The week, Pope Francis will make his first-ever visit to the U.S. Hopefully, his homilies at his public Masses will be Gospel-centric, but there is already evidence that in his public appearances he will continue his attacks, at some level, on wealth, capitalism and conquering that pesky climate – as if we don’t have enough of our home-grown radical-left politicians and “progressive” religious leaders.
An Argentinian Jesuit, the 78 year old Pope has been accused of being greatly influenced by liberation theology, the neo-Marxist movement that took strong root in South America and beyond after the publication of A Theology of Liberation, written by the Peruvian Catholic theologian Gustavo Gutiérrez in 1971.
Others have labeled him a classical Perónist, so-called after the two time president of Argentina Juan Perón and his wife, Eva, who introduced a variant of soft fascism that radically altered the economic and social dynamics of the once prosperous nation.
Perhaps the best we can assume about this Pontiff is that he is just plain muddled.
The Pope has made bold attacks on capitalism as an economic system – primarily western and by extension, American “capitalism.” Since the U.S. has continued a decade’s long drop in world ranking, down to only the 16th freest economy in 2014, that argument is not persuasive. (The sad fact is that there are only two or three truly “capitalist,” meaning free, economies in the world.)
The Pope could more accurately blame the last decades’ financial woes on the erosion of economic freedom and the explosive growth of “crony” capitalism, rigged trade agreements, and corrupt governments throughout the world economies, including the U.S.
The Pope has also made repeated assaults on wealth, wealth creation, and the wide gap between the poor and the rich. Which begs a historical question; when in the last 2,000 years has the world even had a middle class as we know it today? Extreme poverty for the masses has been the historical norm throughout mankind’s history, not prosperity. How many untold millions of people have been lifted out the starkest poverty imaginable and subsistence living by free economies during the last two centuries alone? In the last 50 years? Who has fed and vaccinated the world in the last century? The state run economies, or the free economies? Who, if not free economies, have lifted the status of labor and women in the last century?
One wonders if the Pontiff mentioned any of this in Cuba, where he began his North American visit last week. This is the Cuba where a handful of communist gangsters turned the most prosperous economy in the Caribbean at the time into a third world prison camp where dissent is not allowed – and where the Pope curiously didn’t visit any dissenters. Paradoxically, speaking of wealth, Cuba is also where Fidel Castro miraculously has a personal fortune of $900 million dollars, according to Forbes Magazine. Talk about the sacrifice for the common good!
But, Pope Francis is also removing the moral dimension to poverty. He, like our President, has reduced helping the poor to bumper sticker slogans that severely limit both the classical and Biblical understanding of our responsibility to the poor, and diminish Scripture in the process.
Consider his own words: “Inequality is the root of social ills … as long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems.”
Really? Is “inequality” the root of all social ills? Is that what Scripture teaches us? Thumbing through the Gospel messages one won’t find that concept; but one will be humbled by the plain words the Lord did say -about the human condition and each individuals own personal response to His unique invitation to know the “Kingdom of God” that came to earth.
Alas, the Pope went further. “[We must] reject the conservative ideal of individualism.” We need, he offered, a “radical new financial and economic system,” that he proposes will avoid “human inequality and ecological devastation.” The Pontiff concludes his thoughts with bromides about not trusting the “invisible hand of the market,” “growth in justice” and a “legitimate redistribution” of wealth.
And, exactly how does one “radically” resolve this issue? What other impression can one gather than to think that any radical solution involves the involuntary transfer of something produced by one person to someone who did not produce it? How can this happen without force? How can this happen without taking the liberty of one person as a token for another?
Of course, it can’t. It never has in human history and it and never can.
Perhaps this helps explain the Pope’s strange visit to Bolivia in July, where he reminded us that “unbridled capitalism is the ‘dung of the Devil;’” while ironically and inexplicably standing with dictator-in-waiting, Evo Morales, who had earlier presented the Pope with a carving of a crucified Christ, fixed to a hammer and sickle. Morales was wearing a Che Guevara jacket. Guevara, of course is the famous mass murderer of dissidents in Cuba and elsewhere in Latin America – “thousands,” in his own words – and who delighted in personally finishing off executions by shooting tied up victims in the back of the head with his .45 pistol.
The most destructive institutions in history are organized governments which have the power to create the type of “order” this Pope and our current President, and so many others, want to see. The world just ended a century that saw plenty of experimentation with various forms of what they propose – and uncountable hundreds of millions of people died because of it. Between the National Socialists and their fascism, the various socialists, communists, and their variants, tribalism, and Islam, the world swam in blood of wretchedly flawed solutions. And still does.
This is why our Founding Documents, The Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution uniquely stand against the tide of human affairs; they were born largely in the Holy Bible. The Founders – the vast majority of whom where men of deep Biblical knowledge and faith – confined the ability of government to enslave its own citizens while they defined the God-granted fruits of liberty. America remains alone in the world in proclaiming that human rights are derived from God, and leaves the individual free to pursue those gifts from God. Or not.
A world where human liberty – and its inherent individualism – is dispensed at the whim of a government is a world where dissent becomes death. And, ironically Christians will be the first to be silenced – they are carriers of His genuinely radical Truth.
The self-evident story of history is that Christ’s Gospel and socialism (with its various kinfolk) are mutually exclusive.