Teen Vogue opposes Church teaching, human good

I am not a reader of Teen Vogue or of the other Vogue for adults, the one, you may recall, that parents occasionally ask to be removed from grocery store lines because of the scantily clad figures on the cover.

But, while the regular magazine might be filling adults with moral rot of one kind, it seems the teen version is happy to present a kind of moral rot of another, namely socialism.

Last month readers of Teen Vogue learned that, while we dismantle the police, we ought also to dismantle private property. In a piece from June they make clear that they are not interested in the reform of the criminal justice system. Rather, we must work “toward the abolition of the criminal justice system.” And regarding property, since housing is a human right, it should not belong to anyone. Therefore, we ought to abolish rent.

What struck me upon reading this is that none of it is new. Karl Marx wrote in the “Communist Manifesto” that “in most advanced countries” there ought to be an “abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purpose.”

And so, this brings to mind the very clear teaching of the Church on socialism. Pope Leo XIII writes the first of the great social encyclicals, “Rerum Novarum,” in 1891 on the question of capital and labor. The abolition of private property, he teaches, is a violation of the natural rights of the human person. What’s more, the socialist desire to abolish it would do more harm than good for the poor they claim to want to help.

In “Quadragesimo Anno,” published in 1931, Pope Pius XI wrote on the dangers of an unbridled capitalism and the immoral use of private property. However, he saves the harshest language for socialism.

Now some might argue, as Teen Vogue did a year ago, that “democratic socialism” is not the same thing as Marxist socialism. It is more moderate. It strives for ideals which every Christian should admire, namely justice and equality among all peoples. But Pope Pius heard the same things in his time.

He wrote that, as long as socialism of whatever sort seeks to abolish private property and define society by class warfare, it “cannot be reconciled with the teachings of the Catholic Church because its concept of society itself is utterly foreign to Christian truth” (n. 117). Still, at the time of Pope Pius, some continued to argue that their socialism does not demand communal ownership or class warfare. Surely, there could be a kind of Christian socialism. But again, the pope wrote, “Religious socialism, Christian socialism, are contradictory terms; no one can be at the same time a good Catholic and a true socialist” (n. 120).

There is something fundamentally wrong with socialism, he taught, because it seeks to explain away the wounds of human existence through material causes. “Do not go seeking a transcendent God,” socialism says as it slithers under the tree, “he cannot be trusted. The way to your happiness is here on earth and in this apple.”

Socialism is not the only poisoned and poisoning ideology in our culture. Radical individualism is the cause of a legion of our cultural pathologies. But individualism is, as it were, a “natural” sin that manifests itself in every two-year-old. The errors of socialism must be taught. Consequently, some in our culture have chosen to fill the pages of a fashion magazine for teens, and not only there, with these errors. Against these we must be vigilant while promoting an authentic justice, one rooted in the love of and for Christ Jesus.

Deacon Omar Gutiérrez is director of the Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith in the Archdiocese of Omaha. Contact him at

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