Sunday 1st February 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:

New Congressional Bill Declares Homosexual Love as a Basic Human Right

U.S. lawmakers in both houses of Congress introduced on Thursday a bill to protect and promote the rights of the international lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. The International Human Rights Defense Act, spearheaded by Sen. Edward Markey of Massachusetts and…Continue Reading

STUDENTS AT CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY OFFERED CREDIT THROUGH INTERNSHIP AT NOW

SAINT PAUL, MN. – Administrators at the University of St. Thomas, a private Catholic liberal arts school, are standing firm behind their controversial decision to allow students to gain academic credit by interning at the Minnesota-based NOW chapter. Doug Hennes,…Continue Reading

S.F. Catholic Church priest bans girls as altar servers

A Catholic priest, new to San Francisco and no stranger to controversy, has banned girls from acting as altar servers at Mass, a decision that sets his parish apart from all others in the archdiocese. The Rev. Joseph Illo, pastor…Continue Reading

Notre Dame theologian known for books, liberal stands, dies

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — The Rev. Richard McBrien, a University of Notre Dame theologian known for his unabashed liberal stands on various church teachings and his popular books on Catholicism, died Sunday in his native Connecticut, according to the…Continue Reading

Bankruptcy case brings financial fears for Catholic schools

As president of an inner-city Catholic grade school that depends critically on donations, Helen Dahlman admits to an unconventional fundraising strategy. “We believe in miracles, so we pray a lot,” said Dahlman, who leads Risen Christ School in south Minneapolis,…Continue Reading

Cardinal: No pro-life victory without reaching the marginalized

Washington D.C., Jan 22, 2015 / 03:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- For the pro-life movement to truly succeed, it must fight not only abortion, but also the broader “throwaway culture” wherever life is being discarded, said Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston…Continue Reading

70 Churches Destroyed in ‘Anti-Charlie Hebdo’ Protests

The Christian community in Niger says it is in shock in the wake of weekend violence that has claimed the lives of 10 people and led to the destruction of dozens of places of worship and Christian homes. The protest,…Continue Reading

ITALY: Muslims smash, urinate on statue of Mary

A man was kneeling in prayer before the statue of the revered Madonna, with the photograph of a loved one in hand, in the small chapel of St. Barnabas in Perugia (Italy), when he was attacked by five “immigrants.” The…Continue Reading

At new in-flight press conference Francis says good Catholics are not required ‘to be like rabbits’

Catholics fail to practise “responsible parenthood” when they have too many children, Pope Francis has said during an in-flight press conference on the way home from Manila. He also denounced the teaching of “gender theory” in schools, likening it to…Continue Reading

CRUX’s “spirituality columnist” is “devastated” the Pope upholds Catholic teaching

Margery Eagan appears to be angling for a job as editor of National “Catholic” Reporter. Or perhaps spokesman for the LCWR: The news that Pope Francis has strongly defended the Church’s ban on artificial birth control left me, in a word, devastated. Goodness. Even…Continue Reading

St. Paul-Mpls. archdiocese declares bankruptcy in response to abuse lawsuits

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Friday, saying it cannot meet its financial obligations from an unprecedented wave of clergy sex abuse lawsuits. The move freezes lawsuits against the church, protecting the archdiocese…Continue Reading

Pope Francis strongly defends church teaching against contraception

Pope Francis issued his strongest defense yet of church teaching opposing artificial contraception on Friday, using a rally in Asia’s largest Catholic nation to urge families to be “sanctuaries of respect for life.” Francis also denounced the corruption that has plagued…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: cultivate and preserve Mother Earth

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday received members of  Italy’s National Federation of Farmers, who are this year celebrating the 70th anniversary of their foundation. Pope Francis told the farmers present in the Clementine Hall  that there is no humanity without the cultivation of the earth, as there is also no life without good food that is produced for men and…Continue Reading

Pope: No To Ecclesial Elites Who Privatize The Faith

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis says ecclesial elites who form cliques and scorn others are privatizing the faith and not following the way of Jesus.  His words came during his homily at morning Mass on Thursday (29th January) celebrated in the Santa Marta residence. The Pope’s homily was a reflection on the need for Christians to follow Jesus in the way…Continue Reading

Pope tells Dads to spend time with their children

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis called on fathers to be present in the lives of their children pointing out that the absence of a ‘father figure’ can have grave consequences. Speaking on Wednesday during the weekly General Audience, the Pope continued in his catechesis on the family, choosing to focus on the dignity and role of fathers. He said that teaching…Continue Reading

General Audience: Pope Focuses On Role Of Father In Family Life

pope7115

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis called on fathers to be present in the lives of their children pointing out that the absence of a ‘father figure’ can have grave consequences. Speaking on Wednesday during the weekly General Audience, the Pope continued in his catechesis on the family, choosing to focus on the dignity and role of fathers. He said that teaching…Continue Reading

The Danger Of An Open Mind

By DONALD DeMARCO Ludwig Wittgenstein, one of the most eccentric philosophers of the modern world, in a field that has more than its share of eccentrics, argued, to the consternation of Bertrand Russell, that it could not be proven that there was not a rhinoceros in the room. Russell thought his young associate in logic…Continue Reading

A Book Review . . . Hitler And Physics

By JUDE DOUGHERTY Ball, Philip. Serving the Reich: The Struggle for the Soul of Physics Under Hitler. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 2014. Pp ix +303. Available on amazon.com. With access to reams of correspondence, other archival material, and public records, Philip Ball provides a valuable account of how German scientists related to the Third…Continue Reading

Complementarity As Hendiadys

By DONALD DeMARCO Hendiadys is a figure of speech in which two words are used to intensify the meaning of one thing. It is an ingenious form of cognitive amplification. As a Greek word, hendiadys means “one through two” (hen-dia-dys). Short and sweet are two words that, when in tandem, give added strength and clarity…Continue Reading

Reconnecting With Mary . . . Pontmain Apparition, France, January 1871

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY The Franco-Prussian War, which began in 1870, was the backdrop to this silent apparition of Our Lady at Pontmain in northwestern France. By January 1871, the country was in a very serious position militarily, with the Prussians controlling two-thirds of the country and Paris besieged. It seemed to be only a…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “Should Catholic Hospitals Use The Morning-After Pill For Rape Victims?”

By BRIAN CLOWES (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For a compact disc with more than 320 patient information pamphlets for all of the different types of abortifacients, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + Even with all of the different contraceptives and abortifacients…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Mary’s Perpetual Virginity… The “Other Mary” And St. Joseph’s “Other Children”

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 7 “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, Joseph, Jude, and Simon? And are not also his sisters here with us? And they took offense at him” (Mark 6:3). So, after all, Jesus appears to have had four brothers, named James, Joseph, Jude, and Simon, as well as…Continue Reading

The Creeds

By DON FIER In last week’s column, we laid the groundwork to begin an in-depth exposition of what the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) teaches that we, as Catholic Christians, are called to believe: the one, true faith we profess in the Creeds of the Church. For it is in the formulas of the Creeds that, “through the centuries,…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: From time to time, readers want to know how to respond to the Protestant doctrine of sola scriptura (“Scripture alone”). This is the notion that the Bible alone is the only authority on matters of faith and practice; if it’s not in the Bible, the theory goes, it isn’t true. This theory rejects Catholic belief in an infallible…Continue Reading

The Path To Joy And Fulfillment

By Fr. ROBERT ALTIER Fifth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR B) Readings: Job 7:1-4, 6-7 1 Cor. 9:16-19; 22-23 Mark 1:29-39 When I looked at the first reading today, I was tempted to check the source and make sure that this was really from 3,500 years ago and not from last week. We hear Job whining and complaining about his…Continue Reading

Pope’s Address At Meeting Of Families In Manila… Set Out On The Path The Lord Sets For Each Of You

MANILA (ZENIT) — Here is a translation of the Holy Father’s January 16 address at a Meeting With Families at the “Mall of Asia Arena” in Manila. In his text, Pope Francis praised the courage of Pope Paul VI in writing Humanae Vitae. ZENIT News Agency provided the text; all rights reserved. + + + The angel of the Lord…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Mutien Marie Wiaux

By CAROLE BRESLIN A few decades ago, when Catholic schools taught religion from the Baltimore Catechism, one of the first questions children learned was, “Why did God make you?” The answer was, “God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in the next.” The Catechism…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Anthony Of Egypt, Abbot

By CAROLE BRESLIN While we can understand that God is infinite, it is difficult to comprehend the stretch of such infinity. Certainly our finite minds cannot begin to comprehend it. Hence, since our minds our finite, the more we have cluttering our minds with worldly affairs such as possessions, relationships, and activities, the less time and room we have in…Continue Reading