The great settlement of the Roman question on February II, 1929, consisted of three parts : (I) a political treaty, (2) a financial convention, and (3) a concordat. These different agreements as incorporated in the Lateran Treaties, were necessary to cover the three great aspects of the Roman question.
The Lateran Pact did not settle all differences. The respective spheres of influence of church and state needed further definition. The outstanding quarrel between Mussolini and the pope came in 1931. On May 25, Pius XI issued his encyclical "Quadragesimo Anno," in honor of the fortieth anniversary of the issuance by Leo XIII of his encyclical on labor, "Rerum Novarum."
"The encyclical deplored the fact that 'the whole economic life has become hard, cruel, and relentless in a ghastly measure.' The pope urged a 'just' wage, advocated the attainment of some property by the workmen, and recommended that wage earners be made 'sharers in some sort of ownership or the management of profits' of capitalistic enterprise. Communism was declared 'detestable,' and socialism and Catholicism were called incompatible. Pius lamented the 'dreadful scourge' of unemployment and blamed it, in part, on the 'extreme freedom of competition.' "
"Lest this plaint against unrestricted competition be considered an endorsement of the Fascist system, however, the pope said : 'It is to be feared that the new syndical and corporative institution possesses excessive bureaucratic and political character, and that notwithstanding [certain general advantages] it risks serving particular political aims rather than contributing to the initiation of a better social order.' Pius also protested, and this could apply only to Italy and the Soviet Union, that the 'destruction of a variety of prosperous institutions that were originally linked with one another has caused society to consist virtually of only individuals and the state.' Such ideas were displeasing to the Fascists. They maintained that the pope had no right to pass judgment on economic and social matters. Pius, on the other hand, held that the church could not surrender its right to exert influence over the economic and social welfare of the family."—Langsam, "The World Since 1914." p. 399.
From May to September, 1931, there was a bitter conflict between the church and the state in Italy.
"An open break between church and state soon threatened, for besides this difference of opinion there existed conflicting views regarding the education of Italian children and the activities of the Catholic societies. Before long Fascist students started destroying church property, trampling the pope's portrait, and attacking priests. On the ground that it was engaging in political activity, Mussolini, on May 3o, 1931, closed all clubs of the Catholic Action, and on the following day he dissolved all Catholic societies not directly connected with the Fascist party.
"Pius denied that the Catholic Action was dabbling in politics and accused the government of violating the Lateran Accord. In a special letter he denounced Fascist claims regarding the education of youth, called 'illicit' the Fascist oath which 'even little boys and girls are obliged to take, about executing orders without discussion,' and deplored the setting up of a 'true and real pagan worship of the state.' He also complained that Italian children were being diverted from attendance at church service in favor of participation in military and athletic events. The Fascists replied by reminding the pope that as sovereign of a foreign state he had no right to interfere in a purely domestic situation. Mussolini announced that 'the child as soon as he is old enough to learn belongs to the state alone. No sharing is possible.' He also charged that the Catholic Action was controlled by former members of the supposedly dissolved Catholic People's party, who were making secret preparations to overthrow Fascism.
"For a time it appeared as though the agreement of 1929 would be torn up, but both Mussolini and the pope adopted reasonable attitudes, and a compromise was effected. Mutual expressions of good will were exchanged, and in the fall of 1931 Enrico Rosa, a Jesuit and a militant anti-Fascist, was removed from the editorship of the leading Catholic review in Italy, while Major Giovanni Giuriati, the man who first accused the Catholic Action of spreading anti-Fascist propaganda, resigned the secretary-generalship of the Fascist party. In addition, the pope placed control of the fifteen hundred reopened Catholic Action clubs in the hands of the bishop of each diocese rather than in those of laymen, as had formerly been the case. The Fascists agreed that in the future their military and athletic programs would be arranged so as not to interfere with Sunday church services for the children. On February 11, 1932, Mussolini paid a personal visit to the pope. Thus, on the third anniversary of the signing of the Lateran treaties, the newest accord was 'officially consecrated.' "—Id., pg. 399, 400.
There exists a most cordial relation between Mussolini and the Papacy at the present time. On January 9, 1938, Mussolini received sixty bishops and archbishops and two thousand priests in the Palazzo Venezia. In a brief speech Mussolini referred to the inestimable importance of the peace treaty which was made between the Vatican and Italy, the signing of which is to be commemorated in 1939. Then Il Duce spoke of the excellent relations that have existed between the state and the church since 1929 as well as during the war
with Abyssinia. He admonished the clergy to cooperate with the state in promoting the health and faith of the Italian people and in encouraging a rapid growth in the population, because large families make possible the battalions which facilitate great victories. Monsignore Nogara, who responded in behalf of the clergy, assured Il Duce of hearty support on their part. He said:
"I can assure you that when the glory of God, the welfare of the people, and the greatness of the fatherland are concerned, or, in other words, in all that which is of real value, the clergy will give their hearty support to the government. We do that also because we desire that Italy shall continue to be an example to and master of the entire world, and we want that Rome shall be the honored seat of the vicar of Christ."—Miinchener Zeitung, Jan. 18, 1938.
At about the same time Mussolini issued a decree to the effect that the new wide street leading to St. Peter's and the Vatican is to bear the name, Via della Conciliatione (Conciliation Street), in memory of the Lateran Treaty of 1929.
Our vaunted scientific age has come to hard straits. This is the way the liberal Christian Century views it:
The civilization which has grown up under the unfettered freedom of science for the last three centuries, is itself in a state of near collapse. This huge fact stares the scientist in the face at the very moment when he rises to defend his freedom. He cannot make a plausible apologetic for scientific freedom, or ask for its continuance, without reckoning with the embarrassing fact that it is a scientific civilization that is in trouble. If it were a religious civilization, or a primitive civilization, or a superstitious civilization that confronted the scientist, he could boldly and plausibly prescribe science as the cure of the ailment that afflicts it. But it certainly is not a primitive or a superstitious civilization, but a highly sophisticated one ; and the Christian church is just now waking to the fact that it is not a religious civilization in any Christian sense. Christianity maintains hardly more than a vestigial existence in the Western World. The place formerly occupied by Christianity has been taken by science, which sets the effective patterns of Western culture. A social order which could be called "Christendom" no longer exists except as a memory and as a revived hope. . . .
The scientific movement as a whole has been too proud ; it has claimed far too much for itself ; its messianic role is considerably deflated in the face of the present debacle which threatens mankind. For civilization now confronts no question so profound as this : What to do with the knowledge which science has given us ? Our knowledge has outstripped our devotion. The springs of faith and humility have been allowed to dry up. In his preoccupation with science, man has made an idol of his own knowledge and has fallen down before it. . . . Science has made man ill. In the delirium of his egoism he goes forth into his world of skyscrapers and telescopes and radios and airplanes and machine industry and medicine, and exclaims, "Behold great Babylon that I have builded!" But man by himself cannot build an enduring civilization. A civilization which rests upon a humanistic foundation is an artifact, not a natural creation. The very science which is used to create it will be seized by tyrants to destroy it. If the aim of science is to put into man's hand the control of nature, then it is clear that instead of being man's savior, science may become man's betrayer.—Jan. 12, 1938.