Source: Messenger of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Source type: magazine
Document type: editorial column
Document title: “Editorial”
Date of publication: October 1901
Volume number: 36
Issue number: 10
|“Editorial.” Messenger of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Oct. 1901 v36n10: pp. 939-41.|
|anarchism (religious response); anarchism (religious interpretation); Leo XIII (encyclicals); society (criticism).|
|Benedict XIV; Clement XII; Jude; Leo XII; Leo XIII; Pius VI; Pius VII; Pius IX.|
In these days, when so many wild things are
being said both in the pulpit and the press about the lamentable condition into
which anarchy has brought us, it may be well to listen, for a brief space, to
some of the utterances of him who speaks with authority to the world, and who
is able, as no one else, to lift society out of the abyss into which it has
fallen. These excerpts taken here and there from the encyclicals of Leo XIII,
(and many more might have been added) will show us luminously and comprehensively,
though in the succinctest fashion, the origin of these disasters, the affiliations
of the miscreants who cause them and the means which are employed to repair
“The doctrines of Socialism, Communism and Nihilism,” he tells us, “have carried a deadly poison into the very veins of modern society which is now in the throes of dissolution.
“The associations which advocate and inculcate such doctrines are to be found in every country of the world; they are closely bound in a compact of iniquity, and no longer skulk in the dark, but are out in the open proclaiming what, for a long time back, they had been secretly plotting, viz.: that their purpose is the overthrow of the civil order as it now exists.
“These associations have been prophetically described by St. Jude the Apostle, as of ‘men who defile the flesh, despise all rule and blaspheme the majesty of authority.’ They assail everything that divine or human laws have established for the honor or security of life; they refuse obedience to the higher powers, to whom the Apostle bids us be subject because the right to govern is from God, and they clamor for an absolute equality for all men in the enjoyment of every right and the emoluments and advantages of every office.
“The natural union of man and woman which even the savage holds sacred, they degrade; and the bond of domestic society they either break, or turn into a means of sensual indulgence. Inflamed with the lust of riches, which as the Apostle says (I. Tim. vi. 19) are the root of all evil, and which seduce from the faith those who seek them, they denounce the rights of property as against the natural law, and with a wickedness that is simply monstrous, declare that to provide for the needs and to satisfy the demands of their followers, they have a right to seize and hold in common, whatever has been acquired by title or heredity, by qualities of mind, by labor of hand, or by the savings of frugality or thrift. These doctrines, which are so portentous of evil, and which by means of books, pamphlets and the daily press are scattered widecast among the people have already bred such a hatred against the ever to be venerated majesty of the authority of governments, that these nefarious traitors have frequently within a brief period of time, and with the most daring impiety turned their instruments of death against the rulers of the nations.
“The audacity of these impious wretches which every day forebodes more disastrous ruin for civil society, and which already fills the minds of all with consternation and alarm, has its source and origin in those poisonous teachings, which in times past were sown like bad seeds among the people and which produced in due time their deadly fruit. It began with that fierce war against the Catholic faith in the sixteenth century; it has increased in intensity as time went on, and has lasted even to our own days; the whole purpose of it being to sweep away revelation and the entire supernatural order, and to open the way to the inquisition, or rather to the  wild ravings of unassisted reason. This error which unrighteously arrogated to itself the name of Rationalism, by exciting and augmenting the cravings of ambition, whose impulses are in every man’s heart, offers free scope to cupidity of every description and easily pervades not only individual minds, but all civil society in its widest extent.
“As a consequence of this there were established governments, such as even the wickedness of the heathen never dreamed of, namely, which made no account of God or the order established by Him, which proclaimed that public authority derived neither its principles, nor the respect due to it, nor its right to command, from God, but from the majority of the people, which held itself to be dispensed from all divine sanction, and submitted itself only to those laws which it had been pleased to formulate. The supernatural truths of faith were assailed and rejected as being against reason, and the Author and Redeemer of humanity was banished from the Universities, colleges and schools, and thus insensibly and little by little disappeared from all the public affairs of life. The rewards and the punishments of the after life were lost sight of, and man’s ardent thirst of happiness was restricted to the limited space of the present. With such doctrines scattered far and wide, and such license of thought and action permitted everywhere, there is no wonder that the humbler classes of people weary of their miserable tenements or their shops, should long to fling themselves at the fortunes and palaces of the rich; that now there is no security in public or private life, and that the human race has almost been brought to the verge of destruction.”
The Holy Father then goes on to show how long ago these warnings were given to the world. “Identifying themselves with these doctrines of Rationalism, secret societies were formed to propagate them.” Those societies were condemned by Pope Clement XII and Benedict XIV. Later on the Philosophers, as they were called, whose writings were another effort of the same propaganda, were condemned by Pius VI. Other reprobations were uttered by Pius VII and Leo XII, and the efforts of Pius IX against these secret societies and the Socialism which they were fomenting and which was just then beginning to assume the name, form a great part of the glories of that illustrious pontificate.
“It is to be regretted,” continues Leo XIII, “that public men, deceived or frightened by these conspirators against society, have always looked with suspicion on the efforts of the Catholic Church in this direction. They did not appreciate the fact that if the doctrine of the Catholic Church and the authority of the Roman Pontiffs had remained in honor with princes and peoples, the efforts of these modern enemies of society would have utterly failed. On the doctrines and precepts of the Church, the safety and peace of society depend, and by them alone this accursed growth of Socialism can be uprooted.”
It will be interesting to know what is the mind of the Holy Father about the affiliations of our present day Socialists and Communists and the means by which their principles are propagated.
In the Encyclical Humanum Genus, April 20, 1884, he says: “Let not the Masonic Order assert that it is averse to these efforts of Communism; for it strongly approves of those projects and identifies itself with their main principle. And if they are not continually in evidence and are not everywhere reduced to practice, it is not to be ascribed to the rules or purpose of the Order, but to the fact that the divine virtue of religion is not utterly extinct, and that the saner part of the human family rebels against the slavery of these secret associations and withstands their mad attempts to wreck the existing civil and domestic order.” 
The method of resisting these increasing evils is presented in the Encyclical to the German Bishops January 16, 1886.
“There are, as you know,” he says, “Venerable Brethren, seeds of revolution cast into the very bosom of society in our days, or rather there are a great number of smouldering fires seen here and there which threaten at any moment to burst out into a fierce conflagration. Chief among them is the Labor Question, which fills the minds of statesmen with concern while seeking in vain for some means of averting the impending calamity and of thwarting the adherents of these new sects which convert every public calamity into a means of their own aggrandizement, and which are always devising new occasions of public disaster. In this matter the ministers of the Church can furnish invaluable assistance to the State, as they have so often done in other storms and other calamities. For priests whose ministry brings them into daily contact with the masses of the people and who deal with them on terms of easy familiarity, who know thoroughly the sorrows and labors of that class of men, can look into the wounds of their hearts, and by affording opportune assistance, and giving them religious instruction can bring them consolation, can apply to their sick and weary souls the proper remedies, can soften the sense of present evils, lift them up from their despondency and prevent them from running headlong into the wild projects which the organizations around them are forming.”
To sum up all these invaluable teachings, ruin has been brought upon modern society by its abandonment of Catholicity. Order can be restored only by the teachings and ministrations of the Church.