Truly, Truly, What is the Catholic Church’s position on Socialism? Should I give back my Social Security and Medicare?
I’m not a socialist but I do recognize the need occasionally of services for the good of humanity or more specifically citizens of a particular country. The danger though is that we run the risk of giving up control of our lives to a secular government who has little concerns for the things of God. For Christians, I am not sure this could ever work to the level we need it to. I do think that many people who I disagree politically with are noble in their hope for a better world that could potentially come from the benefits of everyone sharing the load but I believe it may be too impractical for us humans to implement due to our nature.
Yeah, you should rely on Obamas Heathcare only, HA!
The government will take care of you! Why, look at the Native Americans…
We are so blessed to be at a time where we can look up encyclicals and writings of the popes and bishops and saints. This doesnt mean that there is nothing else to learn but taking these writings we can gain great strengh in faith.
Pope Leo XIII on Socialism
The Church does not advocate a specific economic policy, but it has always denounced Marxist Socialism for it’s Atheism, it’s materialism, it’s emphasis on class warfare as well as it’s subjugation of the human person to the will of the state and obsession with violence. However, the Church has also advocated certain policies (free education, minimum wages, low income housing, basic health care, social security) that were once considered socialist (although they have been now been accepted-and co-opted-by most centrist and centre-right political parties) on the basis of social justice and solidarity. The Church has also stressed that unrestrained capitalism is equally evil to socialism, for it’s materialism and putting profits ahead of human beings.
Very well said Johann, although I may add in reading a book by Bl.John Paul II he states that socialism is even more dangerous because it leads to communism. He also states that unrestrained capitalism is dangerous as well.
The Catholic Church has condemned communism or socialism. But as far as capitalism, the Catechism of the Catholic Church only condemns what can be called “unbridled capitalism” that can happen when “in the practice of” it (2425, CCC). But the Church does not give a blanket condemnation to capitalism the way She has said that communism or socialism are intrinsically wrong. So in short, the position of the Catholic Church on capitalism is basically it depends. But the position of the Church on communism or socialism is that it is never acceptable.
Pope John Paul II - On the Church’s Social Doctrine
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”. But if by “capitalism” is meant a system in which freedom in the economic sector is not circumscribed within a strong juridical framework which places it at the service of human freedom in its totality, and which sees it as a particular aspect of that freedom, the core of which is ethical and religious, then the reply is certainly negative. - Centesimus annus
Pope Pius XI - On Communism
In the beginning Communism showed itself for what it was in all its perversity; but very soon it realized that it was thus alienating the people. It has therefore changed its tactics, and strives to entice the multitudes by trickery of various forms, hiding its real designs behind ideas that in themselves are good and attractive. Thus, aware of the universal desire for peace, the leaders of Communism pretend to be the most zealous promoters and propagandists in the movement for world amity. Yet at the same time they stir up a class-warfare which causes rivers of blood to flow, and, realizing that their system offers no internal guarantee of peace, they have recourse to unlimited armaments. Under various names which do not suggest Communism, they establish organizations and periodicals with the sole purpose of carrying their ideas into quarters otherwise inaccessible. They try perfidiously to worm their way even into professedly Catholic and religious organizations. Again, without receding an inch from their subversive principles, they invite Catholics to collaborate with them in the realm of so-called humanitarianism and charity; and at times even make proposals that are in perfect harmony with the Christian spirit and the doctrine of the Church. Elsewhere they carry their hypocrisy so far as to encourage the belief that Communism, in countries where faith and culture are more strongly entrenched, will assume another and much milder form. It will not interfere with the practice of religion. It will respect liberty of conscience…See to it, Venerable Brethren, that the Faithful do not allow themselves to be deceived! Communism is intrinsically wrong, and no one who would save Christian civilization may collaborate with it in any undertaking whatsoever. Those who permit themselves to be deceived into lending their aid towards the triumph of Communism in their own country, will be the first to fall victims of their error. And the greater the antiquity and grandeur of the Christian civilization in the regions where Communism successfully penetrates, so much more devastating will be the hatred displayed by the godless. - Divini Redemptoris, Encyclical of Pope Pius XI on Atheistic Communism
Pope John XXIII - On 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. - Mater et Magistra
Great quotes. Let’s not forget Pius XI
“[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.”
The fact is that the free market has been emphatically endorsed by Bl John Paul II within the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity, as quoted.
There’s no substitute for the economic laws discovered by the Catholic Late Scholastics, and implemented in free enterprise, but those, including economists and central bankers, who prostitute those laws by cheating and their foolish meddling, create injustices which plague every economy.
Fr James V Schall, S.J., in *Does Catholicism Still Exist?, *Alba House 1994, p 184-185 sums up beautifully:
Re Centesimus Annus, he writes: “…we find here a frank acknowledgement that socialism has failed on its own terms as witnessed by events in Eastern Europe.”
And, “Since the Catholic Church wants poverty confronted, since She wants this confrontation to be done justly and with the interest and cooperation of the workers and the poor, She has had to acknowledge, as did the socialist systems themselves, that there are certain ways that must be employed if mankind is to meet its economic problems. These ways can be known and imitated, but they must include a juridical system, profit, enterprise, knowledge, exchange, a market, voluntary organisations, a relatively independent economy, private property, and respect for work and excellence.”
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI felt it necessary to teach that “Society does not have to protect itself from the market, as if the development of the latter were ipso facto to entail the death of authentically human relations…Therefore it is not the instrument that must be called to account, but individuals, their moral conscience and their personal and social responsibility.” (Caritas et Veritate, Benedict XVI, 2009, #36).
I find myself in disagreement with much of those thoughts. Society HAS to protect itself from the market. Take the energy market for instance. It is causing terrible hardship for the elderly, who are forced to choose between heating or eating. Age UK estimates that 200 people per day will die in Britain this winter, thanks largely to ‘the market’ So surely these people need protecting from it, do they not?
Socialism has much to commend it, yet it always has this atheism tag unfairly attached to it. Socialism is about establishing an international brotherhood, about caring for your fellow man. To understand Socialism properly you should read The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell. Read it, and you will understand that it is NOT irreconcilable with Christianity. Far from it.
There’s a quote that says the Catholic Church only condemns ‘unbridled capitalism’. I have yet to see this happen in the UK. Here, it is always the Archbishop of Canterbury who speaks out. I have yet to see the Archbishop of Westminster speak out publicly,(i.e not just in the Catholic press but in the media and national press) on **any **of the issues which are besetting the disadvantaged in this country. On the bedroom tax: nothing; on the closure of all Remploy factories and the dumping of the disabled onto the scrapheap: nothing; on the rise of money lending companies: nothing; on the lowering of morale in the NHS: nothing, on the energy monopoly and the hardship it causes: nothing.
Of course, the Pope has slammed Capitalism several times, but our lot over here have done sod all on issues which are really affecting people’s lives
No, society does not need to protect itself from “the market”. The market is the natural way to exchange goods and services. The market is as old as society itself.
Society does need to protect itself against abuses of the market: e.g. monopolies, fraud, collusion, gov’t cronyism, etc., that enrich certain powerful interests at the expense of the general population.
But, the market is the most efficient way to deliver the goods that people need and want, at the lowest possible cost. Socialism (beyond all its moral flaws) is simply inefficient; it squanders the resources of society. No planner can anticipate and accommodate the decisions of 7 Billion producers and consumers worldwide.
The answer to people who can’t afford life’s necessities is charity, not to mutilate the market economy. Charity can be voluntary (individual or collective), or through the Gov’t.(funded by taxes).
If a poor man can’t afford a coat, you buy him a coat. You don’t nationalize the coat industry, and place artificial price limits. That’s simply cutting off our collective nose to spite our face.
Thanks bilop. Very well thought out reply. I appreciate your efforts to inform.
You’re very welcome!
Heed Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI:
“Society does not have to protect itself from the market, as if the development of the latter were ipso facto to entail the death of authentically human relations…Therefore it is not the instrument that must be called to account, but individuals, their moral conscience and their personal and social responsibility.” (Caritas et Veritate, Benedict XVI, 2009, #36).
The market has become warped and is now slanted towards a minority of people who hold all the wealth.
Many years ago, the original ‘market’ (i.e the bartering/trading system) worked in everyone’s favour. Then someone found a way to control the market by introducing money. Those who produced the wealth now had to buy back that what they had made, and the controllers of the system now had the means to start wars against foreign countries and ransom kings from prison by imposing extortionate taxes on their countrymen. At times of over-production, the controllers could simply take away the tools of production from the workers. And so it is today. This very morning it was announced that several British shipyards are to close. No doubt our political masters will put this down to economising, but the end is still the same. The producers of the wealth are being denied the tools of their livelihoods again, because some bean counter has perhaps decided that they can get ships built cheaper abroad.
So, I beg to differ. Society does need to be protected from the market.
The market gives no individual any power over anyone. All you can do is buy and sell at the prevailing prices.
Large corporations and wealthy individuals hate the competitive marketplace. They usually get large and wealthy by finding ways to manipulate the market and throttle competition.
They especially love using gov’t regulation, policies and taxes, to cement their monopoly or oligopoly power.
What makes you trust the Gov’t? The rich control the Gov’t far more thoroughly than they can ever hope to control the market.
I agree that the rich control the Government. Policy is now decided by the City of London. Anyone with half a brain knows that. But government is accountable to the electorate which can boot it out of power if it so chooses. We have no control over those who run the market, so we need regulators even though often they are quite toothless. It is not about a few bent individuals but rather a whole system that has gotten out of control.
How is Gov’t accountable when every party advances the same policies that support entrenched interests?
In a real market, nobody “runs the market”. If someone is running it, it’s not a market.
The reason a large firm (take Goldman Sachs as an example) has inappropriate power is that they have used Gov’t policies to give them unfair competitive advantages. They control the regulators (b/c they all want to get a job at Goldman), they control the politicians (through campaign contributions), they have the implicit guarantee of Federal bailouts.
Without those governmental supports, competitors would eat away their high profit margins, and erode their power.