Catholic Answers Press

Can A Catholic Be A Socialist?

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Common Sense About the Common Good

Pope Leo XIII wrote of the “harvest of misery” that socialism brings. Pius XI said that it’s impossible to be a good Catholic and a good socialist. John Paul II spent his papacy combating socialism’s dehumanizing statism.

Yet somehow this long-discredited economic philosophy is making a comeback, not only on college campuses and political talk shows, but among sincere Catholics. Some think it could be the answer to greed and globalism. Others even argue that it’s the best way to obey Christ’s command to help the poor.

Let’s give socialism a fresh chance, they say. A democratic socialism this time, friendly to religion and ordered to the common good like the Church says the economy should be.

In Can a Catholic Be a Socialist?, Trent Horn and Catherine R. Pakaluk refute this tempting but false notion. Drawing on Scripture, history, Catholic social teaching, and basic economic reality, they show beyond a doubt that Catholicism and socialism are utterly incompatible.

Along the way, they debunk many of the common claims used to keep afloat the fantasy of a Christian-socialist hybrid, including:

-Since the early Christians kept their property in common, so should we.

-Jesus would be in favor of an economic system that guarantees everyone food, health care, and education.

-The Church—especially Pope Francis—teaches that Catholics must find a “third way” between the extremes of Communism and capitalism.

-Socialism would work if it were just done right, like in Sweden.

Although there is no one “Catholic” economic system, Can a Catholic Be a Socialist? also helps you understand commonsense economic principles that are truly in line with the Faith. For we all should work for an economy that gives life: fostering prosperity and the common good while providing opportunities to practice temperance and charity.

One of the strangest things about these strange times is the attempt to resuscitate a utopian scheme that has never worked anywhere and that's typically left a lot of misery in its wake: socialism. Trent Horn and Catherine Pakaluk do a deep dive into socialism's fatal flaws, using the sharp tools of Catholic social doctrine for the excavation. Their book is a welcome primer on socialism's built-in deficiencies and a clarion call for the moral renewal of the free society. - George Weigel
Distinguished Senior Fellow and William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies Ethics and Public Policy Center

Trent Horn and Catherine Pakaluk demonstrate, crisply and succinctly, that settled Catholic teaching and the evidence of history contradict socialism. Indeed, “Catholic socialism” is an oxymoron. Any young Catholic tempted to believe otherwise should read this book. - Jay W. Richards, Ph.D., The Busch School of Business, The Catholic University of America

This is a very helpful primer to a dangerous temptation. Concise, with the essentials. Help get it circulated.
- Kathryn Jean Lopez, senior fellow, National Review Institute, editor-at-large, National Review

Crisply written and sharply argued, this book brings together essential Church teaching backed by sound philosophy and economics. Trent Horn and Catherine Pakaluk have produced an essential volume for anyone curious about how to think faithfully about our moral, political, and economic obligations. - Ryan T. Anderson, Ph.D., St. John Paul II Teaching Fellow in Social Thought at the University of Dallas

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Additional Information

Trent Horn and Catherine Pakaluk
Softcover, 208 pages
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6 Reviews

  • 5
    Excellent and Easy Read

    Posted by Andrew Copley on Sep 14th 2021

    This book does a great job of making what can be a convoluted and confusing topic in our modern times into an easy to understand book. The chapter summary points at the end were very helpful as well. It was nice to get a full picture of the Church's teaching on Socialism.

  • 5

    Posted by Loretta Kruse on Sep 30th 2020

    Well written. Easy and very interesting to read. Covers many aspects. Convincing. Thank you.

  • 5
    Can a Catholic Be A Socialist?

    Posted by Theresa on Apr 21st 2020

    This authors of this book did a great job in explaining in layman's terms what socialism is and why a Catholic cannot be one.

  • 5

    Posted by Michael J. Royle on Mar 17th 2020

    I appreciate the details and support for views provided.

  • 5
    Book, Can A Catholic Be A Socialist

    Posted by Paula Kamler on Mar 16th 2020

    Excellent book. Very informative. There is no more important time to read it than now, when so many uninformed Americans have favorable opinions and mistaken ideas about Socialism. Read it to be prepared to explain to others why Socialism is incompatible with our Faith.

  • 5
    Can a Catholic be a Socialist? Excellent orientation on the subject.

    Posted by Thomas Lingafelter on Mar 13th 2020

    This book should be read by all - it clearly articulates the Catholic understanding of the dignity of man in Gods' creation and how our social and political organizations must be aligned with God's intent.

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