Sheen on Communism

Hi Everyone! I am busy preparing some materials for publication. Recently, I had the opportunity to revisit Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s book Communism and the Conscience of the West. I had made use of it a couple of years ago for an article that I wrote. As this book is out of print, I want to post some information about this book.

Sometimes when a book is published, it comes with a cover with information about the book such as summaries and about the author. I do not know how many covers of Communism and the Conscience of the West are still available. A copy that I have has the cover and so I would like to produce its contents for everyone.

-Kevin


Communism and the Conscience of the West

The title of this book has been carefully thought out and it describes exactly what Monsignor Fulton J. Sheen has taken for his subject. Communism and the Conscience of the West is about communism, yes, but it is also a stern indictment of the shortcomings and evils of our Western civilization, out of which communism has grown and with which it is akin.

In his many books and even more with his radio speeches, Monsignor Sheen, the Catholic thinker, is accustomed to addressing not only Catholics but multitudes of all faiths. Here he is reaching out to all men still capable of responding to conscience and religious feeling.

As the world takes sides again, as Russia and the United States head up rival groups of nations, it is easy for us to see nothing but evil in the East, nothing but good in the West. Monsignor Sheen will not let us purge ourselves of our sins by making Russia and communism scapegoats for all evil. He is unalterably opposed to communism. He is almost equally opposed to the laissez-faire liberalism, the relativism and materialism of our own society.

These attitudes, all Western in origin, are all intensified, carried to extremes and given dynamic force under communism. Thus the philosophy of communism unifies and strengthens all the disintegrative forces present but less obviously apparent in the West. Against this philosophy, therefore, Monsignor Sheen directs his chief attack. It will be a shock to many readers to find a book about communism so little concerned with politics and economics. To Monsignor Sheen they are of secondary importance. “The basic struggle today is not between individualism and collectivism, free enterprise and socialism, democracy and dictatorship. They are only superficial manifestations of a deeper struggle which is moral and spiritual.”

What makes communism formidable is its attraction as an inverted religion. When nineteenth century liberalism discarded the absolutes of religion and morality it left men with nothing fixed to cling to. The human craving for an object of faith, for absolutes in a changing, shifting world went unsatisfied. Communism offers new absolutes, new dogma, a new infallibility, new objects of faith, all on an entirely material and immediate plane. Millions embrace communism as a substitute for religion, as a counter-Church and counterreligion. Their fervency and zeal give communism its dynamic power and make it a formidable enemy of Christianity and of all true religion.

Monsignor Sheen has charity in the religious sense. Although he regards communism as execrable on many strong grounds, he urges everyone not to hate Communists. He takes particular pains to make this distinction clear and to insist that no Communist be excluded from the brotherhood of man.

Do battle with communism we must and should. Monsignor Sheen pleads earnestly, not for a unity of religion, but for a unity of religious people. Only through our own moral resurgence can we hope to save ourselves, let alone build a peaceful world. Only in a moral world, a world of responsibility, can man be free and live as a human being.

Communism and the Conscience of the West is aimed directly at us. All Monsignor Sheen’s points are strongly reinforced by the testimony of Communist leaders and of anticommunist leaders both Catholic and non-Catholic. Here is a heroic effort to touch the sluggish conscience of the West.

[About the Author]

Monsignor Sheen has the certainty of faith and the patience of a man accustomed to thinking in terms of eternal values.

He writes what he regards as the essential truth about communism. If you do not accept it today, you may tomorrow. He is content to lay it before you.

To Monsignor Sheen the crux of the problem of communism is not economic, not political, but religious.

Communism has many of the attributes of a religion, but with two fatal defects that make it antireligious, a counterreligion. It leaves no room for God and no room for man as a person.

Private enterprise against collectivism, the Western democracies against Soviet Russia are temporary, secondary antagonisms in his eyes. The real conflict is between a moral and spiritual world and an amoral, material world.

Today’s struggle is for the human soul.

Monsignor Sheen calls for a unity of all religious people—Catholic, Jewish or Protestant—to oppose the dynamic antireligious force of communism.

He insists on a distinction between communism and Communists. Communists are brothers misled but reclaimable, while communism is essentially an evil philosophy of life.

Monsignor Sheen’s great following among men of all faiths gives his views force. They carry weight with religious people of all persuasions and are of interest even to the followers of communism.