But it was not always so. In 1920 Pope Benedict was alarmed by the conditions in Europe in the aftermath of the First World War. He issued a motu proprio titled "Bonum Sane" or "The good course".
He identified a series of problems, including class conflict and a breakdown in family life. He believed that the war had had a negative effect on the family:
the sanctity of conjugal faith and respect for the paternal authority have been many people not so vulnerable because of the war; and because the distance of one of the spouses has slowed down the bond of duty in the other, and because the absence of a watchful eye has given the opportunity to inconsiderateness, especially female, to live on their own talent and too freely. Therefore we must find with real sorrow that now the public customs are much more depraved and corrupt than before...
It's a poor translation, but the gist of it seems to be that the war, in separating husbands and wives and making women more independent, harmed the sense of duty of the spouses to each other, allowed them (especially the women) to live too freely (i.e. without concern for the good of the family), and undermined respect for paternal authority.
But it is what follows on from this that is of most interest. Pope Benedict XV, concerned about the socialist upheavals in parts of Europe at this time in history, issued this warning:
Therefore we must find with real sorrow that now the public customs are much more depraved and corrupt than before, and that therefore the so-called " social question " has been aggravated to such an extent as to generate the threat of irreparable ruins. The advent of a Universal Republic, which is longed for by all the worst elements of disorder, and confidently expected by them, is an idea which is now ripe for execution. From this republic, based on the principles of absolute equality of men and community of possessions, would be banished all national distinctions, nor in it would the authority of the father over his children, or of the public power over the citizens, or of God over human society, be any longer acknowledged. If these ideas are put into practice, there will inevitably follow a reign of unheard-of terror. Already, even now, a large portion of Europe is going through that doleful experience and We see that it is sought to extend that awful state of affairs to other regions.
Pope Benedict XV believed that it was the "worst elements of disorder" that were pushing for the abolition of "all national distinctions". He connects this drive to abolish national distinctions to a demand for an "absolute equality of men" which doesn't stop at internationalism but has wider repercussions, also undermining family, church and society.
What is striking is that the Church in 1920 did not side with the forces of dissolution but set itself resolutely against them.
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