Dear Father Angelo,
Thomas More is considered a Saint both by the Catholic Church and the Anglican Church because he was martyrized as a result of the English monarchy trying to gain the Church’s power. However, Thomas Moore wrote the famous book Utopia, which seems to represent a Communist ideology ahead of its time or an anarchist type, which are both wrong according to the Church. I would like to point out that I’m sure in Heaven won’t be difficult combining a substantial and equal grace for all and an accidental beatitude; I’m sure this is the best government, one in which everyone is loved in the same way, but each one deserving according to his deeds. In this government God only commands, but no command is a burden. It is clear that More wanted to talk about an utopia (as it is understandable from the title). However, according to him this utopian world is isolated, yet, still placed in the real world, so his thought is inspired by the above ideologies or rather ideas (cause these ideologies had not yet been formulated).
Another thing that sounds strange is the presence of a weird religion which worships Mitra…why not Catholicism? What can you tell me with regards to this issue?
Heartly thanks in advance. I’ll pray for you and all Domenicans,
Answer of the Priest
Dear Luca Giovanni.
1. It’s true that Thomas More suggests a kind of communism of goods, but it is not the same atheist and materialistic communism proposed by Marx and Lenin which the Church has rejected.
We can discuss Thomas More’s utopian thesis. We can oppose to them the four reasonable arguments which Leo XIII put up in Rerum Novarum in support of the private property.
The first one: thanks to the work man transforms things, so man puts his own.
The transformed thing is no longer the same as before because it is enriched. Therefore, it’s not right that someone else steps in and takes the value added by the worker.
The second one: the dignity of the human being by reason of his transcendence over matter , reclaim, not only the use of things, as it happens for animals, but also its possession.
This is the reason why man can rearrange things at his will, according to goodness and usefulness.
3. Thanks to the private property, the family better safeguard itself for now and for the future.
4. Social peace is better guaranteed if everyone can dispose of its own properties.
These principles suggested by Leo XIII must be integrated into the following Magisterium’s teaching, which guarantees private property only if it benefits the common good.
2. The Church let Thomas More write what he hypothesized in his Utopia.
Thomas More didn’t deny anything to anyone by writing.
Instead, the Marxist-Leninist communism effectively dispossessed workers, particularly farmers, of their properties, leading them to extreme poverty.
The two communisms, Thomas More’s communism and Marx’s, have just the name in common, but the reality is entirely different in itself and in its horizon.
3. This is the reason why Pius XI in the encyclical Divini Redemptoris of 19th March 1937 (which sub-title is “against atheistic communism”) wrote: ”According to this doctrine there is in the world only one reality, matter, the blind forces of which evolve into plant, animal and man. Even human society is nothing but a phenomenon and form of matter, evolving in the same way. By a law of inexorable necessity and through a perpetual conflict of forces, matter moves towards the final synthesis of a classless society. In such a doctrine, as is evident, there is no room for the idea of God; there is no difference between matter and spirit, between soul and body; there is neither survival of the soul after death nor any hope in a future life.
Insisting on the dialectical aspect of their materialism, the Communists claim that the conflict which carries the world towards its final synthesis can be accelerated by man. Therefore, they endeavor to sharpen the antagonisms which arise between the various classes of society…
All other forces… as long as they resist such systematic violence, must be annihilated as hostile to the human race” (DR 9).
4. In the encyclical Quadragesimo anno (1931) he had already said communism “teaches and seeks two objectives: unrelenting class warfare and the complete eradication of private ownership. Not secretly or by hidden methods does it do this, but publicly, openly, and by employing every and all means, even the most violent. To achieve these objectives there is nothing which it does not dare, nothing for which it has respect or reverence; and when it has come to power, it is incredible and portentlike in its cruelty and inhumanity. The horrible slaughter and destruction through which it has laid waste vast regions of eastern Europe and Asia are the evidence; how much an enemy and how openly hostile it is to the Holy Church and to God Himself is, alas, too well proved by facts and fully known to all” (QA 111).
5. As regards the second problem (the problem of religion) it must be remembered that Catholicism was a minority in the society in which Thomas More lived and there was an attempt to impose Protestantism on everyone.
In Utopia religion is based on the belief in an “eternal, invisible, infinite, and incomprehensible deity”.
Everyone is free to adore this deity with the worship he likes: State doesn’t impose any particular religion on the citizens because it would be a violation of their conscience.
However, atheism is condemned (atheism rejects the immortality of the soul and the existence of a God who provides for the order of the universe and human things).
He who practices atheism cannot be elected to public offices and he cannot discuss his theories in public but only with priests.
5. As you can see, the issue is not a new religion, but to recognize the existence of God and the immortality of the soul even from a secular point of view.
A correct civil order cannot disregard its foundation and ultimate aim.
Every State must do this.
It is not a matter of to be confessional (christians, muslims, buddhists…); what matters is to recognize a supreme Legislator and an ultimate aim which the concept of common good must refer to.
The human reason comes alone to these two concepts; this does not depend on the particular belief someone practises.
Thomas More is considered a pioneer of religious freedom in this regard.
I thank you for the two questions.
And I thank you particularly for the prayer for me and for all Domenicans.
I very gladly reciprocate it and I bless you.