New York: Paulist Press, 1937. Early edition in English. Octavo (7 1/2 inches tall), original staplebound wrappers decorated in red, white, and black. Slightest edge-wear and tiny chip to lower right corner of the wrapper. About-fine. Item #447
Early English translation of Pope Pius XI's Divini Redemptoris, this edition distinguished in bright Art Deco wrappers. Achille Ratti succeeded Benedict XV in 1922 and reigned as Pope Pius XI until 1939. His pontificate stretched across the tumultuous period between the First and Second World Wars, characterized, as was Pope Benedict XV's before him, by the Church's increasingly confrontational relationship to totalitarian Fascism and Communism. In 1918 Benedict XV sent Ratti "as nuncio to Poland where he witnessed first-hand a Bolshevik attack on Warsaw, an experience that helps explain his fierce anti-Communism." (John O'Malley, A History of the Popes: From Peter to the Present). Pius XI was fierce indeed but by the winter of 1937 the pope was growing old and was physically diminished. Still, Pius roused himself anew in March to deliver back-to-back blows against the twin scourges of Fascism and Communism. Divinis Redemptoris appeared only five days after the promulgation of the controversial Mit brennender Sorge ("With Burning Concern"), a German-language encyclical that condemned the Fascism embodied by the ideology of Germany's Nazi regime.
The Vatican's denunciation of Communism found a wide audience in the United States. The National Catholic Welfare Conference, America Press, and The Knights of Columbus Supreme Council also published their own American editions but none were as handsome as this edition distributed by the Paulist Fathers from their Mother Church on the West Side of New York City. This printing includes the following sectional headings: I. Attitude of the Church towards Communism, II. Communism in Theory and Practice, III. Doctrine of the Church in Contrast, IV. Defensive and Constructive Program, V. Ministers and Co-Workers in Catholic Social Action, Conclusion. After the war and the defeat of the Axis Powers, the Church (in the person of Pope Pius XII) resumed its militant stance towards Communism. In July, 1949 the Holy Office, with the blessing of the pope, declared Communism and Catholicism irreconcilable and excommunicated any Catholic who was a member of the Communist Party.