Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker and Victims of Communism Day
Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
Today is the Feast Day of Saint Joseph the Worker and Victims of Communism Day. Pius XII instituted the feast in 1955. In 1949 he issued the Decree Against Communism which excommunicated all Catholics collaborating with Communist organizations.
This Sacred Supreme Congregation has been asked:
1. whether it is lawful to join Communist Parties or to favour them;
2. whether it is lawful to publish, disseminate, or read books, periodicals, newspapers or leaflets which support the teaching or action of Communists, or to write in them;
3. whether the faithful who knowingly and freely perform the acts specified in questions 1 and 2 may be admitted to the Sacraments;
4. whether the faithful who profess the materialistic and anti-Christian doctrine of the Communists, and particularly those who defend or propagate this doctrine, contract ipso facto excommunication specially reserved to the Apostolic See as apostates from the Catholic faith.
The Most Eminent and Most Reverend Fathers entrusted with the supervision of matters concerning the safeguarding of Faith and morals, having previously heard the opinion of the Reverend Lords Consultors, decreed in the plenary session held on Tuesday (instead of Wednesday), June 28, 1949, that the answers should be as follows:
To 1. in the negative: because Communism is materialistic and anti-Christian; and the leaders of the Communists, although they sometimes profess in words that they do not oppose religion, do in fact show themselves, both in their teaching and in their actions, to be the enemies of God, of the true religion and of the Church of Christ;
to 2. in the negative: they are prohibited ipso iure (cf. Can. 1399 of the Codex Iuris Canonici);
to 3. in the negative, in accordance with the ordinary principles concerning the refusal of the Sacraments to those who are not disposed;
to 4. in the affirmative.
And the following Thursday, on the 30th day of the same month and year, Our Most Holy Lord Pius XII, Pope by the Divine Providence, in the ordinary audience, granted to the Most Eminent and Most Reverend Assessor of the Sacred Office, approved of the decision of the Most Eminent Fathers which had been reported to Him, and ordered the same to be promulgated officially in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis.
Given at Rome, on July 1st, 1949.
Those who turn away from freedom inevitably turn away from God. Something for us all to ponder on this day.
O glorious Joseph! Who concealed your incomparable and regal dignity of custodian of Jesus and of the Virgin Mary under the humble appearance of a craftsman and provided for them with your work, protect with loving power your sons, especially entrusted to you.
You know their anxieties and sufferings, because you yourself experienced them at the side of Jesus and of His Mother. Do not allow them, oppressed by so many worries, to forget the purpose for which they were created by God. Do not allow the seeds of distrust to take hold of their immortal souls. Remind all the workers that in the fields, in factories, in mines, and in scientific laboratories, they are not working, rejoicing, or suffering alone, but at their side is Jesus, with Mary, His Mother and ours, to sustain them, to dry the sweat of their brow, giving value to their toil. Teach them to turn work into a very high instrument of sanctification as you did. Amen.
Pope John XXIII