and fitting development; from the requirements of family welfare; and from considerations of the social good Man has the right to own the means of his own subsistence and that of his family; and the welfare of the community is better secured when men have a personal interest in what belongs to themselves. Pope Leo XIII wrote as follows in his Encyclical "Rerum Novarum," "With reason, then, the common opinion of mankind, little affected by the few dissentients who have contended for the opposite view, has found in the careful study of nature and in the laws of nature, the foundations for the division of property; and the practice of all ages has consecrated the principle of private ownership as being pre-eminently in conformity with human nature, and as conducing in the most unmistakable manner to the peace and tranquility of human existence. The authority of the divine law adds its sanction, forbidding ir the severest terms to covet that which is another's."

850. Could not the State abolish all private property in the interests of the common good?

It could have no right whatever, divine or human, to adopt such a measure. Nor would it be for the common good.

851. If not, is man's right to private property limited in any way?

Yes. Even though Catholic teaching vindicates the radical right of men to private ownership, it has never maintained that there are no restrictions in their use of their possessions. Owners of property are subject to the laws of justice and charity, which to a great extent make them stewards of their goods for the benefit of all rather than absolute proprietors. Thus, in extreme necessity, justice demands that a private owner must share his goods with others in danger of death from starvation or from any other disaster which he could avert. Outside extreme necessity, charity demands that the, possessor of goods should relieve the sufferings of others according to the gravity of their distress and the extent of his own resources. The Catholic Church, therefore, does not admit the right to private property without any restrictions at all. Absolute liberty to do as one pleases with one's possessions cannot be sustained.

852. Since everything belongs to God, how can any man say that anything belongs to him in its entirety?

It is true that all things, including men themselves, belong to God. But, you overlook the fact that God Himself has given to men the moral right to acquire as their own the material goods of this world. As I have said, this is not a right without limits or without conditions governing the use one makes of personal property. But the right to private property stands. If no individual man had any right to anything, then all men collectively would have no right to anything.

853. I cannot help thinking that everyone should own everything each performing a useful daily task, and each deriving an equal benefit from the products of the earth.

That is the old Communist slogan; "From each according to his capacity; to each according to his needs." But Communists themselves have found that that doesn't work in practice, and that without the incentive of proportionate privileges individuals won't exert their full capacities. But earlier you said that no man has the right to say that anything belongs to him. Here you say that each must derive an equal benefit. At least that would belong to him. And supposing men did get equal benefits, would thrifty people have the right to save their share whilst spendthrifts squandered theirs? If so, what would you do about the resultant inequalities which would develop almost at once between the sensible comfortable class and the shiftless beggars?

854. Are not all men equal?

All men are equally human beings, equally creatures of God, and equally intended by God to save their souls and attain heavenly happiness in eternity. But all men are obviously not equal in this world. There are tremendous inequalities in health, mental ability, force of character, wealth, duties and power. And these differences will always result in unequal grades in society. Men will never arrive at complete social and economic equality.

855. Have not all men equal rights and duties?

No. There can be only a relative and proportionate equality where rights and duties are concerned. Rights and duties go together. Now it is clear that duties differ. The duties of rulers and subjects, of parents and children, of teachers and pupils, of employers and employees, of soldiers and civilians are not the same. And rights will vary accordingly.

856. Since all will be equal in the heaven in which you believe, why do you deny the equal rights of men to their Father's bounty on earth?

All who attain heaven will be equally in heaven, but not all will be equal in heaven. There will be degrees of happiness there depending upon the degrees in which people have served God on earth. And not all equally serve God in this life by any means. In this world also there are a host of inequalities, and rights vary accordingly. In fact there could be nothing more unequal than to split up all the possessions of this world and give to each individual an equal snare whether he deserved it or not. Were this done and all started off level, inequalities would develop at once. The improvident would waste their share. The industrious and the talented would be better off. Would you have continual weekly re-distributions? It would be impossible to preserve absolute equality of possessions.

857. What does the Catholic Church teach regarding the right to individual liberty?

The Church teaches that there is no such thing as absolute liberty, as if men should be exempt from all restrictions. Liberty would then be merely license. A moderate liberty can be assured to people living in society only provided all are willing to submit to certain restraints. For example, your freedom can be preserved only if I am restrained from interfering with it. And my legitimate freedom depends on your being compelled to respect it. Man's real liberty is freedom to be true to his real nature and dignity, to stand in a right relation with God and his fellow men, to be free from error and from vice. Nowadays people tend to speak of liberty as if it should mean absolute independence of all authority, divine or human; and as if all men should be free to think what they like, say what they like, and do what they like. But true intellectual freedom is to be free from error, not to be free to think anything whether it be right or wrong; in speech man must be fettered by the limits of truth, for only then will he be freed from lies; in conduct he must be subject to the restraints of justice and due regard for the rights of others.

858. Do you not think that a proper understanding of socialism would make people want it?

I am quite certain that the more they understood it, the less they would desire it. Common ownership and control of some key industries may be desirable; but the socialization of everything is another matter. A just and balanced distribution of property will always have greater appeal to the average human being. Exaggerated capitalism means that a few have most of the property. Communism goes to the other extreme by saying that no one will have any property. Catholic social principles would result in all having some property, which is much more in keeping with justice and human psychology. So much in keeping with human nature is the wide distribution of private property that the vast majority of people would not willingly forego the right to it. Communists agree with this and admit that absolute socialism cannot be attained except by violence.

859. Professor Einstein has said that "man can find meaning in life only through devoting himself to society".

Professor Einstein takes a this-world-only view of man and his destiny. In that he is wrong. Man's life on earth is not the whole of his life. His soul is immortal and continues consciously after death for all eternity. Obviously the meaning of human life must be estimated much more in the light of the eternal greater part of it than of his brief sojourn on earth. Yet even if Einstein did not agree with that, man at least has intelligence and should not be reduced to the level of ants and bees who find the meaning of life only in the ant-bed or the hive. Also, man does not exist for the State. The State is an association of human beings that their welfare may be the better provided for; and the State finds its meaning only in devotedness to the welfare of its citizens. Yet people cannot get away from the idea that mam must be ordained to something other than himself, and if they lose sight of the fact that man exists to love and serve God both in this life and the next, they'll think in terms of this life only and make man exist for the worship and service of the State for its own sake. Christians cannot accept that; nor could any Jew accept it were he true to the teachings of his own religion.

860. He said that the only way to eliminate the evils of capitalist society is by establishing a socialist economy.

That would be to go from one extreme to another equally, if not a still more harmful one.

861. He maintained that no democratic society has sufficient power to control private ownership and check its abuses.

That is a significant admission on his part, for it implies the necessity of a totalitarian State to enforce his planned socialist economy.

862. He declared that the only problem to solve is how to prevent the complete centralization of political and economic power from becoming an all-powerful and over-weening bureaucracy destroying, the rights of individuals

It is something that he sees the difficulty. He confesses that he sees no solution of it. But we must face realities. It will never be possible to eliminate all evils from society. To try to do so by means of a totalitarian socialism would mean greater evils in the end than even those of a badly-regulated capitalism. The evils of a badly-regulated capitalism, however, need not be tolerated. A democratic State can and should exercise control by wise legislation, regulating in the interests of the common good without destroying the capitalist economy.

863. More and more people are looking forward to socialism, with liberty and equality for all men on earth. These people are the thinking people.

They need to go on thinking. A socialism based on purely secular ideas will never result even in such degrees of liberty and equality as are possible in this world. It would prove much more of a disease than a remedy. For it would mean a collectivized society in which man exists for the State, and not the State for man. Individual personalities will be subordinated to, and swallowed up by the mass society. As for liberty and equality, they will be practically non-existent in a totalitarian bureaucracy, as Einstein feared. Christian principles alone can safeguard liberty and equality as far as these things are possible. For Christian principles insist that the human person, because created by God in God's image and likeness, and redeemed by Christ, is of supreme value. The Christian believes that the purpose of this life is the training of persons for eternal union with God. He therefore demands that no political project must interfere with the freedom of individuals to develop their own personalities and fulfill their equal rights to inherit the kingdom of God promised by Christ. We are living in what is to a large extent a post-Christian era, an apostate civilization which has drifted from God and religion, and has landed itself in a state of confusion, demoralization and bewilderment. The only way out of it is to get back to God and religion. The unrealistic Utopian dreams of the godless secularist will end only in worse conditions still.

864. Is it not true that, as people of any country become more industrialized, the more politically conscious they become, and the more socialistic in their outlook?

No necessarily. It is true that a collective industrialized society limits man's ability to live as a separate individual and tends to make him but a cog in a machine. But the influence of collective relationships depends to a great extent upon the habits of thought and culture prevalent in any given community. In a thoroughly Christian society industrialization would not of itself tend to make men socialists. But in a predominantly secular society, in which the people have abandoned religion in practice and all thought of a destiny beyond this world, material interests alone will seem of value. Then unselfish consideration for others will disappear. Those who have this world's goods will fight to keep them. Those who have not so abundant a supply of this world's goods will be bent on fighting to get them. With such a spirit prevailing, collective industrialization is quite likely to breed a socialize-everything outlook among the workers.

865. You are naturally opposed to this because the more socialistic people become in their politics, the less time they have for priestly explanations of world affairs.

I am glad to have your admission that the more socialistic people become, the less time they will have for religion. Socialists are ever trying to persuade others that their system constitutes no threat to religion. But, as I have said, industrialism as such does not necessarily lead to socialism. All depends on the prevailing outlook of those engaged in industry, whether employers or employees. If a good spirit prevails, then resultant organization from collective occupations will be a force for good. If a bad spirit prevails, it will be an additional force for evil. Granted that men refuse to listen to religious teachings on the meaning of life, men will be less inclined to treat each other with justice and charity. More and more the temptation to scramble for this world's goods will take charge. Employers will exploit employees. Employees will betake themselves to radical and socialistic agitation. And as both classes immerse themselves more and more deeply in their material interests only, so they will be still less inclined to listen to the voice of religion and of the Church. Naturally socialists will then find in the industrial organizations an ever greater scope for their infiltrations and propaganda.

866. Christians pray to their God: "Give us this day our daily bread." But under socialism the State would provide all with daily bread and such a prayer would be no longer necessary.

It is true that the secular State created by the socialists would make no allowance for any belief in the Providence of God, under which individual men provide for their own present and future welfare, exercising the particular abilities natural to them, preserving their personal dignity, independence and self-respect, and developing their characters by the control of their own lives and destinies. If socialists obtain power they will insist that the only providence to which men can look and to which submission is compulsory is the all-powerful "Welfare State." If you prefer that socialist alternative, you are welcome to it.

867. Men will then get over their fears of trespasses against any God, and will have only State laws to consider.

Every secular State, whether socialistic or not, adopts that attitude. Even in our own country, under the system of moderated capitalism and free enterprise, the State is as little concerned about trespasses against God as would be a completely socialized State. If it be said that our present system stands at least for the law of God: "Thou shalt not steal," by its insistence on the right of private ownership, the answer is that it does not. If it did quote God's commandment, the only use it would have for it would be as a help to maintain the institution of private property. It would not be concerned about upholding God's authority. That is evident from the fact that the law of God is quite ignored where it does not happen to fit in with what our present secular system desires. I am not being cynical. I am merely stating facts.

868. Sections of the Church are coming round to our ideas and enlisting in the crusade for socialism.

By sections of the Church you mean a minority of the Protestant clergy. I do not deny your assertion in that sense, nor do I deny the good faith of the clergy involved. They no doubt feel that they should be on the side of victims of injustice and of the poorer classes, not realizing that if socialism wins the day there will be far greater injustice, exploitation and poverty in the monopoly State than under the system they think to remedy. In their short-sightedness, these Protestant clergymen are in reality enemies of the Christian religion they have pledged themselves to maintain.

869. They demand social justice in the name of Scripture itself.

Whilst Scripture demands that they brand social injustice wherever it occurs as social injustice, it certainly does not demand as a remedy for it a socialism which cannot stop short of the "Total-State" if ever it obtains power. It does, of course, demand a remedy for the prevailing state of affairs. It cannot be quoted on behalf of a secularized capitalism which happens to stand for an economy free from absorption by the State, but which has as little regard for religion as socialism. It may be that, just as capitalism stands for the right of private ownership, so do Christian principles. But capitalism makes no stand for Christian principles and has been only too ready to repudiate them when those principles have gone on to speak, not only of the rights of property-owners, but of the duties of those property-owners to employees and to the community in general. It may be the duty of Christians to condemn socialism. But it is their duty also to condemn the secularism condoned by advocates of capitalism, and all forms either of neglect or of positive violation of social obligations on the part of capitalists.

870. They take the view that social injustice is one of the forces of Antichrist.

No one could blame them for that. But they fail to see that the socialist State will prove still more opposed to the Christian religion than the secularized capitalist State, smothering individuals even in their private and social lives. I hold no brief for the secularized capitalist State. Even though it may grant a greater measure of freedom to individuals and families, it officially treats religion as of no account, provides only a secular and nonreligious education in its schools, sanctions divorce and remarriage as if no Christian principles were involved in the matter at all, and in many other ways shows that it also is on the side of Antichrist. When the secularized capitalist State calls the socialist State Antichrist it is a case of the pot calling the kettle black. We Catholics have no illusions about that. But we deny the necessity of going to the other extreme of socialism.

871. Can membership of the Fabian Society be reconciled with Catholic principles?

No. The Fabian Society declares officially that the "Society consists of Socialists." Now Pope Pius XI has said, in his Encyclical "Quadragesimo Anno," that "no one can be at the same time a good Catholic and a true socialist." No good Catholic, therefore, can be a member of the Fabian Society. If any members of that Society profess to be good Catholics, then they lack due knowledge of their principles and obligations as Catholics.

872. Fabian socialism is radically opposed to communism

It is in some things; not in others. It condemns class-war and recourse to violence. It is less drastic in its demand for the abolition of private property. But it still demands a collectivism far beyond anything that can be reconciled with Christian principles. And even if it did not offend in its practical program, it would still have to be ranked as a form of socialism which Pope Pius XI says "cannot be reconciled with the teachings of the Catholic Church because it conceives of human society in a way utterly foreign to Christian truth."

873. Fabian socialism is not opposed to religion, but leaves people quite free to practice any religion they please.

Fabian socialism regards religion as of no importance whatever. It is a materialistic system which has no place in it for religion at all, which eliminates all consideration of God, and aims at man's earthly comfort in this life as if there were nothing for man beyond the grave. Pope Pius XI declared rightly that any genuine reforms advocated by socialists are also advocated by Catholic social principles, so that there is no need to become a socialist for those. But he declared that against socialists it is necessary for Catholics "to profess Christian truth whole and entire, openly and sincerely, and not connive at error in any way."

874. Wherein lies the danger?

The philosophic basis of Fabian socialism is sheer materialism. Ignoring God, it has no sound basis for morality or proper concepts of right and duty. Making no allowance for the evil effects of original sin, it holds out false hopes to men based on unrealizable ideals and not on the real world as it is at all. It cannot but lead to a totalitarian State destructive of man's true rights and liberties.

875. Why is it that any effort at social planning finds the Roman Catholic Church the most reactionary of all?

When you speak of social planning you are dealing with dynamite. Social planning tends of its very nature to regimentation, unless one is very very careful. A totally-planned society is necessarily totalitarian. To force people to conform to whatever the State wants them to do is to put an end to personal freedom. People talk of planning for freedom even whilst they are planning for its destruction! And everyone with courage enough to protest against their schemes is branded as reactionary. The Nazi regime in Germany went in for social planning until individuals were scarcely free to speak, move or breathe. In Russia communists did the same. And for being on the side of freedom when freedom was out of fashion the Catholic Church was condemned as reactionary and persecuted.

876. Why does the Catholic Church always refuse to cooperate?

How often is the Catholic Church asked to cooperate? Or even consulted? Certainly seldom, if ever, in our own religionless country. Plans for social reform in various matters are drawn up by government departments without any regard for religious principles or specifically Christian teaching on social justice. Without consulting the Church the government simply decides what it wants to do and that all must do what it wants. No allowance is made for the fact that the Church has principles which cannot be sacrificed.

877. The world is changing and the Catholic Church must change with it, if it is to retain any of its followers.

The Catholic Church will not and cannot change in such a way as to cease to be itself. It will go on preaching the unchanging Gospel of Christ, not watering it down in order to adjust it to the desires of men, but insisting that men must adjust their lives to the precepts of the Gospel. And always there will be those who will heed the voice of the Catholic Church which will never be without a following.

878. The Catholic Church, in condemning socialism, seems never to have learned the lesson taught by the Master: "He that is not against us, is for us".

The planning of a society on a merely secular basis is by the very fact against the teachings of Christ. And you forget that, if He said that those not against us are lor us, He also said: "He that is not with Me is against Me." Matt., XII, 30; Luke, XI, 23. If the world ignores Christian principles, one of two courses only is open to the Catholic Church; either to merge with the world and become secularized, or to go her own way, urging all who have the Catholic Faith to serve God in a thoroughly Christian life and to save their souls. One thing is sure. The Catholic Church will go on being the true Church, preaching the Christian religion whether people choose to listen or not, and despite any consequent resentment, abuse or even persecution.

879. Does the Catholic Church fear the loss of its possessions if socialism prevails?

Are you admitting that the socialism you advocate would mean the confiscation of Church properties, of her hospitals, schools, orphanages, homes for the aged, and other institutions which the generosity of generations of Catholics have made possible for purposes of religion and charity? If so, are you astonished that the type of socialism you have in mind does not commend itself to the Catholic Church?

880. If the State can supply all the social benefits your institutions provide, why cannot your Church be content to let the State do so?

The socialist State would want to do so on a purely secular basis. But since when was education which, to be complete, must include a child's physical, mental, moral and spiritual development, perfecting both body and soul, a merely secular thing? Is man no more than a secular animal? And since when was the Christian virtue of charity abolished in favor of a purely secular humanitarianism? We Catholics accept the verdict of St. Paul. "If I give all my goods to feed the poor," he writes, "and have not charity, it profits me nothing." Catholics have built their own hospitals in which Catholic Nuns nurse the sick for the pure love of God and without any personal remuneration for themselves. You would confiscate those hospitals and turn them into State institutions. You would banish the Nuns who are actuated only by the highest religious and spiritual ideals, replacing them by paid nurses with additional expense to the community, and then rejoice that, regardless of justice and expense, you had banished the religious atmosphere and secularized our Catholic hospitals. And you ask why we should object to that!

881. Although you admit that not all is well with capitalism, your Church has been the upholder of it.

The Catholic Church has never sanctioned its abuses. She has both foreseen and warned men against them. Pope Leo XIII's Encyclicals on industrial capitalism and his defense of the rights of the workers brought upon him only abuse from capitalists; and they were unfortunately largely ignored by the majority of workers, probably owing to religious prejudice against the Catholic Church. But now, almost 60 years later, Pope Leo XIII's teachings are beginning to be quoted with belated approval. Your own remark shows that you are not familiar with Catholic social teachings.

882. I suggest that the real reason for your Church's opposition to socialism is because she herself is the biggest capitalist and the greatest exploiter of the human race in this world.

Anyone can suggest anything. But that does not get one very far. For at once the question arises as to just what is behind the suggestion. Is it ignorance or knowledge? And has the one making the suggestion any axe to grind, with resultant prejudices distorting his judgment?

883. Under socialism your religious beliefs would not be interfered with, but you would have to curtail your commercial and political activities.

Let me give you a recipe. Take your ideas of the commercial and political activities of the Catholic Church, divide them by your prejudices, and what is left will not warrant any excitement.



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