Sr. Helena Burns: Marxism has nothing to do with Christianity

By  Sr. Helena Burns
  • September 9, 2020

I’m sure you’ve noticed that being enamoured of Marxism is, sadly, once again, in vogue among those who have never lived under its rapacious, anti-human, oppressive iron fist. The scary thing this time around is that a majority of these starry-eyed folks are young people who never even lived through the Cold War. (A few years ago I was on the campus of McMaster University and the bulletin boards were filled with black and red posters: “Join the Marxist Party!”) 

Who’s to blame for this sorry state of affairs? We, the older generations. We did not teach our youth about the inherent evils of this bankrupt-in-every-way, failed ideology. We didn’t bring survivors of Marxist brutality into our schools to speak to our students. We didn’t teach them about the tens of millions who perished at the hands of these murderous regimes and the horrors of living in these destitute dystopias.

Am I getting all political here? No. Designating non-political issues as political is a way of shunting people of faith, people of conscience and people of science to the sidelines of public discourse. Marxism is first of all a philosophy. An atheistic philosophy. Both Popes Pius XI and Pius XII exposed and roundly condemned this ugly system with their respective encyclicals: Reconstruction of the Social Order (1931) and On Atheistic Communism (1939). In the minds of Marx and Engels (co-author of The Communist Manifesto) socialism and communism were closely related and simply different stages in the same march of “evolution” and “progress.”

Exactly who was Karl Marx? Although there are other books detailing Karl Marx’s connection to Satanism and his lifestyle — which was the exact opposite of what he preached — a new book, The Devil and Karl Marx, lays out what we should be keenly aware of in our times. Here are just a few sordid facts: Marx refused to work and support his wife and children. He refused to pay their nursemaid, but instead used her as a concubine. He despised women and refused to educate his daughters, two of whom committed suicide. He made no secret of his virulent hatred for Blacks and Jews. To sum up, that makes him a non-labourer (communism is all about everyone being a productive worker, a cog in a machine), a misogynist, chauvinist, sexist, bigot and racist. “By their fruits ye shall know them.”

Marxism and Christianity have nothing in common. A Christian cannot be a Marxist and vice versa. (All the popes have said it, as well as former communist Dorothy Day.) Our most basic tenets and fundamental worldviews are diametrically opposed. Marxism claims to want to make everyone equal and empower the poor, but this has never, ever happened in over 150 years of putting Marxism into practice in various times and places around the globe.
The excuse given for this catastrophic failure of supposed Marxist principles (routinely taught in our universities) is that true Marxism/socialism/communism has never been done correctly yet!

No, it has been, to a T, and it simply doesn’t work. And let’s not forget that Marxism foments conflict wherever it goes. It cannot exist without “class struggle” and “class warfare.” In Marxist philosophy, if there are two unlike entities, one must surely be oppressing the other because there is no such thing as love, forgiveness, mercy, subsidiarity, peace or harmony in a Marxist world.

It’s Christianity which, for 2,000 years, has put its money, elbow grease, blood, sweat and tears where its mouth is, or rather, where Jesus’ mouth is, and founded communities of care for everyone, regardless of sex, colour, creed, ethnicity. It’s empowered the poor, proliferated schools, invented hospitals, the scientific method, social welfare, adoption agencies (in ancient Rome!), etc.

As Christians, we have a social plan. It’s called the Gospel, the Good News. It’s the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes, the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. And the Church has a rich century-plus tradition of social justice doctrines/documents waiting to be mined.

So. What can we do right here, right now regarding this upsurgence of Marxism on our shores?

1. Pray the rosary daily as Our Lady of Fatima asked, so that “Russia” may not “spread her errors.” The pen may be mightier than the sword, but the rosary is mightier than both! Our Lady told St. Dominic that the rosary is “the battering ram.”

2. Educate yourself and others. (See suggested reading list on my blog below.)  

3. Organize, join something, push back, find practical ways to put the Church’s social teaching into practice.

(Sr. Helena, fsp, is a Daughter of St. Paul. She holds a Masters in Media Literacy Education and studied screenwriting at UCLA.  Twitter: @srhelenaburns)

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I must question Helena Burns’ (Sep. 9) insistence on the incompatibility of Marxism and Christianity. I’ve traveled and lived in lands once under Soviet rule and met family members who survived Stalinist deportation, so I’m no fan of...

I must question Helena Burns’ (Sep. 9) insistence on the incompatibility of Marxism and Christianity. I’ve traveled and lived in lands once under Soviet rule and met family members who survived Stalinist deportation, so I’m no fan of authoritarian Communist government. All authoritarian regimes are oppressive. They include emperors, kings, prince-bishops, conquistadors, juntas, and fascists that Christian leaders accommodated or supported, more often than not, over the last 1700 years. The Gospel confronts the rich and powerful, but Christian leaders have had a blind spot concerning the oppression of workers. Today, Christian thinkers cautiously employ concepts borrowed from Marxist philosophy to correct that blind spot, without in any way committing to Marxism as a creed. An unnuanced rejection of Marxism in the 20th century misled Catholics to ally themselves with oppressive right-wing nationalists. The best Catholic thinkers of the past converted useful ideas from pagan, Muslim, and even atheistic philosophers. Perhaps such efforts will bring us a little closer to what Our Lady prophesized in the Magnificat: “He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble. He hath filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He hath sent empty away.”

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