The Pope recently hosted a group of avowed socialists and Marxists and praised them for “promoting the common good.” The Pontiff met with 15 members of “Dialop,” a group dedicated to fostering cooperation between members of the Catholic faith and people with left-wing views.
In his remarks, Pope Francis said that a society can be judged by how it treats its most vulnerable people, including immigrants. The Pope has long criticized Europe for not welcoming enough migrants despite millions crossing into the continent’s nations since 2015. In response to political contenders and commentators who describe masses of men arriving on European shores as “invaders,” Pope Francis said, “Those who risk their lives at sea do not invade. They look for welcome.”
French President Emmanuel Macron, who recently enacted new migration laws to stem the flow, was present when the Pope made those remarks.
To his visiting socialist guests, the Pontiff said that Catholics and Marxists share many goals in common, including a desire to end warfare and “guarantee social equilibrium.”
The warm welcome for socialists and Marxists marks a significantly different approach to those ideologies by the church. Previous Pontiffs, such as Leo XIII and Pius IX, strongly condemned them, with Pius IX describing extreme left-wing belief as an “iniquitous plot” and “wicked theories.”
In an interview with Jesuit America magazine, Pope Francis, however, struck a very different tone and went as far as describing himself as a communist. “If I see the Gospel in a sociological way only, yes, I am a communist, and so too is Jesus,” he said.
Last September, Pope Francis took another position that appeared to alienate some of his traditional flock when he accused American Catholics of harboring a “reactionary attitude.” In response, John Carr, founder of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown University, told Religion News Service that the Pope’s comments threaten the ecclesial, political, and economic power status quo.