Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
Communism and Anticommunism
on the Threshold of the Millennium's Last Decade
February 11, 1990 (*)
A Word to the Reader:
In light of recent developments
behind the Iron Curtain, the American Society for the Defense of
Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) feels compelled once again to
address the American public by presenting an analysis of world affairs
written by the illustrious Prof. Plinio Correa de Oliveira, president of
the Brazilian TFP – one of our sister organizations. This work was
recently published the Brazilian TFP in São Paulo’s
Folha de São Paulo, the city’s
I. Discontent: a Conflagration Sweeping the Soviet World
The reforms of perestroika in the Soviet Union and the centrifugal political movements which recently almost plunged Azerbaijan and Armenia into civil war, also agitate Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia on the Baltic, as well as (further south) Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, and Yugoslavia. Heightened by the spectacular dismantling of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain, these upheavals, as a whole, constitute a colossal movement of a magnitude unheard of since the two world wars or perhaps since the Napoleonic wars.
All of this activity within the European scene reflects varied circumstances and has different meanings, depending upon the place. Nevertheless, hovering above is a common meaning, encompassing and permeating the other meanings with a single impulse: Discontent.
We use a capital "D" because this discontent is one toward which all regional and national, economic and cultural discontent converge. Having accumulated in the Soviet world for many decades, this discontent is represented in the indolent and tragic apathy of someone who disagrees with everything but is physically restrained from speaking out, moving freely, protesting, in short, from externalizing an effective disagreement. This has been the total discontent – albeit mute and paralytic – of each individual in his house, hut or hovel, where many times the family no longer exists, marriage having been frequently replaced by concubinage. This has been the discontent of someone whose children were taken more than once from the “home” and coercively given to the State which took charge of their entire education. This has been the discontent in the workplace, where laziness, inaction and boredom prevail most of the time and where paltry wages barely suffice to buy the scant and shoddy goods and merchandise – which are the typical products of state – owned industry in a regime of state capitalism. Comments on the total lack of quality and quantity of everything are whispered all along the lines of people formed outside the shops, where nearly empty shelves shamelessly reveal the misery. There has been discontent, above all, because everywhere there are cases of religious worship being forbidden, churches being closed, and religious instruction being restricted. In the schools the teaching of materialism, of atheism, in short, of communist irreligion is mandatory.
These evils are even more pitiful when considered as a whole than when considered individually. In other words, if complaints have been made against this or that aspect of Soviet reality, recent events evidently attest to the existence of an outburst of real furor against the whole. And, because this furor is directed against the whole, it affects the regime and inflames the human capacities of indignation. Thus, it becomes an all encompassing discontent against the communist regime, state capitalism, despotic atheism, and, finally, against everything which is a product of Marxist ideology and its application to all the countries now in turmoil. It is, then, truly the case to speak of Discontent. It is probably the most encompassing and total discontent of all time.
Moscow's Frightful and Grudging Concessions
The frightful and grudging concessions Moscow has been making here and there clearly aim to avert a widespread transformation of this discontent into revolutions and civil wars.
However, the facts also reveal the dubious scope of these concessions. For if they seem to appease tempers a bit, they nonetheless awaken among the Discontented the consciousness of their own strength, and of the weakness of their Muscovite adversary who only yesterday had appeared omnipotent. Whence, the Discontented may well be taking advantage of appeasements to rally growing numbers of followers and to prepare them for enormous manifestations - to be held perhaps sooner than expected - which will be even more demanding than the previous ones.
In this way, the typical process whereby insurgent movements advance toward success may develop step by step as the obsolete and putrid establishments decline.
History's Greatest Outcry of Indignation
If events in the Soviet world thus develop, without encountering significant obstacles, the political observer need not be too astute to perceive the final result: the overthrow of Soviet domination of its immense empire, until recently surrounded by the Iron Curtain; and the roar of a single, immense and thunderous outcry of indignation from the enslaved and oppressed peoples from beneath its ruins.
This outcry will be voiced above all against those directly responsible for so much pain accumulated for such a long time, over such immense expanses, and upon such and impressive number of victims.
Unless logic has totally deserted human events (a tragic desertion which history has witnessed repeatedly in epochs of total decadence like this end of century and millennium), the victims of so many calamities will unite their clamors to demand that the world bring those responsible to justice.
Those responsible have been preponderantly the higher echelons of the
Soviet Communist Party, which have always exercised the highest authority
in the Soviet hierarchy, superseding even that of the communist
government. The heads of the communist parties and governments of the
captive nations have been analogously responsible.
These leaders could not have ignored the untold disgrace and misery inflicted upon the masses by the communist doctrine and regime. Despite this, they did not hesitate to spread this doctrine and to impose this system
However, we should consider - always within the bounds of logic - that it is not only against the aforementioned that so many men, families, ethnic groups and nations clamor for justice.
Optimistic and Shallow Historians Deadened the Reaction of the Free World Against the Plots of International Communism
A second round of questioning will be directed to the many Western historians who, during this long period of Soviet domination, wrote optimistically and superficially about what was happening in the communist world. They will be asked why they were content to say so little about such immense misery in synopses read and acclaimed by certain media around the world. This effected the deadening of the Free World's just and necessary reaction to the infiltration and plots of international communism.
Public Figures in the West Did Little to Free the Victims of Soviet Slavery
Finally, the Discontented will turn to the public figures of the rich countries of the West and ask them why they did so little to free countless victims from the dark and endless night of Soviet slavery.
When this happens, we know well what these ever-smiling, well-rested, well-groomed, and well-fed public figures will jovially respond: "Come now! You blame us? We are precisely the ones who sent so much money to your governments, extended them so much credit, and bought the shoddy goods produced by your inferior industries. We did all this to lessen the pangs of your hunger, and here you are with this foolish reproach! " They will yet add: "Go to the UN, to UNESCO, and to so many other institutions that champion human rights, and see how many grandiloquent and Polished Proclamations we have issued throughout the West to protest your plight. Was this not enough?" If these amiable Western potentates think they thus stifle the objections that will be inevitably directed to them, they are mistaken.
Western Aid Prolonged the State of Misery
Viewed objectively and concretely, reality is not that simple, nor is it as easily understood and described as they seem to think. Fueled by Discontent, the masses will necessarily reply: "Imagine millions upon millions of individuals being tortured in chambers as vast as countries. This was the state of affairs behind the Iron Curtain. Most Western aid was given to the torturers who controlled these torture chambers of national dimensions, not directly to the poor victims. In other words, aid went to governments which, under the iron hand of Moscow, kept 'sovereign' and 'allied' nations in submission behind the Iron Curtain - like Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and others - not to mention the Soviet Socialist Republics 'united' to Moscow and more clearly and officially dependent upon the despots of the Kremlin. More often than not, it was these tyrannical governments who received the Western handouts."
At this point of the argument, doubts will ensue which the Discontented will certainly bring up. It will not be easy to answer them. Undeniably, some of these resources, received by the puppet governments behind the Iron Curtain, did in fact go to their respective victims, and, thus, somewhat alleviated their misfortune or maybe even prevented some of them from dying of starvation. Nevertheless, even in this regard, embarrassing objections have arisen from the ranks of the Discontented even before the present upheaval.
Thus, the most tormented and indignant among them have pondered that in so far as the West gave the torturers resources which attenuated the victims' needs, it afforded them the means to placate the public's indignation. In this way, the West prolonged the domination of these tyrants.
In this case, would it not have been more useful to the subjugated peoples if the West had not sent these resources? Then, the outburst of Discontent would have occurred sooner, bringing with it the final and total liberation of these miserable subjects.
Suicidal Accomplices in the Spread of Communism
We of the TFP must confess that, for us, this question is perplexing. This is especially so since we have never heard that the Western benefactors had ever made these grants contingent on strict guarantees that these resources not be used for the acquisition or manufacture of weapons and ammunition to keep these people captive. Nor was it stipulated that they not be utilized against the donor - nations in case of a war against the West.
Let us get to the bottom of the matter. Since Moscow has the wherewithal to undermine all the nations of the world through its network of propagandists and conspirators, can we be sure that the prodigious amounts used had not included considerable portions of the money furnished for various purposes by the West?
In this case, besides being a benefactor o f the victims of communism,
would the West not also be an involuntary (let us concede this) accomplice
of the hangman? Furthermore, could they not also be considered suicidal
collaborators in an attack against the West, as well as partners in
spreading the communist error among the nations?
The Crusade that Never Was
We do not know if these captive nations will one day really be free before the punitive and therapeutic catastrophes predicted by Our Lady in the apparitions at Fatima supervene (see Antonio A. Borelli, Our Lady at Fatima: Prophecies of Tragedy or Hope for America and the World? Pleasantville, NY: American TFP, 1985, pp. 51-52).
What we do know is that, when these nations are free, the Discontented will demand strict accounts for all this from the "benefactors." To save their reputation, these "benefactors" will be obliged to dig deep into many an archive and blow the dust off many a document - or perhaps they will opt to keep them under lock and key so silence may once again descend upon such questions.
In truth, the flowery proclamations of UN's, UNESCOs and the like have made them indifferent, just as victims being tortured would be indifferent to smiles, polished with greetings and solidarity, from people watching their torments with crossed arms.
"We needed a crusade to free us," they will exclaim, "and you merely sent us some bread to help us endure indefinitely our captivity. Perchance, were you ignorant that the best solution for captivity is not merely bread, but freedom?"
There may be valid arguments to counter these complaints of the captives, but we think they may be difficult to find.
A Victory of the Hard-liners Would Only Aggravate the Exasperation and the Complaints
All the Western media have made it a point to note that the victory of this gigantic Discontent still hangs in balance. No one can guarantee that the crushing of rebellions, accomplished with such success and promptness in the Square of Heavenly Peace (!) in Peking, and recently repeated with at least apparent success in Baku, will not reoccur in several other focal points of Discontent. Admittedly, these successive suppressions are able to impose a caricatural mask of peace upon this Discontent - the cadaverous peace of those no longer living.
Such an outcome would certainly produce multiple global effects, the greater part of which are not as yet predictable. Nevertheless, from the point of view of the Discontented, it would only aggravate their exasperation and complaints, principally against the West. From deep within their dungeons, the Discontented would add yet more imprecations to the already extensive list against the West.
They will necessarily allege against the West: "Until 1989-1990, we had not yet filled the world with our cries. But we had this opportunity in 1989-90. Since then, not even the sheerest veil separates us from you. You have seen and heard everything, and in spite of this you have added little to what you were already inadequately doing in our favor."
Once again we would be at a loss and embarrassed to reply.
Nevertheless, we should not fool ourselves into thinking that, as regards reproaches and calling to accounts, the only polemic is the one between the victims crying out through the increasingly generalized cracks of the immense Soviet dungeon and their torturers. We should also not think it to be only the one between these same victims and their smiling and parsimonious benefactors in the West, who occasionally may be favorable to their cause throughout the future stages of servitude. Who knows when this will end, since it depends on what an enigmatic future will bring.
Yet another polemic needs to be considered plausible, one between the populations of the countries of the West and the leaders of their respective communist parties. The latter have been widely and comfortably established in all the non-communist nations of the world due to the prestige of communism's claim to ideological and technological modernity, and, occasionally due to the persuasive power of money and the efficacy of communist propaganda tactics.
Did They See Nothing?
For many a decade, communist leaders of the different countries maintained constant and varied contacts with Moscow, where they were received naturally as partners and friends on numerous occasions.
Did They Tell Nothing?
Upon their return they would immediately contact their respective communist parties where everyone would avidly ask them what they had seen and heard in Moscow, the veritable mecca of international communism.
Did They Ask Nothing?
Judging from what has filtered out to the general public regarding their reports, one would say that these leaders never attempted to seek first-hand knowledge of the living conditions of the Russians and other subjugated peoples. They did not see the endless lines forming in the pre-dawn cold in front of the butcher shops, bakeries and pharmacies in expectation of poor and scarce merchandise whose acquisition is fought over as if it were alms. They did not observe the poor in rags. They did not notice the complete lack of freedom afflicting every citizen. They were not impressed with the dejection and general silence of a population afraid even to speak through fear of police brutality against suspects.
Did these communist supporters in the various nations of the Free World ever question the Soviet leadership about the reason behind so much police supervision if the regime was really so popular? And if this was not the case, did they ask why the regime was so unpopular, since it spent such enormous amounts on propaganda to persuade Westerners that the Russians had finally found a system of perfect social justice in a bountiful paradise capable of satisfying everyone?
If They Knew about Communism's Tragic Failure, Why Did They Want It for Their Own Countries?
If the communist leaders of the Free World knew the fruits of communism to be those that everyone now sees, why did they conspire to extend this regime of misery, slavery and shame to their own countries? Why were neither money nor efforts spared to attract the elites from all levels of society to the arduous work of implanting communism? Why did they go to the trouble to seduce the spiritual elite: the clergy; the social elites: the upper and middle bourgeoisie; the cultural elites within the universities and the media; the elites of public life, whether civil or military; the unions and all types of professional organizations; university and high school students, and even grade school children? Were they blinded by ideological passion to the point of not perceiving that the doctrine and regime being preached to their countries could only produce identical fruits: the misery and disgrace brought to the immense Soviet world extending from the margins of the Spree in Berlin to Vladivostok?
When a Prominent Voice Spoke the Truth – Astonishment
Western public opinion had only a vague idea of the black misfortune in which the captive nations found and still find themselves. This was so much so that when, in 1984, a man of remarkable apostolic intrepidity had the courage to issue a strongly worded overview of the situation, the West reacted as if the explosion of a bomb had been heard throughout the whole world.
Who was this man? A world renowned theologian, a prominent figure in the life of the Church, he is Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
And what did he say? "Millions of our own contemporaries legitimately yearn to recover those basic freedoms of which they were deprived by totalitarian and atheistic regimes which came to power by violent and revolutionary means, precisely in the name of the liberation of the people. This shame of our time cannot be ignored: while claiming to bring them freedom, these regimes keep whole nations in conditions of servitude which are unworthy of mankind" (Instruction on Certain Aspects of the "Theology of Liberation," Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, August 6, 1984, no. XI, 10).
He said all that, and only that - and public opinion in the West trembled. Now, years later, the gigantic crisis that embroils the Soviet world proves not only that the cardinal was right, but also that his valiant words had only been a concise description of the horrible reality.
The Great Interrogation to Come
For the moment, what is happening in the Soviet world so absorbs everyone's attention that there is not enough space here for more profound reflections, analyses and interrogations.
But the opportune moment will come. Then, public opinion will grill the communist party leaders of the West as to why they remained communist in spite of knowing that communism had dragged the nations under Moscow's yoke into such misery. Because these leaders knew of the miserable situation in Russia and the captive nations, the public will demand that they explain why they consented to lead a political party whose only goal was to throw their own nations into this extreme poverty, slavery and disgrace. Finally, the public will ask why they so assiduously desired such a somber objective that they did not think twice about hiding from their own henchmen the truth, which might have made at least some of them desert the Red ranks in horror.
In conjunction with Moscow, the communist leaders of the various free nations plotted to bring misfortune upon their respective countries. Future generations will consider this attitude as one of the great enigmas of history.
This enigma is already beginning to arouse the curiosity of those keen enough to perceive the problem and to eye it questioningly.
The Hasty Whitewashing of the Communist Parties' Facade Does Not Guarantee a Real Change of Doctrines
The leaders of the various communist parties spread throughout the world did not want to see or could not see this seven decade old situation, cruelly laid bare by the dramatic events now shaking the Soviet world. This situation has begun to make the communist parties in the different countries visibly uneasy. The very label "communist party," once borne so proudly, already seems to be psychologically clumsy and tactically vexatious. For this reason, several of them now tend to label themselves as socialists, a change not merely of labels, so they claim, but also one of content.
Such changes naturally suggest some thoughts:
1. What the communist parties do in the future cannot, in itself, justify what they have or have not done until now. For example, changing their label in no way explains why they have supported everything done in the Soviet world to the present date. Nor does it explain the silence of the communist parties of the Free World regarding the terrible misery in the Soviet Union and the captive nations. With this in mind, the questions raised above continue to be compelling.
2. The present changes can only be taken seriously if the communist parties clearly state:
a) What has changed in their doctrines, philosophically, socio-economically, and so on;
b) Why they changed them and how these changes relate to perestroika.
3. Furthermore, the communist parties must concretely clarify:
a) What their present position is regarding the freedom of the Catholic Church and, mutatis mutandis, of the other religions;
b) How they now envision the freedom of political parties, as well as of different philosophical, political, cultural, and other currents, in accordance with the rights guaranteed to man by the Decalogue;
c) Whether they have changed their doctrines and legislative goals as regards the institutions of the family, private property and free enterprise; and if so, how;
d) Finally, if they consider their new look to be a reasonably stable order of things, or merely a phase in an evolving process toward other positions;
e) If the latter be the case, what are these positions?
Without these clarifications, the hasty covering of the communist parties' facade with socialist whitewash does not guarantee in the least that the communists have really changed doctrines.
There is something even worse. Why did these same communist leaders compound their deceitful silence about the Soviet "paradise" with a seven decade long systematic and indefatigable detraction against all individuals, groups and currents earnestly dedicated to preserving their countries from the Soviet misfortune through public awareness of this danger?
Networks Within the West, in the Service of the Muscovite Adversary
For this torrential and continual defamation, the communist parties skillfully set up networks of auxiliaries within sectors of society unsuspected of favoring communism. These included a considerable number of "useful innocents" (not necessarily idiots), and also deft practitioners of the tactic of giving up something so as not to lose everything, and others. This is all conceived and decided according to the particulars of local circumstances in each country.
Useful Innocents: Clergy, Bourgeoisie and Politicians Who Did Not Attack Communism but Sustained an Incessant barrage of Defamations Against Anticommunist Organizations.
Useful innocents are masters at eliminating the notion of how noxious communism is and of how imminent a danger it is to every country. Typical useful innocents have been the conservative-looking clergyman, the unflappable and easy-going bourgeois, the politician who seems completely absorbed by the unideological political flimflam and hodgepodge, and the like. They did not even see what little the media did show of blights of the communist regimes. Nor did they see the advance of the Red offensive in the daily life of the nation. They did not fear a future communist coup, much less a communist victory. Exuding insouciance, they lived tranquilly. Their action created a climate of prejudice and disdain around anticommunism that was symmetrically opposed to the climate of sympathy and trust that their innocence, so rarely sincere, effected for the benefit of communism.
Communism has also continually availed itself of the collaboration of fools, of whom Scripture says: "Infinitus est numerus" (Eccles. 1:15), and of whom "parvus est numerus" in the Red ranks.
We note that useful innocents would generally not take the initiative of speaking against anticommunist figures or groups; rather they preferred to systematically ignore them.
However, if someone in a certain circle, raised a discreditable fact and attributed it to some anticommunist person or group, the useful innocent was the first to believe it, the most indignant in reacting to it, and the most likely to add a detail (whether plausible or not) to confirm it.
On the contrary, if someone in the same circle mentioned something that discredited a communist person or group, the useful innocent, armed with the systematic doubts of a benevolent method of analysis, would immediately begin pleading attenuating circumstances on behalf of the accused, lamenting the possibility that unwarranted police investigations could disturb his family, and so forth. There is possibly a certain dose of fairness and common sense in all this; but there is, above all, a cunning and veiled partiality toward the communists. This becomes evident when considering that the useful innocent has recourse to these niceties only for persons and groups of the left, never for those of the right.
In his conduct the clever useful innocent would never utter a word in favor of communism. This was indispensable to his action, for if he were to praise communism, he would raise suspicions, cease to appear innocent and, consequently, no longer be useful.
The Task of Other Useful Innocents
Other useful innocents developed distinctive tactics. These others were likewise not supposed to praise communism openly. Their essential task was to fan the leftist sympathies of all those who were not yet communists, consequently leading them to collaborate, even if only in part, with the Communist party of their country. In Latin America, for example, among a group of ranchers who only weakly opposed land reform, this type of useful innocent would merely bemoan the low productivity of some latifundium, leading those who agree with him to actively oppose its existence. In other words, he engages them in pro-land reform activities that at least partially implement the plan of total land reform envisioned by communism.
Thus, the communists and useful innocents would begin forming a united front for a moderate land reform. But this was only the first stage.
In this "moderate" group, the same useful innocent would stimulate some to favor a confiscatory division of medium-size properties, not just those of the latifundia. This was an implicit invitation - once the desired result was achieved - for all the leftists to advance with him in a united front to the next stage: the confiscatory reform of all rural land holdings, whether large or small.
Other Collaborationists of Communism
The same things could be said of those who use the tactic of giving up something so as not to lose everything, and the others, but this would needlessly extend the present work.
One must at least consider the above to form a general picture of communism's advance in a given country.
The sinister nature of such a picture is, undoubtedly and principally, a
consequence of the sinister nature of the fate reserved for any country
Attempting to Demolish Through Calumny: the Inanity of the Media Uproars Against the TFP
The sinister nature of such a picture can also be seen in the refined injustice with which, to serve the enemy's advance, attempts are made to slander anticommunists through anonymous whispering campaigns. Those who commit the "unforgivable sin" of defending their country against those who want to impose the same terrible fate under which a growing number of captive nations and ethnic groups writhe, wall and revolt are dragged through the dirty waters of defamation.
At times these attacks of the enemy, inspired and supported by communism when not directly or indirectly started by it have not been limited to whispering, but have grown to the point of becoming full-blown media uproars lashing out against one or the other of the TFPs spread throughout six continents. For example, in the last twenty-four years the Brazilian TFP - the oldest and largest - has undergone twelve such uproars, each like an overwhelming hurricane taxing the TFP's ability to resist. Each uproar is supported, right from the start, by cliques of useful innocents spread throughout the country and by diverse and untiring teams of detractors so adept at working within families, sacristies, clubs and professional groups.
Typically, while everything whispers, chums, and howls, the TFP calmly prepares its reply. Upon release, the ever serene, courteous, but implacably logical reasoning of the organization begins to silence the adversary, who rarely rejoins but gradually withdraws to his lair. And his supporters of all stripes do likewise. Gradually, everything is "forgotten." The enemy retreats and the TFP emerges, in most cases without having lost a single member, volunteer, supporter, donor, friend or sympathizer.
Though these uproars try their utmost to spread to the various countries of the world, they have not impeded the growth of the TFP family of autonomous sister organizations - presently the world's largest network of manifestly anticommunist societies inspired by the traditional magisterium of the Church existing on six continents.
* * *
Meanwhile, the era of Gorbachev arrived, leading to what we all see. The truth about the Soviet Union and the immense bloc of captive nations is now patent.
The TFPs have the right to publicly record these reflections and to question especially their most direct opponents, the communist leaders of the West.
However, while these reflections may be lengthy due to the complexity of the subject, they cannot omit a key point.
We are speaking of the longstanding disagreement - painful on so many accounts - with a large number of brothers in the Faith.
From Pius IX to John Paul II
Already in the painful and glorious days of the pontificate of Pius IX (1846-1878), the collections of pontifical documents showed a radical and irremediable opposition between the traditional doctrine of the Church on one hand and the sentimental daydreams of utopian communism and the rancorous and pedantic assault of scientific communism, or Marxism, on the other.
This incompatibility became all the more pronounced during subsequent pontificates, as reflected, for example, in the polished and precise affirmation of Pius XI in the encyclical Quadragesimo Anno of 1931: "Socialism ... is founded upon a doctrine of human society peculiarly its own, which is opposed to true Christianity. 'Religious Socialism,' 'Christian Socialism,' are expressions implying a contradiction in terms. No one can be at the same time a sincere Catholic and a true Socialist: (Acta Apostolicae Sedis, vol. 23, p. 216). Yet more notable is the famous decree of 1949 forbidding Catholics to collaborate with communism, certain forms of collaboration falling under pain of excommunication. Issued by the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office, the decree was promulgated by order of Pius XII.
Such pontifical acts intended to prevent Catholics from joining communist ranks, as well as to stop communists from infiltrating Catholic circles under the pretext that certain socioeconomic problems called for mutual collaboration. The latter was particularly important, since, by extending their hand to Catholics ("the policy of the extended hand") in this fallacious collaboration avowed communism and especially useful innocents of all stripes entered into conviviality with Catholics. This created a propitious climate for enticing considerable numbers of the faithful to Marxist philosophy and action.
The Era of Vatican Ostpolitik
From the Kremlin to the communist cell of the remotest village, the immense propaganda machine of international communism started showing signs of partial relaxation in its opposition both to the free nations of the West and to the different churches, notably the Holy Catholic Church. These reciprocated a new attitude toward the world behind the Iron Curtain. This change, however, had already become manifest during the pontificate of Pius XII's successor, Pope John XXIII (1958-1963). This tendency toward relaxation continues to our day, having culminated with Gorbachev's recent visit to Pope John Paul II.
In 1969, with the beginning of the Ostpolitik of Chancellor Willy Brandt, this German word entered into common usage. Thus, it was also applied to the Vatican's policy of relaxation, even though the latter chronologically preceded that of Bonn. Evidently, from Pius XII to John Paul II, there has been an enormous shift in the Vatican's diplomatic approach to the communist world. Undoubtedly, the matter has doctrinal implications which are of the competency of the Roman Pontiff's Supreme Magisterium. However, the matter is essentially diplomatic and, in its strictly diplomatic aspects, can be the object of divers evaluations on the part of the faithful.
Thus, we do not hesitate to affirm that the advantages the communist cause obtained with the Vatican Ostpolitik were not only great, but literally incalculable. The Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) is an example. In fact, because of the atmosphere of the nascent Vatican Ostpolitik, the representatives of the Russian "Orthodox" Church were invited to attend the Council sessions as official observers. How did the Holy Church benefit from that? To date, the benefits have been meager. As for disadvantages, we mention only one.
Presided over by John XXIII and later by Paul VI, the Vatican Ecumenical Council II was the largest in the history of the Church. It was agreed that all the major topics of the day related to the Catholic cause would be discussed. That the attitude of the Church toward Her greatest adversary at that time be among these topics was essential, absolutely essential! In Her nearly two-thousand year history, the Church had never encountered such a powerful, brutal and cunning adversary, so completely opposed to Her doctrine. A discussion of contemporary problems facing religion that fails to deal with communism would be as flawed as a world medical conference convened to study today's major diseases that omits any reference to AIDS.
This is what Vatican Ostpolitik accepted from the Kremlin. The latter declared that if the subject of communism were debated during the Council sessions, the ecclesiastical observers of the Russian "Orthodox" Church would leave that great assembly definitively. The possibility of a tumultuous break in relations caused many sensitive souls to shudder with compassion for fear it might rekindle barbaric religious persecutions behind the Iron Curtain. In view of this possible rupture, the Council did not discuss the communist AIDS! The extended hand was covered with a beautiful glove, the velvety glove of cordiality. But there was an iron hand inside the glove. While the highest Church authorities sensed this, it did not stop them from pursuing the Ostpolitik, thus leading a growing number of Catholics to adopt an attitude toward communism which amounted to a veritable "dismantling of ideological barriers." And, in the realm of action, these Catholics increasingly joined the left in attacking private capitalism while advocating state capitalism. They thought the former was opposed to the "preferential option for the poor," while the latter could at least be likened (or more than just likened) to this opposition so extolled by the present Pontiff. Oh, what a cruel surprise state capitalism had in store for them!
The TFP Amid the Storm
This whole sequence of truly dramatic facts could not fail to deeply astonish - or, save for confidence in the Blessed Virgin Mary, even excruciatingly distress - the members of the TFPs. For this reason, right from the gray and somber "dawn" of this crisis as early as 1943, a handful of Catholics who would later give rise to the Brazilian TFP sounded the alarm in a work that received a letter of praise written on behalf of Pope Pius XII by the Substitute Secretary of State G. B. Montini, later Pope Paul VI (Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, Em Defesa da Acâo Catolico foreword by Benedetto Cardinal Aloisi Masella, then Apostolic Nuncio to Brazil). A storm of counterattacks broke out immediately and numerous Catholic circles closed themselves to our action in consequence. These circles were hotbeds for future communists who participated in the upheavals of 1963-64 Ecumenical Council in relation to everything and everyone, especially the left, the Catholics of the left were already showing themselves to be inquisitorial toward us!
Thus began the most painful period of our fight. Previously, this fight had been undertaken against the Red wolf, our very fidelity to the Church now compelled us to wage the fight against sheep of the same flock, and – oh sorrow of sorrows – even against one or another shepherd of the blessed flock of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
This protracted struggle, steeped in the tears, sweat and blood of disappointment, is narrated by the TFP in two books, one of them quite recent (Um Homem, uma Obra, uma Gesta, 1989; and Tradition, Family, Property: Half a Century of Epic Anticommunism, 1980).
Suffice it to say that, with the support of the then existing TFPs, the document The Vatican Policy of Detente Toward the Communist Governments — For the TFP: To Withdraw? Or to Resist? was published in Argentina, Bolivia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Spain, the United States, Uruguay and Venezuela. Those TFPs all declared themselves to be in a state of respectful resistance to the Vatican's Ostpolitik. The spirit behind this resistance – and which inspires the TFPs and TFP Bureaus now in twenty-two countries – is summarized in this passage from that declaration: “In this filial act we say to the Pastor of Pastors: Our soul is yours, our life is yours. Order us to do whatever you wish. Only do not order us to stay idle in face of the assailing Red wolf. To this our conscience is opposed.”
Interrogation? No. Rather a Brotherly Appeal
To you, beloved brothers in the Faith, whose vigilance was circumvented or is being circumvented by the communist fallacy, we address no interrogation. To you, from our ever-serene heart, there issues forth an appeal overflowing with ardent affection in Christo Domino: Confronted with the terrible picture of our days, admit, at long last, that you were deceived. Burn what you were aiding and abetting. And fight alongside those whom even to this day you are helping to “burn.”
Sincerely, categorically, without biased ambiguity, but rather with the enormously respectable frankness inherent to humble contrition, turn your back on those who have deceived you so cruelly. And direct toward us a serene and fraternal gaze of brothers in the Faith.
This is our appeal to you today. It expresses our timeless dispositions, those of yesterday as well as tomorrow.
As we conclude this document, our voice is taken by emotion, and veneration hinders our words. Our filial and reverent gaze is now raised to you, O venerable shepherds who disagreed with us. Where can we find the befitting terms of affection and respect to be placed in your hands (in your hearts) at a moment like this?
Mutatis mutandis, we can find none better than those which we addressed to Pope Paul VI in 1974.
We utter them on our knees, while requesting your blessings and prayers.
* * *
The TFP assumes the responsibility and risks for the questions asked in sections II through V and for the appeal to the Catholics of the left in section VI of this document. All were made on the TFP’s own account.
Obviously, those questioned and those to whom the appeal is addressed have the right to respond.
Indeed, because they are in the very countries in which we live, the communist leaders of the West and the Catholic left have not only a right to respond but a duty to do so.
To them, therefore, we address our final question: Will you remain silent or will you speak?
You have the floor.
(*) Published on "Wall Street Journal" (27-2-1990), "Folha de S. Paulo" (Brazil, 11-2-1990), "Corriere della Sera" (Italy, 7-3-1990), "Tempo" (Italy, 8-3-1990) out of a total of 50 newspapers and or magazines of the West.