Catholicism and Socialism? Incompatible


How many Catholics would vote for Sanders if he pushes socialism? I would think that is a non-negotiable.


Not so, according to this article

You can read the quotes of Pope Benedict 16.


When I was researching for the topic of “economic despair” it was interesting to me that several of our colder climate states lean toward liberalism which is a form of socialism I think, :shrug:

It’s also interesting to me that cold climate countries like Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, the Netherlands and even Canada are socialist
And/but, it makes sense to me because the cost to keep from freezing to death in these countries just offsets the economic balance …

They need government assistance, no two ways about it
And unfortunately we’ve got the same problem in several of our northern states.


Even though I think socialism is wrong and could never work (no pun intended), I think the whole socialist thing is a moot point, because there is a much more important issue as the second article states:

All of this so far, is a question of personal opinions and preferences, but for the Catholic the issue of abortion really is a major factor, and not one simply of personal opinion. The Catholic Church’s teaching is clear–to vote for a candidate who actively supports abortion is a serious sin.

Socialism does not equate to charity, anyone that thinks they are equal, is sadly misinformed.


As far as his socialism, nobody that I know of has suggested that any of his proposed economic policies violate Church teaching. People may not like his policies, but they are not by themselves immoral.


The relevant paragraph in the Catechism is 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. 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.” 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. *

A careful reading of this shows that what the Church actually rejects is “the totalitarian and atheistic ideologies”. The Church has not rejected out of hand anything that goes under the name of “Socialism”. The term “socialism” means different things to different people, and the Wikipedia definition relates to “a variety of social and economic systems characterized by social ownership and democratic control of the means of production”. Some of the instances of socialism we have seen in recent times, particularly in the USSR and China, do indeed involve an atheistic ideology. But there is no reason to believe that the society Mr. Sanders would bring about would be atheistic. His brand of socialism need not include an assault on the freedom of religion. Nor would it have to be totalitarian. There would still be private property. In fact, Mr. Sanders has not suggested that corporations be nationalized. So it is hard to see what he promotes as really being socialism, despite his continued use of that word. I think he says “socialism” only to invoke the societal responsibility aspects associated with socialism - things like taxpayer-funded education and health care.

Some may have their own private reasons for opposing these measures, but the Church does not oppose them per se. In fact, if we are to go just on trigger words like “socialism”, notice that “capitalism” is also included in CCC 2425. But we would not conclude from this that Catholicism is incompatible with Capitalism - only with one particularly bad kind of capitalism. Similarly, the Church does not condemn everything that goes under the name of socialism, only those particularly bad kinds of socialism.


Of course it is incompatible. It is right in the Catechism.

As is unrestrained capitalistic endeavors that feature the primacy of individualism over human labor.

What we get arguments about is “oh, that’s not real socialism!”

And since one can argue all day that a particular policy is or is not a socialist policy, given it relatively nebulous definition in the Church’s teaching, people justify voting or not voting for a guy like Bernie Sanders depending on their argument.


This is just the personal opinion of the writer of that blog and not a binding Catholic doctrine.


I am sorry, I am still in the learning stages. So what you are saying is every time they talk about abortion on CAL they are just giving their own opinions not church teachings. Therefor I can chose to take it or leave it.

In essence it isn’t a sin if I support someone who I know actively fights for a persons right to kill millions of innocent unborn children. As long as his other issues will benefit me more in the long run?


True socialism is truly rare in the modern world. As socialism in its original Marxist sense in which the government owns the means of production is such a whopping failure in every sense, there aren’t very many real socialist anywhere.

Real socialism isn’t consistent with the Catholic faith, in my view, as it doesn’t allow for the private ownership of anything. There are some early encyclicals on this I believe, which may be linked into this thread already. Those are matters of informed opinion, of course.

It also isn’t consistent with human nature and it therefore hasn’t worked anywhere.

Modern Social Democrats aren’t Social Democrats either, as that name actually originally applied to Communists with the split between Social Democrats and Communists arising over whether a society had to go through a bourgeoisie democracy prior to becoming socialist. The Communists said no, and the Social Democrats said yes.

Modern Social Democrats, however, are more like the British Labor party, which are left wing, borrow elements of socialism, but which aren’t really socialist. Could a Catholic be that kind of Social Democrat? Probably. But finding a Social Democratic Party of any stripe that didn’t support nearly every social program we find abhorrent would be very difficult.

One additional thing to keep in mind is that all such extreme left wing movements tend to reject religion by default, as they do not concede that we cannot build a perfect world here and now and that our focus is on the eternal. Almost all, by default, believe that we can build a perfect world here and now, deny death, and that anything that tends to require us to focus on a Divine law is an unwanted distraction as we define our own worth and values. That isn’t a doctrine of socialism, but almost all very “liberal” or very “progressive” movements define themselves that way.


What “grave moral reason” (as outlined by the USCCB’s voters’ guide) would permit a vote for a politician that supports abortion?


They certainly do violate the teaching on subsidiarity.

1883 Socialization also presents dangers. Excessive intervention by the state can threaten personal freedom and initiative. The teaching of the Church has elaborated the principle of subsidiarity, according to which "a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to co- ordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good."7

1884 God has not willed to reserve to himself all exercise of power. He entrusts to every creature the functions it is capable of performing, according to the capacities of its own nature. This mode of governance ought to be followed in social life. The way God acts in governing the world, which bears witness to such great regard for human freedom, should inspire the wisdom of those who govern human communities. They should behave as ministers of divine providence.

1885 The principle of subsidiarity is opposed to all forms of collectivism. It sets limits for state intervention. It aims at harmonizing the relationships between individuals and societies. It tends toward the establishment of true international order.

1894 In accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, neither the state nor any larger society should substitute itself for the initiative and responsibility of individuals and intermediary bodies.

2209 The family must be helped and defended by appropriate social measures. Where families cannot fulfill their responsibilities, other social bodies have the duty of helping them and of supporting the institution of the family. Following the principle of subsidiarity, larger communities should take care not to usurp the family’s prerogatives or interfere in its life.


Like many here on CAF, there is an attempt to diminish the right-to-life issue by trying to draw some false moral equivalence to other social ills like poverty, hunger, etc. Some fancy that it is acceptable to vote for a pro-“choice” candidate since they support goods such as universal healthcare, poverty and hunger assistance programs, or social issues such as racism, discrimination, and other forms of bigotry (despite the fact that subsidiarity tells us these are best handled at the lowest level of society, which is not the federal government).

However, none of these other issues rise to the level of evil and harm that is wrought by abortion. What good is a poverty assistance program to the poor if they are murdered before they are born? What good are efforts to curb racism, if the targets of racism are snuffed out before birth? All of these other goods are contingent on life. Until the right to life is secured, these other rights are secondary. That is not to say we should ignore these other issues. Indeed, there are people alive who are suffering. However, the priority should be on the greatest evil.


:juggle: Here comes the juggling act, and only because Leaf “can” but that lie won’t stand out here.


What the Popes Have to Say About Socialism

PIUS IX (1846-1878):
Overthrow [of] the entire order of human affairs
“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.” (Encyclical Nostis et Nobiscum, December 8, 1849)

LEO XIII (1878-1903):
Hideous monster
“…communism, socialism, nihilism, hideous deformities of the civil society of men and almost its ruin.” (Encyclical Diuturnum, June 29, 1881)

Ruin of all institutions
“… 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” (Encyclical Humanum Genus, April 20, 1884, n. 27).

A sect “that threatens civil society with destruction

Leo XIII (1877-1903): Socialists assail the right of property sanctioned by natural law.
“…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).” (Encyclical Quod Apostolici Muneris, December 28, 1878, n. 1)

Socialists debase the natural union of man and woman and assail the right of property
“They [socialists, communists, or nihilists] debase the natural union of man and woman, 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.” (Encyclical Quod Apostolici Muneris, December 28, 1878, n. 1)

Destructive sect
“…socialists and members of other seditious societies, who labor unceasingly to destroy the State even to its foundations.” (Encyclical Libertas Praestantissimum, June 20, 1888)

Enemy of society and of Religion
“…there is need for a union of brave minds with all the resources they can command. The harvest of misery is before our eyes, and the dreadful projects of the most disastrous national upheavals are threatening us from the growing power of the socialistic movement. They have insidiously worked their way into the very heart of the community, and in the darkness of their secret gatherings, and in the open light of day, in their writings and their harangues, they are urging the masses onward to sedition; they fling aside religious discipline; they scorn duties; they clamor only for rights; they are working incessantly on the multitudes of the needy which daily grow greater, and which, because of their poverty are easily deluded and led into error. It is equally the concern of the State and of religion, and all good

men should deem it a sacred duty to preserve and guard both in the honor which is their due.” (Encyclical Graves de Communi Re, January 18, 1901, n. 21)

SAINT PIUS X (1903-1914):
The dream of re-shaping society will bring socialism
“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.” (Apostolic Letter Notre Charge Apostolique “Our Apostolic Mandate”] to the French Bishops, August 25, 1910, condemning the movement Le Sillon)

BENEDICT XV (1914-1922):
The condemnation of socialism should never be forgotten
“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.” (Encyclical Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum, November 1, 1914, n. 13)


Pius XI (1922-1939): “No one can be at the same time a good Catholic and a true socialist.”
Socialism, fundamentally contrary to Christian truth
“… 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.” (Encyclical Quadragesimo Anno, May 15, 1931, n. 111)

Socialism cannot be reconciled with Catholic Doctrine
“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.” (Ibid. n. 117)

Catholic Socialism, a contradiction
“[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.” (Ibid. n. 120)

PIUS XII (1939-1958):
The Church will fight to the end, in defense of supreme values threatened by socialism
“[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." (“Radio message to the Katholikentag of Vienna,” September 14, 1952 in Discorsi e Radiomessaggi, vol. XIV, p. 314)

The state can not be regarded as being above all
“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.” (Encyclical Summi Pontificatus, October 20, 1939, n. 60)

JOHN XXIII (1958-1963):
No Catholic could subscribe even to moderate socialism
“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.” (Encyclical Mater et Magistra, May 15, 1961, n. 34)

PAUL VI (1963-1978):
Too often Christians tend to idealize socialism
“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.” (Apostolic Letter Octogesima Adveniens, May 14, 1971, n. 31)


No,You can never vote for someone who favors absolutely the right to choice of a woman to destroy a human life in her womb or the right to a procured abortion. You may in some circumstances, where you don’t have any candidate who is proposing to eliminate all abortion, choose the candidate who will most limit this grave evil in our country. But you could never justify voting for a candidate who not only does not want to limit abortion but believes that it should be available to everyone

Cardinal Burke

Without respect for life, without respect for the family, society simply does not exist…all [other] rights presuppose the right to life. If the right to life is not defended, the defense of all these other rights is useless. It becomes a lie, because it would mean that the defense to the right to work, to society, etc. applies only to some, and not to all."

Bishop Elio Sgreccia

*Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.

Pope Benedict XVI


JOHN PAUL II (1978-2005):
Socialism: Danger of a “simple and radical solution”
“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.’" (Encyclical Centesimus Annus − On the 100th anniversary of Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum, May 1, 1991, n. 12)

Fundamental error of socialism: A mistaken conception of the person
“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.” (Ibid, n. 13)

BENEDICT XVI (2005 - present):
We do not need a State which regulates and controls everything

"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.” (Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, December 25, 2005, n. 28)


I think thus was written before Pope Francis which is why it says for Pope Benedict ‘2005 - present.’

  • “Speaking for myself, I do not know any proportionate reason that could outweigh more than 40 million unborn children killed by abortion and the many millions of women deeply wounded by the loss and regret abortion creates.”

Archbishop Charles Chaput


First there is not such thing officially as “non-negotiable” outside of the CAF voters guide published a while back.

I would vote for Sanders in a heartbeat. I prefer him to Clinton.

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