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"¡ Antiquarian Column.














DEFENCE OF CATHOLIC SOCIALISTS: BEING A REPLY TO A MERTHYR VALE PRIEST. Sir,—Finding that the Socialist position can- not be successfully assailed from the economic and histocial side, the opponents of Socialism in despair fasten upon what they conceive to be its anti-religious teachings. In a desperate effort to prove that this is the case, "the enemies of the Red Flag," among whom are many ministers oi religion, hav circulated broad- oast a pamphlet purporting to contain authentic quotations from the works of Karl Marx, Engel, Blatcliford, Kauteky, Bax, Hyndman, and other well-known whioh (they aver) distinctly prove that Socialism is inimical to traditional religion. It is needless for me to say that these quotations have been wrenched for their contexts; in fact, quite new matter h&s, in some places, been introduced, so as to make it more relish able to the anti- Socialists. On more than one occasion I have found it necessary to challenge these "enemies of the Red Flag" to quote me chapter, verse, authority, and source from which their quota- tions emanated, but all in vain. The Catholio priest who lately held a week's mission in Mer- thyr Vale was typical of the anti-Socialists. Somebody had made it hie business to inform the missioner that many of the local Catholics were enamoured of Father T. J. Hagerty, M.A., and his gospel of "Economic Discontent." In othar words, these local Catholics ha.d the vulgar audacity to declare themselves Social- ists. The good missioner, one Sunday night, proceeded to disillusion them. He pointed out to hia hearers that he had made himself ac- quainted with the movements of Father Hag- erty, and that he had found out the worthy father wais now in America leadinar strikers. Leading strikers!—what a. dreadful sin! What a fall from graçe Were not his heajrors at fbt momfnt anticipating a strike in the, Welsh coa&clds? Did not Jesus Himself lead a host of atrikers against the system, which obtained at His time ? Socialism means the common ownership of the means of life. If the worthy missioner is to bo believed, to advocate that is to commit a sin against the Catholic Church, but not against God! It ia, however, unfair, to' measure the Catholic Church by tho measurement of this missioner's perspective. Everything is founded on the stomach: Catholic churches and Ficnch j' revolutions, Sicilian vespers, nad the National .Liberal Club. life ui foremoetly n. cesMc; ia SiMtiM the wbsr«,witji&l to maistiifl, that life. Protection from the elements, and protection from hunger, takes precedence over every other protection. Socialism is concerned with this material consideration; it is eminent- ly and character isticaily a religion of the stomach. Capitalism makes no distinction be- tween the religion of those conscious units which it employs. Almost in every coal mino in South Wales, wo find Greeks, Chinese, Las- cars, Kaffirs, working side by side with WeJsh- men and Englishman. In the same "Barxv" wo find Mohammedans, Catholics, Atheists, I Nonconformists, and Quakers toiling side by side. Capitalism, where unskilled labour is concerned, is only interested in muscles; it cares not whether its employees are followers of Bradlaugh, of Buddha, or of Jesus. If capital- ism makes no distinction between the religions of men, why is it urged, then, that Socialism does, and that Socialism will? Socialism means the supplanting of capitalistic exploitation of labour fo.r individual profit, with social produc- tion for use. It is a. social and economic doc- trine, and has no more concern with men's belief in original sin than it has with Hegel's doctrine of contradictions. Religion is a co-entity of rational conscious- ness it is not an importation from without, but an eternal principle within; it is mixed with the blood, Man is the, mriaculous centre of an infinity of miracb. Every moment of his life he stands, as Carlyle says, in the "con- flux of eternities." Behind him is an Eternity and Infinity, and before him is an Ertenity and Infinity; he is the exclamation mark (!) of the two. An inscrutable mystery hems him Ül; he knows not whence ha came, nor whither he goes; he keeps the balance with the aid of his utter ignorance. This great mystery is the essence of all religions; it is religion "per se." In tho aenso of apprehending this mystery, every man living is a religious being. This is a. splendid truth; and to assert that Socialism will do away with religionin this sense, at any rate—is as foclish as if one were to assert that Socialism, would do away with human life. Religion is a private matter; it consists in sacred intercourse between man and his Maker. If men will persist in having a church and priests as spiritual offering and mediators, by all means let them have it. The opponents of Socialism forget that if the people want the Church to remain, the Church snail remain; but if, on the contrary, the people do not want tho Church to remain, the Church in conse- quence shall not remain. It is a concern of the people, and to talk as if the people could be driven to accept anything a mere handful of Socialists should happen to dictate, whether it be in demolishing churches or in erecting tem- ples to Reason, is to compliment the power of that ilk. How much more in touch with modern senti- ments and aspirations than is the usual Catholic missioner opponent of Socialism, were the early fathers of the Church? Was it not the good i-St. Augustine who said: "Property is not a. natural right, but a positive right, founded simply on civil authority" ? Again, St. Clement said "Private property is the fruit of iniquity." St. Jerome: "Opulence is always the result of theft; if not committed by the actual possessor, then by his predecessors." St. Ambrose: "The soil was given to rich and poor in common. Wherefor, oh ye rich, do you unjustly claim it for yourselves alone?" St. John Chrysostum: "You say that the poor do not work; but do you work yourselves, you rich men? Do you not enjoy iu idleness the goods you have un- justly inherited ? Do you not exhaust others with labour, while you enjoy in indolence the fruits of their misery?" This Merthyr Vale missioner talked vaguely about excommunicat- ing thosa Catholics who have a. predilection for the teachings of Father Hagerty and Social- ism. If so, lie had better begin at once. I wonder how many Catholic Socialists would bo excommunicated in America, Ireland, France, Germany, Austria, Russia, and throughout the whole Catholio world? I am of opinion that the number would amount to almost a million. Let the Catholic Church quit her hold on poli- tical and economic intrigue, and rise to the sublime heights which St. Peter intended this great Church to occupy. Let her priests oease to attack Socialism, and Socialists will cease to attack the Church.—Yours sincerely, Aberfan. UNE SANSCULLOTE.