“Christians ought to opt for socialism … a socialism
that is both humanistic and Christian.”*
The Roman Catholic Bishops of Peru (1971), 92 characters [Tweet this]
This is not to suggest that the Christian cannot be in- volved in efforts to implement socialism in Latin America. The whole question of socialism has been opened up once again by certain Latin American bishops: Candido Padim, Carlos Gonzalez, Helder Camara, Sergio Mendez Arceo, and so forth. They have pointed out that there can be a humanistic and Christian version of socialism. The bishops of Peru formulated a strong statement along these lines at their 1971 Synod: “Christians ought to opt for socialism. We do not mean a bureaucratic, totalitarian, or atheistic socialism; we mean a socialism that is both humanistic and Christian.” Note that they say “ought to,”not “may,” opt for socialism; four times in their statement they refer to the “desirability” of such an option today. In his recent letter to Cardinal Roy of Canada, Pope Paul VI noted that certain versions of socialism are incompatible with Christianity. It would seem, then, that some forms of socialism are compat- ible with Christianity.
In the future we may consider a Peruvian thinker, Gustavo Gutierrez. For now, I’ll recommend a few more texts by Enrique Dussel – all of which are excellent:
- History of the Church in Latin America: Colonialism to Liberation
- Ethics of Liberation: In the Age of Globalization and Exclusion
- Philosophy of Liberation
Catholic Social Teaching (CST) in 140 Characters or Less is an attempt to provide short bits from within our Catholic moral and social tradition to an audience subject to the tendencies of consumerism and immediate gratification. When possible, and please remind me if I forget, I will include a fuller portion of the quote provided for additional context, and may add a line or two of comment.
Certainly, we can learn much from short statements, but we must see things from within the whole of our faith tradition. This reminds me of what Henri de Lubac wrote in The Discovery of God, concerning Saint Augustine’s dilige et quod vis fac, that this exhortation is proper and may be embraced without error “if you love enough to act, in every circumstance, according to the dictates of love.” De Lubac continues, “One might also say ‘love and believe what you will’ – if you know how to extract all the light from love, whose source is not in you.” Therefore, start with and share small pieces if you prefer, but orient yourself towards learning the whole.
Read what different teachers of the faith have had to say on the Gospel’s demand for justice. See what/who inspired the Catholic Worker Movement, read the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, read whole documents and the many writers who contributed to this treasure.
For every CST in 140 Characters or Less post, I’ll have a Tweet button available for you to click if you want to share a Tweetable version of the post’s quote. Give it a try!