Pope Pius XI

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Pope Pius XI.

Pope Pius XI (Latin: Pius PP. XI; Italian: Pio XI; May 31, 1857February 10, 1939), born Ambrogio Damiano Achille Ratti, was Pope from February 6, 1922, and sovereign of Vatican City from its creation as an independent state on February 11, 1929 until his death on February 10, 1939. He issued numerous encyclicals including Quadragesimo Anno highlighting capitalistic greed of international finance, social justice issues and Quas Primas establishing the feast of Christ the King. He took as his papal motto "Christ's peace in Christ's kingdom".

Achille Ratti had the most unusual papal career in the 20th century. Throughout his life he was an accomplished scholar, librarian and humble priest. He celebrated his 60th birthday as a priest on 31 May 1917 and fewer than five years later, on 6 February 1922, he was elected Pope, succeeding Pope Benedict XV, who was only thirty months older and thus from the same generation as Ratti. In those five years he had short stints as papal nuncio in Poland, which forced him to leave the country, and as Archbishop of Milan and Cardinal-Priest of Ss. Silvestro e Martino ai Monti, where he served for a few months before being elected Pope. He chose the name Pius, and his personality was strong, similar to Pius IX and Pius X. But as a scholar, he was open to science and research like no other Pope since Leo XIII. To establish or maintain the position of the Church, he fostered and concluded a record number of concordats including the Reichskonkordat with Germany. Under his pontificate, the 1870 stalemate concerning the Roman Question with Italy over the status of the papacy was finally solved in the Lateran Treaty of 1929 with the assistance of Cardinal Pietro Gasparri and Francesco Pacelli, brother of the future Pope Pius XII. He was unable to stop the Terrible Triangle consisting of massive Church persecution and killing of clergy in Mexico, Spain and the Soviet Union. While in Mexico and Spain, the persecution was mainly directed against the Catholic Church, hostility in the Soviet Union were directed against all Christians but especially against the Eastern Catholic Churches united with the Vatican. He protested against both Communism and National Socialism but found no support for his position in the democracies of the West.

In one of his most important encyclicals on the social order of modern society, Quadragesimo Anno he stated that social and economic issues are vital to the Church not from a technical point of view but in terms of moral and ethical issues involved. Ethical considerations include the nature of private property.[1] in terms of its functions for society the development of the individual.[2] He defined fair wages and branded the exploitation both materially and spiritually by international capitalism. He canonized important saints including Albertus Magnus, Thomas More, Petrus Canisius, Konrad von Parzham and Don Bosco. He beatified and canonized Thérèse de Lisieux, for whom he held special reverence. He created the feast Christ the King in response to Mussolini's earthly dictatorship.

Pius XI took strong interests in fostering the participation of lay people throughout the Church, especially in the Catholic Action movement. The end of his pontificate were dominated by defending the Church from intrusions into Catholic life and education.

Quotes

In our days immense power and despotic economic domination is concentrated in the hands of a few. This power becomes particularly irresistible when exercised by those who, because they hold and control money, are able also to govern credit and determine its allotment, for that reason supplying, so to speak, the life-blood to the entire economic body, and grasping, as it were, in their hands the very soul of the economy, so that no one dare breathe against their will. Unrestrained free competition permits the survival of those only who are strongest. This often means those who fight most relentlessly, who pay least heed to the dictates of conscience.

Quadragesimo Anno, 1931.

References

  1. Quadragesimo Anno 44-52
  2. Quadragesimo Anno 114-115
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