Saint Joseph the Worker and Communism

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Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

George Santayana

Today is the Feast Day of Saint Joseph the Worker.  Pius XII instituted the feast in 1955 as a response to Communist May Day celebrations.  In 1949 he issued the Decree Against Communism which excommunicated all Catholics collaborating with Communist organizations. 

This Sacred Supreme Congregation has been asked:

1. whether it is lawful to join Communist Parties or to favour them;
2. whether it is lawful to publish, disseminate, or read books, periodicals, newspapers or leaflets which support the teaching or action of Communists, or to write in them;
3. whether the faithful who knowingly and freely perform the acts specified in questions 1 and 2 may be admitted to the Sacraments;
4. whether the faithful who profess the materialistic and anti-Christian doctrine of the Communists, and particularly those who defend or propagate this doctrine, contract ipso facto excommunication specially reserved to the Apostolic See as apostates from the Catholic faith.

The Most Eminent and Most Reverend Fathers entrusted with the supervision of matters concerning the safeguarding of Faith and morals, having previously heard the opinion of the Reverend Lords Consultors, decreed in the plenary session held on Tuesday (instead of Wednesday), June 28, 1949, that the answers should be as follows:

To 1. in the negative: because Communism is materialistic and anti-Christian; and the leaders of the Communists, although they sometimes profess in words that they do not oppose religion, do in fact show themselves, both in their teaching and in their actions, to be the enemies of God, of the true religion and of the Church of Christ;
to 2. in the negative: they are prohibited ipso iure (cf. Can. 1399 of the Codex Iuris Canonici);
to 3. in the negative, in accordance with the ordinary principles concerning the refusal of the Sacraments to those who are not disposed;
to 4. in the affirmative.

And the following Thursday, on the 30th day of the same month and year, Our Most Holy Lord Pius XII, Pope by the Divine Providence, in the ordinary audience, granted to the Most Eminent and Most Reverend Assessor of the Sacred Office, approved of the decision of the Most Eminent Fathers which had been reported to Him, and ordered the same to be promulgated officially in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis.

Given at Rome, on July 1st, 1949.

Those who turn away from freedom inevitably turn away from God.  Something for us all to ponder on this day.

O glorious Joseph!  Who concealed your incomparable and regal dignity of custodian of Jesus and of the Virgin Mary under the humble appearance of a craftsman and provided for them with your work, protect with loving power your sons, especially entrusted to you.

You know their anxieties and sufferings, because you yourself experienced them at the side of Jesus and of His Mother.  Do not allow them, oppressed by so many worries, to forget the purpose for which they were created by God.  Do not allow the seeds of distrust to take hold of their immortal souls.  Remind all the workers that in the fields, in factories, in mines, and in scientific laboratories, they are not working, rejoicing, or suffering alone, but at their side is Jesus, with Mary, His Mother and ours, to sustain them, to dry the sweat of their brow, giving value to their toil.  Teach them to turn work into a very high instrument of sanctification as you did.  Amen.

Pope John XXIII

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3 Comments

  1. I’m still pondering the present pope’s comments about “the nations should distribute the wealth…..”

  2. I’m still pondering the present pope’s comments about “the nations should distribute the wealth…..”
    Don L
    I figure that beyond bad translation, Pope Francis’s experiences of Statist market-interventionist crony capitalism in Latin America led him to misunderstand free-market entrepreneurial capitalism in the US and Northern Europe.

    This Pope’s comments apply to corrupt, market interfering regimes in Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the former Soviet countries. And even then, his ‘advice’ is significantly less than optimal–especially for those whose material welfare this Pope professes a wish to help the most, the poor of those countries.

    I’d like to see the Pope preach on the Commandment that forbids coveting thy neighbor’s goods. To covet so is a desire for the unearned. The envy that tempts so many Latin American politicians and their public to covet is one of the Deadly Sins. And greed, properly defined, is the desire for the unearned.

    Those who depend on gifts for their livelihood risk being in the near occasion of the sin of greed. It’s an occupational hazard that has long plagued the Church, Tetzel is an especially scandalous example.

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