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Karl Marx: Father of Catholic social teaching?

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First, the chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences said, “Right now, those who are best implementing the social doctrine of the Church are the Chinese.” Now, Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Germany has credited Karl Marx with helping craft Catholic social teaching.

Near the 200th birthday of the founder of Communism, Cardinal Marx said that without Karl Marx “there would be no Catholic social teaching.”

Which is rather like saying, “Without disease, there would be no vaccines.”

The cardinal continued:

“We are all on the shoulders of Karl Marx” he said. According to the cardinal, Karl Marx showed that human rights remain incomplete without the material well-being of people, and he praised Marx for paying attention to the real conditions of the people.

His effusive praise of Marx continued, followed by an indictment of the free market. To make matters worse, his words were reported uncritically in the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.

At Acton’s Religion & Liberty Transatlantic website, Polish author Marcin Rzegocki dismantles the budding mythology of Karl Marx as an unrecognized Catholic theologian. Surveying historical, theological, and economic data, he convincingly shows that a vast gulf separates Christian economic thought from Marxist dogma.

Read his full analysis here.

(Photo: Cardinal Reinhard Marx. Photo credit: Universität Salzburg (PR). This photo has been cropped. CC BY 2.0.)

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Rev. Ben Johnson Rev. Ben Johnson is Senior Editor at the Acton Institute.