I have always been bemused by the view that you couldn’t be a Catholic, or a Christian and a Communist.
Communism was defined in my Catholic childhood as being an evil regime rooted in the Soviet Block and hence coupled with that other ism, atheism. The two were indelibly linked.
This contrasted with the view that Christ was the first communist.
That socialists were often very strong Christians and indeed that many of the socialist parties had non-conformist church roots.
That despite Soviet rule the deep faith of the Russian people in the Orthodox Church was not diminished.
That the Eastern Block countries such as Poland had a strong Catholic belief as did the people of East Germany in the protestant church. Indeed the current Pope and his predecessor hailed from West Germany and Poland.
This subject was brought to mind yesterday when I read an interview in La Opinión de Malaga with Pedro Moreno Brenes.
Now Pedro Moreno Brenes is a communist, the leader of the Izquierda Unida party at Málaga town hall, a lecturer in law at Málaga University and a Catholic.
Nor is he a closet Catholic but practices his faith alongside his political beliefs that he has held since adolescence.
He is quite clear as to how his religion co-exists with his political leanings. He says that the IU respects all beliefs and that for him there is no conflict whether he is invited to a religious or civil event. He added that he was pleased to accept all invitations should they be from the Muslim or Jewish communities or indeed atheists.
Asked about the antagonism between the IU and the Catholic Church Pedro Moreno Brenes is quite clear. “The party, for example, proposes that there shouldn’t be any tax privileges for religious entities. It is compatible in the respect of - and the separation of - public and religious life.”
So was Christ the first Communist? Pedro Moreno Brenes is in no doubt that the Christian message of “love one another” is much the same as the communist belief in fraternity and equality.
I agree. I see no barriers to a person being a Christian, a socialist or a communist. Indeed one could argue that those alignments are more natural than a person being a Christian and a supporter of the far right. However, in the recent past, the waters became far more muddied when organisations such as the Catholic Church or the Communist Party imposed their rigid discipline and dogma over a person’s core beliefs. To be a ‘christian’ and a ‘communist’ was one thing, to be a Catholic and a member of the Communist Party was far more difficult.