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Catholic historian calls for ‘a trial of communism analogous to the Nuremberg Trials’

Professor Roberto de Mattei warned a conference in Rome that the 'communist virus' has also infected the Catholic Church.
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Professor Roberto de Mattei speaking at the 2018 Catholic Family News conference. Dave Reilly
Paul Smeaton By Paul Smeaton

Paul Smeaton By Paul Smeaton

February 13, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Catholic historian Professor Roberto de Mattei called for “a trial of communism analogous to the Nuremberg trials” at a national conservatism conference held in Rome last week. He noted that the “communist virus” is not conquered, but has infected much of the West as well as the Catholic Church.

Professor de Mattei explained (read full text below) that the idea of launching an appeal for the trial of communism came last October from the now deceased Vladimir Bukovsky and Professor Renato Cristin. Professor de Mattei said he was convinced that in the 20th century, “there was no crime comparable to that of communism, in terms of the length of time that it lasted, the geographical territory it embraced, and also the amount of hatred that it knew how to generate.” He said that “for this reason, communism should be brought to trial.”

Professor de Mattei argued at the Feb. 4 “God, Honor, Country” National Conservatism Conference that the reason why President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II were effective opponents of communism is because they “both believed that communism was a moral evil, not simply bad economics.”

On the other hand, de Mattei noted that communism continues to be promoted by powerful forces in our world today. He highlighted the celebration in the mainstream media of Karl Marx, the continued flourishing of communism in China and Latin America, and its influence on European politics.

“Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, in the circles of those who control the ‘media’ of images and the printed word, communism has never been seen as an ‘evil,’ not even after its political collapse,” de Mattei said. “On May 5, 2018, the then-president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, participated in the solemn celebrations in Trier, Germany for the bicentennial of the birth of Karl Marx, defending his heritage. That same year, the New York Times celebrated the bicentennial with an editorial in which it treated Marx like a prophet. And today communism is flourishing not only in China and Latin America but also in Europe, where the communist parties have disappeared but the ideology survives.”

Professor de Mattei noted the ongoing popularity of communist thinker Antonio Gramsci and said that ideas “intrinsic to communist doctrine” such as “evolutionism and hedonism” continue to “pervade the West.”

“The new Europe, which has expelled the name of Christ and every reference to Christianity from its founding Treaty, is fully realizing the Gramscian plan of the secularization of society,” de Mattei said. “It was not by chance that Vladimir Bukovsky defined the European Union as the ‘European Union of Soviet Republics.’”

Professor de Mattei said the “communist virus” has infected not only Western culture, media, and politics, but also the Church. “We all remember the homage given to Fidel Castro by the Vatican authorities in November 2016 and the accord signed by the Holy See with China’s communist government,” he said.

“Cardinal Joseph Zen, the highest prelate in China and the leading voice for persecuted Catholics, recently sent a letter to the College of Cardinals imploring them to denounce this agreement,” he continued. 

“It is for this reason that we say that communism is not dead, and we will continue to call for a trial of communism analogous to the Nuremberg trials.”

* * *

God, Honor, Country: President Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II, and the Freedom of Nations — A National Conservatism Conference

Hotel Plaza, February 4, 2020

Full text of the intervention of prof. Roberto de Mattei

It seems like a paradox, but it’s not. The Berlin wall was built in 1961, when two progressive leaders were at the head of the free world: a political leader, American President John F. Kennedy, and a religious leader, Pope John XXIII.

The same Berlin Wall was torn down in 1989 thanks to the contributions of two conservative leaders: a political leader, President Ronald Reagan, and a religious leader, Pope John Paul II. What I would like to emphasize today is that the strategy of Reagan and John Paul II had greater political success than the détente of Nixon and Kissinger and the Ostpolitik of Paul VI and Cardinal Casaroli.

What were the common elements of the strategy shared by two people as different as the American president and the Polish pope?

It seems to me that the reason for their success was the axiological vision of politics that they both held, which was opposed to both the Realpolitik of Kissinger as well as the Wilsonian tradition of universalist, globalist democracy.

What does an axiological vision mean? It means a vision in which politics is not divorced from moral values but respects them. It was no accident that both Reagan and John Paul II made a moral judgement about the political movements of their day. As George Weigel has noted, both believed that communism was a moral evil, not simply bad economics. The "Evil Empire" speech delivered by Reagan in 1983 is famous.  In that speech, Reagan referred to the Soviet Union as an "evil empire" and as "the focus of evil in the modern world".

Likewise, Pope John Paul II, in his last book entitled Memory and Identity, asserted that “the ideologies of evil are profoundly rooted in the history of European thought,” especially the French  Enlightenment, the radically atheist  Marxist Revolution, National Socialist ideology, abortion, and gay rights conferred by the European parliament.   

Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, in the circles of those who control the “media” of images and the printed word, communism has never been seen as an “evil,” not even after its political collapse. On May 5, 2018, the then-president of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker, participated in the solemn celebrations in Trier, Germany for the bicentennial of the birth of Karl Marx, defending his heritage. That same year, the New York Times celebrated the bicentennial with an editorial in which it treated Marx like a prophet. And today communism is flourishing not only in China and Latin America but also in Europe, where the communist parties have disappeared but the ideology survives.

Today evolutionism and hedonism, which are intrinsic to communist doctrine, pervade the West, and the “dictatorship of the proletariat” has been replaced with the “dictatorship of relativism” that comes from the same poisoned well of dialectical materialism. Antonio Gramsci, the theorician par excellence of dialectical materialism, is today one of the five most-studied and most-translated Italians after the 16th century, and among the top 250 world authors of all time who are the most read, translated, and cited.

The new Europe, which has expelled the name of Christ and every reference to Christianity from its founding Treaty, is fully realizing the Gramscian plan of the secularization of society. It was not by chance that Vladimir Bukovsky defined the European Union as the “European Union of Soviet Republics.” He said:“I think we have a gulag in the European Union also, an intellectual gulag known as political correctness. When anyone tries to speak their mind on race or gender, or if their views differ from those approved, they will be ostracized.” (Britain on the Brink)

I would like to recall and honor Vladimir Bukovsky. He died last fall, just ten days before the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9. His final book Judgment in Moscow, Soviet Crimes and Western Complicity was an international bestseller published in nine languages, but has only now been published in English for the first time. This book reminds us that no crime, no matter how slight it may be, can escape from an investigation, from a trial, from a sentence. But this has not happened for communism. Not only has there not been a trial, there has not even been a cultural debate. The prohibition against anti-communism has placed a ban on all study, research, and documentation relevant to communism’s past. The past must be neither discussed, nor condemned, nor “expiated.” Only ex-communists and post-communists, those who participated in some way in the “great illusion” are allowed to criticize communism in the post-communist era.

Last October, through the initiative of the late Vladimir Bukovsky and professor Renato Cristin, a group of intellectuals from various nations of the world launched an appeal for a new Nuremberg Trial on communism.

I have joined this appeal because I am convinced that in the 20th century there was no crime comparable to that of communism, in terms of the length of time that it lasted, the geographical territory it embraced, and also the amount of hatred that it knew how to generate. For this reason communism should be brought to trial.

The request for a trial of communism analogous to that of Nuremberg may appear anachronistic today. Thirty years have passed since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the majority of those responsible for the crimes of communism are either dead or have apparently converted to democracy. But the trial of communism that Bukovsky wanted and that we are demanding, before being understood as a legal process ought to be seen as a cultural and moral process that denounces the responsibility of the architects of communism and their accomplices before history and before public opinion, just as happened for National Socialism.

I remember that prof. Plinio Correa de Oliveira launched a similar manifest in February 1990. 

Anti-communism has ceased, it has dissolved. For its part, communism has sunk, like a subterranean river that suddenly disappears, only to reemerge later on with greater vigor.

We must not be afraid to say that communism is still alive, because although the Soviet Union fell apart, the communist utopia continues to infect, like a virus, a communist virus, Western culture, media, politics, and also the Church. We all remember the homage given to Fidel Castro by the Vatican authorities in November 2016, and the accord signed by the Holy See with China’s communist government. Cardinal Joseph Zen, the highest prelate in China and the leading voice for persecuted Catholics, recently sent a letter to the College of Cardinals imploring them to denounce this agreement. 

It is for this reason that we say that communism is not dead, and we will continue to call for a trial of communism analogous to the Nuremberg trials.


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