A recent article in L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, had kind words for the founder of Communism, the same man who called religion “the opium of the people.” Georg Sans, a German-born professor of the history of contemporary philosophy at the pontifical Gregorian University, wrote that Marx’s early critiques of capitalism had highlighted the “social alienation” felt by the “large part of humanity” that remained excluded, even now, from economic and political decision-making. Marx’s work, he argued, is especially relevant today as mankind is seeking “a new harmony” between its needs and the natural environment. Marx’s thought and intellectual legacy was marred by the misappropriation of his work by the communist regimes of the 20th century. “It is no exaggeration to say that nothing has damaged the interests of Marx the philosopher more than Marxism,” Sans wrote. In its own way, the change is less momentous for the Church than its July praise for Oscar Wilde, the gay playwright, as “a man who behind a mask of amorality asked himself what was just and what was mistaken.” The Roman Church may be ferociously anti-Communist, but it has never been much impressed with capitalism either. Pope Benedict XVI’s latest encyclical, Charity in Truth, offers a direct response to the recession, arguing that global capitalism has lost its way and that Church teachings can help to restore economic health by focusing on justice for the weak and closer regulation of the market.