Catholic Socialism?

Acts 4:32-37. Does Scripture support socialism?

No, it does not. Socialism I believe, correct me if I am wrong, condemned by the Catholic Church

examine this from the Haydock Bible Commentary

Ver. 32. All things were common. Happy would it be for society, if the rich of the present day were to imitate, in some degree, this charity of the first disciples, by distributing to those that want. Both would hereby become more happy; nor would the rich derive less pleasure from such actions, than the poor. (St. Chrysostom, hom. xi. in Acts.) — That cold and fatal word, mine, and thine, which has caused so many misfortunes and wars, was banished from among them. (Id. hom. de St. Philogon.) — Some take this to be the origin of a monastic life: but according to the Fathers, it is rather its progress and increase; for it began in the family of Jesus Christ. The apostles, indeed, may be said to institute here that common life, which they led under Christ, our Lord, and of which Peter speaks: behold, we have left all. This life, by St. Augustine and others, is called apostolic, and there among all, wives are particularly specified. Cajetan thinks no vow was required: St. Augustine is of a different sentiment. (Serm. x. de diversis & alibi.)

Ver. 33. And great grace was in them all. All of them were present, were replenished with extraordinary graces of charity, zeal, &c. (Witham)

Ver. 36-37. Joseph … surnamed Barnabas, the son of consolation, &c. He seems to be mentioned as the first that sold all he had, and brought the price, and laid it at the feet of the apostles. (Witham) — There was at that time a great number of Jews established in this city. (Bible de Vence)

I think the difference between the early Church and a socialist or communist government today is that a government would be imposing this lifestyle on the people. In order for it to work, everybody has to be totally willing to give it their all. This is why communism fails nowadays; the people don’t work hard because a mechanic gets paid the same as a doctor.

Perhaps that is what the passage about Ananias and Sapphira is about. They didn’t trust the rest of the community to pull their own weight, and so they felt the need to have a safety net.

I am near certain socialism and communism have been condemned by the Church, but unfortunately I do not have time to look up the proper documentation.

It was one of the recent Popes who said, ‘no one can at the same time be a Socialist and a true Catholic.’

Pope John Paul II had a bunch to say in Centesimus Annus, but I’ll have to look up the specifics.

Government of people is as varied as the people themselves. The truths of politics are relative to the people. The Truths of God are not relative, thus are the basis of what we should incorporate into politics. Politics devoid of God are not based on truth and likewise, religion based on politics, doctrine voted on by the laity, is not truth based. It is the basis for politics, the Truth found in God, that is most important as any system is corrupted by sin.

In theory, it would not seem that a socialistic society would be against RCC teachings, but that depends on the definition of socialism used. From what we’ve seen in practice over history, “socialism” is corrupt, and as has been said there’s nothing been done to assure that people pull their own weight.

Of course, even Christian societies have struggles with the practical application of socialism over the centuries.

It was Pope Pius XI who said in 1931, “No one can be at the same time a sincere Catholic and a true Socialist.”

He was speaking of Socialist in the sense of USSR. Socialism has merits that are inlined with the Church, such as Capitalism does as well. Both also have things that are against the Church.

For several instances of the Church’s condemnation of Socialism, see here and here.

As again, they are speaking of a Political system such as the USSR or China.

Or Vietnam or Cuba or Venezuela or North Korea. There are still a lot of examples, most of the characterized by excessive degrees of government control over the economy and the citizenry.

Pope Leo XIII - Rerum Novarum - May 15, 1891

“Hence, it is clear that the main tenet of socialism, community of goods, must be utterly rejected”

No. Read the documents. See the quote I provided. It has nothing to do with a “political system”, but the core philosophy.

I’ll embrace “catholic socialism” just as soon as you can produce enough human beings utterly free of the ravages of original sin and the resultant concupiscence to run the government structure that it requires. The reason socialism can’t work is that it relies on the use of government power for the maintenance of just distribution of wealth.

When implemented with actual humans, that level of power ALWAYS corrupts those who excercise it. The only sensible alternative is to allow private ownership of the means of production and try to maintain government policies that tend to fragment said ownership instead of concentrate it in the hands of either a few owners or a few bureaucrats.

The best church teaching on the matter is STILL the 100 year old Rerum Novarum.

Reading the documents would make “Marys” out of “Martha”, too busy to know what is the greater Good.


Socialism. a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.


The inequality of rights and of power proceeds from the very Author of nature, “from whom all paternity in heaven and earth is named.”…He appointed that there should be various orders in civil society, differing indignity, rights, and power, whereby the State, like the Church, should be one body, consisting of many members, some nobler than others, but all necessary to each other and solicitous for the common good.

Ephesians 6:12

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Jesus’ Kingdom is not of this world, so salvation does not come from systems or ideology. The “progressives” of my parish fall into the trap of wanting to fix the system, using God’s Word to bring change to help all the poor, noble yes, but they pass by the poor right under their noses in the pursuit of helping the masses by “social” change under the guise of “social justice” that in no way correlates to the teaching of the Church on social justice. Social justice is only part of a much bigger picture. Socialism as a function of the Gospel, “They shared everything, everyone according to their need” obviously isn’t a bad thing, it is when man uses it for his own end that it is corrupted. Render unto Caesar, everything else is spiritual.

Yep. That was one of the first condemnations. Ironically, it also condemned the “classical” notion of liberalism which, i believe, is considered more aligned with modern Capitalism (also conservatism) in it present corrupted state.

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