Russia, Communism, and the Future of the World

FR. ROBERT J. FOX

The plan of communism, instigated over a century ago, called for a violent overthrow of existing society.

1.  Give a brief history of Russia before the Revolution of 1917.

Czar Nicholas II
(1868-1918)

Not until the seventeenth century was Russia considered a part of Europe, but rather part of Asia.  Seldom was it involved in the affairs of Europe.  When Peter the Great became czar in 1682, he desired to Westernize this giant country.  He moved the capital from Moscow to St. Petersburg, which was nearer Europe.  It played a part in the Wars of Napoleon and, in the nineteenth century, was very much a part of European affairs.  Yet the culture of Russia was somewhat different.  The people were predominantly Christians of the Roman Orthodox Church, which resembles Catholicism in most of its faith and morals but broke in schism from Rome several centuries previous. 

The Industrial Revolution did not affect Russia as soon as it did the various countries of Western Europe.  The czar ruled as an absolute monarch and most of the people were peasants.  The czar was a dictatorship with a huge army.  The people were satisfied for the most part under this form of government. 

Universities are often places for the development of new ideas, and when Liberalism reached Russia, it became popular in the universities.  While Czar Alexander II had begun some needed reforms, he was assassinated in 1881 by a bomb which exploded in his carriage.  His son, Alexander III, increased police power and did not continue the reforms. 

Revolutionary ideas spread in Russia.  Nikolai Lenin was a leading personality for the revolution.  His name had been Vladimir Ilyick Ulyanov, but as a Communist alias he took the name Nikolai Lenin.  He made no secret of his atheism.  In 1905 a Communist-inspired revolution broke out in Russia but was crushed, and Lenin fled to Switzerland.  Nicholas II set up a parliament and from 1906 to 1914 the country fared well, and it seemed revolutionary ideas were forgotten. 

Then came World War I, and millions of Russian soldiers were killed.  During World War I Nicholas II ruled Russia.  Almost every Russian family was affected with losses and the country was demoralized.  Because the government of the country was unpopular, talk of revolution again became widespread. 

By March of 1917, there was rioting in the streets of St. Petersburg and disorganized revolution, with conflicting groups attempting to get control of the country.  Alexander Kerensky and his followers succeeded in taking over, and the Menshevicks ruled as Liberals and Socialists.  They were not Communists.  The royal family was arrested, as the Mensheviks continued the war. 

Lenin, who had earlier been driven into exile, watched for his opportunity to return to Russia and to put the Communist Manifesto of Karl Marx into practice.  Lenin got in touch with the government of Germany, promising that if it helped him get safely back into Russia, he would take over the government and see that Russia withdrew from the war.  The German kaiser aided this plan. 

Josef Stalin welcomed Lenin when he arrived in St. Petersburg on April 16, 1917.  Lenin took charge of the most revolutionary groups that wanted to dominate the country, namely the Bolsheviks.  This group intended to dominate the people.  Through lies, and false promises of peace, bread, and land, they won the support of many people.  They claimed that property and wealth should be taken from the minority, who owned it, and divided among the common people.  However, the Communists' real goal was that the people would have no property and no freedom and the state, in effect, would become god

The Bolsheviks became well organized, and by June the Mensheviks were weakening.  The Bolsheviks infiltrated various posts of government.  On November 7, the Bolsheviks seized banks, power stations, bridges, telephone exchanges, and railroad stations.  Soldiers in the capital supported the Bolsheviks.  Kerensky's followers were left with only the former palace of the Czars, and by early morning the next day the Red Guards had control of the palace and the "Kerenskys" were taken prisoners.  On November 8, Communists met under the leadership of Lenin.  They declared an end to their participation in the war, seized all private property, and declared Lenin head of the new Communist government. 

By November 18 — though only a relatively small number of Russia's people were Bolsheviks — the 175 million people of Russia were under their control and representative government, which had been promised, was not to be.  The Communist insurgents took over all newspapers and henceforth only the Communist line could be publicized. 


2.  What was life like in Russia, after Lenin and his Communists took over?

Russia was renamed the Soviet Union.  When the people realized the Communists' promises had been lies they refused to cooperate, as everything belonged to the government.  Farmers grew only what they needed, since all surplus went to the Communist state.  Factory workers went on strike and refused to work, so that production fell far below their previous output.  Events proved that communism, according to the atheistic ideas of Marx and Lenin, is contrary to human nature and justice.  Lenin was thus forced to ease up somewhat, but before he came to grips with the immediate problems, at least 5 million Russians died of starvation. 

Religion and family life suffered greatest in Russia after the Communist takeover.  Religion was considered an enemy of the Communist state: children could not be taught religion nor could religious literature be published.  Many bishops, priests, and religious were murdered or jailed.  Schools, seminaries, monasteries were closed.  Children were encouraged to spy on their own parents and report them to the Communist police if they practiced religion in the home or held ideas contrary to Communist indoctrination in the state schools.  Respect for the sacredness and indissolubility of marriage was disregarded and easy divorce was made possible.  A couple simply signed a governmental paper to get married or divorced. 

The Communist International was organized by Lenin and spread throughout the world, with the aim of world domination by Communists.  When Lenin died in 1924, Josef Stalin took over as Communist dictator, without any voice by the people in this decision.  In 1928 Stalin started the first of his infamous Five-Year plans, aimed at industrializing Russia and making the country more economically productive.  The peasants had to work on "collective farms," owned by the Communist state, or in factories.  Some who attempted to work their own farms and resist their Communist takeover were either shot to death on Stalin's orders or transported to Siberia for slave labor in prison camps. 

Great suspicion of Communists toward other Communists developed, so that no one trusted anyone else.  Purge after government purge ensured, to "purify" the Communist Party of "undesirables." If Stalin even suspected an individual Communist, the result was usually execution.  With everyone spying on everyone else in the Communist Soviet Union, workers could report each other, so that a fellow worker could be done away with when resentment developed. 


3.  Describe how the Communists took over Catholic Spain and how the Spanish people threw off their yoke.

During the early part of the twentieth century an unstable Spanish government provided the opportunity for other parties to take over.  (Communism looks for unrest and unsettled conditions to make big promises, deceive the people, and then rule by force.) In 1931, atheistic and anti-Catholic forces gained power in Spain.  Even though traditionalists won the greater number of votes in 1933, the "liberal," atheistic parties still held control.  Communists worked their way into complete control of the government.  Churches were destroyed, thousands of priests and religious were killed.  As Spain moved toward civil war, violence and disorder reigned. 

Opposing forces struggled in Spain.  There were forces for religion and those opposed; forces for private property and those for state ownership, under the Communist plan; those who defended the rights of the individual and those who fought for the supremacy of the government, with no rights for citizens. 

Two army generals, Francisco Franco and Emilio Mola, rose against the Communist government.  Franco called for the uprising on July 18, which became known as a "crusade" because it was a fight against the enemies of Christ and for religious freedom.  Many rallied to the support of Franco, and by July 20 the north of Spain was controlled by the Nationalists — Franco, Mola, and their followers.  The south of Spain, including the capital, Madrid, remained in Communist control.  The Communist forces were known as Republicans or Loyalists, but were in reality leftists and Marxists. 

By July 22 Spain was in a full-scale civil war and the Soviet Union was aiding the Communist forces within Spain.  Italy and Germany came to the aid of the Nationalists.  Great heroism on the part of the Nationalists aided their fight against the Communist forces.  Their defense of the Alcazar, a fort at Toledo, inspired courage, as reports of resistance against the Communists spread throughout Spain.  To resist to death for the cause of religion and the personal freedoms of living in a free country became the wartime principle of the traditionalists. 

The Spanish Civil war lasted about three years.  Franco marched into Madrid on March 1939.  He restored peace to the country, after defeating the leftist Loyalists.  Order and property also were restored to Spain under Franco, who ruled as a dictator but as one concerned for the religious freedom and material welfare of the people.  Franco was often misunderstood and misrepresented outside his country.  He ruled the country until 1976, when King Carlos and others restored democracy to Spain. 


4.  What national monument did Spain erect to honor those who fell in the Spanish Civil War for the defense of freedoms and true religious principles?

The magnificent Monument of the Holy Cross in the Valley of the Fallen was built in the geographic center of Spain to emphasize the fact that it is a monument to all Spaniards.  It can well be considered one of the wonders of the world, but it is not well known in other countries, perhaps fue to the unjustified prejudice against General Franco, who conceived the idea of the monument and chose the site for it. 

The monument consists of a great church dug inside a huge mountain and surmounted by a great cross, the predominating feature.  It rises 150 meters from its base and stands 300 meters above the esplanade (measured from the entrance to the crypt.) The arms of the Cross are 46 meters in length.  The cross "ensemble" consists of three principal parts: a large base, on which stand the figures of the four evangelists, surmounted by a smaller base from which the shaft rises, and at the four corners are figures of the four cardinal virtues.  The first base is 25 meters high, the second 42.  From these two bases, the giant cross soars into the sky. 

Visitors who are unacquainted with this monument at first think the cross atop the mountain is the totality, but discover that inside the mountain, upon which it stands, is a giant basilica with magnificent statues, a choir section, central nave, main altar, crypt, and magnificent mosaics in the cupola ceiling, which crowns the transept. 

This national monument also houses the Center for Social Studies, which works for knowledge and peace among men, based upon Christian social justice.  The center pursues up-to-date social thought and strives to implement the social doctrines of the popes and Catholic thinkers. 

The communists, having taken over Spain, were nevertheless defeated.  Thus Spain, in freeing itself of Communist control, is a unique country.  And thus the monument deserves to become a greater worldwide symbol of resistance to atheistic communism.  Concerned and aware Christians (especially in Spain) know, however, that Communists await every opportunity to seize control. 


5.  Has Communism taken over other nations?

Almost half the world was under the hammer and sickle of atheistic Communist control, thus forgoing human freedoms.  The Russian peoples themselves were unwilling subjects of their atheistic government, and only a minority belongs to the Communist Party.  The Russian Church, in the years immediately following the revolution, lost over 80 million members.  Of the 79,767 churches and chapels in Russia in 1914, only 7,500 remained in 1973 and these were under restrictions.  In the huge city of Moscow, only 26 churches remained open, and these were mostly show places for tourists and attended mostly by older people. 

Since 1917, tens of thousands of priests, religious, and faithful in the Soviet Union were murdered for their faith.  Of the numerous Catholic seminaries in Russia, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania before World War I, only one still existed when the Communist empire of Russian begin to disintegrate in 1989 — that was in Lithuania. 

Some of Finland's territory was annexed by the Communist Soviet Union in 1940.  Estonia was annexed in 1940, as were Latvia and Lithuania.  Prussian territory was annexed in 1945.  Poland was partitioned by the Nazis and Communists in 1939.  East Germany became a Communist satellite in 1949, and Czechoslovakia in 1948.  Hungary had met the same fate in 1945.  Rumanian territory was annexed in 1949; Bulgaria and Albania became satellites in 1944.  China fell to the Communists in 1949, with the former rulers being driven to Taiwan, then called the Republic of China.  North Vietnam fell in 1954.  A long bloody war was fought against the Communists in South Vietnam with the help of United States soldiers and supplies, but the United States pulled out in 1975.  Then the South also fell to the Communists.  The United States also fought a war in Korea from 1950 to 1953/ (North Korea became a Communist state on May 1, 1948, in the wake of Soviet occupation.)

Yugoslavia was proclaimed a socialist republic in 1945.  Repression of religion, as in other Communist takeovers, became government policy.  Between May 1945 and December 1950, two-thirds of Yugoslavia's twenty-two dioceses lost their bishops, about 348 priests were killed, and 200 priests were put under house arrest or in prison.  Twelve of its eighteen seminaries were closed.  Three hundred religious houses and institutions were confiscated and their nuns and other religious were driven out.  All Church property was taken over by the Communists.  Cardinal Stepinac, arrested by the Communists in 1946, became a symbol of the Church under persecution in Yugoslavia until he died (February 10, 1960). 

Cardinal Josef Mindszenty
(1892-1975)

Cardinal Josef Mindszenty, who became primate of Hungary on October 2, 1945, was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Communist Hungarian government in October 1956, this cardinal-archbishop of Esztergom and primate of Hungary escaped to the United States embassy in Budapest and remained there until October 1971, when through negotiations between the Communists and the Vatican, he was permitted to leave for the free world.  Until his death in 1975, Cardinal Mindszenty was a major inspiration to peoples in the free world, everywhere fighting against the attempts of Communists to dominate the world.[1] In 1991 the new government of Hungary, freed of communism, apologized and publicly removed all guilt the former Communist government had falsely heaped on the Cardinal. 

St. Michael's Priory in Orange, California is a constant reminder of the Communist suppression of freedom in Hungary.  There slowly grows a religious foundation of the Norbertine Fathers in the foothills of Saddleback Mountain.  The religious community with its seminary and boys school was named after a former Roman Catholic abbey in the Hungarian village of Csorna near the Austrian border. 

When St. Michael's abbey in Csorna was seized by Communists in 1950, seven priests risked death to flee across the border with hopes to rebuild their lives and Csorna abbey in the free world.  The Norbertine Fathers in Hungary had produced the likes of Cardinal Mindszenty who visited St. Michael's in Orange not long before his death.  The talks Cardinal Mindszenty gave at the new Csorna priory in the free world were later beamed across the iron curtain. 

In their diary known as The Cross & the Flag Against the Hammer & the Sickle, which began July 11, 1950, the seven Founding Fathers of St. Michael's in Orange, California report how their numbers have grown with the ordination of native American young men. 

Thus the Hungarian mother abbey, which has been converted into a Communist government headquarters now continues in the United States through the seven priests who have established the new Norbertine priory in memory of their centuries-old abbey in Hungary and American young men who have answered the call to the holy priesthood to succeed them. 

Cuba, only 90 miles from America, fell under Communist rule when Fidel Castro took control of the government on January 1, 1959.  In 1961, after Cuba was officially declared a socialist state, 350 Catholic schools were nationalized and the University of Villanueva was closed.  One-hundred-thirty-six priests were expelled and the Church has ever since been severely restricted, with many people discontinuing the public practice of their Catholic faith. 

Since 1917, entire countries (or parts of them) have been absorbed into the Red orbit.  As early as 1960, it was estimated that 900 million persons, or more than one-third of the world's population, were dominated by Communist regimes.  In China, many millions were killed who resisted the Communist takeover.  Communists control several African nations (e.g.  Angola), and South American nations, stirring up unrest while working to take over. 

Communists in 1974 and 1975 came close to taking over Portugal, but the faith of the people caused them to rise up in resistance.  As is explained in Chapter 20, the defeat of communism became recognized by the world during the final six months of 1989 when one country after another in Eastern Europe, non-violently threw off the yoke of communism.  The world was stunned by the sudden defeat of communism and as the months and years passed it became recognized as not merely a political occurrence, but the result of the supernatural intervention of the Mother of Jesus foretold by Our Lady of Fatima in 1917. 


6.  Gas the nature of communism changed over the years?

No.  Not until after 1984 when Gorbachev came to power did changes began to take place in Soviet Russia with a program known as "openness" and "restructuring." Even Catholics in traditionally Catholic countries, such as Italy, have been deceived at times into thinking that Communist parties in other countries have goals other than those of the Russian Communists or that the nature of Communist parties differs.  In 1977, Cardinal Josef Hoeffner (of Cologne, Germany) reported that the nature of communism remains unchanged.  Moreover, the popes have repeatedly condemned it, such as Pope Pius XI in his encyclical on atheistic communism, issued forty years earlier. 

Cardinal Hoeffner called the world's attention to "the conspiracy of silence" in the press, when millions were slain in Russia under Stalin and in Mexico.  He examined the fundamental principles of communism, beginning with its materialism, "which leaves no room for God, for a spiritual principle of life or for a life after death." He stated that the same Communist principles are in force in this latter quarter of the twentieth century, which "explains the hostility to the Church and to religion in Communist countries today."

Cardinal Hoeffner, one of the Church's outstanding spokesmen against communism, said that the most fundamental error of the system "is to create the idol of self-redemption." The Communist claim that human rights are rooted in the state or in a social process leads to denial of individual freedom.  The history of communism "is an uninterrupted chain of violations of fundamental human rights...Communism makes man the object of a historical process.  Its goal is not to create new social order, but a new type of man, a man without faith, hope, love, liberty or personal responsibility...The Communist ideal of collectivism destroys personal liberty and changes it into a simple compliance with social necessity."

Community welfare does not govern rulers in Communist countries.  The only rule is that of the party, or the "dictatorship of the proletariat." The atheistic rulers of communism still look forward to one world under communism. 

In 1977 Cardinal Yu Pin, president of the Chinese Catholic Bishops Conference in the Republic of China, toured the United States, contacting congressmen, the President, and all Catholic bishops of the United States (and everyone else he could), urging that the Republic of China (Taiwan_ not be abandoned in favor of full diplomatic relations with Communist China.  He said that 16 million people in the Republic of China would then be killed or enslaved.  His experience and suffering under Communist persecution on the China mainland led him to claim that such a Communist takeover would affect Japan, the Philippines, the other nations in the area, and eventually the United States. 

A dissident Russian Orthodox priest, Father Gleb Yakunin, after being suspended from his religious duties for 20 years and imprisoned for dissident activities, was finally freed in 1987.  After years in a Siberian prison and eight years in a labor camp he was able to meet with President Reagan in 1988 in what was the most extraordinary human rights event that Moscow had seen.  The event was hosted by President Reagan in the U.S.  ambassador's residence.  Fr.  Yakunin became thereafter the most visible activists for religious rights in Russia.[2]


7.  What does "communism" really mean?

In the literal sense, it means common ownership of all material property.  There is no private or individual ownership of wealth, property, or productive goods; everything is owned by the community.  In a sense, religious orders strive to practice communism in a Christian way, but as conceived by Karl Marx, communism is the most extreme form of socialism.  It is based on a "world view" called "dialectical materialism," which puts all emphasis on matter and denies the existence of God.  It is materialistic and deterministic. 

The social order, according to theories of Marx, "evolves" through economic struggles between the classes in the direction of a violent revolution, followed by a society which substitutes private ownership for ownership of all things in common. 

The Church's opposition to communism is not based on the true nature of communism, of "all things in common," for many religious order follow it.  The Church opposes Marxism, which is atheistic communism, because it denies God, replacing the Almighty with material things held not in common, but by the government, and betrays human rights, including the right to own private property. 


8.  What do Marxist Communists hold about matter?

This form of communism holds that matter is autodynamic or self-creating, and so it promises to bring about an earthly paradise by a Communist society.  When the "perfect society" evolves, there will be no state, no family, no morality, and man will thus have no unhappiness, ill health, or neuroses.  There will be lasting peace.  The concept is contrary to reason, experience, and divine revelation. 

The first stage in developing this perfect Communist society is to extend the world Soviet dictatorship and world socialism, which is to be accomplished in each country bu guile and then by violence.  "Truth," for atheistic communism, is whatever will help the Communist cause, even if it is false. 

The proper name for the system of atheistic communism is really Marxism or Soviet fascism, for all power is held in the hands of a few persons.  It is extreme socialism that defies matter and the state.  The only reality is matter, which is in constant motion, evolving into new forms. 


9.  What is Marxism?

This political-economic system gets its name from Karl Marx, who wrote Das Kapital and the Communist Manifesto in cooperation with Frederick Engels.  Born in Germany in 1818, Marx died in 1883.  Engels was born in 1829, died in 1895, and as the son of a wealthy textile manufacturer, he contributed financially to Marx's goals. 


10.  Summarize "Das Kapital."

It consists of three volumes, the first completed in 1867, and is considered the bible of Marxism.  It relates the history of the "class struggle" through the ages and posits "class warfare" between workers and "oppressors." The oppressors are capitalists or those who employ workers.  Das Kapital is based on the philosophy of Marx, namely dialectic materialism, as he presents his economic theories. 


11.  Summarize the Communist Manifesto.

Written by Marx in 1848, it develops hatred for capitalism and presents the strategy for the world's workers to take wealth and industries from the middle and upper classes, called bourgeoisie, and give them to the workers, who are the proletariats.  In fact, the system results in dictatorship over workers. 


12.  Why do Communists speak of materialism as "dialectical"?

Their faulty concept of matter as the only reality, with their denial of God, the soul, and anything spiritual, making matter itself god, its self-creator, is "explained" by the dialectic (the method by which Marx explained his theory of materialism).  The dialectic rules the laws of nature, society, and man's thinking.  Marx held that every idea contains, within itself, its own opposite or denial. This is called an operation of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. 

At the present time, according to dialectical materialism, the thesis (or ruling class) is the bourgeoisie.  The antithesis is the proletariat.  The synthesis is communism.  In reality, however, the proletariat is the dictatorship of the Communist Party, which is controlled by a few men. 


13.  How does the Communist system relate matter and motion?

Matter and motion are inseparable in this theory.  The constant motion in matter, in nature, in the history of mankind, is always a motion of conflict, a debate which they call "dialectical motion."

Making much of motion, the theory never answers the question who is the First Mover.  St. Thomas Aquinas, in one of his five proofs of the existence of God (none of which the Communists can refute), demonstrates conclusively that motion is matter proves the existence of the First Mover, whom we know as Almighty God. 

Engels admitted that the Communists have no knowledge of the origin or source of the motion and look forward to the day when science can find the answer. 


14.  How does Marxism-Leninism explain dialectic motion in society?

Lenin, who developed the theories of Marx and Engels, reaffirmed the basic atheistic materialism of Marx and added the "necessity" for the final violent overthrow of all nonsocialist governments.  He said that this applies to the governments of the United States and Great Britain, which must "inevitably" be overthrown. 

Marxism-Leninism developed the theory that originally there was primitive communism, then the slave state, then feudalism, then capitalism.  After this must come socialism, or the dictatorship of the proletariat. 

Many falsehoods can be proved in this interpretation of the development of historical materialism.  For example, the Catholic Church — with its unchangeable, true faith through the centuries, since the days of Jesus Christ and the apostles — has existed through all the periods of the slave state, feudalism, and capitalism, and we know by divine faith that neither communism nor any other evil will ever destroy the Catholic Church. 


15.  Can a country rely on negotiations with Communists?

No.  We must remember how the Communists regarded truth.  Their word was of no value, unless an agreement would help their cause, which ultimately was worldwide control under an atheistic dictatorship.  There was an international Communist conspiracy, and their negotiations with the free world were conducted with the intention of bringing about the defeat of the free world. 

Rulers in the free world, and even some churchmen, sometimes found it difficult to remember or to grasp the nature of Communist thinking, and imagined that Communists could be trusted.  They were masters of deceit who stirred up wars, or misunderstandings between individuals and countries — all to their own advantage. 


16.  Give an example of how communism sought to destroy the Church.

The effort of communism to destroy the Church was clearly stated in a Communist document: The Catholic Church in Cuba: A Program in Action.  The same manifesto had been used successfully against the Church in China where millions were murdered.  Printed in China by the Foreign-Language Press of Peking, it states:

  1. If the People's Democracies are to continue...they must first and foremost put an end to the influence of the Catholic Church and its activities. 
  2. When the political struggle and the productive forces have reached a certain level, we shall then be in a position to destroy the Church. 
  3. The first line of action to be followed consists in educating, persuading, convincing the Catholics to participate in study circles and political activities. 
  4. We shall progressively replace the religious element by the Marxist element. 
  5. The Church must not be allowed to preserve its supernational character.... 
  6. By making the Church subject to the processes of democratic centralism we open the way, via the masses, to patriotic measures that will weaken the Church and undermine its prestige. 
  7. The next step is to destroy the link existing between the Church and the Vatican. 
  8. Once the separation of the Church from the Vatican is complete, we can proceed to the consecration of Church dignitaries chosen by ourselves. 
  9. It is notorious that when the practice of religion has simply become a matter left to the individual's sense of responsibility, it is gradually forgotten. 
  10. The rising generations will succeed the older, and religion will become merely an episode of the paSt.


17.  Have the popes of the Catholic Church condemned communism?

Yes, repeatedly.  Pope Pius XI issued an encyclical letter, Divini Redemptoris, on atheistic communism on the Feast of St. Joseph, March 19, 1937.  (St. Joseph is a model for workingmen.) His Holiness spoke of the "trickery in various forms" used by Communists.  He wrote to the world's bishops: "See to it, Venerable Brethren, that the faithful do not allow themselves to be deceived! Communism is intrinsically wrong, and no one who would save Christian civilization may collaborate with it in any undertaking whatsoever."

As early as 1878, Pope Leo XIII defined communism this way: "the fatal plague which insinuates itself into the marrow of human society, only to bring about its ruin."

Even before Pope Pius XI issued his famous encyclical on atheistic communism, he had written nine official documents on its evils.  Succeeding popes — Pope Pius XII, Pope John XXIII, Pope Paul VI — have also condemned communism.  Pope John Paul I who reigned but 34 days (August 26-September 29, 1978) was immediately recognized as strongly opposed to communism.  Pope John Paul II in his first encyclical to the world spoke of those who give "only atheism the right of citizenship in public and socal life."

Pope Pius XII, in addition to opposing and condemning communism in 1949, decreed the penalty of excommunication for all Catholics who hold formal and willing allegiance to the Communist Party and it policies.  This pope, sorrowfully, saw some fifteen countries fall under the hammer and sickle and religious and other freedoms thus destroyed. 


18.  What, in summary, is the reported message of our Lady regarding Russia and communism, which God's Mother gave the three Fatima children in 1917?

According to accounts judged by Church authorities as authentic in apparitions of God's Mother on six occasions (the thirteen of each month, May through October 1917), the Mother of God, known as Our Lady of Fatima, appeared near the town of Fatima in a deserted area known as the Cova da Iria in central Portugal.  The Lady, who mentioned Russia by name, foretold the end of World War I.  Our Lady also stated that if her call for special prayer and penance, especially eucharistic reparation, is not heeded, "Russia will spread her errors throughout the world, promiting wars and the persecution of the Church.  The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, and various nations will be annihilated...." Both predictions — the end of World War I, followed by another more terrible war if men did not repent — are now matters of history. 

Each time the Mother of God appeared in the Cova, she asked that the rosary be prayed daily.  She also called for the proper praying of the rosary, which consists of meditating on the mysteries which concern the word of God, relating the chief events of our salvation. 

Scholars who have studied the Fatima message in depth relate that our Lady taught the children as a catechist, and the message is rich in doctrinal content.  The basics of the Catholic faith are to be found in the Fatima message.  The message also called for the consecration of individuals, families, and nations — and Russia in particular — to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  The consecration of Russia was to be accomplished by the pope in union with the bishops of the world

Wars are caused by sin, according to the Fatima message, and so our Lady called all people back to her Son, Jesus Christ, in the daily living of an authentic Christian life. 

The Fatima message is often misunderstood, oversimplified, or misrepresented.  It is a profound message, yet easy to grasp by those with pure and open minds, desirous of union with God. 

The promise of the message is not pessimistic but optimistic.  Our Lady of Fatima promised that ultimately Russia will be converted and a time of peace will be conceded to the world.  For this to happen, scholars of Fatima hold, a sufficient number of people throughout the world must live the message of Fatima. 

The events of Fatima reached a climax with the spinning-of-the-sun miracle on October 13, 1917.  Fatima received official approval in 1930. 


19.  Of what does "living the message of Fatima" consist?

The message requires accepting all the teachings of the Church and loyalty (in obedience) to the pope, the chief Vicar of Jesus Christ upon earth.  The message also requires living the faith.  Pope Pius XII, who knew the Fatima message well and was devoted to it, called Fatima the "reaffirmation of the Gospels." He said: "The time for doubting Fatima is paSt. Now is the time for action."

The Fatima message, properly interpreted, places Jesus in the holy Eucharist as central to our religious practices.  Fatima is essentially eucharistic reparation, offered primarily through the sacrifice of the Mass, for the glory of God and the conversion of sinners.  But "eucharistic reparation" includes other forms of devotion to the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, namely, visits to the Blessed Sacrament and all forms of eucharistic adoration, such as Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, Holy Hours, Night Vigils, etc. 

In the July 1917 apparition, Our Lady of Fatima asked for First Saturday "Communions of Reparation" and promised: "I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of reparation on the First Saturdays."

Our Lady kept her promise of coming again to request the First Saturdays according to the official accounts, on December 10, 1925, when she appeared to Lucia at Pontevedra, Spain, where Lucia was a Dorothian nun.  The Child Jesus was by her side, on a cloud of light.  The message, subsequently approved by the bishop of Leiria — Fatima for promulgation, goes like this:

"Have pity on the heart of your Most Holy Mother.  It is covered with the thorns with which ungrateful men pierce it at every moment, and there is no one to remove them with an act of reparation" (words of the Child Jesus). 

Then our Lady spoke to Sister Lucia:

"My daughter, look at my heart, surrounded with the thorns with which ungrateful men pierce it at every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude.  You, at least, try to console me, and say that I promise to assist at the hour of death, with all the graces necessary for salvation, all those who, on the First Saturday of five consecutive months, go to confession and receive Holy Communion, recite the five decades of the rosary, and keep me company for a quarter of an hour while meditating on the mysteries of the rosary, with the intention of making reparation to me."

Those who explain the First Saturday message stress that four things must be done, and each is to be offered in reparation: (1) confession, (2) Communion, (3) the rosary, and (4) meditation on the mysteries of the rosary for at least fifteen minutes.[3]


20.  Has the Church continued to approve of Fatima since the 1917 events?

Yes, each pope has endorsed the Fatima message.  Shortly after the Fatima events the Fatima diocese was restored by Pope Benedict XV, on January 17, 1918.  On October 31, 1942, Pope Pius XII consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and on May 13, 1946, at Fatima, through a papal legate crowned her Fatima image, proclaiming her Queen of the World.  In the following month (June 13, 1946) he issued an encyclical explicitly referring to the message of Fatima.  Also, the pope chose Fatima (October 13, 1951) to close the Holy Year for all the world. 

On July 7, 1952, Pope Pius XII consecrated the Russian people to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, as requested by Our Lady of Fatima; however, he did not do so in conjunction with the bishops of the world.  On October 11, 1954, Pope Pius XII referred to her miraculous image at Fatima in an encyclical, To the Queen of the World.  On November 12m 1954, he elevated the large church in the Cova de Iria to the status of a basilica, and on October 13, 1956, through a papal legate (Eugenio Cardinal Tisserant, dean of the Sacred College), blessed and dedicated the International Center of the Blue Army of Our Lady of Fatima (which is near the basilica).  The Blue Army exists in 110 nations for the purpose of spreading the message of Fatima.  Since May 23, 1975, it is inscribed at the Vatican by the Council of the Laity. 

On December 13, 1962, Pope John XXIII instituted the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima.  On November 21, 1964, Pope Paul VI renewed the consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, first made by Pius XII, and he did so in the presence of the bishops of the world, gathered for Vatican Council II. 

On May 13, 1965, Pope Paul VI, through a papal mission, presented a golden rose to the shrine at Fatima, confiding "the entire Church" to her protection.  When the pope presents a golden rose to a Marian shrine it is a sign of special papal approval.  Pope John Paul II returned to Fatima May 12-13, 1991 to thank the Mother of God for the advancing defeat of communism and seek spiritual help for the cause of freedom as will be explained in chapter 20. 

On May 13, 1967, Pope Paul VI personally went to Fatima as a pilgrim and called all the world to renew consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  Arriving in Portugal, he announced that he had come to Fatima to pray to our Lady for peace in the Church and in the world. 


21.  Summarize the doctrinal content of the Fatima message.

Many who have missed its theological richness and genuine program of spiritual life have reduced the message to a request of our Lady to say the rosary each day so that Russia will be converted.  The message, however, is far richer in content. 

The message contains the Mystery of the Blessed Trinity.  Divine providence, as God directs and governs the world and human history.  God is all knowing and all powerful.  He knows future events and can, on occasion, intervene with extraordinary signs (miracles) to prove the truth of his supernatural messages.  God rewards the good and punishes evil.  Still, God is infinitely merciful toward repentant sinners. 

Heaven, purgatory, and hell are realities.  Guardian angels exiSt. (A fact that is new in the history of apparitions: nations have guardian angels.) The Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, Holy Communion which is the Body, Blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, is necessary and of great value to the spiritual life.  True happiness requires sanctity on earth and for eternity.  Growth in grace is the result of divine action first and then the cooperation of the human will. 

Sin is an offense against God.  Punishment in hell for all eternity for nonrepentant sinners.  Sin is also an offense against other members of the Communion of Saints, especially the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  Flight from sin and amendment of one's life are indispensable to the life of grace. 

The unity in Christ of the Church, Christ's Mystical Body, with the Communion of Saints.  God's Mother as the Mediatrix of Grace (a title used by Vatican Council II).  The necessity and value of prayer and penance, both of petition and reparation.  The personal love of God for all men and each individual, as expressed in the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the personal love of the Mother of the Church, through her Immaculate Heart. 

The importance of Marian devotions and the efficacy of the rosary when prayed while meditating on the word of God (i.e., the mysteries of the rosary), Consecration to Mary's Immaculate Heart as a more perfect way of living the Christlife, with Mary as model.  The action of grace, which transforms souls, as in the case of the Fatima seers.  Christianity is not just an "adult religion" but also a religion for children. 

The power of Mary's intercession, eventually to bring about the conversion of an entire people, namely Russia, which is both the scourge of God through the spread of errors and, at the same time, an object of God's mercy.  The necessity of the sanctification of the family for the sanctification of society. 

Loyalty to the pope, who suffers much at the disobedience of Christians and those who reject or distort true teachings.  The necessity of purity and modesty, which is not seen strictly in the apparitions themselves but in the wisdom of the children, especially Jacinta, who was spiritually transformed. 

Good always triumphs ultimately and evil always fails in the end.  Also seen in the promise is the final triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which is inseparable from the Sacred Heart of the God-Man, the Redeemer and Savior. 


Summary

The plan of communism, instigated over a century ago, called for a violent overthrow of existing society. 

It was Lenin (Russia) who first applied the vicious principles of communism to modern society.  He carried out the first successful Communist revolution, which began in Russia in March 1917 and ended with the overthrow of the provisional government in November 1917.  Between those very months, our Lady appeared six times at Fatima, telling us what communism, "the errors of Russia," holds for the world.

In 1923, six years later, Lenin said: "First, we will take Eastern Europe, then the masses of Asia; then we will encircle the United States, which will be the last bastion of capitalism.  We will not have to attack it.  It will fall like overripe fruit into our hands."

Lenin died in 1924.  Then Stalin, through brutality, murder, deceit, and a reign of terror, enlarged communism's power, establishing control in Russia and spreading its atheistic evils to other countries. 

Between 1939 and 1953, Stalin took advantage of disturbed world conditions during and after World War II.  He started on world conquest, in whole or part annexing such areas as Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland, Czechoslovakia, China, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, North Korea, Romania, East Germany, Albania, Tibet, Outer Mongolia, and North Vietnam. 

Lenin had said it would be necessary first to secure Eastern Europe and the land masses of Asia.  This was accomplished for the most part.  When Kruschev was the chief Communist he said: "We will never go against the program of Lenin, and will follow it in the future." Speaking to American diplomats in November 1965, he said: "We will bury you!"

China is an example of what communism has done in countries it has taken over.  The last official statistics on the Church in China, published by the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, recorded that as of June 30, 1947, there were 3.2 million Catholics in China.  They included 96 bishops, 5,588 priests, 1,077 brothers, 6,753 sisters, 803 major and 2,900 minor seminarians.  Chinese priests and sisters in Hong Kong, who were allowed to visit relatives in China in November 1973, reported that the Catholic Church was no longer visible in Communist China.  Some church buildings were still standing, they reported, but they were used for other purposes.  In Peking, only one church was open for Mass, and only once per week.  These visitors to China could find no trace of the bishops and priests who were there before the Communist takeover.  There were reports that some Catholics still exist in mainland China, practicing their religion underground. 

At the close of 1978 President Carter surprised the world by announcing that the United States would recognize the Communist government of mainland China.  Controversies immediately developed. 

On New Year's Day, 1979 Peking and Washington celebrated "normalization" of diplomatic relations.  In Washington the activities took place in China's liaison office on Connecticut Avenue.  Vice President Walter Mondale rejoiced over "the dawn of a new and bountiful era" and hailed China as "a key force for global peace." Ch'ai Tse-Min, head of the Chinese mission, in response said that the new Sino-American ties would serve to "combat the expansion and aggression of hegemonism" — a reference to the Soviet Union. 

In another part of the capital, the derecognized Republic of China (Taiwan) was in anguish in its former embassy as a disconsolate crowd of about 300 people gathered, as many actually were crying, and watched the flag of Taiwan lowered for the last time.  Demonstrations, pro and con, were held in major cities of the United States. 

In the early months of 1979, Catholic missionary groups were among American church organizations which claimed settlements for millions of dollars after the Communist government took over China 30 years before. 

In February 1979 China agreed to pay $80.5 million over five years to American business, churches, non-profit institutions and individuals against claims of some $197 million. 

The 9th and 10th greatest claim were requested by two provinces of the Vincentian Fathers, which claims of more than $3 million each.  In all, eight Catholic religious orders were slated to receive about $3.6 million. 

China agreed to pay the $80.5 million in settlements when the United States agreed to unlock an identical amount of Chinese assets frozen in the United States after China entered the Korean War in December 1950. 

Father Frank Harden, treasurer of the Vincentian province based in St. Louis, said that the order would invest the money it received and use the income to support its mission activities, including those in Taiwan. 

The Vincentians and other religious orders hoped that the diplomatic relations would open the doors for Catholic missionaries to work once again in China where the Church had been driven out. 

In June 1989 there was an uprising of university students in China at which time they erected an image of the Statue of Liberty.  They were soon crushed when soldiers with tanks moved into the square where students had camped out in protest of the Communist regime.  In 1990 the Catholic Church was still suffering persecution in China with the disappearance and arrests of bishops and priests. 

The Chinese government had formally established a Patriotic association of Chinese Catholics in July, 1957.  Relatively few priests and lay persons joined the organization which was condemned by Pius XII in 1958.  The government formed the nucleus of what it hoped might become the hierarchy of a schismatic Chinese church in 1958 by "electing 26 bishops and having them consecrated validly but illicitly between April 13, 1958 and November 15, 1959 without the permission or approval of the Holy See.  By 1983 an estimated 60 bishops were consecrated in this manner.  Activity of the Patriotic Association and official policy of the government are in direct opposition to any connection between the Church in China and the Vatican.  As communism was breaking up in Russia and Eastern Europe, the future of communism in China which continued by force appeared dubious as the last decade before the year 2000 advanced. 


Notes:

  1. For a detailed treatment of the life of Cardinal Mindszenty by the author of this book, see Saints & Heroes Speak (OSV Press). 
  2. Read To Russia With Love by Fr.  Robert J.  Fox for more information on the development in Russia of the gradual break-up of communism that became visible in 1989. 
  3. Detailed accounts of the Fatima messages may be in the lives of Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco, in Saints & Heroes Speak (OSV Press) by the author of this book. 


Questions for Discussion

  1. Are the common people of Russia Communists?
  2. What does the takeover of Russia by communism teach us about our own nation's possibly falling to communism?
  3. What kind of war was the Spanish Civil War in reality?
  4. What is the meaning of the Spanish Monument of the Holy Cross in the Valley of the Fallen?
  5. List the nations which are now living under atheistic communism. 
  6. Cuba, ninety miles from America, fell to communism.  What do you think this says about the awareness of the United States to the dangers of communism in our hemisphere?
  7. Is communism today essentially the same as that conceived by Marx, Engels, and Lenin, and which began worldwide domination under Stalin? Explain. 
  8. Summarize the meaning of communism according to Karl Marx. 
  9. What does the Communist theory hold regarding matter?
  10. What is the meaning of Marx's Communist Manifesto?
  11. What is the meaning of the "dialectic" in materialism, according to Marx?
  12. What problem does the Communist theory regarding motion and matter run into when a "first mover" is sought to explain the origin or source of movement in the material world?
  13. Explain why most treaties and negotiations with Communists have never been adhered to by the Communists. 
  14. Why would the fall of Italy to communism be especially dangerous to the Catholic Church?
  15. What have the various popes said about communism?
  16. Summarize the intervention of heaven pertaining to events in Russia in 1917. 
  17. What significance can you see in the fact that between the dates when the Communist Revolution started in Russia and that great nation fell under the power of Communist forces, God's Mother was appearing at Fatima, where she mentioned Russia, the annihilation of nations, and the spread of the "errors of Russia" throughout the world?
  18. It is often said that heaven gave us a peace plan at Fatima.  How would you describe the Fatima message as a peace plan from heaven?
  19. How does the "living" of the Fatima message require?
  20. What has been the reaction of all the popes since 1917 to the Fatima message?
  21. What happened to the Catholic Church on mainland China after the Communist takeover?

 

 



ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Fox, Rev.  Robert J.  "Russia, Communism, and the Future of the World".  A Catechism of Church History: 2,000 Years of Faith and Tradition (Alexandra: Park Press Quality Printing, Jubilee 2000 Edition), 183-201. 

Reprinted by permission of the publisher and by the author, Fr.  Robert J.  Fox. 

THE AUTHOR

Father Robert J.  Fox is the director of the Fatima Family Apostolate and editor of the Immaculate Heart Messenger.  Before founding his own Apostolate and editing his own magazine Father Robert J.  Fox for many years was a columnist with leading Catholic magazines, newspapers, and journals in the United States.  In addition to being pastor of St. Mary of Mercy Church, Alexandria, SD he is also chaplain to Mother of Mercy Carmelite Monastery where reside discalced Carmelite nuns who as contemplatives are enclosed for prayer and sacrifice for the universal Church, priests in particular.  Order A Catechism of Church History: 2,000 Years of Faith and Tradition here

Copyright © 2000 Fatima Family Apostolate




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