Saturday 2nd December 2023

Home » Frontpage » Currently Reading:

Is The Pope A Marxist?

September 2, 2015 Frontpage No Comments


Is the Pope a Marxist? You are hearing the charge more and more frequently of late, especially in the wake of Pope Francis’ visit to South America in early July. The headline in The New York Times on July 12 read: “In a Fiery Speech, Francis Excoriates Capitalism.” The article went on to quote Francis’ remarks in a speech in Asuncion, Paraguay, where he described the unfettered pursuit of money as “the dung of the devil.” The Times called attention to Francis’ insistence that “poor countries should not be reduced to being providers of raw material and cheap labor for developed countries.”
Prominent defenders of free market theory, such as Stephen Moore of the Heritage Foundation and Rush Limbaugh, have responded. Moore, a Catholic, has called the Pope’s “vocal skepticism about capitalism and free enterprise…very troubling.” Limbaugh used the term “pure Marxism” to describe some of Francis’ comments about economic inequality.
Moore’s and Limbaugh’s reactions deserve to be taken seriously. We should listen to the case they make. And respond that they should know better: Not every criticism of global capitalism is motivated by Marxist beliefs.
Moore and Rush should know that the Church’s social teachings have rejected since the 19th century an extreme and doctrinaire form of free-market economics, which the Church has labeled “economic individualism.” Others use the term “social Darwinism,” for this view that the government has no responsibility to provide a safety net for those left behind in a market economy.
It is not a figment of someone’s imagination that there are people who call themselves “capitalists” who seriously think that the world would be a better place if the poor were left to die out, that their plight is “not my problem”; that applying the rule of the survival of the fittest makes sense in the human world, as well as among animals. I have known a few such individuals.
The principle of “subsidiarity” found in the social encyclicals condemns totalitarian socialism, but it also condemns a dog-eat-dog pursuit of profit by private business owners that ignores the legitimate needs of their workers and society as a whole. It calls for government intervention in the economy to protect the private property rights of smaller companies confronting corporate power. You can get the specifics, scripture and verse, if you will, in Pope Leo XIII’s 1891 encyclical Rerum Novarum, Paul VI’s 1967 Populorum Progressio, and John Paul II’s 1991 Centesimus Annus.
There will be no mistaking what you will find in those encyclicals: The Church calls for the state to play a role in the pursuit of social justice on economic matters. The principle of subsidiarity articulated in the Church’s social teachings insists that the state should intervene to regulate private businesses when the “lesser agencies” in society — private charities, trade unions, civic and business associations, and local governments, for example — have proven inadequate to the task at hand. When big government is necessary, it is necessary.
When should the central government step in? When should it not? The social encyclicals do not provide the yardstick for us. Individual Catholics, acting in good faith and with their knowledge of economics and the historical record, are left morally free in the social encyclicals to make the case for a greater or lesser role to be played by the state, to quote economists on both the left and the right all they want in the process.
Some observers make the case that Pope Francis’ Argentine background is responsible for his openness to government regulation of the economy, specifically the legacy of Argentine dictator Juan Peron. Nick Miroff makes this case persuasively in the August 2 edition of The Washington Post. Maybe there is something to that. “Peronism” advocated a strong role for the central government and an identification with the needs of the working class and the trade union movement in Argentina.
But I would argue that the future Pope, as a young Argentinean, was as likely to be influenced by the distributist theories of G.K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, and Heinrich Pesch circulating in Catholic circles at the time. Many observers have argued that “Peronism” in Argentina was an attempt, perhaps a clumsy and questionably motivated attempt, to apply these principles.
Chesterton, Pesch, and Belloc sought to illustrate what the social teachings of the Church would look like if they were put in place in an actual economy; they all called for government intervention to prevent unjust concentrations of economic power and to preserve the private property rights of small businesses. There is nothing “Marxist” about protecting the private property rights of small businesses.
There’s something else that needs to be said: It should not be overlooked that there is more to Communism and Marxism than a socialized economy. That is why the quotation from Quadragesimo Anno by Pope Pius XI, found on the opening page of The Wanderer each week, bears repeating: “No one can be at the same time a sincere Catholic and a true socialist.”
The word “true” is the key. By a “true socialist” Pius XI meant someone who championed the policies of the radical Marxists of the late 19th century. Those policies went far beyond the mere regulation of the economy by government officials.
Marxism advocates violent revolution to get the government into the position to control the economy — “revolution of the proletariat.” It calls for the socialist government to be a totalitarian government, a single party state — “dictatorship of the proletariat.” It calls for that dictatorial, totalitarian socialist government to foment revolutions motivated by Marxism wherever else in the world they see an opening — “world revolution.”
It also calls for Marxist dictators to use their power to wipe out religion in the countries that they control, since religion, the Marxists insist, is the “opiate of the people,” used by the ruling classes down through history to deaden the revolutionary ardor of those suffering economic injustice.
In his private thinking, Pope Francis may be more favorably disposed toward an activist role for the central government on economic matters than Stephen Moore and Rush Limbaugh. I would say that such a disposition shows through in his public statements. But the Pope does not believe in atheism, in violent revolution and a totalitarian dictatorship run by men like Stalin and Mao.
If I were forced to make a guess, I would say Francis’ private economic views are similar to those of the European Social Democrats. The Pope is entitled to those views about the best path toward social justice. As is Moore to make the case for why he disagrees.
What we are looking at is secular leftists seizing this moment in history to affiliate themselves with Pope Francis’ popularity on the world stage; that is why they are throwing out comments about the Pope being a Communist, hoping some of them will stick. Either they don’t know what they are talking about, or they are guilty of intellectual dishonesty of serious proportions. Pope Francis deserves the benefit of the doubt that it is the social encyclicals, and not Marxism, that motivate his view on economic matters; that he is not a Marxist, but a Catholic.

Share Button

2019 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Vatican and USCCB leave transgender policy texts unpublished

While U.S. bishops have made headlines for releasing policies addressing gender identity and pastoral ministry, guidelines on the subject have been drafted but not published by both the U.S. bishops’ conference and the Vatican’s doctrinal office, leaving diocesan bishops to…Continue Reading

Biden says Pope Francis told him to continue receiving communion, amid scrutiny over pro-abortion policies

President Biden said that Pope Francis, during their meeting Friday in Vatican City, told him that he should continue to receive communion, amid heightened scrutiny of the Catholic president’s pro-abortion policies.  The president, following the approximately 90-minute-long meeting, a key…Continue Reading

Federal judge rules in favor of Gov. DeSantis’ mask mandate ban

MIAMI (LifeSiteNews) – A federal judge this week handed Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis another legal victory on his mask mandate ban for schools. On Wednesday, Judge K. Michael Moore of the Southern District of Florida denied a petition from…Continue Reading

The Eucharist should not be received unworthily, says Nigerian cardinal

Priests have a duty to remind Catholics not to receive the Eucharist in a state of serious sin and to make confession easily available, a Nigerian cardinal said at the International Eucharistic Congress on Thursday. “It is still the doctrine…Continue Reading

Donald Trump takes a swipe at Catholics and Jews who did not vote for him

Donald Trump complained about Catholics and Jews who did not vote for him in 2020. The former president made the comments in a conference call featuring religious leaders. The move could be seen to shore up his religious conservative base…Continue Reading

Y Gov. Kathy Hochul Admits Andrew Cuomo Covered Up COVID Deaths, 12,000 More Died Than Reported

When it comes to protecting people from COVID, Andrew Cuomo is already the worst governor in America. New York has the second highest death rate per capita, in part because he signed an executive order putting COVID patients in nursing…Continue Reading

Prayers For Cardinal Burke . . . U.S. Cardinal Burke says he has tested positive for COVID-19

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke said he has tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. In an Aug. 10 tweet, he wrote: “Praised be Jesus Christ! I wish to inform you that I have recently…Continue Reading

Democrats Block Amendment Banning Late-Term Abortions, Stopping Abortions Up to Birth

Senate Democrats have blocked an amendment that would ban abortions on babies older than 20 weeks. During consideration of the multi-trillion spending package, pro-life Louisiana Senator John Kennedy filed an amendment to ban late-term abortions, but Democrats steadfastly support killing…Continue Reading

Transgender student wins as U.S. Supreme Court rebuffs bathroom appeal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed a victory to a transgender former public high school student who waged a six-year legal battle against a Virginia county school board that had barred him from using the bathroom corresponding…Continue Reading

New York priest accused by security guard of assault confirms charges have now been dropped

NEW YORK, June 17, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — A New York priest has made his first public statement regarding the dismissal of charges against him.  Today Father George W. Rutler reached out to LifeSiteNews and other media today with the following…Continue Reading

21,000 sign petition protesting US Catholic bishops vote on Biden, abortion

More than 21,000 people have signed a letter calling for U.S. Catholic bishops to cancel a planned vote on whether President Biden should receive communion.  Biden, a Catholic, supports abortion rights and has long come under attack from some Catholics over that…Continue Reading

Bishop Gorman seeks candidates to fill two full time AP level teaching positions for the 2021-2022 school year in the subject areas of Calculus/Statistics and Physics

Bishop Thomas K. Gorman Regional Catholic School is a college preparatory school located in Tyler, Texas. It is an educational ministry of the Catholic Diocese of Tyler led by Bishop Joseph Strickland. The sixth through twelfth grade school provides a…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.

  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1


Today . . .

Pope reportedly confirms he is taking away Burke’s apartment, denies calling him his ‘enemy

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Nov 29, 2023 / 17:31 pm Pope Francis reportedly has confirmed that he plans to take away Cardinal Raymond Burke’s Vatican apartment and salary but denied that he referred to the American prelate as his “enemy,” according to a web post by papal biographer Austen Ivereigh. The pope reportedly announced at a meeting of Vatican heads on Nov. 20 that he intended to take action against Burke, who has publicly criticized some papal initiatives,…Continue Reading

The Pope: “Away with Cardinal Burke’s house and salary”

Vatican sources close to the Daily Compass: Burke was defined as an “enemy” in an announcement made to the Heads of Dicasteries of the Roman Curia. The cardinal has not yet received a formal notice, but considering precedents, it is unlikely to be just a threat, which nonetheless would be very serious.

Bishop Barron in ‘frank disagreement’ with Synod on Synodality’s report on ‘development of moral teaching’

Bishop Robert Barron has said that he is in “frank disagreement” with the final report of the Synod on Synodality’s claim that advances in the sciences require an evolution in the Church’s moral teaching on human sexuality. In a reflection published this week, the bishop of Winona–Rochester, Minnesota, said it is “troubling” to see how members of the German bishops’ conference are already “using the language of the synod report to justify ma

">Interview with Deacon Fournier – Great Testament to Bishop Strickland

Cardinal Müller on Strickland’s Sacking: “It’s an abuse of the Divine Right of the Episcopate.”

What is being done to Bishop Strickland is terrible, an abuse of the divine right of the episcopate. If I could advise Mgr Strickland, he should absolutely not resign, because then they could wash their hands of his innocence. [Note: Which is why Strickland refused to resign, and was sacked.] According to the commandment of justice, a bishop can only be removed by the Pope if he has been guilty of something evil (heresy, schism,…Continue Reading

The King of Kings

Cindy Paslawski We are at the end of the Church year. We began with Advent a year ago, commemorating the time awaiting the coming of the Christ and we are ending these weeks later with a vision of the future, a vision of Christ the King of the Universe on His throne before us all.…Continue Reading

7,000 Pro-Lifers March In London

By STEVEN ERTELT LONDON (LifeNews) — Over the weekend, some seven thousand pro-life people in the UK participated in the March for Life in London to protest abortion.They marched to Parliament Square on Saturday, September 2 under the banner of “Freedom to Live” and had to deal with a handful of radical abortion activists.During the…Continue Reading

An Appeal For Prayer For The Armenian People

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke on August 29, 2023, issued this prayer for the Armenian people, noting their unceasing love for Christ, even in the face of persecution.) + + On the Feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist, having a few days ago celebrated the…Continue Reading

Robert Hickson, Founding Member Of Christendom College, Dies At 80

By MAIKE HICKSON FRONT ROYAL, Va. (LifeSiteNews) — Robert David Hickson, Jr., of Front Royal, Va., died at his home on September 2, 2023, at 21:29 p.m. after several months of suffering and after having received the Last Rites of the Catholic Church. He was surrounded by friends and family.Robert is survived by me —…Continue Reading

The Real Hero Of “Sound of Freedom”… Says The Film Has Strengthened The Fight Against Child Trafficking

By ANA PAULA MORALES (CNA) —Tim Ballard, a former U.S. Homeland Security agent who risked his life to fight child trafficking, discussed the impact of the movie Sound of Freedom, which is based on his work, in an August 29 interview with ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. “I’ve spent more than 20 years helping…Continue Reading


Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: This lesson on medical-moral issues is taken from the book Catholicism & Ethics. Please feel free to use the series for high schoolers or adults. We will continue to welcome your questions for the column as well. The email and postal addresses are given at the end of this column. Special Course On Catholicism And Ethics (Pages 53-59)…Continue Reading

Color Politics An Impediment To Faith

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK The USCCB is rightly concerned about racism, as they should be about any sin. In the 2018 statement Open Wide Our Hearts, they affirm the dignity of every human person: “But racism still profoundly affects our culture, and it has no place in the Christian heart. This evil causes great harm to its victims, and…Continue Reading

Trademarks Of The True Messiah

By MSGR. CHARLES POPE (Editor’s Note: Msgr. Charles Pope posted this essay on September 2, and it is reprinted here with permission.) + + In Sunday’s Gospel the Lord firmly sets before us the need for the cross, not as an end in itself, but as the way to glory. Let’s consider the Gospel in three stages.First: The Pattern That…Continue Reading

A Beacon Of Light… The Holy Cross And Jesus’ Unconditional Love

By FR. RICHARD D. BRETON Each year on September 14 the Church celebrates the Feast Day of the Exultation of the Holy Cross. The Feast Day of the Triumph of the Holy Cross commemorates the day St. Helen found the True Cross. It is fitting then, that today we should focus on the final moments of Jesus’ life on the…Continue Reading

Our Ways Must Become More Like God’s Ways

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twenty-Fifth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR A) Readings: Isaiah 55:6-9Phil. 1:20c-24, 27aMatt. 20:1-16a In the first reading today, God tells us through the Prophet Isaiah that His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways. This should not come as a surprise to anyone, especially when we look at what the Lord…Continue Reading

The Devil And The Democrats

By FR. DENIS WILDE, OSA States such as Minnesota, California, Maryland, and others, in all cases with Democrat-controlled legislatures, are on a fast track to not only allow unborn babies to be murdered on demand as a woman’s “constitutional right” but also to allow infanticide.Our nation has gotten so used to the moral evil of killing in the womb that…Continue Reading

Crushed But Unbroken . . . The Martyrdom Of St. Margaret Clitherow

By RAY CAVANAUGH The late-1500s were a tough time for Catholics in England, where the Reformation was in full gear. A 1581 law prohibited Catholic religious ceremonies. And a 1584 Act of Parliament mandated that all Catholic priests leave the country or else face execution. Some chose to remain, however, so they could continue serving the faithful.Also taking huge risks…Continue Reading