Tuesday 5th May 2015

Home » Frontpage » Currently Reading:

Is Pope Francis To The Left of Nancy Pelosi?

December 2, 2013 Frontpage No Comments

By JAMES K. FITZPATRICK

How should Catholics who are “on the right” on economic matters respond to Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium? The left likes what the Pope had to say, describing the exhortation as a condemnation of free-market capitalism. A columnist on Yahoo News argued that it goes a long way toward corroborating Fr. Thomas Reese’s proposition, made some months ago, that the Pope is “to the left of Nancy Pelosi.” (An apostolic exhortation does not carry the same weight as an encyclical, but it represents the Pope’s thinking, an indication of where he intends to move the Church. It is not something that can be shrugged off by Catholics loyal to the Church.)

By Catholics “on the right” I do not mean proponents of the social Darwinist theories of Herbert Spencer and William Graham Sumner, who argue that it will be better for the human race if we let the poor die out, rather than divert resources to them that will be better used by the productive members of society. I can’t remember the last time I heard anyone make that case, certainly not a thinking, practicing Catholic. From the time of the 19th-century social encyclicals to the present, the Church has condemned this line of thinking as “economic individualism.”

The Catholics on the right I am talking about are those who agree with Milton Friedman and George Gilder about the power of free markets to lift the poor out of poverty, and with Charles Murray’s argument in his book Losing Ground that it can be demonstrated that big government poverty programs tend to make things worse for the poor.

Is the Pope requiring these Catholics to change their views and support the cradle-to-grave welfare state found in many of the industrialized countries of the world? I say no. Francis makes clear in Evangelii Gaudium, as have all the Popes who have preceded him when they wrote on economic issues, that he is not offering an economic model for Catholics to follow. In Francis’ words, “It is not the task of this Pope to offer a detailed and complete analysis of contemporary reality.” The Pope is assuring us that he is writing on matters of faith and morals in this exhortation, not proposing the nuts and bolts of economic policy.

Let us consider what Francis condemns in Evangelii Gaudium: the “idolatry of money,” financial systems that “rule rather than serve,” a “culture of prosperity,” a lack of “compassion at the outcry of the poor,” a materialistic view of life constantly in search of “something new to purchase.” These moral failures can be found among some free-market capitalists, to be sure. But they are not the only examples. The Pope knows that these character flaws can also be found in European socialist leaders with a fondness for $3,000 suits and Mediterranean vacation homes, in Arab monarchs who spend more on their cars and palaces than any factory owner on the planet, all the while seeking ways to stop the free market from driving down the price of their oil, in Soviet despots who ran off to their plush dachas on the Black Sea whenever they got a chance.

The “idolatry of money”? Is that more evident in the entrepreneurs working 16 hours a day to realize a profit from the fracking of natural gas, or in Democratic politicians like the Clintons demanding $700,000 for a speech delivered to businessmen seeking access to the influence and connections to government contracts that the Clintons can secure for them? I would wager that Hillary spends more on her hairstylists and makeup artists than most women who have made their money as entrepreneurs.

The Clintons have figured out the way to use their connections to big government to make them millionaires. They make nothing; they build nothing. They are not capitalists. Should they be our model? Michelle and Barack Obama, through connections to the political machine in Chicago, lived in townhouses beyond the reach of most Chicago businessmen. Is that an “idolatry of money”? If not, why not?

Look: There is no denying that a bias in favor of big government remedies for poverty and injustice can be seen in Evangelii Gaudium. I would not bet against anyone who took the position that the Pope voted for high-tax wealth redistribution programs when he was still just private citizen Argentinean Fr. Jorge Mario Bergoglio, SJ. But Evangelii Gaudium does not demand agreement with him on these matters. Pope Francis is familiar with how the Popes who preceded him left room for the application of prudential judgment on the part of the faithful in these matters. He calls upon us to reject materialism and to reject economic thinking that pictures human beings as “consumer goods.” But he knows that individuals can behave that way whether they work on Wall Street, as a Democratic politician’s liaison to Washington lobbyists, or as part of a Communist Party apparatus that permits party leaders to live like kings while the masses struggle to make ends meet.

In one of those curious coincidences that happen every so often, I happened to listen to a radio interview with Howard Schultz, the founder and CEO of Starbucks, just one day after I read the reactions of the critics, pro and con, to Evangelii Gaudium. Schultz talked about how he learned early on in his career that it was good business as well as socially just to treat his workers as a valuable part of his company, by providing them with higher than average salaries and benefits, including a generous health-care package.

Schultz cares about profits. He makes a great deal of money. He is always looking to expand his operations and increase sales in his individual stores. He is an entrepreneur and a capitalist. I can’t imagine that the Pope would find anything to object to in the way he runs his business. In Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis is critical of “trickle-down” economics. But we have to be precise in how we apply that term. Howard Schultz is able to provide so well for his workers only because his coffeehouses are highly profitable. His profits trickle down to his workers in the form of good salaries and generous benefits. Business profits are a major source of the donations to Peter’s Pence; they trickle down.

The bottom line: I don’t think I am putting words in the Pope’s mouth when I say that he would agree that what he describes as the “idolatry of money” can be seen on both sides of the political divide; that money grubbers and exploiters of the common man wear many different political labels. The suburbs around Washington, D.C., are now the wealthiest part of the country. The suburban millionaires who live there secured their wealth by gaining access to the tax dollars raised in the name of regulating the private economy for the common good. They vote liberal Democrat. Their neighborhoods surround pockets of great poverty and economic despair in the D.C. area itself.

Maybe it is just me, but I see more economic injustice in that scenario than in some entrepreneur buying a second sports car or beachfront home outside Boca Raton.

Share Button

Comment on this Article:

Untitled 3

Pope FrancisAn Open Letter To His Holiness Pope Francis      Given the controversy and confusion surrounding the 2014 Synod on the Family, the staff of The Wanderer and its supporters thought it appropriate to address Pope Francis with an open letter . . .

Archbishop Cupich Getting Comfortable With Pro-Aborts On Immigration Reform

True to his claim that immigration reform is “God’s agenda,” Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich has been cozying up to pro-abortion Democrats to get his social justice initiatives underway.  On Sunday, the Archbishop joined Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Il), a…Continue Reading

Pope’s doctrine chief under attack as he takes strong stand for marriage and family

muller

ROME, May 1, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Pope Francis’ top advisor on Catholic doctrine is coming under attack as he continues to defend the Church’s teaching on marriage, family, and sexuality amid a campaign by a “progressive” faction of prelates. On…Continue Reading

Obama Admin. Denies Visa to Nun Pleading For Persecuted Iraqi Christians – Will Media Cover?

The Hudson Institute’s Nina Shea spotlighted the plight of a Catholic sister, who was denied entry to the U.S. by the Obama administration, in a Thursday item for National Review. She noted how “every member of an Iraqi delegation of…Continue Reading

States could force Catholic priests to perform same-sex ‘marriages’ or lose legal status: Justice Scalia

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 29, 2015, (LifeSiteNews.com) – If the Supreme Court rules that same-sex “marriage” is a constitutional right, one justice has said that the government could force clergy of all denominations to perform gay “weddings” or lose the ability…Continue Reading

The Attack on San Francisco’s Archbishop Cordileone–Who’s Behind It and Why?

In spite of a recent newspaper poll that showed 89% of the public supports San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, a small but vocal group of people are keeping up a campaign to get Pope Francis to replace him as archbishop…Continue Reading

Christian Leaders Threaten Civil Disobedience

“We will not obey.” That’s the blunt warning a group of prominent religious leaders is sending to the Supreme Court of the United States as they consider same-sex marriage. “We respectfully warn the Supreme Court not to cross that line,”…Continue Reading

Feminist Steinem Touts Abortion, Ridicules Church at St. Norbert College

gloria

Abortion advocacy, support for euthanasia and applause for excommunicated and “ordained” women priests—such were the highlights of last week’s “dialogue” with radical feminists Gloria Steinem and Bell Hooks on the Catholic campus of St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wis.…Continue Reading

Vatican hosts two leading pro-abortion, population control activists at climate conference

April 28, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) — Two of the world’s leading pro-abortion advocates were addressing a Vatican workshop on the environment today. At the same time, a press conference at the Palazzo Cesi, in Rome, organised by the Heartland Institute, was…Continue Reading

Climate Change Skeptics Write Open Letter Urging Pope Francis to Rethink Global Warming

ROME, Italy, April 27, 2015 (Thomas D. Williams, Ph.D.) – As the Vatican gears up for a high-level workshop on climate change this Tuesday, a group of 90 prominent scientists, religious leaders and academics have written an open letter to Pope Francis,…Continue Reading

Charlotte Bishop To LGBT-Advocate Nun Gramick: You’re Not Speaking in My Diocese

Charlotte Bishop Peter Jugis has cancelled a speaking event by Sister Jennine Gramick that was scheduled to take place at one of the parishes in his diocese. Sister Gramick is the founder of New Ways Ministry, self-described as a “gay-positive…Continue Reading

OVER 500 PRIESTS . . .PRIESTS INVITING PRIESTS TO WITNESS TO THE DIGNITY OF MARRIAGE AND FAMILY LIFE

As Catholic priests we commit ourselves anew to the task of presenting the teaching of the Church on marriage in all its fullness, while reaching out with the Lord’s compassion to those struggling to respond to the demands and challenges…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke criticizes German cardinal’s ‘ridiculous’ claim that German Church is not a ‘subsidiary of Rome’

ROME, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In an interview today with the prominent German newspaper, Die Welt, Cardinal Raymond Burke criticized Cardinal Reinhard Marx, who suggested German Catholic dioceses are not a “subsidiary of Rome” on the question of Communion…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to subscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.

 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

A Powerful Weapon: 15 Quotes on the Holy Rosary

We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to…Continue Reading

12 Ways to Become a Committed Catholic Man

There is a Catholic “man-crisis.” Large numbers of men who were baptized Catholic have left the Church and the majority of those who remain are “Casual Catholic Men”, men who do not know the Catholic faith and don’t practice it. This large-scale failure of Catholic men to commit themselves to Jesus Christ and His Church has contributed to the accelerating…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Pope Francis tells Swiss Guards they have a “significant” friendship

pope780

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis greeted the members of the Swiss Guard and their families on Monday, ahead of the annual May 6th swearing in ceremony for new Guards. Pope Francis said the meeting was an opportunity to “strengthen a [significant] friendship,” noting the words of Christ who said “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” “In the history of the Church, many men and women have embraced…Continue Reading

Pope: Bear The Fruits Of Membership In Christ And The Church

pope311

(Vatican Radio) On Sunday, Pope Francis spoke about Jesus’ parable of the vine and the branches – Jesus is the true vine, and we are the branches, dependent on Him. Through this parable, “Jesus wants us to understand the importance of remaining united to Him.” What is this new way, the Pope asked? Although Jesus is no longer with us as He was with the Disciples, we are able to remain united with Christ “in vital…Continue Reading

Pope Francis Attends Swiss Guard Flag Ceremony

swiss

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis attended a Swiss Guard ceremony Friday afternoon — unexpected by most of the people present — and addressed the corps, speaking as well about the characteristics of a commander, according to the Gospel. Following the nomination in February of Christoph Graf as the new Commander of the Swiss Guard, the military corps held a ceremony May 1 for the inauguration and blessing of its new flag. Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro…Continue Reading

Pope: Parish Must Be ‘Privileged Place’ Of Listening, Proclamation

(Vatican Radio) Faithful from the Diocese of Isernia-Venafro paid a return visit to Pope Francis on Saturday. The Pope received the pilgrims in an audience and recalled the message of solidarity he shared with them during his pastoral visit last July. He also spoke of the call of parishes to be missionary communities. “Every parish is called to be a privileged place of listening and of the proclamation of the Gospel; a house of prayer…Continue Reading

Betrayed By Culture

By DONALD DeMARCO I was reading, with genuine sadness, about a Jesuit priest who visits a Catholic home for unwed mothers three times a year to give weekend retreats. He describes the tragedies in the lives of these young girls as “appalling.” The age of these young mothers ranges from 13 upwards, with the median…Continue Reading

Can America Stop The Tide Of Assisted Suicide?

By CRAIG TURNER (Editor’s Note: Craig Turner is a graduate of the English honors program at the University of Texas and a former journalist who covered Capitol Hill. Since 1990, he has served as director of communications for three Washington, D.C., companies. Turner is the author of two books recently published by Saint Benedict Press:…Continue Reading

Reel Faith . . . An Interview With Catholic Actor And Filmmaker Eduardo Verastegui

By REY FLORES Eduardo Verastegui is a man on a mission. He is tirelessly traveling, either working on his latest film project or helping to promote his most recently completed one. On top of that, Verastegui (pronounced Ver-ah-steg-eeh) also helps run a crisis pregnancy clinic in one of the toughest neighborhoods in Los Angeles. The…Continue Reading

Give Every Child In Baltimore A $17,329 School-Choice Voucher

By TERENCE P. JEFFREY (Editor’s Note: Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor-in-chief of CNSnews.com. Creators Syndicate provided this column. All rights reserved.) + + + “The education system has failed them.” That is part of the explanation that Billy Murphy, a lawyer representing the family of Freddie Gray — who died after his spine was…Continue Reading

John-Henry Westen . . . Addresses Developments In The Synod Of Bishops On The Family

By MAIKE HICKSON (Editor’s Note: Maike Hickson holds a doctorate in French literature from the University of Hannover. She is a contributor to LifeSiteNews.) + + + John-Henry Westen, cofounder and editor-in-chief of the world’s largest pro-life and pro-family website, LifeSiteNews.com, gave a talk in Front Royal, Va., at Human Life International (HLI), on April…Continue Reading

The Wanderer Interviews His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke . . .

burk10

By DON FIER Part 1 (Editor’s Note: Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, who previously served as Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura in Rome from June 2008 until November 2014, recently visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis. Prior to that he served as Archbishop…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

A Leaven In The World . . . Social Networks, Virtual Reality, And Trinitarian Love

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK The omnipresent cell phone is blamed as often as it is praised. We like our cell phones for the convenience of reaching out to others by voice or text whenever we like as well as surfing the Internet and obtaining information and directions whenever we need them. Electronic devices of all kinds have become a…Continue Reading

Did Jesus Christ Found A Church? If He Did, How Can She Be Identified?

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 4 The Church is holy. Sanctam: The ultimate goal of the Church is personal holiness, identification with Christ, as St. Paul says, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). It is not merely covering oneself with the Blood of Christ, and allowing the inside to remain sinful…Continue Reading

The Mystery Of The Church

By DON FIER The one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church, as the “convocation” of God’s people, was prefigured from the beginning when our first parents sinned and were promised a Redeemer. Her remote preparation began with the calling of our father in faith, Abraham, and her immediate preparation began with the election of the Chosen People of Israel, a sign…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: Writing in his blog (http://johnkippley.com) about the long-term consequences of dissent from Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae, John Kippley said that this dissent not only “entailed the rejection of the whole idea of natural law as the reasoned basis for Catholic moral teaching,” but it allowed Catholics to substitute personal preference for personal morality, which means…Continue Reading

True Love Of Others

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Sixth Sunday Of Easter (YR B) Readings: Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48 1 John 4:7-10 John 15:9-17 In the second reading today, St. John calls us to love one another because love is of God. This last part of the sentence is very important, especially in light of what follows: Whoever loves is begotten by God and…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Philip Neri

By CAROLE BRESLIN Throughout the history of the Church when great persecutions and heresies have been promoted, there were also great saints who underwent persecution in their attempts to protect the Deposit of Faith. Such was the case in the early 16th century, when the Catholic Church was suffering her greatest crisis to date with the Protestant Revolt. During this…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . Pope St. Pius V

By CAROLE BRESLIN Can anyone imagine a more challenging time in the history of the Church than the 16th century — besides this century? The Protestant Revolt north of Rome decimating the numbers of faithful Christians; to the west, England persecuting all Catholics; to the southeast, the Turks of the Ottoman Empire conquering at will place after place, setting their…Continue Reading