Message to Vatican’s World Meeting of Popular Movements: ‘Detestable’ Communism is the Worst Enemy of the Poor!
It is not uncommon to hear that communism was “a good idea poorly implemented.”
In spite of its actual experiences – all ending with catastrophic results – the idea that communism contains a “positive core” and is “friendly to the poor” reemerged at the World Meeting of Popular Movements organized at the Vatican from October 28 to 30 by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. It was held in the presence of Pope Francis and over one hundred representatives from movements often linked to the extreme left.
Besides being doctrinally questionable, this thesis is historically false. On the Catholic side, it was enunciated by Jacques Maritain, the ideologue of Catholic Action’s turn to the left. He applied it indiscriminately to both socialism and communism: “In the nineteenth century, socialism has been a protest of human consciousness and its more generous instincts against evils that cried out to heaven…. Socialism has loved the poor.”
In this lyrical vision, Maritain included Soviet Communism: “For the first time in history, Maxim Gorky recently wrote about Soviet communism, the true love of man is organized as a creative force and sets as a goal the emancipation of thousands of workers. We believe in the profound sincerity of Gorky’s words.”
This was also the thesis of Uruguayan Alberto Methol Ferré, philosophical mentor to an entire generation of Latin American churchmen of the “populist” line. According to Methol, the evil of Marxism lies only in his atheism: “The Church essentially rejected Marxism on account of the atheism it contained.” However, the system of Karl Marx had a valid element: “Marxism’s more valid [aspect] was its critique of capitalism.”
his “valid” element leads the Uruguayan philosopher to defend aspects of the so-called liberation theology, of Marxist origin: “The theology of liberation can also be viewed as an attempt to assume the best of Marxism…. This theology has rendered an invaluable service by rethinking policy in light of the common good and therefore in close relationship with the preferential option for the poor and [for] justice.”
It is amazing to see personages from the Catholic world exalting a system which the Magisterium of the Church defined as “detestable sect,” “abominable sect,” “intrinsically evil” system, “shame of our time,” the result of a “fundamental error;” a system with which, in the words of Pius XI, “no collaboration can be admitted in any field.” Indeed, by a decree of the Holy Office of 1949, any collaboration with communism would lead to excommunication latae sententiae.