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February 24, 1961     The Observer
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February 24, 1961

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FALSE 12 THEOLOGY FOR EVERY MAN THE OBSERVER " FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 1961 The following commentary on socialism was prepared at St. John's Seminary, Brighton, Mass. It is reprinted ]ram the Boston Pilot. In an age of ideologies, one of the most commonly mentioned theories or systerr~s is socialism. What is it? Are there several possible subdivisions to the socialistic philosophy? Does the Church differentiate in her attitude toward socialistic views, and what is that attitude? Do the assaults of socialism on pri- rate property conflict with the teachings of the Church? blish through legal sanctions a more or less extensive regime of collective ownership. FOR THE FOLLOWERS OF MARX, SOCIALISM is an attempt to settle in the realm of ideas the conflict which exists in fact be- tween the forces of production and the manner in which the fruits of production are distributed. Production, we are told, has already become socialized and will inevitably be brought farther in this direction. The counterpart of socialized produc- tion must be socialized distribution. Until capitalism, which resists the socialization of distribution is overthrown it will be ira- Q. HOW IS SOCIALISM DEFINED7 possible to arrive at a stable order of society. FOUR POINTS ARE ENUMERATED AS FUNDAMENTAL to is~'*L~e~'manYe tnerI~rm-s~,-~,~oz ~u u e, ntne pa ~somenave usea ~t to -!-nsC mm nuse' tne'w' rd ~:cla~:~e Marist system of socialism. (1)Economic factors, rather than g ideas, must be re arded as of rimar im or n . "' any system of theory or practice which would aim to improve the among the classesg:f society is Previta~le ap l~agC:s (o2:e S:lr:~e eli:~yg::ndl~ nws t~fe/:~eg~:~n::r~/iPe:pl:ocIinl:h~ ::n:es, o~tia~S- continues to derive profit from the economic value of the labor - of other classes. (3) A lasting and peaceful social order can be ~; Ch:lt~:n;tYen:hheofi;:t1 net2 i~::rrteh~:;:~x l(18;2~lgn~fioC~nt, realized only when those who work rise up violently against ,- their capitalistic employers and demand the socialization of the fined socialism as a form of political organization in which the means of production (4) There must be an international or- individual would be subordinated to society as a whole. In this ganization of those who work for socialistic objectives sense, socialism found inspiration in those philosophical systems As the word socialism has been used with all these "different which looked for absolute values and realities in the state, the shades of meaning it has come to designate in common estima- na~H;sop~NTace~, ra!her. Lhan.m i ndlv!dua! hum an beings. !tion, any system which attacks the regime or private property. Ul~ yllsW 51ADI5 IT DIP'P'ICULT to defend the lSocialistic theories have been classified as leftist or rightist ac- right of individual men to possess private property, although it [cording to the extent to which they advocate the abolition of was not until somewhat later that the right of private ownership[private ownership. was seriously questioned. Even those who attacked the principalI THIS DEFINITION OF SOCIALISM TELLS US NOTHING of of private ownership have always found it difficult to follow out [the doctrinal sources of the system. For certain ancient social- the logical implications of their teaching in their personal rein-lists ownership of material things was-wrong because matter tions with other men. The thought of being sacrificed completely litself was regarded as essentially evil Many modern forms of to the interests of the state, or to the interests of the community socialism which differ radically from one another in their as a whole is naturally repulsive to any human being, structure have correspondingly different reasons for condemn- FOR MANY PEOPLE, THE WORD SOCIALISM designates ing private ownership. not a doctrine, ,or a system of thought, but rather a movement. WE ARE THUS LED TO THE CONCLUSION that what is As such, its immediate origins are looked for around the begin- called socialism cannot be regarded as having originated in any ning of the 19th Century. Some claim to find the root of socialism homogeneous doctrinal source. What is called socialism is a in the attempts of speculative writers to introduce the control of melting-pot of heterogeneous ideals and emotions which came reason into the phenomena of nature. This point of view would into fortuitous association and which must be separated and account for some of the strange forms in which socialistic critically evaluated according to the principles of a sound theories have been presented, for example, the utopian theories philosophy. Socialism is little more than a name applied with of Plato. and, more recently, the theories which derive socialistic nuances of meaning which reflect particular doctrinal prefer- implications from idealistic principles It would not, however ences and prejudices. For some, it is associated with a desirable account for the materialistic and evolutionary forms of social- goal; for others, it has associations which are essentially ob- its own interests were adequately protected. Some have even said that the Church's condemnation of socialism is but an ex- ample of its traditional dislike of novelty, and its preference for the ignorance of long ago to the enlightrnent of the present. Some Catholics feel that the Church has not been sufficiently in- terested in bringing its teachings into relation with the changing needs of modern society, and they are impatient when their own efforts along this line seem to be rebuffed by ecclesiastical authority. THESE MISUNDERSTANDINGS ARE CLEARED UP BY CAREFUL STUDY of the pronouncements of the Holy See and the teachings of the theologians on the question of socialism. In the days of Pope Leo XIII socialism was condemned as a sys- tem definitely committed to the destruction of Christianity. At that time socialistic doctrines were being taught by many groups who were openly hostile to the Church. These groups had fallen under the influence of the philosophy of the French Revolution and, more remotely, of the theological doctrines of the Pro- testant Reformation. IN HIS ENCYLICAL'IMMORTALE DEI' LEO XXIII DEPLOR- ED the passing of the day when governments were regulated by the teachings of the Gospel and human society penetrated by di- vine wisdom. It is not to be wondered at, therefore, that socialism fell under suspicion during the late 19th Century. Socialism hasi been historically associated with rationalism and sensualism,~ and with atheistic materialism, and these false philosophies! have determined the direction into which its properly economic teachings have been forced. It is no less true, however, that the associations have been in large measure accidental and that many of the economic theories identified with socialism are cap- able of integration with a Christian point of view. Socialism is condemned by the Church only to the extent that its fundamental philosophy is wrong. Its purely scientific aspects are left to the evaluation of those who are competent in the fields to which they pertain. Q. WHAT IS THE TEACHING OF THE CHURCH ON THE MATTER OF PRIVATE OWNERSHIP? A. It is the teaching of Catholic theologians that the right of private ownership, permanent and exclusive, of lands and ex- ternal goods derives from the natural law, and that, in the present order of things, it is legitimate and morally necessary. ism, such as those of Marx and Lenin. jectionable. No name has ever had such a wide variety of mean- Theologians are not agreed as to whether or not the right of pri- OTHERS ARE SATISFIED TO DEFINE SOCIALISM in pure- ings, held by groups more fundamentally and irreconcilably op- vale ownership is demanded by natural law as absolutel nec ly economic terms. Thus the French socialist Proudhon (1809- posed to one another, it is oirricun meremre to aistinguisn . y es- ' ' ' - sary I~ i~ certain that natural law demands h 1865) calls socialism the balancing of production and labor. An- what might be called a socialistic school of thought It is even " - t at land and ex- ' ternm goocts serve the end to which the are t r other writer calls socialism the progressive realization of abin re dlffmult to dmtmgmsh a pohtmal movement whmh could ea:" me" satisfaction Of human needs It lsY certamna lU ally direct-. social order in which capitalism will be eliminated from the pro- e properly cauea soclaustm. . . ' ikewise that, unaer present conditions the regime of private ownership is the ductive effort. The result of this change, they say, will be the Q. WHAT l~ THE ATTITUIL#I5 Off Tltl~ UAIItlULIU UltlUlt~IL.ll " " " most smtaom means of bringing about the sahsfactmn of elimination of competition among men for the necessities of life. TOWAHD~ SOCIALISM~ " ' ' human . " . lneeds by the earth and its roducts There ar " Still another writer would define socialism as an attempt to esta- A. The offmml pronouncements of the Church on the subject of f P e arguments in - o avor o~ me posnion mat me ver nature of man ~m t socialism have brought to light the doctrinm inconsistencies m Y " p ies immedi. socialistic thinkers and their lack of solid hiloso hical founda- a~eiy the fundamental right of private ownership. It is conceiv' P P . able however that under certain condltmn a r . tion. Where socialists themselves have failed to present a cam- " '' s egime of common ownersmp might work out favorablfor exam le m man doctrinal front anct a uninefl policy oi action me Y, p,' the state 8 Items $129 i S399 Real -Value Fresh, New Patterns of original justice, or in a small community, or in a predomil)ant- following out consistently the implications of its own teaching, ly pastoral society in which there would be relatively little has discovered the essential error which must be guarded division of labor against in any form of socialistic teaching and which would tend to nullify the value of elements otherwise wholesome or unob- ectionable with which it would come into association. IT IS FOR THIS REASON THAT THE CHURCH'S AT- towards socialism has been regarded by some as rest- ing on merely abstract metaphysical principles and as overlook- ing the scientific value of the doctrines which it condemns. To others, the Church seems logically inconsistent in its attitude to- 'ward socialism, condemning economically sound and construc- i tive criticisms of the existing order of things for no other reasot~ than that they have been proposed by socialistic thinkers, evefi ~as similar points of view can be shown to be implied in the teaching of the classic theologians of medieval Christianity. The Church, moreover, seems to condemn as socialistic certain points of view which it formerly defended at periods of history at which 108 Nuns Volunteer--Four Go ST. PATRICK'S AREA ARTHUR AVE. TRI LEVEL 3 bedroom all brick --Quality built, loaded with ex- tras. Rec Room, balcony dining area, ott. garage, radiant heat. 2223 COLORADO 3 BEDROOM ranch home, brick front; 1 V2 car garage, full bose- ment. Beautiful lot. Priced at only $17,500. TOLEDO, Ohio -- A total of 108 Sisters of Notre Dame of the Toledo province volunteered, but only four will be selected to serve in the community's first foreign mission field in the South Pacific. Mother Mary Antonelle, pro- vincial superior, said the four will be selected on the basis of health and age, and that a col- lege degree will be required. She said the four teaching nuns will leave in July for the Vicariate of Mount Hagen, which was estab- lished in New Guinea in 1959 and is administered by the Socie[y of the Divine Word. She said that there now are only a half dozen Holy Ghost sis- ters ~ssisting 21 Divine Word priests and three Brothers in the vicariate. Tribute to Washington at Pisa P I S A, I t a 1 y ~- G e o r g elCommand stationed in nearby Washington's birthday was ob- served by Americans and Itali- ans here at a ceremony held in the shadow of Pisa's famed Leaning Tower, the bell tower of its cathedral. Held as a salute to Italo- American friendship, the cere- mony was staged by troops of the U.S. army's 8th Logistical Leghorn. The unit's commander Col. Robert E. Holman, thank- ed church authorities for permit-! ring the observance on the cathe- dral grounds. The ceremony was built around a tableau showing the uniforms worn by U.S. sol- diers since the Revolutionary War. STH AVE.~2 FAMILY $1000 down, $85 per month. A real value in income property. Only $] |,900. RICHARDSON REALTOR WO 5-0964 1238 Broadway Mantle Smith WO 3 5626 Dale Burton WO 8-6650 Jim Word TR 7-6927 Jim Richardson WO 4-3497 'Steady $340.00 monthly income from this newer ranch 4-plex. In- , vest $1 0,0 0,0 EVERY- DAY cash and watch it t. Buffet Droner grow as the ten- e S149s - Serwee ants pay off your Noon Night mortgage. Excel- Fri. and $1.50 -- $2.50 tlenta IEastsideneighbor-ren" '~ ;. ~, 11:30 a.m 2 p.m. 5 p.m. until ?hood. 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Each man is an individual, a person possessing intellect and :free will. In the possession of his spiritual soul each man transcends the absorbing influence of society. Something of man's personal labor is latent in all human labor that is really productive. Man modifies the forces of nature by his free will and directs them intelligently to the satisfaction of his needs. There exists, therefore, a relation of cause and effect between the worker and his work, What a man produces belongs to him; in other words, it is his private property. THIS PRINCIPLE IS ACKNOWLEDGED IMPLICITLY BY THOSE who advocate a communistic regime Under a capital- istic regime, the Marxists point out, the worker is deprived of a lorge part of the fruit of his labor This very phrase implies the principle of private ownership. Capitalists are attacked by Com- munists because they feel, often with reason, that they are de- prived of part of the fruit of their labor to which they have a strict right. Communists are thus capitalists without capital. They attack private ownership because through the injustice of others they have themselves been preventd from exercising the right of private ownership. PRIVATE OWNERSHIP IS INDICATED ALSO in the very nature of society itself. The labor of many workers is latent with- in every product: Compensation is due to all who have aided production by their personal labor, whether mental or physical. It is wrong for Communists to contend that only the workers who contribute immediately to the finished product should receive its value. Communist thereby opens itself to the charge of ex- ploitation, no less than capitalism. In summary, the arguments of Communism against private ownership amount largely to a protest against the faulty distri- bution of the products of human labor. That evils exist under the present system no one can deny. It does not follow, however, that the system itself is evil. Moreover, the means of distribution suggested by Communism are not workable. Communism sug- gests that distribution be made according to the merits and the needs of each one; there thus arises the difficulty of estimat- ing these needs accurately and fairly. Moreover, in many cases there will be lack of proportion between need and industry, with the result that those who work hardest will inevitably be- come dissatisfied. And if distribution is made equally to all, there will be no incentive to work. WE THEREFORE CONCLUDE THAT ONLY UNDER A SYSTEM of private ownership can individual men be induced to work for the common good. Men are driven by selfish motives, and among these is the desire to possess external good as their own. Communism, as a remedy for the evils of society, fails even as an economic theory. 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