Can a Christian be a Marxist? (as in the case of some liberation theologians and of “Christians for socialism”)

We have already seen that Marxism is a doctrine based on atheism, on systematic hate and on the satanic sentence that the end justifies the means. This would be enough for any Christian to keep away with horror from Marxism.


Yet there are many Catholic priests and laymen who, facing serious instances of exploitation and injustice, have been seduced by Marxism or Communism and propose a conception of Christianity that tries to make it compatible with Marxism: So, they introduce a Jesus Christ that would be a politician, almost a guerrilla leader for some of them (some theologians of the liberation present him as such).


They forget that Jesus, true God and true man, made it clear facing Pilate, that He didn’t propose the use of human weapons.“My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my followers would have fought that I might not be delivered to the Jews. But, as it is, my kingdom is not from here”. (Jn 18, 36) Therefore, Jesus didn’t aspire to temporal power, he was not a politician.


Other theologians of liberation use Marxism to analyze the Church. So Leonard Boff, for instance, makes a Marxist critic of the Sacraments, according to which they would be a mechanism of exploitation of the poorest people. He forgets that the Sacraments were instituted by Jesus Christ as usual channels of God’s grace and that what God has made cannot be analyzed as if it were a mere human work.


On the other hand, the Sacraments have always been gratuitous and no priest makes you pay for confession, for communion or for attending church. (The only thing that could give cause to such a strange and disrespectful analysis are the stipendiums of the Masses that are mainly requested for the dead. Although one can argue whether such stipendiums are the best solution, they were established by the Church in order that priests may have some income with which to live, according to what the Gospel says referring to the apostles: “he who works is certainly entitled to a reward”, i.e. that they have the right to live from their ministry).


Still more serious is what is denounced in the Document written by the Bishop’s Conference of Colombia, entitled “Christian identity in the action for justice”, which denounces, referring to the theological conception of some followers of Marxism, that there is no other sin than social sin, such as the sin of economical exploitation and that the rest of sins are not important at all.


Such attitude is a real falsification of the Evangel and a real treason to it: On the other hand, he who is not honest with his wife and his children, for instance he who commits adultery, how can he think that he will be honest towards his companions, employees or voters? If he is not true to those who are the nearest to him, how can we hope that he will be true to other people with whom he has no such ties? How can we hope that he will be true in the economical, the political or any other sphere?


That shows us the inconsistency of thinking that only social sin exists, for sin has its roots in the attitude of one’s heart. The withdrawal from the love of God and to the neighbor in any sphere, sin, in all its gloomy manifestations, prepares the ground for corruption, exploitation and injustice.


To proceed with the same argument, if one doesn’t hesitate to offend God, who is so good, so holy and so merciful, how can he avoid offending men who rarely are sweet, merciful and good? Furthermore, any sin not only offends God but, sooner or later it also perturbs a just society.


And on the contrary, every true conversion means an improvement of justice, as in the case of Zacchaeus, which is narrated in the Gospel, when he converts and, in the presence of Jesus, he decides to restore fourfold the defrauded things and to give one-half of his possessions to the poor (Luc 19, 1-10); here we see how a change of attitude in the heart of an unjust man has repercussions in the luck of the most needy people and in the reparation of the committed injustice.


On the other hand and as it was clear with the downfall of communist systems, from 1989 on, and as Pope Paul VI said: “even the most idealized systems become inhuman very soon, if man’s inhuman inclinations are not corrected, if there isn’t a conversion of mind and heart of those who live under such structures or direct them”.


Instead, theologians supporting Marxism tend to convert the change of the economic system into a talisman, an idol to which they sacrifice everything, hoping in vain that such a change will solve all the troubles of man and of society, as if the mere change of  economical structures would automatically bring the change in the heart of men. Nevertheless, it is also true that a sincere conversion cannot occur without repairing injustices (in the present case, without correcting the unjust economical structures, the structures of sin): If Zacchaeus had not given back what he had stolen his conversion would not have been real. If the members of society go back to God but they allow the exploitation to persist, their conversion isn’t genuine: As the prophets of the Old Testament say, God is not pleased with sacrifices if injustices are not repaired. To alienate the rights of widows and orphans or not paying a fair wage to the workers are incompatible with the love of God or with a true conversion.


Yet Marxists do not want the conversion of the unjust man, in order that he is saved. In fact, they don’t believe in Heaven, Hell or the other life and they do not believe that we must love each other either. The bishops of Colombia tell us why Christian people cannot collaborate with Marxism: “It doesn’t try to solve the injustices through the conversion of unjust people, but through the violent destruction of the adversary; with a Manichean attitude it looks at him as an absolute and irremediable evil. Therefore, it replaces an injustice with another injustice and Christian charity, which commands to love even our enemies, with systematic hate”.[48]

The boldness of the priests denounced by the Colombian bishops, which can be also found in our countries, reaches the point of sacrilegiously detracting the Holy Mass from its real sense:


“The Eucharist for them is not the Sacrifice and the Banquet of the Lord any more but a mean to improve political “awareness”, it has become a tool for revolutionary fight and a chance for political harangues. That’s why they evade all norms of celebration and elaborate at their whim prayers, passwords and hymns which destroy the sacred sense of the liturgy, converting it in an act of protest and incitement to riot. (Mentioned document).


They quote single fragments of the Holy Scripture out of context, interpreting them without understanding their spirit and turning their back to centuries of Tradition in the Catholic Church. The Bishops comment:


“In order to sustain their theories, they misread the Holy Scripture and try to back the basic features of their ideology on it. “They pretend to find there a political, revolutionary and subversive Christ as the only possible interpretation of the person and the work of Jesus. According to this point of view (….), they are also determined to change the vision of the Church, redefining it and changing it into a valid tool for revolution. They also fabricate a different Church whose mere temporary option forces her to compromise with Marxist socialism”.


And Colombian bishops go on as follows: “Such intimate evangelic values as dialogue, pardon, reconciliation and conversion are presented as the fruits of the capitalist ideology”.


The Bishops confirm a political pluralism for Christian people in order to create new politics and economic systems which become worthy of men and shy away from “the structural vices of capitalism, neo capitalism or Marxist socialism”.


And the mentioned document goes on as follows:

“The Church takes the fight for justice as her own… and doesn’t yield to resignation” but “rejects the dynamic of the fight of the classes as it is seen by Marxism.[49]


Paul VI says to these perhaps well-intentioned Christians: “wishing to compromise the Church in the effort of liberation, they have often felt the temptation to reduce her mission to the dimension of a mere worldly project, to reduce her objectives to an man-centered horizon; salvation… to material welfare; her activity to initiatives of political or social order, forgetting every spiritual or religious concern. If such a thing happened, the Church would loose her deepest meaning. Her message of liberation wouldn’t be genuine and could easily be monopolized and manipulated by ideological systems and political parties”.


The highest teaching of the Church has warned us about the errors of a certain theology of liberation and of the “Christians for Socialism”, although it admits that a sound theology of liberation may exist, since not only the spirit, but also the body of man must be an object of charity and justice.


Teaching of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith.- Authorized by Pope Jean Paul II:


At first, we refer to the “Instruction about some aspects of the Theology of Liberation” of September 3th 1984, of the above mentioned Congregation, including the most relevant paragraphs:

“Mainly and foremost, liberation is liberation from the radical slavery of sin”


“Certainly, at the urgency of some problems, some people are tempted to underline the liberation of slaveries of worldly and temporal order, so that it seems that they relegate to a second plane the liberation from sin, not giving to this question the importance it has”.


“The present Instruction aims to warn about the deviations and the risks of deviation which are ruinous for the faith and for Christian life, which bring some theologies of liberation to accept, without enough critical concepts, several trends of Marxist thinking.”


“This does not mean withdrawing any authority from the preferential option in favour of poor people. By no means can it be used as an excuse by those who entrench themselves in an attitude of neutrality or indifference in front of the tragically urgent problems of poorness and injustice. On the contrary, it is made with the certitude that the serious ideological deviations that are denounced lead to inevitably betray the cause of poor people.”


“One can neither locate the main trouble only in bad economical, social or political “structures”, as if all the other bad things would derive from such structures, so that the creation of a “new man” would depend on the instauration of different economical and sociopolitical structures. Certainly there are iniquitous structures which generate iniquities and one must have the courage to change them”.


“As a consequence of man’s action, good or bad structures are rather consequences than causes. The root of evil is in the free and responsible people who have to be converted by the grace of Jesus Christ in order that they start to live and act as new creatures who love their neighbour, efficiently search for justice, self-control and the practice of virtues”.


“When one takes as first choice the radical revolution of social connections and the question of the search for personal perfection is only tackled thereafter, one enters the path of denial as for the sense of the person and his transcendence, destroying ethics and their foundations which represent the absolute character of the distinction between good and evil”.


“On the other hand, charity being the principle of real perfection, the latter cannot be conceived without opening oneself to others and without a spirit of service”.


For others, it seems as if the necessary fight for justice and human freedom, in a political and economical sense, constitutes the essential and total salvation. For such people, the Evangel is reduced to just a material one”. 


“There exists a real theology of liberation, whose roots are to be found in the correctly interpreted Word”.


About an aberration:“The Eucharist changed into a celebration of the people in social struggle”.


“This system, as it is, represents a perversion of the Christian message, as God has entrusted it to His Church”.


They pretend it is to maintain a false illusion to affirm that love, in its universality, can defeat the first structural law of the capitalist society (the fight of the social classes)”.


(A characteristic of the condemned trend) “The historicist “immanentism” (God and salvation can be reduced to material history), God has become History, there is no difference between worldly History and the History of salvation”. 


“It is true that the formulas of faith are literally conserved, but with a different (heretic) meaning”.

“The death of Christ is exclusively seen as a political fact”.


“In the fight for human rights, one has to use the means according to human dignity: blind violence must be condemned: violence generates more violence”.


“The inversion of unjust structures by revolutionary violence does not immediately mean the instauration of a just system. Millions of persons of our time are hoping with every right to recover the fundamental liberties from which they were robbed by totalitarian and atheist systems which arrived to power by means of violent revolutionary ways and in the name of the liberation of people. One cannot ignore this shameful act of our time. Followers, perhaps unconsciously, betray the poor people they want to serve”.


On March 22nd,1986, a new  Instruction of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith appeared, entitled “Christian freedom and liberation” which was ratified by Pope Jean Paul II. We quote the following passage:


98.- “ Shepherds and all those priests and laymen, religious people who often work, under hard conditions, on the evangelization and on the integral human promotion, must be full of hope, thinking about the extraordinary resources of sanctity present in the living faith of God’s people. We have to do our best in order that such wealth ofsensus fideican manifest itself fully and give copious fruits.


It is a noble ecclesial task for theologians to help so that the faith of poor people can be clearly expressed and applied to life, by means of a deep meditation regarding a salvation plan, as it is developed in relation with the Virgin of the Magnificat.


In such a way, a theology of freedom and liberation, as a filial echo of the Magnificat of  the Virgin Mary, keeping the memory of the Church, constitutes a requirement of our times.Yet, it would be a serious perversion to use the energy of popular religiosity to deviate it to a merely material project of liberation, which very soon would become illusory and the cause of new doubts. Those who give up in favor of the ideologies of this world and in favor of the pretended need for violence, are not truer to hope, to its boldness and its courage, as it is underlined  by the anthem to the God of mercifulness, taught to us by the Holy Virgin.”


It would be nice that heterodox theologians of the liberation or groups such as Christians for Socialism humbly listened to the Pope since they reduce the Gospels to a temporary project of liberation by forgetting that it is a message of eternal salvation and that Heaven and Hell exist (“what worth does it have to earn the world if one looses his soul?”)

In this sense, the orthodox Vassula Ryden sends us the following message (according to her, a message from Jesus, this being a private revelation in the process of study by the ecclesiastic authorities):

“I have chosen Peter to be your guardian, in order that he keeps you in the Truth, until my coming back. But men have disobeyed me, they have separated, making their own rules. So it is: “Don’t listen to people who are opposed to Peter. This Peter-of-my-lambs who now is (then was) Jean Paul II…He has been chosen by me and he is loved by my soul. Don’t listen to those who condemn him. They have lost their own way”… “I implore you like a beggar who has been injured by his own friends, I implore all of you  to go back to Peter and be One, as my Father and I are One”.[50]

[48]Extracted from “Cuestiones y  respuestas V (Esquemas de Documentación Doctrinal), OBISA, Madrid,1977, Pg. 108

[49]Mentioned in “Cuestiones y Respuestas”, V, Pg. 103 and ss. , OBISA, Madrid 1977

[50]Vassula  Ryden, “True Life in God”, message of  December, 3thd, 1988 .