82 – The hammer and sickle with Christ crucified: “For me it wasn’t an offense”

The figure of the Good Shepherd, ready to confront the wolf so as to protect and save his sheep even at the cost of his own life (Jn 10:11-12) is an eloquent and very moving image. Created by Our Lord Jesus Christ himself to describe his own sentiments, it also expresses the pastoral zeal that every Bishop should have for the competent fulfillment of his mission, in collaboration with his priests and under the authority of the High Pontiff, “teaching, sanctifying, and governing” (Vatican Council II. Decree Christus Dominus, no. 11).

On examining the history of the Church, from the turbulent days of Pius IX until the end of the pontificate of Benedict XVI, it becomes clear that the Roman Pontiffs, faithful to their mission “of teaching, sanctifying, and governing” the flock that was confided to them by Jesus Christ, did not hesitate to condemn the errors of Marxism in a decisive manner, alerting as to the grave perturbations that the adherence to its doctrine would bring to the economic and social order. The distressing experience of nations that were and are firmly subjugated by communist or socialist parties is patent: hunger, tyranny, slavery and oppression. Recent history confirms that the condemnations of Pius IX, Leo XIII, Pius X, Benedict XV, Pius XI, Pius XII, John XXIII, and Paul VI, – in their position as Pastors and authorized masters – are perfectly warranted. Despite this, history also confirms that Karl Marx never ceased to exercise a certain fascination in the ecclesiastical field. This fascination degenerated into so-called ‘Theology of Liberation’, which John Paul II, in close collaboration with Cardinal Ratzinger, denounced and condemned: “The first great challenge we addressed was the Theology of Liberation, which was spreading in Latin America. It was the common opinion, be it in Europe or in North America, that it was about support to the poor and, therefore, a cause that should certainly be approved. But it was an error.” (Benedict XVI. Interview about John Paul II, March 7, 2014)

The Marxist ideology and its three derivatives, ‘socialism’, ‘communism’, and ‘Liberation theology’, came to the mind of millions of the faithful throughout the five continents, with the confusing episodes that occurred during Francis’ Apostolic Journey to the Republics of Bolivia, Ecuador and Paraguay this past July.

Which was the most commented of these events? Without doubt, the symbolically calculated gift that Evo Morales, the President of Bolivia, and maximum director of the Bolivian ‘Movimiento al Socialismo’ (Movement Toward Socialism), gave to Francis: a holy Crucifix, redesigned with the communist symbols, the hammer and the sickle. Moreover, to manifest his friendship and the closeness that unites him to the Bishop of Rome, Morales distinguished him with significant decorations. The most symbolic had the figure of the same polemical crucifix engraved on a showy medal.
It really was a strange episode. Trying in vain to ‘decipher’ it, the press hastened to declare that Francis had affirmed with displeasure before this crucifix with the hammer and sickle “That’s not right”.

However, the spokesperson of the Vatican, Father Federico Lombardi, beleaguered by the press, began to clear things up. First, by saying that “he personally wasn’t offended by Morales’ gift”; and that “the sense of it was about an open dialogue, not about a specific ideology” (sic!)

Finally, if anyone still had a doubt, Francis himself hastened to dissipate all speculation during the flight back to Rome on being interrogated about the shameful gift by the press.

What did Francis say about the ideology of this rare crucifix? Did he criticize it? Eulogize it? Was Francis really offended with these gifts offered by the Bolivian Socialist president? What should we conclude from his words?
To undertake a hermeneutic – as Francis himself counseled in the same interview – or an appropriate interpretation of the facts and the posterior explanations offered, it’s a good idea to embark on another study, enriched with the teachings of the Magisterium of the Church (see the previous study). What did the former popes teach about Socialism, Marxism and Theology of Liberation? What should the position of a Catholic be regarding these ideological currents?



Quote AQuote BQuote C

Teachings of the Magisterium

Enter in the various parts of our study

I Socialism: a fateful ideological system that destroys human liberty
II – The incompatibility of socialism with the dogmas of the Church is total
III – Marxism: clearest expression of resistance to the Holy Spirit
IV – Liberation Theology: a ‘facile millenarianism’ incompatible with the Catholic Faith

I – Socialism: a fateful ideological system that destroys human liberty

Pius IX

Socialism and communism: wicked theories and perverted teachings


Hideous deformity of civil society and its ruin
Socialism and communism: lawlessness and overthrow of all things
The pest of Socialism
Socialists labor unceasingly to bring about revolution, to pervert and destroy liberty
Socialism: abominable sect. Labor hard that the children of the Catholic Church never favor it
Our duty: warn Catholics regarding the great errors lurking in socialism
Socialism: evil growth that must be uprooted

Benedict XV

Socialism: error that must be exposed with the greatest care

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church

Pius XI described communism as ‘intrinsically perverse’


II – The incompatibility of socialism with the dogmas of the Church is total


Socialists distort the Gospel to suit their own purposes

Pius XI

A vain hope: the principles of Christian truth modified to meet socialism half-way
Socialism, even when ‘tempered’ and ‘modified’ is always Socialism - it cannot be reconciled with the teachings of the Catholic Church – and is utterly foreign to Christian truth
Socialist and Christian: contradictory terms


The opposition between communism and Christianity is fundamental

Paul VI

Socialist currents that attract some Christians: incompatible with faith

III – Marxism: the height of rebellion against the Holy Spirit

Pius XII

Atheistic Marxism masks its tactic and hides its strategy

Paul VI

Marxist analysis leads to a society that is totalitarian and violent
The Church does not adhere to marxist social and political movements
False and dangerous ideologies promote class struggle
False and dangerous ideologies promote class struggle

John Paul II

Marxism: clearest expression of resistance to the Holy Spirit
Marxism: a system, born of the presumption of freeing man, that ends up making man a slave
Marxism: a totalitarian conception of the world
Atheistic marxism-leninism: a lie that has deeply wounded human nature in for 75 years
Marxism: a theoretical and pragmatic system that pretends to resolve human questions with false solutions
Atheistic marxism arrived at the extreme consequences of its materialistic postulations
Against all Marxist reductionism, the Church bears witness to the truth about God

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger

Marxism’s great deception: change becomes destruction

Benedict XVI

Marx and communism: a road towards all-encompassing change
Marx’s real error is materialism
Marxism: illusory panacea that promised the remedy for all social problems
John Paul II reclaimed for Christianity the impulse of hope which had faltered before Marxism

International Theological Commission

The philosophical assumptions of Marxist anthropology are erroneous

IV – Liberation Theology: a ‘facile millenarianism’ incompatible with the Catholic Faith

John Paul II

The preferential option for the poor does not mean considering the poor as in a class struggle
Solidarity with the poor need not be jeopardized by ideologies foreign to the faith
Solidarity with the poor need not be jeopardized by ideologies foreign to the faith
The danger of an uncritical adoption in theology of Marxist ideas
The danger of attempts to build a supposedly Christian hegelianism or marxism

Benedict XVI

Liberation Theology: an experience of facile millenarianisms

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

The ideological aspects of Marxism are predominant among in the thought of many ‘theologians of liberation’
It is illusory and dangerous to enter into the practice of class-struggle and of its Marxist interpretation
‘Class-struggle’ and ‘severe social conflict’: Marxist ideas which are incompatible with the Christian conception of humanity and society
Atheism and the denial of the human person, his liberty and rights, are at the core of the Marxist theory

Related studies

  • 160 – We implore God’s pardon for the sins committed against the world in which we live

  • 110 – Plagiarism? Manipulation? Prestidigitation? Francis’ peculiar concept of private property (I)

  • 97 – I don’t believe that I have said anything not found in the Church’s social teaching

  • 91 – For the Church, the option for the poor is a theological category. I want a Church which is poor and for the poor. The new evangelization is an invitation to acknowledge the saving power at work in their lives

  • 94 – Tell me who your friends are, and I will tell you who you are (II): “It is strange but, if I talk about this, some say that the Pope is communist”


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    4 thoughts on “82 – The hammer and sickle with Christ crucified: “For me it wasn’t an offense”

    1. ” . . . most sold foundation and guarantee.”
      I thin “sold” should be “solid” 🙂
      Great work just discovered this site and can’t wait to explore it

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