Vatican: Marx, Wilde Not So Bad
October 22 2009 4:05 PM EST
November 17 2015 5:28 AM EST
The Roman Catholic Church, having revised its unfavorable opinion of Oscar Wilde, Galileo, and Charles Darwin, has now done the same with Karl Marx.
Marx, whose nineteenth-century writings formed the intellectual basis for socialism and communism, spoke to a feeling of "alienation" on the part of have-nots, a feeling that may have stemmed from the effects of capitalism, wrote Gregorian University professor Georg Sans in Wednesday's edition of L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper.
Marx has long been reviled by the Catholic hierarchy, in part because he characterized religion as "the opium of the people." Sans, a professor of the history of contemporary philosophy, said Marx's theories may offer valuable insights to modern society, such as an explanation of the persistence of income inequality. He did not praise Marx without qualification, however, and he distinguished between Marx and Marxism, calling the latter a misappropriation of Marx's theories.
The publication of Sans's piece in L'Osservatore Romano gives it a seal of approval by Pope Benedict XVI, The Times of London reported. The church has recently reappraised other figures it once vilified, The Times noted. In July the Vatican paper published an article defending gay writer and wit Oscar Wilde, saying he was "a man who behind a mask of amorality asked himself what was just and what was mistaken." The church has also erected a statue of Galileo, whose views about the universe got him jailed by Catholic authorities for heresy, and a Vatican official has asserted that Darwin's theory of evolution does not conflict with Christian beliefs.