"Hideous", "destructive", "wicked", and "perverted" are only some of the adjectives used by the Popes to describe socialism. From Pius IX to Benedict XVI, the popes have thoroughly and consistently condemned socialism. Given the advance of socialism in Ireland, Irish Society for Christian Civilisation is glad to offer its readers a brief selection of thought-provoking quotes from the Popes on the topic.
LEO XIII (1878-1903)
"Overthrow is Deliberately Planned"
For, the fear of God and reverence for divine laws being taken away, the authority of rulers despised, sedition permitted and approved, and the popular passions urged on to lawlessness, with no restraint save that of punishment, a change and overthrow of all things will necessarily follow. Yea, this change and overthrow is deliberately planned and put forward by many associations of communists and socialists.” (Encyclical Humanum Genus, April 20, 1884, n. 27)
Debasing the Natural Union of Man and Woman
“They [socialists, communists, or nihilists] debase the natural union of man and woman, which is held sacred even among barbarous peoples; and its bond, by which the family is chiefly held together, they weaken, or even deliver up to lust. (Encyclical Quod Apostolici Muneris, December 28, 1878, n. 1)
"The Harvest of Misery"
...there is need for a union of brave minds with all the resources they can command. The harvest of misery is before our eyes, and the dreadful projects of the most disastrous national upheavals are threatening us from the growing power of the socialistic movement.” (Encyclical Graves de Communi Re, January 18, 1901, n. 21)
SAINT PIUS X (1903-1914)
The Dream of Re-Shaping Society will Bring Socialism
“But stranger still, alarming and saddening at the same time, are the audacity and frivolity of men who call themselves Catholics and dream of re-shaping society under such conditions, and of establishing on earth, over and beyond the pale of the Catholic Church, ‘the reign of love and justice’ ... What are they going to produce? ... A mere verbal and chimerical construction in which we shall see, glowing in a jumble, and in seductive confusion, the words Liberty, Justice, Fraternity, Love, Equality, and human exultation, all resting upon an ill-understood human dignity. It will be a tumultuous agitation, sterile for the end proposed, but which will benefit the less Utopian exploiters of the people. Yes, we can truly say that the Sillon, its eyes fixed on a chimera, brings Socialism in its train.” (Apostolic Letter Notre Charge Apostolique [Our Apostolic Mandate] to the French Bishops, August 15, 1910, condemning the movement Le Sillon)
BENEDICT XV (1914-1922)
Never Forget the Condemnation of Socialism
“It is not our intention here to repeat the arguments which clearly expose the errors of Socialism and of similar doctrines. Our predecessor, Leo XIII, most wisely did so in truly memorable Encyclicals; and you, Venerable Brethren, will take the greatest care that those grave precepts are never forgotten, but that whenever circumstances call for it, they should be clearly expounded and inculcated in Catholic associations and congresses, in sermons and in the Catholic press.”
(Encyclical Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum, November 1, 1914, n. 13)
PIUS XI (1922-1939)
Socialism Cannot Be Reconciled with Catholic Doctrine
“We make this pronouncement: Whether considered as a doctrine, or an historical fact, or a movement, Socialism, if it remains truly Socialism, even after it has yielded to truth and justice on the points which we have mentioned, cannot be reconciled with the teachings of the Catholic Church because its concept of society itself is utterly foreign to Christian truth.” (Encyclical Quadragesimo Anno, May 15, 1931, n. 117)
Catholic Socialism is a Contradiction
“[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.” (Ibid. n. 120)
PIUS XII (1939-1958)
The Church Will Fight Socialism to the End
“[The Church undertook] the protection of the individual and the family against a current threatening to bring about a total socialisation which in the end would make the specter of the 'Leviathan' become a shocking reality. The Church will fight this battle to the end, for it is a question of supreme values: the dignity of man and the salvation of souls." (“Radio message to the Katholikentag of Vienna,” September 14, 1952 in Discorsi e Radiomessaggi, vol. XIV, p. 314)
The All-Powerful State Harms True Prosperity
"To consider the State as something ultimate to which everything else should be subordinated and directed, cannot fail to harm the true and lasting prosperity of nations." (Encyclical Summi Pontificatus, October 20, 1939, n. 60)
JOHN XXIII (1958-1963)
“No Catholic could subscribe even to moderate socialism”
“Pope Pius XI further emphasised 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 organisation 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.” (Encyclical Mater et Magistra, May 15, 1961, n. 34)
PAUL VI (1963-1978)
"Christians Tend to Idealise Socialism"
Too often Christians attracted by socialism tend to idealise it in terms which, apart from anything else, are very general: a will for justice, solidarity and equality. They refuse to recognise the limitations of the historical socialist movements, which remain conditioned by the ideologies from which they originated.” (Apostolic Letter Octogesima Adveniens, May 14, 1971, n. 31)
JOHN PAUL II (1978-2005)
Socialism: Danger of a "simple and radical solution"
“It may seem surprising that ‘socialism’ appeared at the beginning of the Pope's critique of solutions to the ‘question of the working class’ at a time when ‘socialism’ was not yet in the form of a strong and powerful State, with all the resources which that implies, as was later to happen. However, he correctly judged the danger posed to the masses by the attractive presentation of this simple and radical solution to the ‘question of the working class.’" (Encyclical Centesimus Annus - On the 100th anniversary of Pope Leo XIII's Rerum Novarum, May 1, 1991, n. 12)
BENEDICT XVI (2005 - 2013)
"We do not Need a State which Controls Everything"
The State which would provide everything, absorbing everything into itself, would ultimately become a mere bureaucracy incapable of guaranteeing the very thing which the suffering person - every person - needs: namely, loving personal concern. We do not need a State which regulates and controls everything, but a State which, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, generously acknowledges and supports initiatives arising from the different social forces and combines spontaneity with closeness to those in need. … In the end, the claim that just social structures would make works of charity superfluous masks a materialist conception of man: the mistaken notion that man can live ‘by bread alone’ (Mt 4:4; cf. Dt 8:3) - a conviction that demeans man and ultimately disregards all that is specifically human.” (Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, December 25, 2005, n. 28)