It may seem strange to many who have a fairly good knowledge of the teaching and practice of the Catholic Church, that there should be such a conflict as we find existing between it and Socialism. For the two seem to have a strong resemblance; and it seems that there should be sympathy rather than antagonism. However, the Church has spoken out about socialism in great detail back 150 years ago. The man who did this was none other than Pope Leo XIII. He was a leader who saw the future and saw the future destruction that socialism would have on the Church and the family. Here are five things that he wrote about socialism.
First, in the 1878 encyclical, QUOD APOSTOLICI MUNERIS, Pope Leo XIII explained to the Church that there was a the deadly plague that was creeping into the very fibres of human society and leading it on to the verge of destruction; at the same time he explained that as long as he was the head of the Church, he was going to fight it.
We pointed out also the most effective remedies by which society might be restored and might escape from the very serious dangers which threaten it. But the evils which We then deplored have so rapidly increased that We are again compelled to address you, as though we heard the voice of the prophet ringing in Our ears: "Cry, cease not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet."(1) You understand, venerable brethren, that We speak of that sect of men who, under various and almost barbarous names, are called socialists, communists, or nihilists, and who, spread over all the world, and bound together by the closest ties in a wicked confederacy, no longer seek the shelter of secret meetings, but, openly and boldly marching forth in the light of day, strive to bring to a head what they have long been planning - the overthrow of all civil society whatsoever.
Second, Pope Leo XIII, explained a few things that socialism would do to society. These things would not happen if the people were steadfast in their faith. From these statements, it is clear to see that Pope Leo XIII saw socialism as an attack on the Church and central unit of the Church- the family.
Surely these are they who, as the sacred Scriptures testify, "Defile the flesh, despise dominion and blaspheme majesty."(2) They leave nothing untouched or whole which by both human and divine laws has been wisely decreed for the health and beauty of life. They refuse obedience to the higher powers, to whom, according to the admonition of the Apostle, every soul ought to be subject, and who derive the right of governing from God; and they proclaim the absolute equality of all men in rights and duties. They debase the natural union of man and woman, which is held sacred even among barbarous peoples; and its bond, by which the family is chiefly held together, they weaken, or even deliver up to lust. Lured, in fine, by the greed of present goods, which is "the root of all evils, which some coveting have erred from the faith,"(3) they assail the right of property sanctioned by natural law; and by a scheme of horrible wickedness, while they seem desirous of caring for the needs and satisfying the desires of all men, they strive to seize and hold in common whatever has been acquired either by title of lawful inheritance, or by labor of brain and hands, or by thrift in one's mode of life. These are the startling theories they utter in their meetings, set forth in their pamphlets, and scatter abroad in a cloud of journals and tracts. Wherefore, the revered majesty and power of kings has won such fierce hatred from their seditious people that disloyal traitors, impatient of all restraint, have more than once within a short period raised their arms in impious attempt against the lives of their own sovereigns.
Third, Pope Leo XIII pointed out that society’s very core would be put to a test. This test would pit the challenges that had never been before taken by people here on earth. With the stakes so high and rewards so great, men would eagerly sell their souls for power or money. This would be the seeds of society’s destruction and destruction.
But the boldness of these bad men, which day by day more and more threatens civil society with destruction, and strikes the souls of all with anxiety and fear, finds its cause and origin in those poisonous doctrines which, spread abroad in former times among the people, like evil seed bore in due time such fatal fruit. For you know, venerable brethren, that that most deadly war which from the sixteenth century down has been waged by innovators against the Catholic faith, and which has grown in intensity up to today, had for its object to subvert all revelation, and overthrow the supernatural order, that thus the way might be opened for the discoveries, or rather the hallucinations, of reason alone. This kind of error, which falsely usurps to itself the name of reason, as it lures and whets the natural appetite that is in man of excelling, and gives loose rein to unlawful desires of every kind, has easily penetrated not only the minds of a great multitude of men but to a wide extent civil society, also. Hence, by a new species of impiety, unheard of even among the heathen nations, states have been constituted without any count at all of God or of the order established by him; it has been given out that public authority neither derives its principles, nor its majesty, nor its power of governing from God, but rather from the multitude, which, thinking itself absolved from all divine sanction, bows only to such laws as it shall have made at its own will. The supernatural truths of faith having been assailed and cast out as though hostile to reason, the very Author and Redeemer of the human race has been slowly and little by little banished from the universities, the lyceums and gymnasia-in a word, from every public institution. In fine, the rewards and punishments of a future and eternal life having been handed over to oblivion, the ardent desire of happiness has been limited to the bounds of the present. Such doctrines as these having been scattered far and wide, so great a license of thought and action having sprung up on all sides, it is no matter for surprise that men of the lowest class, weary of their wretched home or workshop, are eager to attack the homes and fortunes of the rich; it is no matter for surprise that already there exists no sense of security either in public or private life, and that the human race should have advanced to the very verge of final dissolution.
Fourth, Pope Leo XIII wrote exactly wanted us to do. He clearly heard a clarion voice to direct his attention towards secret societies and secret organizations plotting the overthrow of national governments.
But the supreme pastors of the Church, on whom the duty falls of guarding the Lord's flock from the snares of the enemy, have striven in time to ward off the danger and provide for the safety of the faithful. For, as soon as the secret societies began to be formed, in whose bosom the seeds of the errors which we have already mentioned were even then being nourished, the Roman Pontiffs Clement XII and Benedict XIV did not fail to unmask the evil counsels of the sects, and to warn the faithful of the whole globe against the ruin which would be wrought. Later on again, when a licentious sort of liberty was attributed to man by a set of men who gloried in the name of philosophers, and a new right, as they call it, against the natural and divine law began to be framed and sanctioned, Pope Pius VI, of happy memory, at once exposed in public documents the guile and falsehood of their doctrines, and at the same time foretold with apostolic foresight the ruin into which the people so miserably deceived would be dragged. But, as no adequate precaution was taken to prevent their evil teachings from leading the people more and more astray, and lest they should be allowed to escape in the public statutes of States, Popes Pius VII and Leo XII condemned by anathema the secret sects, and again warned society of the danger which threatened them. Finally, all have witnessed with what solemn words and great firmness and constancy of soul our glorious predecessor, Pius IX, of happy memory, both in his allocutions and in his encyclical letters addressed to the bishops of all the world, fought now against the wicked attempts of the sects, now openly by name against the pest of socialism, which was already making headway.
Fifth, without saying it directly, Pope Leo XIII felt that it was his duty to speak up. In these passages, Leo XIII found the Church would survive but at what cost?
But it is to be lamented that those to whom has been committed the guardianship of the public weal, deceived by the wiles of wicked men and terrified by their threats, have looked upon the Church with a suspicious and even hostile eye, not perceiving that the attempts of the sects would be vain if the doctrine of the Catholic Church and the authority of the Roman Pontiffs had always survived, with the honor that belongs to them, among princes and peoples. For, "the church of the living God, which is the pillar and ground of truth," hands down those doctrines and precepts whose special object is the safety and peace of society and the uprooting of the evil growth of socialism.
For, indeed, although the socialists, stealing the very Gospel itself with a view to deceive more easily the unwary, have been accustomed to distort it so as to suit their own purposes, nevertheless so great is the difference between their depraved teachings and the most pure doctrine of Christ that none greater could exist: "for what participation bath justice with injustice or what fellowship bath light with darkness?"(Their habit, as we have intimated, is always to maintain that nature has made all men equal, and that, therefore, neither honor nor respect is due to majesty, nor obedience to laws, unless, perhaps, to those sanctioned by their own good pleasure. But, on the contrary, in accordance with the teachings of the Gospel, the equality of men consists in this: that all, having inherited the same nature, are called to the same most high dignity of the sons of God, and that, as one and the same end is set before all, each one is to be judged by the same law and will receive punishment or reward according to his deserts. The inequality of rights and of power proceeds from the very Author of nature, "from whom all paternity in heaven and earth is named." But the minds of princes and their subjects are, according to Catholic doctrine and precepts, bound up one with the other in such a manner, by mutual duties and rights, that the thirst for power is restrained and the rational ground of obedience made easy, firm, and noble.
Assuredly, the Church wisely inculcates the apostolic precept on the mass of men: "There is no power but from God; and those that are, are ordained of God. Therefore he that resisteth the power resisteth the ordinance of God. And they that resist purchase to themselves damnation." And again she admonishes those "subject by necessity" to be so "not only for wrath but also for conscience' sake," and to render "to all men their dues; tribute to whom tribute is due, custom to whom custom, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor." For, He who created and governs all things has, in His wise providence, appointed that the things which are lowest should attain their ends by those which are intermediate, and these again by the highest. Thus, as even in the kingdom of heaven He bath willed that the choirs of angels be distinct and some subject to others, and also in the Church has instituted various orders and a diversity of offices, so that all are not apostles or doctors or pastors, so also has He appointed that there should be various orders in civil society, differing indignity, rights, and power, whereby the State, like the Church, should be one body, consisting of many members, some nobler than others, but all necessary to each other and solicitous for the common good.
The roots of socialism dig deep into our society today. They divide people, families, and nations just as Pope Leo XIII predicted almost 150 years ago. Little or nothing has really changed. Back in 1878, Pope Leo XIII warned what and how socialism would attack-the family unit and the Church. Brothers and sisters, ask yourself, did this take place? Of course it did- all throughout the next 150 years. He warned us and many of us did not listen. Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now? This is a call to revisit the words of this Holy man of the Lord. Are we going to let this happen? Are we? Should we? Can you be a good Catholic and be a socialist? The answer was clearly and soundly stated by Pope Leo XIII, “No!”
Brothers and sisters can you see what Pope Leo XIII pointed out to us almost 150 years ago? Socialism logic here today does not make sense with Catholic teachings. For example with some it is my rights -my body when it comes to some attacks on family through the guise of women rights and then it is the state that controls your body when it comes to mandated shots or masks. Nevermind the logic- change. One thing is consistent- there is an all out assault on traditional family values. So much so, that the family of the 21st century would be hardly recognized by many people 0f the 19th century save it be Pope Leo XIII.
Today our families and our Church is in need of strong leadership and vision just like what Pope Leo XIII provided. If not, we will bring the future that was predicated in the past- a world attack on the family and the Church. Amen