In 1967 Pope Paul VI was accused of "souped-up Marxism"

In 1967 Venerable Pope Paul VI issued a social encyclical called, “Populorum Progressio”.

It spurred a very negative reaction from right-wing sections of the American press; with accusations that Paul VI was a “Marxist”.

The encyclical was published to direct world economies to serve mankind. In this respect it was highly critical of both liberal capitalism and Marxist-Leninism.

This denunciation of liberal capitalistic economic theories was immediately recognized by the American Press back in 1967. Their response to the encyclical was scathing, accusing Pope Paul VI of espousing “souped-up Marxism”:

**Wall Street Journal (30 March 1967) 14. **“Pope Paul’s encyclical lends the mantle of religion to certain ideas which are profoundly secular in origin, and advocates programs of a type now undergoing widespread reappraisal by their one-time secular sponsors… **The trouble with making religious tenets of this souped-up Marxism ** is that it is highly unlikely to help the bulk of poor nations (which) suffer not from an excess of capitalism, but from a paucity of it… It is both curious and sad that these mistaken attitudes toward foreign aid should now be advanced from the realm of religion. For the realm of history, as more people are starting to recognize, shows that they impede rather than advance the development of peoples.”

**Time (7 April 1967) **70. The encyclical has a “radical tone,” and parts of it “had the strident tone of an early 20th century Marxist polemic.” Its "blunt attack on capitalism" is aimed at an old-style capitalism that is dead. “It was surprising that he did not acknowledge the way in which business enterprise has developed into a creative, socially conscious component of the industrial West.” Populorum Progressio was humanistic, “but its perspective was that of another time.”

The Economist (8 April 1967) 114. Some communist papers claimed that Pope Paul gives the imprimatur to Marx’s works, justifies revolutions, and condemns all capitalist and imperialist exploitation. Some right-wing newspapers seem unable to find words to discuss the encyclical at all. “Naturally the long papal message permits some picking and choosing. The communists who hailed it flatly ignored its equally flat condemnation of materialist ideologies**. In other quarters there was a tendency to ignore such crisp passages as that in which the Pope condemns rich men in poor countries who ‘selfishly transfer a large part of their funds abroad, heedless of the damage thus done to their own country**.’”

Sound familiar?

Have not people responded in exactly the same way to Pope Francis’s Evangelii Gaudium today in 2013?

I see very eerie similarities.

Section 33# of the encyclical:

33 Individual initiative alone and the interplay of competition will not ensure satisfactory development. We cannot proceed to increase the wealth and power of the rich while we entrench the needy in their poverty and add to the woes of the oppressed. Organized programs are necessary for “directing, stimulating, coordinating, supplying and integrating” (35) the work of individuals and intermediary organizations

In other words, Venerable Pope Paul VI is stating quite clearly that a free market, competition and self-interested private enterprise is not sufficient to ensure integral human development.

Earlier on in the encyclical he explicitly attacks the ideology of liberal capitalism:

Unbridled Liberalism

  1. However, certain concepts have somehow arisen out of these new conditions and insinuated themselves into the fabric of human society. These concepts present profit as the chief spur to economic progress, free competition as the guiding norm of economics, and private ownership of the means of production as an absolute right, having no limits nor concomitant social obligations

This unbridled liberalism paves the way for a particular type of tyranny, rightly condemned by Our predecessor Pius XI, for it results in the “international imperialism of money.”(26)

Such improper manipulations of economic forces can never be condemned enough; let it be said once again that economics is supposed to be in the service of man. (27)

[This] type of capitalism, as it is commonly called, has given rise to hardships, unjust practices, and fratricidal conflicts that persist to this day…

This is reinforced later on in the encyclical, :

Market prices that are freely agreed upon can turn out to be most unfair. It must be avowed openly that, in this case, the fundamental tenet of liberalism (as it is called), as the norm for market dealings, is open to serious question…

It furthermore criticized those who held that private property rights were “absolute” and supported land reform:

  1. “He who has the goods of this world and sees his brother in need and closes his heart to him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (21) **Everyone knows that the Fathers of the Church laid down the duty of the rich toward the poor in no uncertain terms. As St. Ambrose put it: “You are not making a gift of what is yours to the poor man, but you are giving him back what is his. You have been appropriating things that are meant to be for the common use of everyone. The earth belongs to everyone, not to the rich.” (22) These words indicate that the right to private property is not absolute and unconditional.

No one may appropriate surplus goods solely for his own private use when others lack the bare necessities of life**. In short, “as the Fathers of the Church and other eminent theologians tell us, the right of private property may never be exercised to the detriment of the common good.” When “private gain and basic community needs conflict with one another,” it is for the public authorities “to seek a solution to these questions, with the active involvement of individual citizens and social groups.”

  1. If certain landed estates impede the general prosperity because they are extensive, unused or poorly used, or because they bring hardship to peoples or are detrimental to the interests of the country, the common good sometimes demands their expropriation.

Vatican II affirms this emphatically. (24) At the same time it clearly teaches that income thus derived is not for man’s capricious use, and that the exclusive pursuit of personal gain is prohibited. Consequently, it is not permissible for citizens who have garnered sizeable income from the resources and activities of their own nation to deposit a large portion of their income in foreign countries for the sake of their own private gain alone, taking no account of their country’s interests; in doing this, they clearly wrong their country

The New York Times called Populorum progressio “strongly leftist, even Marxist in tone” even though it explicitly attacked Marxism.

Source: New York Times Editorial (29 March 1967)

Thanks for the information.

To paraphrase Fr. William Jurgens: old errors never die, they just reappear in a new form.

It’s nice to know that the Church is staying the same, but a little disheartening that the “Right” (I use the term loosely), which contains numerous men of good will, isn’t quite able to catch on.

Amen :thumbsup:

The same thing happened with Mater et Magistra, and the phrase “Mater, yes, Magistra, no” (Mother, yes, Teacher, no) became associated with certain “conservative” Americans. Even back when Rerum Novarum came out, it was opposed by various industrialists and there were various critics who said the Church should focus on the salvation of souls and not such temporal matters. :shrug:

Spot on!

Some errors are truly age old. Human nature et al :rolleyes:

Which is spiritual jackassery, because:

*What shall it profit, my brethren, if a man say he hath faith, but hath not works? Shall faith be able to save him?
And if a brother or sister be naked and want daily food:
And one of you say to them: Go in peace, be ye warmed and filled; yet give them not those things that are necessary for the body, what shall it profit?
(St. James 2: 14-16)

The only good thing about critics is that they aren’t Communists, or they’d be calling for our execution. :smiley:

Vouthon #1
Have not people responded in exactly the same way to Pope Francis’s Evangelii Gaudium today in 2013?

Such a generalization in the absence of any rational examination evades the issue, but the reality is well examined in Pope Francis and Poverty by Samuel Gregg November 26, 2013, at

Samuel Gregg affirms:
“Reading the text, one does experience a profound sense of just how life-transforming belief in Christ should be.
*Evangelii Gaudium *is in many ways a beautiful document.”

There is praise of Pope Francis here, but very important problems arise which cannot just be glossed over. I quote on the serious problems identified in this Apostolic Exhortation:

  1. ‘To be very frank (which Francis himself is always encouraging us to be), a number of claims made by this document and some of the assumptions underlying those statements are rather questionable.

‘…the pope’s remark that “authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence” (253). As one of the most authoritative Catholic commentators on Islam, Pope Francis’s fellow Jesuit Samir Khalil Samir (who is no knee-jerk anti-Muslim), writes in his *111 Questions on Islam *(2002), Westerners who assert that groups like the Taliban are acting in a manner contrary to the spirit of Islam “usually know little about Islam.”

  1. ‘My purpose, however, is to focus upon some of the many economic reflections that loom large throughout Evangelii Gaudium and which are, I’m afraid, very hard to defend. In some cases, they reflect the straw-man arguments about the economy that one encounters far too often in some Catholic circles, especially in Western Europe but also in Latin America.

‘Prominent among these is the pope’s condemnation of the “absolute autonomy of markets” (202). If, however, we follow Evangelii Gaudium’s injunction (231–233) to look at the realities of the world today, we will soon discover that there is literally no country in which markets operate with “absolute autonomy.”

  1. ‘Another claim made by Evangelii Gaudium that warrants scrutiny is that certain ideologies “reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control” over the economy (56). But outside the minuscule world of anarcho-capitalists (who exert zero influence upon public policy), this simply isn’t the position of those who favor free markets today (let alone past advocates like Adam Smith).

‘…we find Francis critiquing those who “continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world.”

‘There are several problems with this line of reasoning. First, opening up markets throughout the world has helped to reduce poverty in many developing nations. East Asia is a living testimony to that reality — a testimony routinely ignored by many Catholics in Western Europe (who tend to complain rather self-centeredly about the competition it creates for protected Western European businesses and other recipients of corporate welfare) and a reality about which I have found many Latin American Catholics simply have nothing to say.

‘Second, it has never been the argument of most of those who favor markets that economic freedom and free exchange are somehow sufficient to reduce poverty.

  1. ‘It hardly need be said that rule of law (mentioned not once in Evangelii Gaudium) is, to put it mildly, a “challenge” in most developing nations. The lack of rule of law not only ranks among the biggest obstacles to their ability to generate wealth on a sustainable basis, but also hampers their capacity to address economic issues in a just manner. Instead, what one finds is crony capitalism, rampant protectionism, and the corruption that has become a way of life in much of Africa and Latin America.

  2. ‘Francis adds that some people today find any mention of the distribution of income to be “irksome” (203).
    I don’t find discussions of wealth distribution to be bothersome at all. Catholics, other Christians, and other people of good will should, in my view, enter enthusiastically into such debates. Because it is precisely through these conversations that it can be pointed out that — as Evangelii Gaudium seems, alas, unaware — many poverty-alleviation methods that involve redistribution (such as foreign aid) are increasingly discredited. As the economist and historian of the Federal Reserve Allan Meltzer put it, one of the 20th century’s economic lessons is that “transfers, grants and redistribution did little to raise living standards in Asia, Latin America and Africa.” In other words, the standard wealth-redistribution policies that are often regarded as indispensable to poverty alleviation have failed to achieve their goals. Hence it behooves all Catholics to ask ourselves why such approaches have failed if we’re going to have a serious conversation about wealth and poverty in the modern world.’

  3. ‘And attention to particular realities about economic life is precisely what’s missing from parts of Evangelii Gaudium’s analysis of wealth and poverty. If we want “the dignity of each human person and the pursuit of the common good” to be more than what the pope calls a “mere addendum” to the pursuit of “true and integral development” (203), then engaging more seriously the economic part of the truth that sets us free would be a good start.’

The precision and depth of Bl John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI need to be emulated.

It is becaus large parts of the Right and Left are infected with Liberalism as condemned historically by the Popes and explicated in Saldany’s work.

I’m a “conservative” (meaning orthodox) Catholic, and I have no problem with our Pope. I’ve heard that Rush Limbaugh has a problem with our Pope, but Rush is a Protestant. Now notice that this website itself is what the left would label “conservative”, but Catholic Answers fully supports Pope Francis. The same for EWTN and every other “conservative” Catholic website I know about.

Catholics may be politically or socially conservatives, liberals, democrats, republicans, laborites, or whatever titles a given nation may use for its political parties. Catholics are none of these as to faith and morals – they are either faithful or unfaithful to the teaching of the Church.

No Catholic teaching is “liberal” or “conservative” on anything, as these terms are political and may be interpreted in multitudinous ways.

I don’t think we can be if it is openly socialist or Marxist.

Those who believe that abortion and so-called same-sex ‘marriage’ are a ‘right’ will label any Catholic a ‘conservative’ if the Catholic agrees with the Church on this and other moral issues. That’s why liberals call Catholic Answers, EWTN, and other website friends of these ‘conservative’, and all of these ‘conservative’ websites fully support Pope Francis.

Actually, if ‘conservative’ is defined as holding to tradition and resisting innovation, then our faith is conservative at its core. Here’s the first definition of ‘conservative’ that came up when I ‘Googled’ it:

conservative - “Holding to traditional attitudes and values and cautious about change or innovation, typically in relation to politics or religion.”

synonyms: traditionalist, traditional, conventional, orthodox, old-fashioned - Google definition

We should distinguish between Catholic conservatives and Protestant ones since it shouldn’t surprise anyone that a Protestant conservative like Rush Limbaugh would not always agree with the Pope.

livingwordunity #14
if ‘conservative’ is defined as holding to tradition and resisting innovation, then our faith is conservative at its core.

The secular sites cannot be trusted to define religious terminology or to classify Catholics. Use of confusing terminology helps no one. The use of political terminology in particular only confuses clear thought. A WordWeb definition of “orthodox” = adhering to what is commonly accepted! One definition of “conservative” = materialistic.

Without the “ifs”, a Catholic is faithful or unfaithful to all dogma and doctrine.

Catholic was first used by St Ignatius of Antioch in his letter to the Smyrneans, A.D. 107, “Where Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.” It is from the Greek katholike meaning “general” or “universal”. Within 90 years it meant also “orthodox” or faithful to the teachings of Christ. (The Catholic Catechism, Fr John A Hardon, S.J., Doubleday, 1975, p 217).

Further, no Catholic doctrine uses political terminology.

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