Catholicism and Communism (Socialism?)

Catholicism and Communism are clearly different (e.g. belief in God)
Are there any similar principles?

Difficult question.:confused: I think it really depends on which ‘communism’ or even which of Marx’s manuscripts you are referring to. The Communist Manuscript doesn’t focus on religion and could be interpreted in within a religious context but some of Marx’s work such as the 1844 Manuscripts clearly attack religion, mainly Christianity:

“For it is clear that, according to this premise, the more the worker exerts himself in his work, the more powerful the alien, objective world becomes which he brings into being over against himself, the poorer he and his inner world become, and the less they belong to him. It is the same in religion. The more man puts into God, the less he retains within himself.”

Beyond the God/religion issue, I am convinced that communism is very material and the Church being immaterial/spiritual. These opposites come into conflict: how can one be achieved without undermining the other in some way? It requires a balance. If one looks at communism at a very general level (without following Marx too closely) it may be used as a means to help enhance the charitable functions of the Church–Catholics believe in helping the less fortunate in society. For example, Liberation Theology, which sprang from some Roman Catholic theologians, employs a democratic socialism and equal redistribution of resources to help the poor.

Of course, Liberation Theology is very popular in Latin America and not so popular with the Pope. The Church is adamant on maintaining the separation between religion and the State because it would receive opprobrium otherwise. Liberation Theology dances dangerously on the line between religious theology and political ideology.

Do I agree with Liberation Theology? I think if it helps ease suffering of the poor, so that they may worship God at a greater capacity without having to worry about struggling to survive, then socialism may have a purpose. Does that actually happen? It seems that the less people have, the more they look to God for help and have stronger faith. The opposite is also true: the more people have the more they take for granted of what God has given them (you don’t have to agree, this is my own personal assumption and remains an unfounded generalization).

I would say both communism and Catholicism are concerned about humanity, however communism has and may repress Catholicism/religion again (as in the USSR or DDR). Finally, either than their common desire to help everyone, I would say the two share little in common. They occupy two different ends of the scale: Communism’s materialism on one end and Catholic spiritualism on the other.:shrug:

I agree that Marxist communism is different from Catholicism.

The more man puts (meaning?) into God, the less (meaning?) he retains within himself?
If so,
Since meaning itself is immaterial,
Communism is more than simply material?

The Catholic Church is like a sacrament, it "is both visible and spiritual, a hierarchical society and the Mystical Body of Christ (CCC # 779)."
The Church is not simply spiritual.

Could you be more specific about how communism and Catholicism are different beyond the God/religion issue?

Communism does not denote disbelief in a god. It only discourages religious establishments (such as the Church) and congregations. One is allowed to practice their religion individually.

Then again, what would you expect? Marx condemned the Church because it upheld values contrasting those of communism, which makes the abolition of religious congregation only rational to a communist.

Communism isn’t inherently atheistic. Socialism isn’t communism. And yes, there are many people who are Christian socialists.

I’ve always considered parts of what Jesus said to be Socialistic. He believed in redistribution of wealth, less greed, not working off of people merely for profit but to serve a higher purpose. Many parallels can be drawn.

Not really. Jesus called for people to voluntarily give to the poor. To voluntarily redistribute wealth.

Socialism uses the coercive power of government to redistribute wealth, which seems a lot like theft to me.

God Bless

Boy! I will try to argue this as clearly as I can…I find it quite confusing myself :smiley:

This quote is referring to Marx’s discourse on alienation and objectification. I wouldn’t say he is talking about “meaning” but rather value/ labour. Essentially any object man creates, in this case religion, that object is also imbued with his essence or value. You could interpret this as an immaterial aspect of communism but for Marx “human essence has no true reality”. Hard to say if Marx is referring to spirituality here, but I don’t think Marx really believed in spirituality or souls…rather value as the result of the worker’s labour and effort.

This object becomes something outside of the worker. It becomes externalized, an object of external existence where the object exists outside him, independently of him and alien to him, and beings to confront him as an autonomous power; that the life which he has bestowed on the object confronts him as hostile and alien

In reference to religion, for Marx, God is a creation, an objectification of mankind “Man makes religion, religion does not make man.” In other words, man invented God and not the other way around. Furthermore, the * worker becomes a slave of his object * a slave to God.

Marx’s primary concern is materialism and the mode of production which influences everything!!! *The mode of production of material life conditions the social, political and intellectual life process in general. * In a very simple understanding what is moral, virtuous or good depends on society’s current mode of production. Any theory, whose primary concern is objects and the production thereof, is of a strictly materialist nature.

The Church operates within this physical world, so I suppose Catholicism would have to have some ties with materialism but NOT to the same sense or degree as communism. “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” Mathew 22:21 Caesar is what I would characterize as the material world and God as…well the spiritual world. The two worlds of the secular and sacred should be separated.

The Church’s aim (according to my humble, unofficial and ill-informed understanding) is to spread God’s word and help us live Christian lives so that we may all enjoy the Glory of God in Heaven. Does the Church have any material aims? actually dealing with the mode of production, the role of the state or economics?

My view on the subject determines that communism is as far from being a spiritual movement and as Catholicism a materialist one. Perhaps socialism could be compatible with Catholicism, if interpreted outside of Marx…

I really hope this clarifies what I am trying to say…please inquire further if it still seems cloudy!:o

Communism doesn’t necessarily have to be atheistic. Yet the Catholic Church has constantly condemned it. Communism is even referred to in the Catechism. This is because it has a terrible misunderstanding of human nature.

First of all communism is a utopian ideal. This is ignoring man’s fallen nature. Hence by claiming there can be a perfect society on earth, it can distract people’s efforts towards salvation.

It also claims that all people should be treated the same. However Catholicism teaches that human beings are individuals and should not be all treated exactly the same. So communism is a collective society. This is in stark contrast to the emphasis place on the individual and the family in the Catholic Church.

This lead me to my next point. The Catholic Church states that private property is a right. After all men need land to dwell and make a living off of. And the Decalouge condemns stealing others’ private property. Pope Leo XII talks about this in the encyclicals Rerum Novarum and Quod Apostolici Muneris.

The situation was even worse for Soviet Communism. I mean they were blatantly atheistic, not to mention they had complete control over the economy. They pretty much chose who you interacted with in your job. However this should be up to the people seeing as human beings are social by nature.

Criticisms of socialism are similar. Quod Apostolici Muneris was entirely dedicated to addressing the error of socialism.

As for similarities. Well, both Catholics believe that workers should be treated well, however Communism unlike the Catholic Church attempts to accomplish this with vast disregard for human nature.

Yes, if you are a statist.

For the Democratic socialist, however, it is the people who decide what the people need – not the corporations.

Edit: Also, I wouldn’t call Jesus saying “Give to the poor or burn in hell forever” as a voluntary commitment.

From a Catholic perspective…

God is value itself.
Marxist communism is quite similar to Gnosticism.

Similarities include:

  1. God (value) is alien because we forgot that we are actually God (value).
  2. Both are atheist because both deny the existence of God (value) outside of themselves.
  3. Both accept that the Principle of Value (God) only apparently exists, but not actually.

Marxist communism could be considered a gnostic political system.

What is the difference between Marxist communism and Non-Marxist communism?
Could you also define “mode of production?”

The Catholic Church teaches that,
All people naturally seek the Perfect Unity,
The soul and body naturally belong together,
All people naturally seek the perfect union of the body and soul
After the resurrection of the body.

That’s up to you to decide. I definitely urge you to do some research if this is a subject you wonder strongly about… but, I can tell you that “Capitalism is the most cold-hearted, un-Christian system.” That comes from my Christian economics teacher.

But, don’t take my word for it. Think for yourself. :wink:

Ironically Yours, Blade and Blood

There is no absolute right to property - so expropriating it seems neilther unreasonable nor unfair. Besides, the Church with its vast wealth was founded by someone who said “Go, sell all you have, then come and follow Me”. Jesus is a horribly bad model for aspiring capitalists & advocates of the right to property :slight_smile: Those who advocate such a right, are weighed down by their property; fetters of gold & silver are fetters still. But Jesus came to set prisoners free - including, presumably, those who are imprisoned by their wealth.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church…

(Under Article 7 - The Seventh Commandment - “Thou shall not steal”)

2402 - "In the beginning God entrusted the earth and its resources to the common stewardship of mankind to take care of them, master them by labor, and enjoy their fruits. The goods of creation are destined for the whole human race. However, the earth is divided up among men to assure the security of their lives, endangered by poverty and threatened by violence. The appropriation of property is legitimate for guaranteeing the freedom and dignity of persons an for helping each of them to meet his basic needs and the needs of those in his charge. It should allow for a natural solidarity to develop between men.

How does this compare with Socialism and Communism?

If solidarity is a unity of a group of people that produces or is based on community of interests, objectives, and standards. (- Webster’s Dictionary)

Then from a Catholic perspective…

Since all people naturally seek Perfect Unity,
Which is Perfect Love,
Which is God,
Which is Jesus’ sacrifice of redemption on the cross,
Which is one eternal act (since Jesus is the one eternal God)
Which is re—presented in an unbloody manner at each Mass,


In regard to CCC #2402,
Which I just quoted,

How can Socialism, Communism, and Capitalism
Allow for this natural solidarity to develop between people?

With a lack of solidarity, societies divide and collapse.

Since we make these sacrifices for others,
We can not compromise
True freedom, human dignity, nor personhood,
Or else,
The “appropriation” becomes a sham.

From the Catechism paragraph 2425,

The Church has rejected the totalitarian and atheistic ideologies associated in modem times with “communism” or “socialism.” She has likewise refused to accept, in the practice of “capitalism,” individualism and the absolute primacy of the law of the marketplace over human labor.206 Regulating the economy solely by centralized planning perverts the basis of social bonds; regulating it solely by the law of the marketplace fails social justice, for "there are many human needs which cannot be satisfied by the market."207 Reasonable regulation of the marketplace and economic initiatives, in keeping with a just hierarchy of values and a view to the common good, is to be commended.

So the Church condemns communism for its control over such an important aspect of human life as labor and capitalism for “failing social justice” Now granted this might not be the types of communism or capitalism you know so don’t use this paragraph out of context, but it can give you a basic idea of Catholic social teaching. Read Rerum Novarum for a more detailed explanation.

(Please forgive and correct me if I take the paragraphs out of context.)

There are more important things than money,
Such as
Social bonds, social justice, freedom, dignity, personhood, love, etc…
Money serves these natural needs.
Not vice-versa.

How would “communism,” “socialism,” and "capitalism"
Place these natural needs above money?

The Church does not condemn communism per se. If it did, it would have to abolish all the monasteries. But monastic communism is not only godly, it is voluntary.

Other kinds of communism and socialism vary in the coercive power of the government to rob Peter to pay Paul. Tax collection in the ancient Roman empire was socialistic. Whether the taxes ever went where they were supposed to go is arguable. Socialism only works if there is a demand for it, and there is never a demand for it unless there is plenty of poverty. Obviously socialists don’t want to solve the problem of poverty … or they would become irrelevant … and so poverty is never solved.

Capitalism likewise can be exploitative in the sense of charging excessive prices for necessary goods, refusing to pay a fair wage, forcing slave labor, and using the power of the government to create “company” unions. Capitalist greed knows no bounds, and if the capitalists had their way, there would only be the rich and the poor, no middle class. But if the middle class is gouged enough to pay to the poor and the rich, there will be a reckoning for the rich, as the French, American, and Russian Revolutions proved.

A plague on both their houses.

The only antidote to both extremes is Christianity. “Love one another.”

As Christianity fails, so will the economy. Today Christianity is failing, and so is the economy. Thieves everywhere!

I’m guessing that there could be at least some people who accept communism or socialism,
But also agree with the principle of Christian love?
Maybe are not purists?

Perhaps not in these forums.

I’m not saying we should all become communists, but…

We are never truly free,
If we keep ourselves from that which we naturally seek.

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