“Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church” projects synthesis of Marxism with Christianity  

“Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church” ,written by Christians for National Liberation and  published by Foreign Languages Press earlier this year illustratively portrays the synthesis of Marxism with Christianity as practiced in context of the Philippines Revolution. Fitting that this year we commemorate 50th founding anniversary of CLN.

CNLIt most symmetrically dissects every aspect of how the gap was bridged with 2 contradictory philosophies .dwelling in deep depth into the historical factors. With great precision it projects the reactionary nature of the Church today and the major characteristics which distinguish the progressive element within it. In great detail it diagnoses how today the Church patronises imperialism and capitalism as well as suppression of Communism. The positive aspects of the teachings of Christianity are diagnosed highlighted with examples of practices o Jesus bearing similarity with Revolutionaries. Most clinically it makes a diagnosis of the crisis within capitalist societies, particularly United States of America.

It is most positive that the CLN has offered maximum moral support to the revolutionary movement led by the Communist Party of Phillipines.It is ample proof of the spiritual angle within Marxism and not being crass materialism. The chapters expound how the CLN struck a lightning blow to the anti-Marxist tradition of the Church and wove a link with the people’s revolutionary movements.

CNL asserts  that in the past century after World War I (1914-1918) up to the present day, imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism, has been using and continues to employ Christianity to patronise  exploitative and oppressive system, and will forever be an obstacle to sprout a  generation of new men” and women as “moulders of a new humanity.”

The basic principle, which CNL desires to nurture in this commentary, is that Christianity and Marxism or scientific socialism/communism can complement each other even though they may not necessarily be compatible in terms of spiritual and political beliefs. Meaning, Christians and Marxists can live together, dialogue and work in tandem for the people’s common good, especially that of the toiling masses of workers, peasants and national minorities, leading to “a generation of new men [and women], the moulders of a new humanity” in the world. In the book’s view they can coexist inspite of philosophies at variance with one and another. Such basic principles that can be recognized in dialogue and openness by Christians and Marxists as their point of unity are expounded on in the discourse of the eight topics of the CNL commentary. Imbibing valuable lessons from the Filipino people’s historical experiences from the past 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines in which Catholicism had been utilized by the Spanish colonialists to fully colonize the country for more than three centuries and wherein the US imperialists also followed by employing the Christian Churches, both Protestant and Catholic, in order to establish and maintain the Philippines as a semi colonial and semi feudal society up to the present day.

Still in the long run it would most challenging to blend the Church and the Communists with Christianity professing concepts of immortality and miracles and Marxism completely rejecting them. Many aspects of the Bible contravene scientific spirit, whatever lofty ideas it upholds. Dialectical materialism does not reconcile with Biblical analysis.

As stated by Cardinal Sodano in his June 29, 2004 Letter to Cardinal Martino, the book is a compendium… systematically presenting the foundations of Catholic social doctrine… In this light, men and women are invited above all to discover themselves as transcendent beings, in every dimension of their lives, including those related to social, economic and political contexts.

And in his presentation of the Compendium, Cardinal Martino also exhorts all Christians to participate in the challenge of transforming social realities… “Today at the beginning of the third millennium of the Christian era  the proclamation of Jesus Christ, the “Good News” of salvation, love, justice and peace, is not readily received in today’s world, devastated as it is by wars, poverty and injustices”

Church and Marxism

The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, has comprehensively expounded the Roman Catholic Church’s social principles,teachings and policies that are founded on the Bible, as well as on papal encyclicals, dogmas and the Catechism of the Catholic Church concerningalmost all important social issues—economic, political, cultural, military, peace, war, globalization, relations among peoples and nations, and other fundamental issues at the global level. It includes the Roman Catholic Church’s criticisms of the abuses of capitalism, and strong opposition and condemnation to Marxism, socialism and communism. It is, therefore, very important for all Catholics, especially the laity as well as the clergy, and even Christians from other Church denominations to study this book as a vital guide to relevant Christian social actions towards fundamental and radical change of societies today. Historical Contexts of the Social Doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church There is a pressing need to put in proper context the contents of this book as most of these are based on dogmas, teachings and papal encyclicals that date back from the 4th century to the 17th century. In particular, these dogmas and other Roman Catholic Church’s teachings have been based on the writings of Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas.

Marx’s upheld religion as a rebellion against real suffering, not illusory sufferings in hell because of original sin, but against the evils of exploitation and alienation in human society. Christianity has been used by Christian Churches as a  mascot of the  exploitative and oppressive systems of slavery, feudalism and capitalism, and are  continually being used by imperialism, primarily by US imperialism and the CIA to distort the true history and situation of human societies and hide the truth that the global reality of exploitation and oppression of the billions of poor, deprived and powerless toiling masses is caused by the few monopoly capitalists, the privileged and powerful who control the global economy, the bourgeois states and legal machineries, cultural institutions, the army and police for their selfish interests and greed.

On ‘Poverty and Inequality, and What Can Be Done’, on the other hand ideological positions and Messianic beliefs sustain the illusion that it is possible to eliminate the problem of poverty completely from this world. “This will happen only upon Christ’s return, when he will be with us once more, forever. In the meantime,the poor remain entrusted to us and it is this responsibility upon which we shall be judged at the end of time “Our Lord warns us that we shall be separated from him if we fail to meet the serious needs of the poor and the little ones who are his brethren.” 35

“In the first place and based on concrete human experiences, poverty, in fact, is the creation of humankind and not of God. Poverty, therefore, can and ought to be eliminated by people themselves, particularly by the poor, especially the workers and peasants and other exploited and oppressed classes and sectors, who struggle and must pursue the concrete praxis of liberation from poverty. So why wait for Christ’s return to eliminate poverty? When the exploited and oppressed are truly assisted to analyze the root causes of their poverty, they themselves would become the main actors in the elimination of poverty. And when the poor begin to liberate themselves from poverty, this should never be interpreted as “ideological positions and Messianic beliefs that sustain the illusion that it is possible’.”

This particular line of thinking, CNL thinks, must be rectified as this seems to be the remaining tail of the reactionary philosophy, which rejects the inherent power of the toiling masses. This thinking is entirely contradictory to the concrete experiences of the poor themselves who are able to analyze the root causes of their poverty and come up to appropriate resolutions that they themselves implement to concretely emancipate themselves from poverty and eliminate its root causes. And this era has already been reached actually by the working class revolutionaries through the establish- meant of thriving socialist economic systems, as well as the socialist political and cultural structures in various parts of the world, especially before the spread of modern revisionism.

Church and Science

The second aspect or feature of the Roman Catholic Church’s social doctrine—i.e., the social dimension wherein the Church’s social doctrine “comes also from human sciences and the social sciences”—has its source from Pope John Paul II’s other Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus (The Hundredth Year, 1991.

In order better to incarnate the one truth about man in different and constantly changing social, economic and political contexts, this teaching enters into dialogue with the various disciplines concerned with man. It assimilates what these disciplines have to contribute.

To explain further the second aspect of the Roman Catholic Church’s social doctrine, the Compendium asserts that “A significant contribution to the Church’s social doctrine is derived from human sciences and the social sciences. The Church recognizes and receives everything that contributes to the understanding of man in the broader and more complex net- work of his social relationships. She is aware of the fact that a profound understanding of man does not come from theology alone, without the contribution of many branches of knowledge to which theology itself refers.O n the basis of this same second dimension, Pope John Paul II founded the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences in 1994. And in the Motu Proprio (Papal Decree) of establishing the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, Pope John Paul II declares: Social science research can effectively contribute to improving human relations, as has been shown by the progress achieved in various sectors of society especially during the century now drawing to a close. This is why the Church, ever concerned for man’s true welfare, has turned with growing interest to this field of scientific research in order to obtain concrete information for fulfilling the duties of her Magisterium.

On the basis of the commitment of the Christian faith and revolution in the Philippines, the CNL commentary, consequently, shall grasp the Roman Catholic Church’s social doctrine on the Christian principles and on crucial social issues within the framework and analysis of the Filipino masses’ concrete situations, especially within the context of Christ’s least brethren of workers, the numerous semi-proletariat, the peasants, fisherfolk, and the sectors of women, youth and national minorities, especially those who belong to the families of Christ’s least brethren. It elaborated what are the root causes of such social problems, and how can these be resolved with the desire of encouraging Filipino Christians, especially those from the intelligentsia (cardinals, bishops, priests, pastors, deacons, deaconesses, brothers, sisters, seminarians, lay leaders in the various Christian organizations, etc.), to practice their
faith in God by their active participation in the social transformation of Philippine society.

“CNL and all its members nationwide pray and would, hence, wish that this commentary be interpreted neither as attacks nor acts of persecution against Pope Francis and past popes, cardinals, bishops, priests,nuns, seminarians, and the lay Christians of the Catholic Church. In fact, many CNL members, are from the Roman Catholic Church, and all CNL members give full respect to the Christian hierarchies of both the Catholic and Protestant and even the Orthodox Churches (in other countries). CNL in this commentary intends to give great appreciation to the Roman Catholic Church leaders who have come up with the Compendium. Moreover, the CNL comments have soundly been based on the spirit of Christian dialogue, solidarity and cooperation, which are often mentioned and explained clearly in the Compendium itself, and by Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis in their various papal encyclical and apostolic letters.”

It is further the hope of CNL that the comments expounded on here would serve as reflection and study materials for a lively, principled and Continuing Christian-Marxist Dialogues (CCMD) that CNL plans to develop during the whole decades of the NDR here in the Philippines. So that upon the final victory of the Filipino people’s democratic revo-
lution some decades from now, it would be expected that CNL (Christians for National Liberation) as a revolutionary organization of Christian believers would be able to transform itself as Christians for Socialist Revolution (CSR) in order to continuously arouse, organize and mobilize the Church people and lay Christians, and for them to vigorously uphold and participate with their increasing number in the impending new epoch of continuing the socialist construction in the upcoming generations among the workers, the various semi-proletariat, the peasants, fisherfolk, and the sectors of women, youth and national minorities, as well as other democratic classes, particularly the various sectors of the petit-bourgeoisie, in Philippine society.

According to the Catholic Church’s doctrine, the common good stems from the dignity, unity and equality of all people, and is the sum total of social conditions for people to reach their fulfilment more fully and more easily.

Critique of Monopoly Capitalism

Christian Churches must be very vigilant so that the two aspects of the Church’s social doctrine would not be used as a blessing for monopoly capitalism. The Christian Churches must undertake “scientific research” so as not to be deceived by imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism, most especially by US imperialism. In world history, the Christian Churches’ anti-communist standpoint, coupled with the anti-communist position of imperialism, has strengthened and continually rekindled the global hegemony of US imperialism since 1991 when capitalism was peacefully restored by the Russian modern revisionists.

In the context of Philippine history, Christian Churches must continue to be aware that, since after World War II (the inter-imperialist war) and up to the present day, US imperialism has used and continues to employ the CIA as the US imperialism’s clandestine apparatus for its economic, political, cultural and military interventions in the Philippines in order to maintain the Philippines as a semi-colonial and semi-feudal society ruled by US imperialism, domestic feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism, and to undermine the Philippine National-Democratic Revolution
(NDR) for national sovereignty, genuine people’s democracy and socialism.

CNL denounces the monopoly capitalist interpretations of the Christian faith as regard wealth and poverty, which is being promoted by fundamentalist and Neo-Pentecostalist Christians in the US. Such interpretations are “faith” assurances of the “Prosperity Gospel” which wants Christians to believe that: “To be poor is to be a slave of the devil; poverty is the devil’s slavery; and it is a curse. To be free and blessed by God is to be rich; wealth is a sign of salvation; and it is a blessing from God.” Thus, many neighbourhood Christian churches in the USA perform “entrepreneurs worship services” to combat poverty and become rich.

Quoting book “In the system of monopoly capitalism, the means of production such as factories, tools, machines, equipment, buildings, capital, land and natural resources, raw materials, services and enterprises that employ the workers and even the superprofits extracted from the labour power of the toiling masses are all privately owned and managed by the monopoly capitalists. On the other hand, the workers, who are mostly propertyless and employed by the capitalists, do all the manual labour some mental labour and services needed by the monopoly capitalist firms, and are lowly paid; but they, the toiling masses, do not participate at all in the ownership, management and profit of the monopoly capitalist businesses.”

“Workers can have the rights “to participate in ownership, management and profit” only through the system of cooperativism in which they are themselves the producers and consumers, they are themselves the members of a cooperative which they have established wherein they work together, own the means of production and properties of the cooperative, manage the operation of the cooperative, make together needed decisions for the advancement of the cooperative, and share together equitably the profits of the cooperative.”

The book asserts that The most advanced types of cooperativism are found in socialist states wherein a new type of production relations exists in which the capitalist private ownership is replaced by the system of socialist ownership by the whole people, which is a system of public ownership in which both the means of production and products of labour are possessed by the socialist state that must represent the whole labouring people.

According to the Catholic Church’s doctrine, the common good stems from the dignity, unity and equality of all people, and is the sum total of social conditions for people to reach their fulfilment more fully and more easily.

According to the Catholic Church’s doctrine, the common good stems from the dignity, unity and equality of all people, and is the sum total of social conditions for people to reach their fulfilment more fully and more easily

Imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism, is adjudicated by CNL as the Beast of the Apocalypse pictured in the Book of Revelation, a global satanic power that is sucking the sweat and blood of billions of toiling masses of the world, “drunk with the blood of the saints and the blood of the martyrs of Jesus” (Rev. 17:6), and being served by the
“false prophets” (Rev. 19:20) such as the CIA, the bourgeois politicians and businessmen, the reactionary army and police of the imperialist   powers and their fascist puppet states, the pseudo-Christian and pro-imperialist evangelists of today.


The book reflects that only by understanding deeply the eight major threats that are placing planet earth on the verge of destruction —global warming or climate change, depletion of the ozone  layer, habitat destruction and extinction of species, air pollution, water pollution, groundwater depletion and contamination, chemical risks, and dumping of industrial garbage to underdeveloped countries—as caused primarily by the multinational and transnational
firms of the monopoly capitalists, principally led by the US imperialists also only then that the worldwide Christian Churches can be motivated wholeheartedly to heed and carry out more determinedly the Roman Catholic Church’s call to “safeguard the ecosystem, the common patrimony of all.

Unless Christian Churches extricate from their partiality for monopoly capitalism, they would never be able to follow Jesus Christ, whose displayed clear bias is for the poor, disadvantaged and destitute masses. Without relinquishing the Church’s social doctrine that unknowingly serves as an instrument of feudalism, capitalism and imperialism, especially US imperialism, the Christian Churches won’t be able to garner liberating actions to defend the poor.

It attributed contribution of Jesus to the poor, deprived and oppressed) who are concretely practicing the “preferential option for the poor” that the Christian Churches would innovate various progressive forms of Christian charity, which could substantiate, but not necessarily be compatible in terms of beliefs, with socialist principles as basic remedy to “the conflict between capital and lab or” towards radical social change.

The letters of Pope Leo XIII, Pope Pius XI and Pope John Paul II have clearly rejected and excluded socialism as a remedy to resolve the contradiction between the toiling masses and the capitalists. Inversely, this rejection and exclusion has led Christians to believe that capitalism is the correct system that is compatible with Christianity and that imperialist America is “the founder, saviour and bringer of democracy” in the world.

Chapter Four of the Compendium, that deliberates on the “Principles of the Church’s Social Doctrine,” also cites the social ill of poverty. “Here, all Christians, both the ordained, the religious and the laity, in their human societies are called to carry out appropriate actions to solve the problem of poverty as this is an important part of promoting and advancing particularly the principle of the “Common Good” among people in their communities.”

Harsh Thakor is a freelance journalist from Mumbai who has undertaken extensive research on revolutionary Movements of the world.

Support Countercurrents

Countercurrents is answerable only to our readers. Support honest journalism because we have no PLANET B.
Become a Patron at Patreon

Join Our Newsletter


Join our WhatsApp and Telegram Channels

Get CounterCurrents updates on our WhatsApp and Telegram Channels

Related Posts

Fire in the Soul: Nick Lyons

With lilacs in the dooryard blooming a week ago, I was struck by a sense of synchronicity so strong that I stood stone still and sniffed the air for its…

Weaponising Music

Away from the watchful monitoring of electronic and print media, across India’s dusty and sleepy towns a genre of popular culture is clandestinely seizing the public imagination. Acerbic lyrics laced…

On the Marxist Critique of Heidegger

How Marxists should approach the critique of Martin Heidegger Martin Heidegger is undoubtedly one of the most creative and influential philosophers of the 20th century. Virtually all areas of philosophy,…

Join Our Newsletter

Annual Subscription

Join Countercurrents Annual Fund Raising Campaign and help us

Latest News