The Catholic Church has always condemned Socialism (state ownership of business & industry) and Communism (the total elimination of all private property). It is impossible for any Catholic to remain in good standing while subscribing to these political systems that are part of a greater materialistic ideology called Marxism. This is a truth that needs to be pointed out, and we will find that many of the problems we have in the Catholic Church today, from Latin America, to Europe, to the Anglosphere, are intimately connected to the embrace of toxic Marxism (to various degrees) by many Church leaders.
In fact, during the height of the Cold War (1960s through 1980s), the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was so alarmed by the embrace of Marxism among Catholic clergy in Latin America, that it actually sponsored the missionary activities of the most anti-Catholic Protestant sects (Biblical Fundamentalism and Pentecostalism), so as to intentionally disrupt the influence of the Catholic Church in that part of the world.
This, however, was the result of Kremlin meddling in the Catholic Church’s affairs in Central America and not the teaching of the Church herself. The fact that the Church has condemned the ideology of Marxism, and its political systems of socialism and communism, cannot be denied. It comes from the highest sources possible — the popes.
“You are aware indeed, that the goal of this most iniquitous plot is to drive people to overthrow the entire order of human affairs and to draw them over to the wicked theories of this socialism and communism, by confusing them with perverted teachings.”
(Pope Pius IX, Encyclical Nostis et Nobiscum, December 8, 1849)
“Communism, socialism, nihilism, hideous deformities of the civil society of men and almost its ruin.”
(Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Diuturnum, June 29, 1881)
“For, the fear of God and reverence for divine laws being taken away, the authority of rulers despised, sedition permitted and approved, and the popular passions urged on to lawlessness, with no restraint save that of punishment, a change and overthrow of all things will necessarily follow. Yea, this change and overthrow is deliberately planned and put forward by many associations of communists and socialists.”
(Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Humanum Genus, April 20, 1884, n. 27)
“We speak of that sect of men who, under various and almost barbarous names, are called socialists, communists, or nihilists, and who, spread over all the world, and bound together by the closest ties in a wicked confederacy, no longer seek the shelter of secret meetings, but, openly and boldly marching forth in the light of day, strive to bring to a head what they have long been planning – the overthrow of all civil society whatsoever. Surely, these are they who, as the sacred Scriptures testify, ‘Defile the flesh, despise dominion and blaspheme majesty.’ (Jud. 8).”
(Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Quod Apostolici Muneris, December 28, 1878, n. 1)
“They [socialists, communists, or nihilists] debase the natural union of man and woman [marriage], which is held sacred even among barbarous peoples; and its bond, by which the family is chiefly held together, they weaken, or even deliver up to lust. Lured, in fine, by the greed of present goods, which is ‘the root of all evils, which some coveting have erred from the faith’ (1 Tim. 6:10.3), they assail the right of property sanctioned by natural law; and by a scheme of horrible wickedness, while they seem desirous of caring for the needs and satisfying the desires of all men, they strive to seize and hold in common whatever has been acquired either by title of lawful inheritance, or by labor of brain and hands, or by thrift in one’s mode of life.”
(Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Quod Apostolici Muneris, December 28, 1878, n. 1)
“Socialists and members of other seditious societies, who labor unceasingly to destroy the State even to its foundations.”
(Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Libertas Praestantissimum, June 20, 1888)
“But stranger still, alarming and saddening at the same time, are the audacity and frivolity of men who call themselves Catholics and dream of re-shaping society under such conditions, and of establishing on earth, over and beyond the pale of the Catholic Church, ‘the reign of love and justice’ … What are they going to produce? … A mere verbal and chimerical construction in which we shall see, glowing in a jumble, and in seductive confusion, the words Liberty, Justice, Fraternity, Love, Equality, and human exultation, all resting upon an ill-understood human dignity. It will be a tumultuous agitation, sterile for the end proposed, but which will benefit the less Utopian exploiters of the people. Yes, we can truly say that the Sillon, its eyes fixed on a chimera, brings Socialism in its train.”
(Pope Pius X, Apostolic Letter Notre Charge Apostolique to the French Bishops, August 25, 1910, condemning the movement Le Sillon)
“It is not our intention here to repeat the arguments which clearly expose the errors of Socialism and of similar doctrines. Our predecessor, Leo XIII, most wisely did so in truly memorable Encyclicals; and you, Venerable Brethren, will take the greatest care that those grave precepts are never forgotten, but that whenever circumstances call for it, they should be clearly expounded and inculcated in Catholic associations and congresses, in sermons and in the Catholic press.”
(Pope Benedict XV, Encyclical Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum, November 1, 1914, n. 13)
“For Socialism, which could then be termed almost a single system and which maintained definite teachings reduced into one body of doctrine, has since then split chiefly into two sections, often opposing each other and even bitterly hostile, without either one however abandoning a position fundamentally contrary to Christian truth that was characteristic of Socialism.”
“But what if Socialism has really been so tempered and modified as to the class struggle and private ownership that there is in it no longer anything to be censured on these points? Has it thereby renounced its contradictory nature to the Christian religion? This is the question that holds many minds in suspense. And numerous are the Catholics who, although they clearly understand that Christian principles can never be abandoned or diminished seem to turn their eyes to the Holy See and earnestly beseech Us to decide whether this form of Socialism has so far recovered from false doctrines that it can be accepted without the sacrifice of any Christian principle and in a certain sense be baptized.
That We, in keeping with Our fatherly solicitude, may answer their petitions, We make this pronouncement: Whether considered as a doctrine, or an historical fact, or a movement, Socialism, if it remains truly Socialism, even after it has yielded to truth and justice on the points which we have mentioned, cannot be reconciled with the teachings of the Catholic Church because its concept of society itself is utterly foreign to Christian truth.”
“[Socialism] is based nevertheless on a theory of human society peculiar to itself and irreconcilable with true Christianity. Religious socialism, Christian socialism, are contradictory terms; no one can be at the same time a good Catholic and a true socialist.”
(Pope Pius XI, Encyclical Quadragesimo Anno, May 15, 1931, n. 111, 117, 120)
“To consider the State as something ultimate to which everything else should be subordinated and directed, cannot fail to harm the true and lasting prosperity of nations.”
(Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Summi Pontificatus, October 20, 1939, n. 60)
“The Church undertook the protection of the individual and the family against a current threatening to bring about a total socialization which in the end would make the specter of the ‘Leviathan’ become a shocking reality. The Church will fight this battle to the end, for it is a question of supreme values: the dignity of man and the salvation of souls.”
(Pope Pius XII, “Radio message to the Katholikentag of Vienna,” September 14, 1952 in Discorsi e Radiomessaggi, vol. XIV, p. 314)
“Pope Pius XI further emphasized the fundamental opposition between Communism and Christianity, and made it clear that no Catholic could subscribe even to moderate Socialism. The reason is that Socialism is founded on a doctrine of human society which is bounded by time and takes no account of any objective other than that of material well-being. Since, therefore, it proposes a form of social organization which aims solely at production, it places too severe a restraint on human liberty, at the same time flouting the true notion of social authority.”
(Pope John XXIII, Encyclical Mater et Magistra, May 15, 1961, n. 34)
“Too often Christians attracted by socialism tend to idealize it in terms which, apart from anything else, are very general: a will for justice, solidarity and equality. They refuse to recognize the limitations of the historical socialist movements, which remain conditioned by the ideologies from which they originated.”
(Pope Paul VI, Apostolic Letter Octogesima Adveniens, May 14, 1971, n. 31)
“It may seem surprising that ‘socialism’ appeared at the beginning of the Pope’s critique of solutions to the ‘question of the working class’ at a time when ‘socialism’ was not yet in the form of a strong and powerful State, with all the resources which that implies, as was later to happen. However, he correctly judged the danger posed to the masses by the attractive presentation of this simple and radical solution to the ‘question of the working class.’”
“Continuing our reflections, … we have to add that the fundamental error of socialism is anthropological in nature. Socialism considers the individual person simply as an element, a molecule within the social organism, so that the good of the individual is completely subordinated to the functioning of the socio-economic mechanism. Socialism likewise maintains that the good of the individual can be realized without reference to his free choice, to the unique and exclusive responsibility which he exercises in the face of good or evil. Man is thus reduced to a series of social relationships, and the concept of the person as the autonomous subject of moral decision disappears, the very subject whose decisions build the social order. From this mistaken conception of the person there arise both a distortion of law, which defines the sphere of the exercise of freedom, and an opposition to private property.”
(Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Centesimus Annus − On the 100th anniversary of Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum, May 1, 1991, n. 12, 13)
“The State which would provide everything, absorbing everything into itself, would ultimately become a mere bureaucracy incapable of guaranteeing the very thing which the suffering person − every person − needs: namely, loving personal concern. We do not need a State which regulates and controls everything, but a State which, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, generously acknowledges and supports initiatives arising from the different social forces and combines spontaneity with closeness to those in need. … In the end, the claim that just social structures would make works of charity superfluous masks a materialist conception of man: the mistaken notion that man can live ‘by bread alone’ (Mt 4:4; cf. Dt 8:3) − a conviction that demeans man and ultimately disregards all that is specifically human.”
(Pope Benedict XVI, Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, December 25, 2005, n. 28)
The teachings of the popes have been consistent for over a century and a half now. The materialist ideology of Marxism, and its political systems of Socialism (state ownership of business & industry) and Communism (the elimination of all private property), are completely incompatible with the Catholic Christian faith.
Yet nevertheless, in our time, we have witnessed the rise of Liberation Theology in Latin America, and a Marxist fixation on Social Justice in Europe and the Anglosphere. All of it is connected, and it’s all related to the warning we received from Our Lady of Fatima in 1917, that the “errors of Russia” (i.e. Marxism) would spread throughout the world and the Holy Father (i.e. the Pope) would have much to suffer.
The goal of Marxism is simple. It designs to destroy the Catholic Church and replace it with the Cult of the Omnipotent State. Insofar as Church leadership has embraced this great heresy of Marxism, other liberal innovations will follow. These will include the so-called “seamless garment” idea that no one social issue is more important than another, as well as the homo-heresy and gender theory which teach that sexuality and gender are fluid and not set by God’s design. Then we have the abuse of the liturgy which tends to focus more on man than God. All of these are designed to weaken the moral authority of the Catholic Church, drive out her members, and supplant her place in society with the Cult of the Omnipotent State.
The time has come for faithful Catholics to see and understand the inter-connectivity between these things. It all begins with Marxism, and it’s all connected. Likewise, the time has come for us to stand up to it and refute it for the heresy it is.
Shane Schaetzel is an Evangelical convert to the Catholic Church through Anglicanism and was trained as a catechist through the University of Dayton – a Catholic Marianist Institution. Shane’s articles have been featured on LifeSiteNews, ChurchMilitant, The Remnant Newspaper, Forward in Christ, and Catholic Online. Shane is an author of Catholic books, which can be read here.