catholicism and socialism


hey everybody,

   Im a 17 year old male catholic from a working family whos recently trying to improve his faith. I also have been researching and finding that many of my thoughts and beliefs are in line with political socialism. i've heard that these 2 schools of though are impossible to reconcile and theres no way you can be both. my parents work over 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, and yet we just barely scrape by. While the upper class gets tax benefits and breaks. 

The ideals of economic equality and communion just appeals to me so much, i at one time thought about becoming a professed communist. although when i read up on the hatred of religion so inherit in the system. i turned to socialism.

can anyone help? is it really impossible to be both?:confused: :confused:


Catholic Educator’s Resource: Current Issues: Social Justice


I highly suggest you study Catholic Social teaching and give it a chance :slight_smile: . I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Here are links to the papal encyclicals that develop this teaching:

Take your time, but try and read them all :slight_smile:


I think it is impossible to be a socialist and a good Catholic for a few reasons. Of the top of my head 1) Economic Socialists are often not Moral Conservatives 2) Relying on the state to provide is handing power to the state and man - taking away power from God.

I think history has shown Socialism does not work.


To answer your question I just can’t picture a true socialist society that did not infringe upon Church rights. Or one that would not infringe upon it eventually.
My advice is this. Continue to be grateful for the honest sacrifices of your parents. Do well in school. Go to college and then help improve your family’s situation. They are paying their dues to ensure you guys a better life. Let thier sacrifice be an inspiration for you to achieve.


I come from exactly the same background. It is hard watching the rich get richer and the poor get poorer but the above poster is right, improve the situation for yourself and your family, and who knows? The fact that you actually think a lot about this injustice means that you could be someone who changes things. But you’ll only be able to do that if you aren’t spending every waking hour trying to put food on the table :).

Besides, why not take the good ideas from Communism and socialism? There are a number that are in line with Church and Biblical teachings:

Test everything. Hold on to the good. (Thessalonians 5:21)


This is one of those cases where aims can be similar, but underlying assumptions very different indeed.

The Church is mindful both of the material needs of her needy children, and the duties of those who are in a position to help meet those needs. She sees in all this a call to compassion from her head and founder, who told us all of the Good Samaritan, and our duty to our neighbours.

But organized socialism is both materialistic and humanistic. It admits nothing that motivates the Catholic and the Christian to works which are similar, and seek similar ends. Indeed, there has been a perversion of the Christian calling when the two have intermixed, with the notion that, somehow, we will, through our social action bring about the coming of the Kingdom, rather than that happening when Christ returns in triumph. But many socialists of my aquaintance are thorough-going atheistic humanists and materialists, who think nothing of heaping scorn and abuse of anyone and anything religious.

You don’t have to be a socialist to care for the needs of one’s neighbour. It was a duty Catholics and Christians turned to long before the socialist internationals formed to raise the banner of atheistic materialism.




Hope this article helps!




What you’re saying, then, is that you want the “rich” people like me to work hard in high school, go to college (and pay for college myself), choose a major that has a lot of job opportunities, get a job, then just hand over my money to you so that you and I will make the same amount of money.

Is that what you’re saying?

If this ever became the law of the land, I wouldn’t work. Why bother?

Keep in mind that your parents work for RICH people, who have taken great financial risks to start companies, restaurants, hospitals, etc., and continue to take risks to keep these places thriving. The RICH are the ones who provide work for people. When was the last time you saw a poor person who owned a company and put out a “Help Wanted” sign.

The RICH are also the ones who give huge amounts of money to pay for theaters, arts venues, public parks, hospitals and free clinics, etc.

The rich receive tax breaks because they give so much back to the community.

Many of the rich have fought very hard to get rich. My dad has a 6th grade education, but he worked hard at the factory, took a risk to buy a duplex when he was young, invested in antiques, invested in land–using money that he earned at the factory–and now he is sitting pretty with 17 homes. No one handed it to him. He didn’t walk all over anyone to get there. He just worked hard and made some very intelligent and sacrificial decisions.

Also keep in mind that many of the people that you perceive are “rich” are NOT rich at all. My husband and I make $100,000 between the two of us. We owe around $50,000 in credit card debt, college loans for our kids, home improvement loans (to get a new roof, not put in a pool or something), etc. We are ONE PAYCHECK away from bankruptcy. We are counting (foolishly) on keeping our health and being able to work in our jobs until we die.

Like someone else said, DO WELL IN SCHOOL, even if you go to a slum school. Some of the wealthiest people in this country went to slum schools; my dad went to a one-room schoolhouse.

WORK HARD, make good decisions, sacrifice personal desires, rid yourself of all vices (alcohol, cigarettes, gambling-yes, that means lotto, drugs, sex, overeating, even caffeine), DELAY sex until you are married, marry well–not necessarily wealthy, but marry someone who will help you pull yourself up, not someone who will drag you down.

Don’t sell drugs, even though it looks like the quick and easy way to make money.

Make friends everywhere. Network-talk to others about how they became successful. Give generously to the poor–yes, my dad is very generous with his money.

Most of all, trust God and do His will. Don’t become entangled with sin.


Well there are a fair few times in the Bible that Christ commended people who gave EVERYTHING to the poor. The rich (I mean the truly wealthy) have a responsibility to care for those in poverty. I don’t like people insinuating that poor people are stuck like that because they wouldn’t pull themselves out of poverty. The poor that manage to make it big are not extraordinary, they just had one bit of luck that set them on the road to riches.


There are two main problems with the political ideology of socialism/communism:

1)God and religion have no place in life, everything is science.
One huge problem that results is now there is no such thing as objective morality.

2)The good of the community is ABOVE the good of an individual. This is bad because that means you have no inherent worth, but are rather a tool that can be thrown away once you are no longer ‘useful’. This is especially dangerous when considering factors such as the elderly people who “can no longer contribute” to society and rather are “a drain on resources”.

The Christian concept of life (which socialism tries to accomplish but cannot because of the two major factors listed above) take the opposite approach to the two issues above.


Hold to the good points, throw out the bad…


“The poor that manage to make it big are not extraordinary, they just had one bit of luck that set them on the road to riches.”

I don’t agree. They MADE their own luck.

And of course I don’t think that all poor are refusing to pull themselves out of poverty. In fact, many poor can take advantage of programs started and funded by RICH people to help themselves learn how not to be poor.

But if I may say this without getting attacked–I have worked with a lot of poor people and known them as friends (and not friends).

Many of them are poor because they made poor choices. Many of the poor are addicted to something, often alcohol or drugs.

Many of the poor dissed school and eventually dropped out and never returned.

Many of the poor became seriously involved with a member of the opposite sex at a young age; sometimes but not always there was a pregnancy and a refusal to even consider giving a child up for adoption.

Many of the poor simply don’t have any discipline–they stay up late to watch television or go out to the bars, then they sleep late, and as a result, are late for work, and eventually, this leads to their termination at their workplace.

Many of the poor are women who were involved with a man and either separated (if they weren’t married) or divorced (if they were married.) Single women are most likely to be poor; they simply can’t make their one income stretch, and they don’t have the resources to pursue an education to get a better job. (Although I’ve also seen women like this get their real estate license and become millionaires.)

And although we don’t like to admit it, there are poor people who really are lazy, or have a chip on their shoulder against “the man” or “that ____ supervisor!” or “the government”, etc. I’ve known people like this; they literally expect all the rich people to just hand over 40 acres and a mule to them.

Again, I know I’ll be attacked for “generalizing.” I am not generalizing. I have personally known people in each of the circumstances above. I used to do a lot of work with the poor. I became very discouraged and sadly, gave it up. Now I just give money to good charities like my church so that others with stronger skins can work with the poor.

I’ve also seen a lot of poor people who got that way because of a physical or mental illness. Sometimes people become poor because of a natural disaster that destroys their homes and health. Sometimes people are poor because of racist or sexist employers who ruin them. Sometimes people become poor because they inherit a farm or a business and can’t keep it up.

IMO, poor people in these circumstances deserve a lot of help, because they are poor through no fault of their own. But I still don’t think the rich should just be forced to hand over their money to these people. It should be voluntary.

And sometimes people become poor because, like my husband and I, they’re living on the brink of financial disaster and something pushes them over the edge. Should we receive “help” from the rich? Frankly, I think not. We made our bed and we should lie in it.

And you’re right, Christ did ask a few rich people to give all to the poor. But He didn’t command that ALL the rich should give their money away.

Many of the rich already give most of their money to the poor by starting and maintaining companies that give the poor opportunities to be employed.


I don’t agree with you about making their own luck. Your father had a chance and took it, it could have worked out very different.

Addiction: Poverty is a depressing situation, often people are demoralized and feel they need to take something to ease that depression. I agree with you that they shouldn’t but I’ve got to remind you that a large number of spoilt rich kids drink and smoke and take drugs too. Except they either have no reason for it or make one up (Oh it’s so terrible my parents are away at work a lot so they mustn’t love me! That kind of bull).

School: More often than not kids from a poor background are stereotyped-its already been decided by most of their teachers that they won’t make it through, so why should they bother? And its not always clear cut. My mother came from a family of nineteen children, the children of a housewife and a low paid farm labourer. When her mother fell ill she had to look after the younger children, and work. By the time she was ready to return to school they wouldn’t accept her back. My father was expelled for attacking a teacher who antagonised him mercilessly and encouraged other children to do the same.

For the rest of the points, how ‘‘many’’ of the poor do you know? As an outside observer you said yourself you became demoralised working with the poor, how then do you expect people living in the situations to stay motivated. If you haven’t experienced wealth, it’s hard to visualise it as a motivational tool.

I agree, many of the rich do give their money to causes that aim to end poverty. And that is admirable, however many others simply sit on their riches and refuse to do any good with it. I find it personally disgusting when there are people in this world who could afford to end poverty for a large part of the world, and sit on their billions, money that they couldn’t hope to spend in 10 lifetimes.

By the way I realise this may come across as a personal attack, but it isn’t I’m just ‘‘passionate about poverty’’ and sometimes my passion goes hand in hand with my pig headedness and belligerence :o . Also I’m not complaining about my own situation. I just used examples from my own experience to validate a point.

Oh and by the poor, I mean real poor people, not those who have simply chosen to claim benefits and sponge off the government because they don’t want to work.

I’m very sorry to hear about your own financial situation, I’ll keep your family in my prayers that you will be able to find a way out of it. It is uplifting to hear that despite your own hardships you still donate to charity.

Last point: Did Jesus want us only to help the people who ‘‘deserve’’ it?


The fact is there is an element of luck, and it has a significant contribution in how you live.

      My father owns his own business which still struggles to get by. The problem with capitalism is that the basic needs of the human person have been capitalized by the large markets. Its not the citizens who make the higher incomes, its the multi-billionares who now hold exclusive political sway because of the exploitive labot of others. Food, housing, education, and medical services should be provided because of its basic need to humanity. not to be made into an individuals profit. The "work hard and good things will happen" is becoming less true day to day. in this generation we have grocery baggers with PHD's. People with doctorates in psychology having to work as convienent store workers.

""The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his “natural superiors”, and has left no other nexus between people than naked self-interest, than callous “cash payment”. It has drowned out the most heavenly ecstacies of religious fervor, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom – Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.

The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honored and looked up to with reverent awe. It has converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into its paid wage laborers. "-Karl Marx

   Just saying that capitalism has so much injustice. The United States is the worlds 3rd highest violator of international laborer's rights. Business's make their profit by extracting resources from one corner of the globe and exploit the working terribly, working in sweatshops for long hours and low pay, so that when they sell it to the public they get their profit.


Yes, the great danger of capitalism is that instead of the state having all the property, as select few individuals and corporations have all the property. Instead of being slaves of the state, people are “wage slaves.”

The problem is essentially original sin. The only real solution is evangelization so that Jesus Christ reigns in the hearts of all men, therefore over society. Ideally, Capitalism subject to Christian charity is probably the best system–unfortunately individuals are sinful and greedy and so that really won’t happen.

Given these truths, Catholic social teaching provides the best answer I think.

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