In response to Quincunx, Dr. Cruel, and others who have expressed skepticism about the possibility of Catholic socialism.
I have been reading soem interesting tidbits about the views of Pope John XXIII, formerly a Venetian named Angelo Roncalli, who was around in the '60s. "Liberal" opponents of Catholicism usually point to Pius XII or the present Pope in their attempt to portray the Church as a conservative group. However, Pope John XXIII endorsed the modernm welfare state and social democracy, stating that "state intervention is necessary" to allow men to actualize the freedoms that are their human birthright. He stated that housing, food, medicine, decent working conditions, decent leisure time, and recreation are all basic human rights, a sentimet that is still too radical for todays so-called liberal American government.He stated that there should be no compulsion in religion, and that Third World cultures were in many ways superior to Europe and the US. He endorsed movements of national self-detremination. He stated that one could agree with Communism in practice though not in theory, and could support laudable Communsit objectives without accepting the atheistic logic of Marxism. (i agree with all these points, i would add only that to quote Graham Greene, "Communism is more than Marxism"; communism is only a socio-economic system, and can be teh economic incarnation of many different metaphysical systems. It is possible to have a fully Christian, non-Marxist communism, as was put into place in Zambia and Tanzania. Communism, in its pure form, addresses social and economic sisues; Christianity addresses these as well as spiritual issues, and so as long as we subscribe to a non-atheistic communism, thsi is fully compatoible with Christianity.) Pope John apparently was not in favor of birth control, but i'm not going to criticize him for taht, since I agree with him on so many other things.
Given all of this, I must conclude that Catholicism, at least under Pope John (who rpesided over the Second Vatican Council) has been much mroe than merely a 'progressive force'; it's been one of the most significant forces from progress and social justice in the world. Of course, for the atheists out there, this is merely the tip of teh iceberg. I haven't even got around to liberation theology (in Brazil, Nicaragua, and elsewhere), neo-Hinduism (most notably Gandhi, but others as well), Buddhism (Ambedkar, U Nu, the Dalai Lama), the Quakers, the Massachusetts Bay Puritans (yes, they were progressive in their day, at least on economics), John Brown, etcetera.