Vatican and Roman Church are a sufficiently delimited organization. In order to carry out its anti - Communist and reactionary work in Italy and all over the world it uses its own forces, which recruits, forms, organizes, distributed and directs as an army. But, for the same work, it also uses adhesion and mass contribution of the believers in Catholic religion, in a different way. We never, nor in any way, must consider these two things as only one. Particularly, we never nor in any way must think that Vatican represents or expresses the will or even only the orientation of the mass of believers; that its existence and orientation depends on the mass of believers. The Pope and his Church don’t consider themselves bound to their believers’ opinion and will. On the contrary, they pretend that believers must be bound to opinion and will of clergy, bishops and after all of Pope, that they profess as inspired by God and not liable to men’s criticism.
It’s wrong to confuse Catholic Church for the followers of catholic Christian religion: Church itself has laid, keeps and imposes a clear - cut distinction between believers (that it calls “it herd”) and Church: secular auxiliaries and nuns, priests and friars, bishops are all “shepherds” bound to carry out Pope’s orders. Pope is the absolute king, heading everybody. Shepherds haven’t the duty to raise little sheep of the herd at their level. On the contrary, every shepherd has the duty to keep sheep of the herd in the position that Church’s doctrine and regulations assigns them. Only shepherds own and manage the truth that “comes to them from God”. Pope excommunicates (excludes from the rites) those of the herd who don’t obey, by millions and tens of millions. Pius the Twelfth excommunicated ten of millions of believers who didn’t submit to his anti - Communist conceptions, opinions and directives. The Roman Church excommunicates ten of millions of believers because they divorce, live together without be married, have homosexual relationships, legally have abortion or cooperate with legal abortions or generally do not submit to her directives on matters which the Church is particularly interested to (5) . Little sheep of the herd have no chance to choose their shepherds, that is their bishops and priests. They must only obey them. Till now even the requests to be consulted are been rejected. It is the Pope who chooses bishops in his unquestionable judgement, and assigns them to this or that task (in Concordats, the Pope had to assign the power to approve of papal nominations to the government). Then, there are the bishops who select, form, consecrate and nominate priests and exclude them when they don’t obey. In every country, Catholic Church is not only an institution independent from State and citizens of that country. It is also an institution independent from believer citizens of that country. It claims to be on service of eternal salvation of their immortal souls and in the name of it pretends to rule them in their earthly activity. The local believers must maintain it, undergo and obey. Catholic Church directs or influences the State but without bearing any responsibility for the consequences of its activity. When Church talks of religious freedom, it means freedom of Vatican to form, select, control, nominate, exclude, direct the functionaries ruling local believers’ communities, without any interference by them. In Church’s opinion, religious freedom is freedom for Vatican and exclusion of any freedom for believers in matters of doctrine, ethics, discipline and organization.
We Communists must properly distinguish Roman Church from followers of Catholic religion, Church as clerical organization from the Church as a whole of believers and their communities. This distinction is not an invention of ours, nor an outcome of our activity, nor an arbitrary distinction. It is within the things themselves, it’s a practical distinction. It’s a contrast between believers’ communities (“the God’s people”) and ecclesiastic Authorities, that is the bureaucratic structure, the body of functionaries headed by Vatican, that Vatican selects, forms, nominates and binds on itself through an articulated and growing series of provisions - economical dependence, oaths, vows, threats, punishments, awards, etc. - just because it tends to desegregation and dispersion. This contrast is in today’s reality, and in history since the end of Middle Age till now. We must care and deepen this distinction, support the efforts of believers’ communities to become independent of the ecclesiastic hierarchy and to democratically take upon themselves their life’s management and their religious activities (their conception of the world, their ethics, their rite - the religious freedom) and the choice of their “shepherds”. We must support their efforts to consolidate every level reached by their movement of emancipation so that it could develop at a higher level (6) . We must suppress the ecclesiastic structure and the Vatican that heads it. At the same time we must recognize to believers’ communities the freedom of faith and the practise of it. So as it’s already stated in our Programme, the Socialist State should recognize to Catholic believers’ communities, so as to communities of believers in every other religion, opinion, ethics or rite, freedom to profess and practice their religion and ensure that they really have at their disposal means and resources they need to do it, insofar as they don’t be prejudicial to basic interests of society and individuals. The role of Catholics’ communities in socialist society before, and in Communist society after, will be determined not by our ideas but by the contribution they will give to the common work for creating a new world, a higher social order. Here we shall involve ourselves only with Vatican and the ecclesiastic structure it directs, manages, and has at its orders and disposal. Only marginally and if necessary we shall involve ourselves of Catholic religion, its followers and their communities.
Vatican is the centre of a world network in many layers that constitutes Roman Catholic Church: the Roman Curia with her nuncios and apostolic delegates present in greater part of countries in the world and in international institutions; the secular clergy in dioceses and parishes with its bishops, priests, auxiliaries, co-operators and laic associations dependent from secular clergy (as the Catholic Action), a great number (among one and two hundreds) of religious and laic, male and female congregations and orders, some present in ten of countries and with ten thousands of members, the Catholic mass organizations (unions, associations as the ACLI - the Italian Catholic Workers’ Association -, professional and categories’ associations, charitable institutions, cooperatives, mutual aid societies, etc.). They are formally independent, that is they hold congresses to discuss the activity done, draw the line to follow, elect directing organs. Nevertheless they are headed through directing organs by Vatican that controls them also through ecclesiastic assistants (chaplains nominated by ecclesiastic hierarchy who carry out role of advisors, spies, political police).
In many countries this network constitutes a system of political power parallel to that of respective State, little or nothing permeable to the evolution of public opinion and civil society’s orientation in any of those countries. They don’t account for their behaviour to the local institution they direct, but only to Vatican, by which they receive as well instructions about goals and general line to follow and means for operating, when they don’t succeed in drawing them directly from local Authorities, ruling class or believers. The Church has at its disposal great financial resources of her own, and every kind of experiences and resources; its world structure moves themwhere and when it thinks it necessary. It avails itself of a great number of men and women, selected and formed, full time working. It manages a huge number of school institutes of every order and degree (from nursery schools to universities). There, openly or in a hidden (“subliminal”, implicit) way, it forms millions of students from which it recruits the best qualified. It owns or at least manages a great number of centres of research, mass media (newspapers, reviews, press agencies, TV and radio stations, publishing houses, cinema productions, etc.), welfare institutions, (hospitals, surgeries, hospices, charitable institutions, etc.). It has accumulated and uses a skilled experience in gathering and elaborating information, in methodically carrying out campaigns of public opinion’s orientation and manipulation and in plotting political and financial operations and intrigues. Sometimes and on some matters, Vatican has an information service more precise, wide and abundant than any other State.
The Vatican with its Church is by far the most powerful multinational company existing in the world. It’s the widest, most powerful and centralized private organization that ever existed. From some points of view, it has characteristics and privileges of a State and it is recognized as such by the greatest part of world governments. Owing to it, has an abundance of privileges not enjoyed by NGO nor by any other private international associations, the privileges reserved to foreign States’ diplomatic delegations: diplomatic bags for communications, immunity from police and magistracy’s action for the accredited diplomatic staff, extraterritoriality of diplomatic seats, tax and customs advantages.
Back in 1924, on La Correspondance Internationale , the Communist International organ, Antonio Gramsci wrote this about Vatican: “ In Italy the Vatican ecclesiastic system includes 200.000 people: it’s a shocking number, particularly if you take in account that it includes thousands and thousands of people endowed with intelligence, culture, skilled capability in art of intrigue and methodical and silent conduct of political plans. Many of them embody the most ancient and experienced traditions of masses’ organization and, consequently, they are the greatest reactionary force existing in Italy. It’s a force as more dreadful as it is insidious and elusive. Before attempting its coup d’état (in 1922, editor’s note) the Fascism had to make a deal with it. They say that Vatican, even if it was very interested in Fascism’s advent, made pay dearly for its support. The rescue of the Bank of Rome (in 1923, editor’s note), where many ecclesiastic funds were deposited, cost more than a milliard of liras to Italian people (for understanding the worth of this number, it must be noted that in 1921 the whole Italian public debt amounted to 100 milliards of lire, editor’s note).
What we have said till now and what we shall say will confirm that in many countries (and, among them, in all European and American countries), Vatican is able to field important internal and international forces against any political upheaval or trend it thinks is need to oppose. The struggle it carried out in Twenties and Thirties, in Mexico, and in Eighties, in Nicaragua, against first socialist countries and Communist movement in last century, showed what it is able to do when he really wants to contrast a political trend (7) . This closes the argument about its implication in crimes of Nazism, Fascism, Francoism, colonialism and all the terrorist regimes by which the ruling class stained with blood many countries in Europe and Americas in the latest hundred years, and about its real compliance, if not cooperation, in front of the aggression that Washington government is carrying out. If anything, we have to ask why Vatican gives out so many public statements against the wars which it is a party and morally responsible to, and which at least it covers on the diplomatic and information level (8) . More generally, who wants to envisage things must consider Vatican’s role not only for what it did in the past and what it does publicly today, but also for what it didn’t do and don’t does; for what it prevent from doing diverting attention and mobilization of men and women it directs thanks to the ruling means it inherited; for what men and women it directs need and it doesn’t care for. The Vatican has a lot of talk about life’s defence for preventing the use of contraceptive methods and sanitary assistance for women who have abortions, but what does he do against the undeclared extermination war the imperialist bourgeoisie carries out against popular masses all over the world, a war killing and mortifying millions and millions of people (according to UN, only the children under five dead for under nourishment are more than six million every year)?
Today, few States are able to compete with Vatican’s multinational organization. It is able to mobilize and in case to concentrate in a single country functionaries, financial means and every kind of resources it gets from its reserves or gathers from other countries at the moment, therefore to acquire an important if not prevailing force in political, economical and cultural relations of every country, and to mobilize against it an outstanding if not decisive international pressure, (political, financial or economical or even military). The Vatican tries to get out of any responsibility when it’s convenient. However, in front of all clashes and struggles dividing the world today, its real responsibility is equal to the force it’s able to mobilize and spread, not to the commitment it declares.
Vatican’s power network branches out from Rome in Italy, in rest of Europe including countries where people of European origin live and a part of European colonies in Africa and Asia, and in rest of the world.
In some measure, the distribution of Vatican network in the world, the map of its density and force country by country, is secret. It depends on occulted or anyway restrained and confidential relationships that Vatican has with Authorities or other exponents of ruling class. However, it’s possible to have an approximate idea about it and its evolution in the course of time by yearbooks of Vatican, local churches, Catholic congregations, orders and mass associations. The simple denounce of such map would have political relevance and reveal Vatican’s responsibilities in present chaos. From this map it results a close connection between Vatican’s world distribution of the network and 1. European peoples remained totally or at least in an important part Catholics at the end of “war religions” which bathed Europe in blood in Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (since Luther’s excommunication in 1520 to Westphalia Treatises in 1648); 2. these people’s migrations in new countries, where they confined in reservations, destroyed or absorbed the original inhabitants (Americas and Australia); 3. countries where colonial domination was carried out up to delete local people’s cultural identity (sub-Saharan African countries, Philippines, and other minor).
So, there’s a close relation between Vatican power’s world network and Europe’s history and its expansion in the world. On one side, this explains the world extension of Vatican power’s network. It’s a consequence of the role European people took in the entire world in latest six centuries, with the coming, starting from then, of capitalist mode of production and the world unification in the world imperialist system. On the other side, this shows as well the (first) Vatican’s weakness. In latest ten centuries, despite of all its efforts of evangelization, missionary action and huge means employed to make them effective, it succeeded to give its power network roots among local populations only where it was protected and pushed forward by a friendly colonial power, which used missionaries’ charitable, educational, humanitarian religious activity for dividing the local population, eliminate its traditional cultural and linguistic cohesion, submit it, break their resistance, induce it to cooperate. Nowhere Vatican succeeded to do something similar to what first Christians did in Roman Empire, in first four centuries of Christian era (i. e. since First to Fourth Century), and what in some measure they continued to do in further five centuries (since Fifth to Ninth) towards the peoples come in touch with former Roman Empire’s people through barbarian invasions: Germanic, Northern and Slav peoples. In the period from Fifth to Ninth century the Roman Church was the collective organic intellectual (interpreter, promoter, organizer, direction and consciousness) for preservation of invaded population and their combination and fusion with invaders until the constitution of a new society, the European feudal society. The projects to evangelise Turkish and Chinese peoples, whose main promoter were respectively Nicola Cusano (1401-1460) and Matteo Ricci (1552-1610), remained a dead letter (9) .
On the contrary, since the end of early Middle Ages until today there has been a following of restrictions, first territorial and then social, extensively and in - depth, of Roman Catholic Church’s influence.
The first two ones damaged Roman Church when it was in its full force of totalitarian expression and maximum institution of feudal world. They are consequences of European decay in international relations. Facing Arabians and then Turkish’s advance (since Seventh to Seventeenth century) Roman Church lost Asia Minor, Northern Africa and part of Eastern Europe. In the second place with the Eastern Schism (since 863 to 1054), Roman Church lost a great part of Slav peoples and Eastern Europe.
Then, in Western Europe there were two new waves of restrictions. They were consequences of the crisis suffered by Roman Church (organic institution of European feudal society for the world conception it embodied, the ethics and rites it support and its organization) owing to bourgeois society’s ascent in Western Europe. Roman Church’s crisis is an aspect of feudal society’s crisis and decline.
1. First, there were the religious popular movements and heresies in first centuries after the year one thousand. However, with time they were absorbed by Church and gave rise to new religious orders (Franciscans, Dominicans, etc). Thomism [the philosophical system of Tommaso d’Aquino, editor’s note] is a wide-ranging defensive operation in front of the advancing bourgeois world. Tommaso d’Aquino (1225-1274) demonstrated that the feudal conception of the world (the faith) is compatible with what rising bourgeoisie was stating (the reason). But Roman Church’s crisis became uncontrollable with the Reformation. Since 1517, the year Luther (1483-1486) published his 95 Theses, to Council of Trent (1545-1563) and Westphalia Treatises (1648), the Reformation takes away from Roman Church great part of Northern Europe: Scandinavian countries, Great Britain and great part of territories of Holy Roman Germanic Empire. What’s more, it reduced clergy’s role and power not only in the countries where triumphed, but in all Christian countries.
Seemingly, Reformation kept Church’s crisis within the religious level. It seemed to propose a change of Roman Church’s conception of the world, ethics and rites, as former heresies did: in reality the change was such that it broke with the conception of the world that Roman Church embodied: the conception where the entire universe was recreated in image and likeness of feudal society that, from courtly economy, through subsequent steps, rises to Emperor and Pope, who was God in this world, the only one directly connected with God and authorized to speak in its name (bishops and the rest of clergy acted only by Pope’s proxy). On field of images, feelings and ideas, the Reformation expressed the new social relations that bourgeoisie was creating in Europe: the merchants, artisans, bankers and professional men’s break with feudal divisions, mediations, authorities, orders, practices, values, uses, customs and relationships. In its turn, it strengthened and accelerated that break. It compelled and encouraged every individual to enter directly in relation with God through his own faith: so did he with every other individual (with society) through his personal money. Reformation didn’t completely deleted Roman Church, which embodied the old European feudal structure, from European society. It reduced it to the status of a particular force counter opposed to Protestant (Reformed) Churches, within the whole Europe, which maintained its unity (10) . Counter Reformation couldn’t do anything but accept this reduction. It preserved Roman Church from total destruction, but it changed and delimited it, stiffening its doctrine, ethics, rites and organization. It divided it from the masses, superimposed and counter opposed it to them: it became State.
Metaphorically, with Counter Reformation the Catholic Church retreated in an entrenched field. There it stayed with its faith articles reflecting the intellectual evolution, scientific knowledge, social experiences and political organization of humanity in Middle Age Europe. It was a humanity waiting for defence by its warriors and feudal lords and bearing plunders, epidemics and famines. It was a humanity with moral rules translating in rules of individual behaviour what men must do in order to keep in life and develop a society continuously threatened by invasions and plunders, whose survival to epidemics, famines and wars depend on the abundance of births and on unity of family, the base unit of labour for a society chronically lacking of manpower. The Church crystallized as superstructure of a society with nature, contradictions, problems and aspirations quite different from those of the society that would fully develop in following centuries.
Consequently, among its members and believers it has been developed the phenomenon of double, triple and quadruple morals, theorized by Jesuits’ casuistry with connected individual mental and moral dissociation. In order to preserve its privileges and impose its authority, the Church less and less could count upon individuals’ force and inner conviction, upon its good reasons. It was obliged to turn to the force of secular Authorities of new European societies and so to depend on them.
So, the Church ceased to be the institution elaborating and embodying masses’ needs, the organic intellectual of masses. It looked suspiciously at any newness, change and idea. It made impossible or difficult its same development, its transformation from inside as it still occurred during the first Renaissance. The Society of Jesus was the last religious order. The great number of orders and congregations afterwards constituted has made no innovation on religious field - that Council of Trent stiffened and codified “for ever”. They had a disciplinary duty, role and meaning. That is, they were means to keep or re-establish Roman Church’s authority upon this or that section of the masses, upon this or that field slipping out of its hands. The Church’s decay would continue till Nineteenth century, when the imperialist phase of bourgeoisie began. After Reformation, the whole political, philosophical, juridical, cultural activity that in the Middle Age constituted Church’s direct exercise of power - as organic intellectual, interpreter and vanguard of mass population - became the machine for exercising indirect power, influence upon political Authorities and authoritative exponents of civil society (bankers, industrials, traders, professional men, and so on). Jesuit cardinal Roberto Bellarmino (1542-1621) explicitly theorized the indirect exercise of power by Roman Church. It ceased to express and orient directly the masses’ practical activity, lost its role of popular leader. It relied on secular Authorities and new chiefs of civil society. It used popular masses where and when it can did it, if it needed them as mass to manoeuvre and pressure towards Authorities, when they were reluctant to give service or went too far or fast.
2. Finally, it occurred the restriction due to Enlightenment and French Revolution (1789). Since Eighteenth Century these two movements corroded the Roman Church’s power, firstly over ruling classes and then, specially in France and in some other European regions, over European peoples’ mass still subjected to the Church still after Protestant Reformation. The mass overcoming of religious conception of the world began. It was a process closely tied to bourgeoisie’s political triumph and ushered in current era.
As a result of these two latest restrictions, Roman Church definitively ceased to carry out the social role it did in Middle Age and had to define its role facing the basic forces contending the direction of present society: bourgeoisie and proletariat.
The Vatican and its world structure are then the historical remnant of Papacy in present world, the greater of the two great universal (that is, common to whole Europe) institutions of European Middle Age. Roman Popes are a dynasty lasting since about 2000 years. It’s a very long period, but not an exception compared to other important dynasties. The Egyptian Pharaohs’ one lasted about 3000 years, since 3200 to 300 B.C. The Chinese Emperors’ one lasted about 4000 years, since 2100 B.C. to 1911 A.C.
Roman Popes’ power gradually constituted itself after Western Roman Empire’s fall, in Fifth Century B. C. Since 756 to 1870, that is for about 1100 years, the Roman Pope was God on earth and king of kings, but was also a king like others: feudal lord before and then absolute monarch of some region in Italian peninsula, which, with little and temporary appendices in other zones of Europe, constituted the Papal States.
Christian religion formed and spread starting from peoples and social groups that were oppressed within Roman Empire’s social and political order. It was born as ideological form of the practical movement that was subverting Empire’s political and social constitution. That Empire had slavery as constituting cell.
Seemingly, the new religion’s paroles (“Neither free nor slaves. Everyone is son of same God and redeemed by same Christ”) proclaimed universal values; the abolishment of slavery. However, their concrete meaning was to be flag of the concrete historical movement which result was the subversion and decay of Roman Empire deprived of its basic constitutive cell. Slavery survived here and there as auxiliary and secondary social relation. In some following times it even recovered strength: the Christians enslaved American indigenes and transferred millions of slaves from Africa to their American colonies. This shows and confirms that Christian movement’s practical contents were the abolition of Roman Empire’s concrete social and political order, not the universal achievement of slavery abolition. Christians never put into a concrete order the parole by which they subverted the empire, even if they never reestablished the slavery order they destroyed (11) . In Christian countries slavery was legally abolished and banned (became a crime) only during the Nineteenth century.
On the contrary, the new religion embodied in European feudal society and, it assumed this society’s forms in Roman Church. The European Middle Age is Roman Church’s Golden Age. Still today the ideal world illustrated by fundamentalist Catholic thinkers has forms, values and relations of Middle Age European society. Middle Age with its court economy corporations and hierarchy remains the Church’s dream and it’s the source which many if not all the European reactionary movements (Fascism, Nazism, etc.) draw their inspiration from. In the conditions created in the Europe upset by Roman Empire’s collapse and by barbaric invasions, Christian religion was the ready form, prepared by previous history occurred in invaded territories, of the fusion between submitted and invaders peoples which European feudal society arose from.
It guided the formation of new society and created its ideal image, a conception of the world substantiating rules and institutions holding and allowing new society’s life. In those times, there belonged to Church leaders and institutions that organized and directed new society’s activity in every field. All the society was Christian because Christianity assumed, as Roman Church, forms corresponding and adequate to the practical conditions of those times in Europe, without be careful of the continuity with doctrines, morals, rites and organizational structure of Christians when they were fighting against Roman Empire. In its afterworld, the Church associated the idealized figures of feudal lords to the martyrs of heroic period of its achievement within the Empire, and of the persecutions facing which Christians multiplied themselves. It exalted qualities, values, and feelings constituting and founding the feudal society as Christian virtues by God dictated and keys to enter in Paradise. It even forgot its Judaic origins and launched anathemas against Judeans whose presence disturbed feudal society.
So, by its nature Roman Church is an institution of European feudal world. Serfs, hierarchic scale of feudal masters, princes and kings of that world, its penalties, rewards, punishments, torments and joys, values and relations reflected themselves idealized in an afterlife world the Roman Church administrates, in its conception of the world. Ceased on earth, European Middle Age world has continued and continues to exist, suspended in heavens of Church’s doctrine, and from there continues to torment men and women, from their earliest youth in nursery schools. Church tries to impose rules, relationships, values, even paraments, language, music, ceremonies of that world to men and women calling themselves Christian in a quite different world, and also to other, as long as it can. Because of quite precise reasons that we’ll see further, it survived in a changed world where it, however, has a practical and quite relevant role. In this different world it presents itself by forms (world conception, moral principles, customs, rites, formulas, paraments, cult buildings, organizational characteristics, etc.) that are mediations between the ones of its Golden Age and the necessities the new times and adverse turned up conditions impose. Since centuries by now, in order to survive, it must limit itself, carve out its role, run after the world that’s escaping and, on the other hand, redefine what was irremissible, stiffen, modernize and defend itself. The timid innovations of Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) are still causing scandal and provoking rejections. That Council expressed the influence of first wave of proletarian revolution over ecclesiastic structure itself. It was an attempt to adapt itself to world evolution, in order to survive. However, some thought it was only the beginning of a deeper transformation that would have brought to the dissolution of the ecclesiastic multinational headed by Vatican. Others thought that it already was an adventurous concession, beyond the maximum that could be allowed. However, both the pretences to modernize and the quarrels about what can be allowed and what must be strictly defended, confirm the role by now subordinate of Roman Church: it isn’t it that leads the dance, but it conform itself to rhythms by other dictated, even if with own figures. In the imaginary universe built according to the European feudal society’s structures, Roman Pope continues to consider himself and want to be worshipped as God on the earth (as, besides, many other sovereigns pretended “by divine right” and some, as Japan’s emperor and Nepal’s king, pretend still today), and king of kings, the earthly center superior to all powers because is charged with administration of power over souls, that are of quality superior to the bodies over which States Authorities exercise their power.
In real universe, Roman Popes get the top of their power in Sixteenth Century, when Rome and Italian peninsula where at centre of European civilization for the second time. However, ever since some centuries Roman Church had ceased to be the propulsive and animating force of European civilization. Since some centuries it was contrasting the new forces rising from within European Christian society: the forces of Communes, Maritime Republics, merchants, bankers, Hanseatic League, new laic intellectuals. Little by little, these founded customs, behaviors, relations and release ideas that were no more Roman Church’s ones, even if they didn’t yet rebel to it. Little by little, individuals and their traffics went to occupy the centre of attention and solicit reflection. Then, with its conception still completely religious, Luther subverted the hierarchic Church, reduced clergy’s role and put every individual in direct relation with God. In reality, it was only of use for some classes’ individuals, but the mass was obliged to share its prince’s religion by the quite material and bloody struggle itself, that Roman Church carried out. The clergy’s mediation at Pope’s orders was taken away. It was a quite earthly mediation and able to do completely corporal coercions (directly or by secular Authority’s arm). Without it, in reality the individual founded himself in relation with the product of his fantasy, that is concretely with himself, his consciousness and his flesh, and with other individuals. Ideologically, we were already in bourgeois world and Papacy was in full decay.
As every power, it was born owing to the work of men who needed it for their social life. It had a progressive and propulsive role until it corresponded to those needs. When it didn’t correspond to them anymore, having saved itself from adverse forces’ attempts to suppress it violently and bluntly, it succeeded in remaining some time more and assuming new roles, thanks to the force it had concentrated in its hands before and to the habitude meanwhile established among its subjects. But its fate is sealed. It’s more and more little the number of men, and especially the most socially active ones, who find in it their direction or source or moral (ideological) comfort of their activity’s force and their work. It has become a brake and an obstacle to society’s development. This occurs despite Papacy’s opposition, so periodically it has to adapt itself through crisis, shakes and up settings. Since about Twelfth century, Roman Church had lived in the role of old patriarch, who the new generations need, some even still rely on and everybody declare fidelity and pay homage to, who still holds the power accumulated in the past, but is by now an obstacle to the innovations that press, impose themselves and will explode at his death or will kill him, in order to freely establish themselves at last.
The greatest dissociation and contrast between Roman Church and the living forces of new society that was forming in Europe, the bourgeoisie, took place in Nineteenth century. Then, the Papacy lost also its particular territorial base and autonomous and exclusive source of men and taxes: the Papal States. By its luck, it lost it in 1870, for “royal conquest”: the king of Italy invaded Lazio and Rome. It didn’t lose it overwhelmed by its subjects’ insurrection has happened in some measure in 1848. Just this loss and the way it happened created the conditions for an important turn in Papacy’s history and its temporary rebirth with a new role.
Above all others, Pius IX (Giovanni Maria Mastai Ferretti, 1792-1846-1878) is the Pope of utmost decay and retreating in defence of the old role: dogma of Immaculate Conception (1854), Syllabus (1864), First Vatican Council (December 1869 - September 1870), dogma of papal infallibility.
Above all others, Leo XIII (Vincenzo Gioacchino Pecci, 1810-1878-1903) is the Pope of the turn, of acceptation, definition and assumption of Roman Church’s new role in the world. It met a bourgeoisie’s practical and urgent need, accepts bourgeoisie’s offer to gather Papacy’s remnants forces and thanks to them, became prop and shield of bourgeoisie’s dominion against the rising Communist movement. It accepted to use its residual influence over women, peasants and a part of urban workers against the rising Communist movement, to put its skilled experience of men, power and education at bourgeois society’s service against the rising Communist movement.
In exchange of it, of course the bourgeoisie didn’t submit itself to Church spiritually nor still less in political and economical field: in customs, behaviours, laws, social relations, international relations, etc. It was not possible to go back to Middle Age. The Church’s social doctrine, consecrated in the most quoted, applauded and unapplied encyclical Rerum novarum (1891), remained a lark-mirror - as the progressive Constitutions “nearly socialist” that imperialist bourgeoisie signed in Italy, France and elsewhere after the Second World War. However, by law and even more in practice (in the behaviour of political Authorities and bourgeois: the civil society’s authorities), the imperialist bourgeoisie largely gave the Roman Church financial and power means: welfare institutions, schools hospitals, privileges and exemptions, immunities and protection, commitment to create a favourable public opinion (history manipulation to delete or diminish Church’s complicity with Nazi-fascism and similar regimes, concealment of clergy’s financial and sexual crimes, etc.). Bourgeoisie is an exploiting class: the Church had only to adapt old feudal forms of its dominion and exploitation to the ones of bourgeoisie, that was by then in the imperialist phase of its life. The Churcht was mainly land and estate owner; and it became mainly financial operator and speculator, banker, insurer, estate speculator: a transformation did by Sicilian Mafia only a hundred years after. The Church became holder of properties and private initiative among the others, but with the advantages given by its experience, size, national and international centralization, habitude to secrecy, wideness and variety of its relations and activities, force of persuasion given by confessional and administration of divine curses and blessings, the not or not mainly wage bond with functionaries and dependants, its priests, friars and nuns’ celibacy, the exemption from work codes, social contributions and taxes on properties and incomes, exemption from military service, its state prerogatives, etc. The Concordat became the model contract of the new relation established between Roman Church and bourgeois States’ Authorities. The State limits its sovereignty and recognizes to Vatican a kind of sovereignty over people and goods sited in State’s territory. It’s no more the form of Middle Age over national sovereignty when the Pope excommunicated emperors or kings, so releasing their subjects from divine obligation of fidelity. It’s neither the one that followed the Middle Age sovereignty with the constitution of semi-bourgeois absolute monarchies. It’s a modernized derivation made to measure of the new compromise. In exchange the Pope ensures ecclesiastic hierarchy’s and believers’ cooperation with established power, on the base of vows and moral commitments which however the Pope can release every its believer from any time it suits it. The new role the Church has assumed is a primarily important and exemplary aspect of the compromise with old regime’s classes and institutions (monarchies, nobility, civil and military bureaucracy, magistracy, etc.) by which the bourgeoisie head long closed its revolutionary phase in all the European countries, in front of Communist movement’s threat. Then it assembled all old regimes’ classes and institutions to collaborate in defending ruling classes’ property and privileges against rising Communist movement. In fact, then in the main European countries and in Northern America there were been created socialist revolution’s objective and subjective conditions. We are in the imperialist era, the era of capitalism’s decay, of proletarian revolution and preventive counter-revolution.
Since then Roman Church more and more clearly became a bourgeois world’s important and sure bulwark against Communist movement, even being in continuous and secondary contrast with bourgeois world because it doesn’t belong to it, but, owing to its conception of the world, morals and organization, remains a feudal world’s remnant adopted by bourgeoisie and somehow adapted to it.
In the light of this Church’s new role, there are understandable both its bond and complicity with Fascism, Nazism, every anti-Communist regime, “bourgeois democracies”, American imperialism, and its differentiation from every one of these regimes. Roman Church supports them, but stays autonomous. It negotiates compensations, pretends respect of its privilege and breaks away from it when thinks that the regime is by then condemned. Similarly there are understandable its irreducible struggle against Communist movement and, all in all, its outstanding capability to recognize and exploit all its limits and mistakes, skilfully enlarging every contrast and contradiction, with no scruple or prejudice. This capability found a large field of action when the Communist movement felt under modern revisionists’ direction. Then the Communist movement ceased to be an irresistible enemy, able to exert its influence and attractive force not only over the “herd of believers” that Church shears and let shear by the imperialist bourgeoisie with no mercy, but also over the body of “shepherds”. On the contrary, the Communist movement became a laughingstock that Church checked on every field: it obtained endless concessions and privileges and contemporarily directed fomentation and opposition. It get the top in the Seventies, in Poland, when just itself became promoter and direction of an important part of the working class against the modern revisionists’ regime, and then abandoned workers into capitalists’ clutches after that they did it the favour to dismantle what was remaining of socialism.
We mentioned Communist movement’s influence over “believers’ herd” and even over “shepherds” of Roman Church, that is over the believers’ mass - who, of course, beyond and before being believers, are members of the respective social classes - and even on the body of “Church’s functionaries - who are recruited from different social classes and individually and collectively undergo classes and social movements’ influence, everyone of them has an intellectual and moral development, etc.
In reality, this Church, today presenting itself (and presented by bourgeoisie and its bootlickers) shining of glory and invincible, in the just ended century passed through moments of panic, when Communist movement’s ascent seemed unstoppable also to its chiefs and even prominent exponents built bridges or simply individually gave up, taking direction towards the Communist movement itself. Several times Vatican’s chiefs set up or updated project to transfer the world centre of their activity elsewhere, out of the peninsula. Not only the workers didn’t follow anymore their directives and reacted as they hoped to their calls, threats and excommunications. Even important sectors of Vatican’s functionaries were oscillating or collaborated with Communist movement. Modernism was the expression of this kind of movement in functionaries’ body at the beginning of latest century. Theology of Liberation had the same meaning, after the Second World War. The Second Vatican Council belongs to the same kind of phenomena.
The lesson drawn is that the Communist movement’s advancement not only can defeat Church from outside, but it also sows panic, mistrust and desperation within it. On the contrary, the line of giving way and conciliation with imperialist bourgeoisie launched and practiced by modern revisionists strengthens the right wing also in the body of Church’s functionaries. Finally, comparing the relation of forces between Communist movement and Vatican at the beginning of latest century and now, it must be mentioned that the result is largely in favour of Communist movement, even if it is at a bottom of a very deep crisis.
During the first wave of proletarian revolution imperialist bourgeoisie, and Church with it, experienced to turn to Fascism and Nazism for defending its positions: it has been a disastrous experience both for imperialist bourgeoisie and for Church. The working class and popular masses paid most dearly for it, but imperialist bourgeoisie risked that even European imperialist countries could become socialist. Probably this could have marked the final victory of socialist revolution in the world. The imperialist bourgeoisie is unlikely to give again the direction of struggle against Communist movement to movements similar to those who had it during the first wave. It’s likely that it call the Church instead, to carry out a prominent role to brake and obstacle Communist movement’s rebirth, and that the Church will be called to head popular masses’ reactionary mobilization of whom it needs to face the proceeding of new general crisis of capitalism. Surely, already now Church is exploiting on a large scale the fear that imperialist bourgeoisie’s conduct gives rise to among popular masses, in order to widen its influence. Even if this will be the way that imperialist bourgeoisie and Church will choose, it will not save one or the other from their end.
The Communist movement is surely able to carry Church and imperialist bourgeoisie through. Neither Roman Church nor imperialist bourgeoisie are able to solve the problems the life today put in front of humanity. These don’t request a different treatment of popular masses by ruling classes. If it were so, sooner or later, under one or the other flag, the ruling class would adopt it. All the practical questions the life today put in front of humanity can be solved. The humanity surely can take again the way of civil progress indicated by the general lines of the course it have followed in the millenniums that we know. However, in order to be solved they request a general and capillary advancement of popular masses in political and cultural field until a mass assumption of a role excluding every ruling class, in the relations with the rest of nature and with their own social and individual line: Therefore, it requests to end humanity’s division in classes of exploited and exploiters, division between people who know and who don’t know, between people done for ruling and other done for obeying, between people educated to direct and people educated to execute, to passivity, precariousness and marginalization. By its nature imperialist bourgeoisie isn’t able to lead popular masses to this outcome. Even less Church and Vatican are able to do it. On the contrary, the working class is able to do it and this is also the only way by which it can put an end to its subordination to bourgeoisie. It’s the way on which the conscious and organized Communist movement and, in the first rank, Communist parties guide the working class. Paraphrasing Gramsci we shall say: “Also in this field the Communist movement’s position is opposed to Church’s one. The Communist movement doesn’t tend to maintain popular masses in primitive philosophy of the common sense. On the contrary, it tends to lead them to a higher conception of life: if it affirms that intellectuals must connect themselves to popular masses, is not to limit scientific activity and maintain unity at present low intellectual and moral level in which all past story has relegated the popular masses. It is for building an intellectual and moral block which could create the necessary political conditions for an intellectual and moral progress of masses, and not only the progress of narrow groups of intellectuals.” (A. Gramsci, Text 12, Notebook 11. pp. 1384-1385, Einaudi 2001, op. cit.)
5. Obviously, when the number of dissenting, expelled, excommunicated, etc. believers goes beyond a certain level, it endangers social role, and then power and recruitment, etc., of Church, so clergy looks for remedies. Soon or later “God changes his opinion”, his eternal revealed ideas and his “rules of nature” change. It happened again and again, and surely it will happen in next future. Church and its clergy run after their believers, when they don’t succeed anymore in frighten or submit them, when blackmail and threats of hell and God’s curses are no more enough to keep them close to Church itself.
It’s important to observe which problems “particularly interest Church”, in order to understand Church’s nature and role. Surely, Church is less interested in usury, financial speculations, tax evasion, lock-outs and dismissal than in an extramarital relationship. Church is less worried by the undeclared extermination war that bourgeosie is carrying out against popular masses all around the world for mantaining its rule, and by ten millions of people dying because of it, than by sanitary assistance granted to women who have an abortion.
6. The cases of contraposition of believers’ community to Church are many even beyond general movements like Modernism and Theology of Liberation. The renovation of Concordat combined by Craxi’s government with Vatican in 1984 introduced a series of means hostile to believers’ autonomy and strengthening ecclesiastic hierarchy. For instance, financial contributes before given by the State to parishes are now given to Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI): parish priest who doesn’t obey has his supplies cut off. The fact that Vatican wanted this changes confirms that tension between base communities and hierarchy has grown.
7. In every country, democratic revolution implies agrarian revolution. In the greatest part of oppressed countries agriculture has a great importance, and Church is a great landlord (so they are its dioceses, parishes, charitable organizations, convents, congregations, etc.) So, it’s a direct target of democratic revolutions and rabid opponent of any democratic revolution. Not to mention of its hierarchies and its better ratepayer believers’ hostility to cultural and psychological emancipation every revolution produces or strengthens in great masses of the population. On the other side, every democratic revolution in oppressed countries is our ally in struggle against Vatican
8. The innumerable requests for pardon by John Paul II for the role Roman Church performed in wars, slaughters and other crimes of the far past (Crusades, conquest of America, Inquisition, and so on) serve to divert attention from Roman Church’s responsibility and connivance in foul deeds done by bourgeoisie in imperialist era, in the undeclared extermination war that’s going on around us and also staring us in the face, in elimination of conquests, in persecution of immigrates, and so on. Beneficence and aid private initiatives hush up individuals’ regret and sense of guilt. They don’t wipe out the support to Authorities and political trends responsible for those foul deeds.
9. The failure wasn’t due to the impermeability of Turkish or Chinese peoples (or other peoples not European or not of European origin) to European culture: to a “natural” or “racial” difference, etc., between East and West. It’s enough to consider the rapid diffusion of liberalism in Nineteenth century and most of all of Marxism in Twentieth century: the reason of failure was the fact that the conception of the world, with ethics and rites connected, that Roman Church wanted to spread was the fantastic transfiguration of European feudal society. It reflected the intellectual and psychological and scientific knowledge level of development the European people had in Middle Age. On one side it’s similar (homologous) to this one that Turkish, Chinese and other peoples already elaborated or assimilated, not by chance Cusano, Ricci and other saw thousand common points between Christianity and religions of peoples they wanted to evangelize. On the other side it wasn’t (as Liberalism and Marxism were) a higher conception of the world able to represent, illustrate and at the same time support and strengthen the existing and scattered trends to overcome the existing social conditions, as Christianity was for oppressed classes and peoples of Roman Empire and for Germanic, Northern and Slav peoples. Cusano, Ricci and company were trying to sell to Turkish, Chinese and other peoples what they already had, nor they have the force to compel them to change their dresses with equally effective European ones. They wanted to conquer Turkish, Chinese and other for their king, when they already had a king of equal worth. It’s the same reason why the Christians, who converted Germanic invaders, didn’t succeed to convert Arabians when they invaded Asia Minor and Northern Africa. Arabians already had an equally worth superstructure and furthermore they had the advantage of weapons and political organization over Middle Age Europe.
10. The formula cuius regio, eius religio (everybody must profess the religion of prince of the country where he lives), stated by Augsburg Peace (1555), sanctioned the unity in religious diversity of Europe, Pope’s defeat and subordination of religion to state Authority and so the Church’s need to became state.
11. We can observe that slavery persisted in Christian world. It even recovered force and assumed again an important economic for almost four hundred years, from Sixteenth to Nineteenth century, in Christian countries, between their American colonies and Africa. Just because of it we must distinguish two different plans. 1. the subversion of Roman Empire’s concrete political and social order starting from the elimination of slavery, its constituting cell. 2. the struggle against slavery in general, that is abolition of slavery, determination of slavery as a crime, as anthropophagy or homicide. The first point is the real historical process carried out by the flag of Christianism. The second is a process historically not completed: there were steps on and steps back, as it’s unavoidable in a society founded on oppression and exploitation. Similarly, bourgeoisie’s victory didn’t fulfilled equality, liberty and fraternity for all, as was written in its banner. However, Christians didn’t ever more set the objective to reintroduce slavery as universal base of their society, even if they accepted and practiced and still practice it. So it has happened and happens by Muslims and elsewhere. Dogmatists, taking Gospel literally, found absurd and impossible for human beings to be slave, so they seriously discussed if slaves were human beings or not, if they have a soul or not. The letter of faith told them that men couldn’t be slaves, so slaves weren’t men. Moreover, the same occurred about women. Wasn’t it absurd that they were “God’s daughters and redeemed by Christ”, considering what they were suffering? Holy Fathers of the Church animatedly discussed if women have a soul. Italian “philosophers” as Marcello Pera and Costanzo Preve would have felt themselves at ease in such meetings. And they are not alone!