Pope a Marxist?

I’ve really been trying to give the Pope the benefit of the doubt on his statements seemingly promoting the socialist philosophy of the need for the forced redistribution of wealth and his attacks on capitalism. His remarks to the UN indicating that governments need to redistribute wealth (money they get from taxation) appear to be very Marxist in nature to me. This is basically forcibly taking from some through taxation and giving to others. I always thought the Church promoted giving but not forced giving.

So, is the Pope promoting Marxist economic ideology or am I missing something?


I think the Pope wants more charity in the world, but he knows governments take in a lot of money and don’t distribute it to the right places. Wanting the world to be more charitable can seem like socialism, but they are two different concepts.

Pope Francis is certainly not a Marxist as he knows that to be anti-Christian. He may be influenced by some kind of Christian socialism. I think that he would not claim any expertise on particular economic systems. I believe that Christians should support an economy that is both free and fair.

Exactly. What people forget is that St. JPII often spoke out against both communism and capitalism, as communism objectifies the worker as a tool of the state, and capitalism objectifies the worker as a tool of earning profits for the business. Generally, there is no perfect worldview, and the Church acknowledges the right to private property, but tries to remind the “owner” of the property who the property really belongs to - God. So much as God has given a person (or people), God places the obligation to help others in proportion to one’s abilities and the needs of the recipients. The goods that a person earns do not belong to a person himself/herself, nor solely to that person’s family - they are to be used to build up the community of believers and, through helping the community, they can be used to bring others to salvation by one’s faith showing brightly through one’s generosity.

Why is any of this an issue?

The Eucharist is still Jesus, Mary is still the Mother of God, the sun will still rise tomorrow and I’ll hit the snooze button for ten extra minutes, get up and have to drive my girls to school.

What the Pope said, or what the media says that the Pope said, about economic systems is number 98,647 on the list of things I have to worry about today. I still have to work for a living, pay my bills in order to live, and the Pastor of my parish hasn’t announced that everyone has to forfeit half his paycheck. :shrug:


Marxism is a theory that includes such things as an inevitable proletariat state which owns everything, a denial of all ownership of private property, a rejection by all if any God, and a revolution violently destroying all existing institutions.
It is calumny to describe the Pope as a Marxist. In my opinion, it is so to even raise the question.

I think you need to better acquaint yourself with Catholic Social Teaching, for everything Pope Francis has said stems from this body of doctrine. In suggesting that the Pope is preaching Marxism, you are therefore inadvertently saying that the Catholic Church adheres to Marxism. Surely you recognize that such an idea is preposterous in the extreme?

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”.

The New York Times called Populorum progressio “strongly leftist, even Marxist in tone” despite the fact that it explicitly attacked both Capitalism and Marxism (Source: New York Times Editorial (29 March 1967)).

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?

History repeating itself.

He’s promoting Catholic social teaching, plain and simple. People hear “redistribution of wealth” and think “Marxism” automatically but that’s not correct. There is such a thing as legitimate redistribution of wealth. That’s what social programs that help the elderly and disabled make ends meet are. There’s nothing Marxist about those.

Also, the Pope didn’t promote all types of redistribution of wealth. He specifically said “legitimate” which means he believes there are ones that would be illegitimate. A Marxist wouldn’t bother with the distinction.

He also didn’t say governments should have sole responsibility of helping the poor. He said the private sector and government have to work together to solve the problem of poverty. That’s not a very Marxist thing to say, but it is a Catholic thing.

BTW, Francis is on record saying that he believes the Marxist ideology is wrong, so there’s also that.

Notce that the media totally ignored the Pope’s condemnation of abortion and the culture of death, also in that speech.

Don’t listen to the media: first, they pick and chose to bolster their own worldview; second, they don’t know enough about Catholic teaching to know that the Pope is not bolstering their world view.


Very good replies and thank you. I learned something by asking the question which was my intent.

Personally, I think the Pope is wrong to say that governments should be redistributing wealth. This is a very slippery slope. Remember, a governments wealth is what they have forcibly taken from it’s citizens. I don’t believe Jesus ever taught such a thing but could be mistaken. There is nothing wrong with an organization performing charitable acts. But the money given to those charities should be given by individuals who have given money based on their own conscience. Christian charity has always been something an individual decides on based on their own conscience. Once it is ok to take from some to give to others, there is no real charity. You end up going down the path of what the government decides is charitable. There is no Christian charity in this. This has lead us to the point where the government has decided that supporting a woman to have an abortion is charitable and noble. They have taken our money to support this. In fact, the government in the US is quickly going down the road of Europe in that it is taking more and more. As the government takes for what it considers important, and the charities it has chosen as deserving, actual individual charitable giving declines. This is exactly what is happening now.

Charity should be given by the individual, with no force. This is the whole point. This is what makes it charity. Wealth should never be redistributed by force. This leads to bad places we don’t want to go and it always has. It should be an individual choice to redistribute his or her wealth. I guess I believe that the world would be a much better place if government left charitable giving to the people and to the Church.

As for Capitalism, it is certainly important to have laws that protect the vulnerable. However, there has never been a system in the history of the world so capable of pulling those who are willing to work out of poverty. As for socialism, there has never been a system in the history of the world that has impoverished more and murdered more.

Anyway, I’ll get off my band wagon. I do appreciate the educational replies.

The new Federal Reserve chairman made a statement to the effect that the US is less free market and more oligarchy. Paul Kruger also stated this as fact. It also can be seen in the decline of the middle class.The super rich in this country run our elections, they run the markets. You can see the results of this by noticing who is the beneficiary of all the money Obama is printing, Wall Street.
Who loses during a down turn in the economy, not the rich, they get richer, it’s the middle class. So I believe as the Pope does that a distribution of some wealth from the rich is a good idea. I assume Jesus would agree, he said what you do for the least of my people you do for me. The Pope is right.

Please be very careful about your analysis. I think if you study the economics of the situation you will find that it is the big gov. Socialist policies that brought to where we are at today. Capitalism helps the middle class. Socialism has always enriched the chosen few while taking the middle class into poverty. I think Jesus would want to keep the gov out of it. Gov certainty didn’t do Him any good.

the only problem I have with Marxism is that it discriminates against religious people.

You are missing the definition of Marxism and what the Holy Father really said. If you are interested, there is a thread that covers this in the News forum. If you want to look it up on your own, then do not read any articles, but find the whole statement before deciding. Helping the poor, even with tax dollars is not Marxism, btw.

Thanks all. Its clear that I went overboard using the word Marxist. I should have used the word socialist which I think is a more accurate description in this case.

He’s not a Marxist, but he is certainly an idealist. I don’t mean that in a derogatory term at all. He is calling everyone to live in true Christian charity and he wants governments to act in a like manner. He is not an economist or a politician. He is simply calling it the way he sees it. He is calling all of us to do better - to share wealth and to treat all people with dignity.

I do think he harps a little too much against “trickle-down” economics. I think there is plenty of evidence that “trick-down” does work and that a system where the government forces redistribution is a failure. However, I don’t think he’s really trying to make a political or economic statement here. He just thinks we are called to do something even better.


What you might look at, expctthebest, is the other side of forced giving: forced taking. If you take a look at the dynamics and assumptions of capitalism you will find on its ledger the history of forced acquisition and slave labor. Of course, given from the tone of your OP, it seems pretty clear that you are invested in the nice, cleaned up public version of capitalism, and haven’t looked much beyond the advertising, so it seems. The advancement of capitaliism, a word to which I often add an “r” just after the “c,” depends largely on four lies. They are nicely delineated here.

I am also discovering that there is an appalling ignorance among the general public as to how money works. While not laying out the mechanics of it, the Pope does perfectly speak to the results. His indictment will be fought against tooth and nail by the ultra rich. You see, the point of poverty is less one of money than of leisure. The word “school” derives from a word meaning “leisure.” What is the importance of that? The importance of that is if there is a living wage fora all,* there will be time for leisure, and therefore thought. A thinking public is far less easily controlled. Further, if there is time to think, an increasingly greater portion of the public will understand that money, as we know it, is debt. In other words, if there was no debt in countries like ours which use fiat currency, and multiply it by the fractional reserve system of banking, there would be NO money. None.

So a chief purpose of poverty, and why there is such a great effort by the lobbied Congress to foster poverty and all that goes with it, even deaths as we are now reading, is to keep people from having time to think about the actual source of their woes. And that source is not scarcity: There is way enough to go around and more, if we so willed it. But there is a deliberate deprivation, and there is a deliberate agitation of differences and blame to distract us from the actual bonfire. The bonfire is that the .001% of the 1% is to the 1% as the 1% is to the 99%. In fact, the ordinary individual cannot begin to comprehend how rich these ultra rich actually are, and they are that way because they legally print money for free in the form of loans, and you, yea you, add value to it by your work.

That is why when asked his thoughts about the fractional reserve system of banking, a certain VP of an international bank laughed heartily and said “Fractional reserve is the biggest scam ever pulled on mankind!” So, dear ones, understand this: The Federal Reserve is a PRIVATE company that creates debt called money that loans it to the government at the cost of interest. The IRS is the branch of the government we pay for to collect money for ourselves to give to the PRIVATE individuals who own the stock of the Federal Reserve, which is neither Federal, or a “reserve,” saves it does everything to reserve the secret of its magic powers to itself. And one European family owns all but a few of the central banks of the world. Can you imagine what you could do if you personally had trillions of dollars? Yes, trillions.

One of the things you cold do is keep people from thinking about how money works by agitating fear of “socialism,” a word few Americans have a clue as to the actual meaning of, along with Marxism. Heck we Americans even have welfare backwards: many scream about welfare queens when the statistics prove out that fraud among the poor is minuscule, while we allow huge subsidies for companies that make billions in profits, don’t pay tax, (0) and whose owners hide money in offshore accounts. Further, those subsidies have helped those people move great numbers of jobs off shore as well.

There is also an ignorance of the two economies: the one where you work for a wage, and the other where you own paper and it works for you 24/7/365 while being taxed comparatively little. That does not make for jobs, but is part of the dynamic that vacuums money to the top and destroys the middle class. That destruction has been the harbinger of dark ages through out history. And in fact, along with the growth of the present crisis, which is a crisis mostly to anyone who works a “regular” job, the US has slipped from mostly 1st in nearly all areas to anywhere between 17th>20th or worse.

So what Pope Francis is talking about isn’t so much a forced re distribution of wealth, as a far more equitable system that allows those who actually labor to keep a living wage and benefit from their labors in an equitable way. What appears to be your assumption that the present system is equitable is extremely questionable and reflects, to me, lack of due diligence in examining the statistics and flow surrounding economic well being. In other words, you might give some credence to the notion that those who have the time and money to influence and infiltrate the no longer democratic process have rigged our laws to ensure the extraction of cash assets from the low and middle classes.

There are hundreds of books & articles outlining this demise in great detail along with a statistical graphs detailing the process and results. These range from charts showing the overlap of former corporate executives running or participating in all branches of government, to the dynamics of dollar distribution. We all might benefit from looking at those and studying them. For my part I know that $100 buys what $10 did in my birth year.

So to make it short, all the Pope is asking for is some Christian consideration for our fellow men and women in just one of the areas where greed and corruption is rampant. Therefore, if you decide you don’t like money in politics, and are tired of scraping by, join WolfPac and MayOne.us

I’m a Christian Socialist and I don’t see anything wrong with Marxism. I was a Member of the Communist party USA which isn’t really Communist aka Marxism Leninism at all.

Centesimus Annus, St John Paul; II, 1991, #12:
“By defining the nature of the socialism of his day as the suppression of private property, Leo XIII arrived at the crux of the problem.
“…the Socialists encourage the poor man’s envy of the rich and strive to do away with private property, contending that individual possessions should become the common property of all…; but their contentions are so clearly powerless to end the controversy that, were they carried into effect, the working man himself would be among the first to suffer. They are moreover emphatically unjust, for they would rob the lawful possessor, distort the functions of the State, and create utter confusion in the community."

By His parable of the Talents Jesus is not implying that anyone should seek wealth first in their lives. He is preaching and rewarding prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance, rather than attacking those who accumulate wealth legitimately, He is lambasting the slothful. In the Encyclical Letter Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (On Social Concerns), 1987, #42, St John Paul II emphasises “Likewise, in this concern for the poor, one must not overlook that special form of poverty which consists in being deprived of fundamental human rights, in particular the right to religious freedom and also the right to freedom of economic initiative.”

Now see the affirmation of free enterprise as St John Paul II teaches in Centesimus Annus, 1991:
CA 42. ‘Returning now to the initial question: can it perhaps be said that, after the failure of Communism, capitalism is the victorious social system, and that capitalism should be the goal of the countries now making efforts to rebuild their economy and society? Is this the model which ought to be proposed to the countries of the Third World which are searching for the path to true economic and civil progress?
‘The answer is obviously complex. If by “capitalism” is meant an economic system which recognizes the fundamental and positive role of business, the market, private property and the resulting responsibility for the means of production, as well as free human creativity in the economic sector, then the answer is certainly in the affirmative, even though it would perhaps be more appropriate to speak of a “business economy”, “market economy” or simply “free economy”.
‘CA 43. The Church has no models to present;’

Pope Francis is no Marxist even if he does not fully understand free enterprise.

It is rather patronizing to say that the Pope does not fully understand free enterprise (Paul Ryan said something similar). I don’t think there is any evidence that the Pope is ignorant about things which apparently almost everyone in the US is aware of.

I think we need to distinguish between Marxism and Socialism. Sweden is semi-socialistic but you can not claim that it is a Marxist state - there are plenty of large private enterprises in Sweden.

Marxism is usually taken to mean government ownership of means of production (or at least collective ownership) - the Pope has never talked about ownership of companies or against private enterprise - he has only talked about poverty and sharing of income.

Actually the push back to the Pope from conservatives and right-wing people is just starting - see this recent article for instance: theweek.com/article/index/261033/catholics-must-learn-to-resist-their-popes–even-pope-francis . He suggests that conservatives resist, if the Pope continues in this vein.

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