Jesuit magazine publishes Catholic case for communism
In a dramatic abandonment of a century of staunch Catholic opposition to communism, the Jesuit order’s main magazine in the US has published a 3000-word article entitled The Catholic Case for Communism.
The article in America, The Jesuit Review claims communism has provided one of the few sustainable oppositions to capitalism, a political order responsible “for the ongoing suffering of millions … It is that suffering, reproduced by economic patterns that Marx and others tried to explain, and not the secret plot of atheism that motivates communists.’’
The article, by the magazine’s Canadian correspondent, PhD philosophy student Dean Detloff, conveniently ignores the impact of markets in lifting billions of people out of poverty across the developing world.
Detloff praises Pope Francis, a Jesuit, for “a truly radical moment’’ in his controversial Green encyclical Laudato Si, when he wrote: “That the Christian tradition has never recognised the right to private property as absolute or inviolable, and has stressed the social purpose of all forms of private property.”
Detloff says: “Something like this is paralleled in The Communist Manifesto when Marx and Engels underscore that abolishing private property means abolishing not personal property, or the kinds of things an artisan or farmer might own, but the amassed property held by the rich, which divides human beings into antagonistic classes of people.’’
Priests, nuns and laypeople, Detloff says, “have been inspired by communists and in many places contributed to communist and communist-influenced movements as members’’.
Some still do, he says, such as in the Philippines, where activist groups are fighting the authoritarian right-wing president Rodrigo Duterte.
“Closer to home and outside of armed struggles, Christians are also present today in communist movements in the United States and Canada.’’
The article appears with an infamous photograph of Pope Francis accepting a hammer and sickle crucifix from Bolivian president Evo Marles when he visited Bolivia in 2015. Four years ago, the gift sparked outrage among Catholics, especially in eastern Europe, where millions of Christians were tortured and killed in Soviet persecutions.
“Spanning over a century now, communists — Christians and non-Christians — have fought against a violent capitalist economy, putting their lives and freedoms at risk, enduring character assassination, imprisonment and war,’’ Detloff claims. “The loss of a mass communist movement, due in large part to an aggressive legal and political persecution by the US and other governments, has made organising opposition to capitalism itself a difficult task; but even in its absence, a majority of Millennials reject capitalism.’’
He admits that “many Catholics, myself included, count themselves among the communists’’.
The controversial piece was accompanied by a commentary from the magazine’s editor, Jesuit priest Father Matt Malone, entitled “Why we published an essay sympathetic to communism’’.
The magazine’s editorial position had on communism not changed much, Fr Malone said. “What has also not changed is our willingness to hear views with which we may disagree but that we nonetheless think are worth hearing’’.
One US presidential candidate, Fr Malone wrote “says he is a socialist, and several others don’t mind sounding like one’’.