Decree against Communism

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The Decree against Communism is a 1949 Catholic Church document (by Pope Pius XII) which excommunicates all Catholics collaborating in communist organizations. The document resulted in one of the largest formal excommunications in the history of the Catholic Church (it could include more than several million Catholics).

The ruling followed suit to an earlier 1937 encyclical entitled Divini Redemptoris which was strongly critical of communism and its Christian variants.

The Holy Office issued several decrees, falling broadly into two categories:

  • Defence of Church rights regarding the ordination of bishops and Church activities, and,
  • Condemnations of participation in Communist parties and organizations.

On July 15, 1948, L’Osservatore Romano published a decree about communism, which excommunicated those who propagate "the materialistic and anti-Christian teachings of communism", which was widely interpreted as an excommunication of the Communist Party of Italy, which however, was not mentioned in the decree.[1] The Sanctum Officium continued to issue condemnations:

  • Membership in communist parties, July 1, 1949:[2]
  • Excommunication of Bishop Dechet, February 18, 1950,[3]
  • Membership in communist youth organizations, September 28, 1950,[4]
  • Usurpation of Church functions by the State, June 29, 1950,[5]
  • Illegitimate state ordered ordinations of bishops, April 9, 1951,[6]
  • Publications favouring totalitarian Communism, June 28 and July 22, 1955,[7]

The decree against communism was declared invalid by the New "Codex Juris Canoni" promulgated on 25 January 1983 by John Paul II.[citation needed]


  1. ^ L’Osservatore Romano July 15, 1948
  2. ^ AAS 1949, 334
  3. ^ AAS 1950, 195
  4. ^ AAS 1950, 533:
  5. ^ AAS 1950, 601
  6. ^ AAS 1951, 217
  7. ^ AAS 1955, 455 and 558

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