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Many means have been suggested, writes Father Gemelli, by which Communism may be combated; all but one are no more than palliatives, and this for an important reason.
Communism must not be considered as a mere political system adopted by one people and yet to be prevented from being adopted by other peoples.
Nor yet a new economic order which, because it destroys goods, must be prevented from taking the place of another secular economic order which, for all its faults, does still respect the rights of individuals.
Nor even is it the advent of a monstrous power of the lower forces of society out to hand over government to the lowest classes of the population. Doubtless Communism is all of this, but its essence is not to be found here.
The essence of Communism lies in its materialistic conception of life, a conception that corresponds to the lowest instincts of man. It is for this reason that Communism finds its support so easily among those who have not learned to control their instincts and to educate their powers, thereby finding their satisfaction in all that is lowest.
The Case of Students
As an example of the ease with which Communism organises its cells in every walk of life, appealing in each case to those of weak and impaired moral will, Fr. Gemelli gave an example from America.
A well-known American professor, he said, explained to him how students, freed from normal moral influences, were easily seduced to Communistic thinking by the most subtle arts of propaganda.
For these reasons " there can only be a more really effective barrier to Communism : the moral life, lived and practised even against human interests, instincts and passions; the true bulwark against Communism is the moral life of the individual, the family, the society.
" This moral life can only be taught by one master: Religion, and only Catholicism with its supernatural life communicated by the Sacraments can provide the help needed to live such a life."
Murder Made Lawful Explaining the strategy adopted by Communism, the ideas of which filter through every means of communication in apparently harmless form, Fr. Gemelli told how the chief of police in a large city took him to his office and showed him two films that had been shown in a number of cinemas. Naturally they were not shown Soviet films. They were given out as
humble films of home manufacture adapted for the cheaper theatres.
They were enough, however, to exercise a fearful suggestion upon the spectator, said Fr. Gemelli. One of them tried to prove that murder was legitimate in certain circumstances; the other emphasised certain cases of acute misery in contemporary society in which it was impossible to educate or even to feed children.
The latter was evidently intended to make the spectator generalise from these instances and then condemn out of hand all society.
Such propaganda can, of course, be rebutted by other propaganda, but Catholicism alone can provide a form of moral life opposed to Communist conceptions, said Fr. Gemelli.
The Church in Germany
It was because of this fundamental fact, he explained, quoting the Papal allocution to the Spanish refugees, that the attack on Catholics in Germany was so grievous an error.
There public opinion went to the lengths of suspecting Catholics of Communistic tendencies simply because they were faithful to Rome and thus not wholehearted Nazis.
When Nazis were reminded of the Papal condemnations of Communism, they answered: " The Pope has spoken too late and only when they burnt the churches in Spain."
Such language (Fr. Gemelli continues) comes from not having learned the lesson that religion is the sole efficient opposition to Communism. One should and must recognise that Protestantism also, when it is practised with honesty and fidelity, as it is by many Protestants, is also an arm of defence against Communism.
But Nazis hold that neither Catholicism nor Protestantism have done anything against Communism and that only the social and political economy of the Nazis constitutes an effective defence. " May God spare us the day which will prove the gravity of the mistake into which Germany has fallen!" exclaimed the writer.
The Church v. The Enemy
He then dealt with the objection that Catholicism had proved ineffective against the spread of Communism, an objection founded on the spread of that error in a country like Spain.
Pius XI's answer was that the Church must not be judged by examples, but by its teachings.
This is the testimony of the Pope who himself has never ceased to admonish Catholics to be worthy of their vocation and to be at work in such a way that their religion shall be esteemed, observed and loved by all, but of the Pope also who has denounced to the world the ostracism with which political laws and customs continue to attack Catholicism.
It was such misunderstanding of the Church which caused accusations that it Was not content with a humble place, but must openly aspire to the position of a central inspirer—of a nucleus of the whole reactionary and Fascist campaign in Europe.
The Church, attacked on both sides for being too Communistic and too Fascist, Fr. Gemelli concludes, has only the ambition of being the ventral inspirer, the nucleus of the campaign which defends Christ and His civilisation.