Pope Francis and the media: Missing the forest for a couple of trees

posted at 12:01 pm on December 2, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

After reading the gasps of despair from some of my fellow conservatives over Pope Francis’ remarks in his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), I decided to make that my holiday reading this weekend.  Based on the laments from some quarters — and the cheers of joy from others — I half-expected the Pontiff to have declared socialism a new economic doctrine of the Catholic Church.  Instead, I found that Pope Francis not only hadn’t abandoned the legacy of his predecessor John Paul II, who fought communism and oppression in eastern Europe, but that on economics Francis didn’t say anything that the Catechism promulgated in John Paul II’s papacy doesn’t already teach.

In fact, Evangelii Gaudium has to be cherry-picked for the kind of reaction it received on economics.  The essay talks at length about the need for the laity and the ordained to roll up their sleeves and get to work in the world and evangelize through action and not just proclamation.  The entire Church should “smell like sheep,” Francis writes, rather than keeping their hands clean and pontificating from afar, pun intended. Francis includes economics as an area where Catholics have to work to correct injustices, but Francis emphasizes the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity … just as John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and the Church taught over the last three decades or more, as I note in my column for The Fiscal Times today:

Near the end of the exhortation, Francis notes that the state has a responsibility to promote the common good through “the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity.” The key concept of subsidiarity in Catholic doctrine rejects Marxism and command economies, teaching that “a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order” (paragraph 1883).

It specifically rejects “all forms of collectivism” and “sets limits for state interventions” (paragraph 1885). Subsidiarity and solidarity together promotes “the just hierarchy of values” (paragraph 1886), and opposes “[t]he inversion of means and ends” that “engenders unjust structures” that render the Christian life “difficult and almost impossible” (paragraph 1887). When that happens, the Church teaches that inner conversion will result in individual action to bring remedies to social institutions and unjust structures. “This is the path to charity,” the Catechism instructs, “that is, of the love of God and neighbor.”

Pope Francis uses a small part of Evangelii Gaudium to challenge Catholics not to invert the means over the ends, i.e., to fall so in love with economic philosophies as to become blinded to their pitfalls and negative outcomes. Far from demanding top-down control over economies, Francis is exhorting Catholics to act personally when they see injustices, and in that effort bear witness to the truth of the Gospel.

The anger over the criticisms of the outcomes in many capitalist economies comes through in Francis’ writings, which doesn’t dwell on alternate economic structures much at all.  But that’s a story in itself:

Finally, one has to consider just what this means for Catholics who see market-based economics as an overall benefit rather than a hindrance to human flourishing. History shows that properly-regulated use of private property in market-oriented systems delivers the fastest and broadest rise in living standards than any other system devised, especially centrally-controlled economies that produced massive disasters throughout the 20th century.

If Pope Francis takes dysfunctional capitalism to task in Evangelii Gaudium almost exclusively, that is a silent testament to the recent recognition of that historical track record and the discrediting of those monstrous command economies that created a lot worse evils than just poverty, although they produced more than their fair share of that as well.

Primarily, Francis warns about adopting ideologies as doctrine rather than seeking the best ends for the most people.  Ross Douthat grasps the difference:

And this is where Francis’s vision should matter to American Catholics who usually cast ballots for Republican politicians. The pope’s words shouldn’t inspire them to convert en masse to liberalism, or to worry that the throne of Peter has been seized by a Marxist anti-pope. But they should encourage a much greater integration of Catholic and conservative ideas than we’ve seen since “compassionate conservatism” collapsed, and inspire Catholics to ask more — often much more — of the Republican Party, on a range of policy issues.

Here my journalist friend’s “loyal opposition” line oversimplified the options for Catholic political engagement. His Catholic liberalism didn’t go into eclipse because it failed to let the Vatican dictate every jot and tittle of its social agenda. Rather, it lost influence because it failed to articulate any kind of clear Catholic difference, within the bigger liberal tent, on issues like abortion, sex and marriage.

Now the challenge for conservative Catholics is to do somewhat better in our turn, and to spend the Francis era not in opposition but seeking integration — meaning an economic vision that remains conservative, but in the details reminds the world that our Catholic faith comes first.

Matt Lewis articulated the challenge last week:

As Daniel Bell’s classic title, The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism, implies, there is a fundamental tension within conservatism. On one hand, we stress community and family values – and the uplifting nature of entrepreneurism. Yet, as Bell notes, “[O]n the marketing side, the sale of goods, packaged in the glossy images of glamour and sex, promotes a hedonistic way of life whose premise is the voluptuous gratification of the lineaments of desire. The consequence of this contradiction…is that a corporation finds its people straight by day and swingers by night.”

Conservatives clearly must defend free markets against the fatal conceit that big government knows best — that collectivism and redistribution are somehow more moral alternatives. History proves they are not.

But in the process of defending capitalism, we must also avoid even the appearance of a “greed is good” mentality — both in our hearts and in our rhetoric.

This begins at home. Just as we have a corporate responsibility, as individuals we must strive to be generous and compassionate.

The actual point of Evangelii Gaudium isn’t to debate economics anyway. It’s to motivate and propel Catholics into service to right a broad spectrum of injustices through personal action.  Peter Ingemi points out that Pope Francis spends a lot more time highlighting those injustices and calling people to action than he does dealing in economics:

That might be a surprise to those who only heard the reports on economics but there is more, a LOT more.  The Pope also toucheds on some vital issues  the media has been dodging:

Like human trafficking

 Where is your brother or sister who is enslaved?  Where is the brother and sister whom you are killing each day in clandestine warehouses,in rings of prostitution, in children used for begging, in exploiting undocumented labour? (211)

The persecution of Christians worldwide:

We also evangelize when we attempt to confront the various challenges which can arise.  On occasion these may take the form of veritable attacks on religious freedom or new persecutions directed against Christians; in some countries these have reached alarming levels of hatred and violence.(61)
And specifically challenges to Muslim nations
We Christians should embrace with affection and respect Muslim immigrants to our countries in the same way that we hope and ask to be received and respected in countries of Islamic tradition. I ask and I humbly entreat those countries to grant Christians freedom to worship and to practice their faith, in light of the freedom which followers of Islam enjoy in Western countries! (233)
These are all huge issues internationally but the media in their rush to turn the Pope into a socialist somehow missed them.

While the left may not have noticed, those issues, there are other parts of EVANGELII GAUDIUM that I suspect they simply want to suppress such as his challenges to a phony sense of “diversity”,

When we, for our part, aspire to diversity, we become self-enclosed, exclusive and divisive; similarly, whenever we attempt to create unity on the basis of our human calculations, we end up imposing a monolithic uniformity. This is not helpful for the Church’s mission (131)

Say WHAT?

That certainly won’t play well in academic halls[.]

To talk exclusively about Pope Francis’ remarks on the dysfunctions of capitalism is not just to miss the forest for the trees — it misses the forest for just a couple of trees. When read in the context of Catholic teaching on economics, it becomes clear that this is no innovation, but a broad restatement of traditional Catholic teaching that emphasizes personal engagement. That, however, doesn’t make for big headlines.

Update: George Weigel writes that the only revolution in which Pope Francis expresses an interest is one among Catholics:

Pope Francis also grasps the nature of the great cultural crisis of post-modernity: the rise of a new Gnosticism, in which everything in the human condition is plastic, malleable and subject to human willfulness, nothing is simply given, and human beings are reduced, by self-delusion, legal definition or judicial dictums to mere bundles of desires.

The pope is passionately concerned about the poor, and he knows that poverty in the 21st century takes many forms. It can be found in the grinding material poverty of his native Buenos Aires, caused by decades of corruption, indifference, and the church’s failures to catechize Argentina’s economic and political leaders. But poverty can also be found in the soul-withering spiritual desert of those who measure their humanity by what they have rather than who they are, and who judge others by the same materialist yardstick. Then there is the ethical impoverishment of moral relativism, which dumbs down human aspiration, impedes common work for the common good in society, and inevitably leads to social fragmentation and personal unhappiness.

As he wrote in “Evangelii Gaudium,” Pope Francis is not a man of “political ideology.” He knows that “business is a vocation and a noble vocation,” if ordered to the common good and the empowerment of the poor. When he criticizes the social, economic or political status quo, he does so as a pastor who is “interested only in helping all those who are in thrall to an individualistic, indifferent and self-centered mentality to be freed from those unworthy chains and to attain a way of living and thinking that is more humane, noble, and fruitful.”

Pope Francis is a revolutionary. The revolution he proposes, however, is not a matter of economic or political prescription, but a revolution in the self-understanding of the Catholic Church: a re-energizing return to the pentecostal fervor and evangelical passion from which the church was born two millennia ago, and a summons to mission that accelerates the great historical transition from institutional-maintenance Catholicism to the Church of the New Evangelization.

One cannot understand Francis or Evangelii Gaudium‘s critique of dysfunctional capitalism without the context of his ringside seat to Argentina’s version of it. Agree or not with those criticisms, it’s clear that Pope Francis isn’t calling for socialism and government-run command economies as a solution, nor that he’s innovating from his predecessors at all.


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Illinidiva on December 3, 2013 at 11:41 AM

Normal people language:

As it is completely absurd and improper in the utmost that the Jews, who through their own fault were condemned by God to eternal servitude, can under the pretext that pious Christians must accept them and sustain their habitation, are so ungrateful to Christians, as, instead of thanks for gracious treatment, they return contumely, and among themselves, instead of the slavery, which they deserve.

The Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that all those who are outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans but also Jews or heretics and schismatics, cannot have a share in eternal happiness; but that they will go into the everlasting fire which was prepared for the Devil and his Angels, unless they unite themselves to the Church before their death; and that so precious is the unity of this ecclesiastical body that only those who abide in it can benefit from the Church’s Sacraments for their salvation, and that they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, almsgiving and other works of piety and practices of the Christian militancy. No one, no matter how much he has given in alms and even if he has shed blood for the name of Christ, can be saved, unless he has persevered in the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church.

Better take note, workingclass:

That If I’m Catholic I have to agree with the Pope on the Doctrine of Faith and Morals?

DUH!

workingclass artist on December 2, 2013 at 3:40 PM

mankai on December 3, 2013 at 11:52 AM

mankai on December 3, 2013 at 11:46 AM

Through out this thread you have taken offense at Catholics pointing out the distinction between opinions and doctrine.

You take offense at Catholics period.

I doubt we can agree on anything and since you profess to love Sedevacantists for their honesty…I very much doubt there is any reason to your arguments at all really.

I didn’t write this…

This is why I love the Sedevacatists.

mankai on December 3, 2013 at 11:08 AM

workingclass artist on December 3, 2013 at 11:58 AM

I doubt we can agree on anything and since you profess to love Sedevacantists for their honesty…I very much doubt there is any reason to your arguments at all really.

I didn’t write this…

workingclass artist on December 3, 2013 at 11:58 AM

You are being deliberately deceitful. Isn’t that a sin? He said he loved the Sedavacatists for their honesty in admitting that he will burn in Hell unless he joins the RCC. That’s part of the Catholic Church’s doctrine which you and the Pope are trying to gloss over.

njrob on December 3, 2013 at 12:00 PM

You are being deliberately deceitful. Isn’t that a sin? He said he loved the Sedavacatists for their honesty in admitting that he will burn in Hell unless he joins the RCC. That’s part of the Catholic Church’s doctrine which you and the Pope are trying to gloss over.

njrob on December 3, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Of course, it’s impossible to join the current RCC according to the Sedavacatists because they believe it’s being run by a fraudulent pope.

njrob on December 3, 2013 at 12:03 PM

I’ve seen plenty of outright “he doesn’t know what he’s talking about” from plenty of Catholic faithful.

Personally, I think he’s not really meaning to advocate anything in particular and I would prefer if he just went back to leading by example, rather than releasing convoluted statements.

The fact is, free enterprise does not require goodness from its participants. That’s what makes it work so well. The fact that the pope seems to not recognize this makes me think he really hasn’t given this stuff much thought at all.

happytobehere on December 3, 2013 at 11:25 AM

There may be a more charitable interpretation to that sorry mess of a manifesto as opposed to my less charitable interpretation, but the interpretation that requires the least twisting of words is most likely to be correct, it seems. Tricky, since Pope Francis does seem to have so much difficulty writing in plain language.

gryphon202 on December 3, 2013 at 12:06 PM

You are being deliberately deceitful. Isn’t that a sin? He said he loved the Sedavacatists for their honesty in admitting that he will burn in Hell unless he joins the RCC. That’s part of the Catholic Church’s doctrine which you and the Pope are trying to gloss over.

njrob on December 3, 2013 at 12:00 PM

I suppose loving conspiratorial nutjob schismatics for their honesty is ok then?

*snicker*

workingclass artist on December 3, 2013 at 12:07 PM

workingclass artist on December 3, 2013 at 11:58 AM

I quote Popes. I quote Canon Law. You just don’t like what the content of what they have stated. Your problem is with the Popes, not with me. You say you “have to” follow them on faith and morals, then try to argue that you don’t. Your problem, not mine.

Trying to dismiss your problem by attacking me personally, offering red herrings or assigning me a motive just proves that you have no defense of your contradictory positions.

Papal decrees like Cum Nimis Absurdum, Cantate Domino, Syllabus of Errors, etc. are not merely “opinions” they are “clearly stated” decrees on faith and morals which Canon Law states you must submit mind and will to. Remember, you “have to”? “Duh”

mankai on December 3, 2013 at 12:08 PM

Of course, it’s impossible to join the current RCC according to the Sedavacatists because they believe it’s being run by a fraudulent pope.

njrob on December 3, 2013 at 12:03 PM

That doesn’t mean you can’t join the RCC. It just means the church does not currently have anyone in the papal cathedrum to speak on God’s behalf. People have often joined the church through initiation rites during brief periods of ante-Vatican II sede vacantus.

gryphon202 on December 3, 2013 at 12:11 PM

workingclass artist on December 3, 2013 at 12:07 PM

geez, that’s all you got?… one line about the Sedes which has zero to do with my argument and which does noting to help your contradictory statements?

Sad.

mankai on December 3, 2013 at 12:11 PM

That doesn’t mean you can’t join the RCC. It just means the church does not currently have anyone in the papal cathedrum to speak on God’s behalf. People have often joined the church through initiation rites during brief periods of ante-Vatican II sede vacantus.

gryphon202 on December 3, 2013 at 12:11 PM

Touche.

njrob on December 3, 2013 at 12:13 PM

I suppose loving conspiratorial nutjob schismatics for their honesty is ok then?

*snicker*

workingclass artist on December 3, 2013 at 12:07 PM

I think in this case “loving” is used in a humorous fashion, like “Oh, that’s why I love those hippies, they really ‘go for it’ when they refuse to shower… They really practice what they preach.” Etc.

(To be fair, I’m just trying to keep this little conversation going because otherwise this thread will inevitably be taken over by one particular poster’s virulently misogynistic strawmen.)

happytobehere on December 3, 2013 at 12:14 PM

This is why I love the Sedevacatists. Sure, they condemn me to fiery eternal torment (well, Vat II does that too), but at least they stick to the clear statements of the Popes. They don’t massage the abundantly clear condemnations of everybody (by name) who isn’t a Catholic, they proudly proclaim it. They condemn me, and I thank them for their honesty.

mankai on December 3, 2013 at 11:08 AM

Embarrassing really…

workingclass artist on December 3, 2013 at 12:15 PM

I suppose loving conspiratorial nutjob schismatics for their honesty is ok then?

*snicker*

workingclass artist on December 3, 2013 at 12:07 PM

At least you know where they stand. I respect honest people more than I do deceitful ones. Doesn’t mean I agree with them.

I know islam is a murderous faith. I respect the people that admit it including the savages that commit murder in its name. I still want them dead and for God to judge them for their actions accordingly.

Not respecting your enemy is a huge mistake.

njrob on December 3, 2013 at 12:15 PM

That doesn’t mean you can’t join the RCC. It just means the church does not currently have anyone in the papal cathedrum to speak on God’s behalf. People have often joined the church through initiation rites during brief periods of ante-Vatican II sede vacantus.

gryphon202 on December 3, 2013 at 12:11 PM

Touche.

njrob on December 3, 2013 at 12:13 PM

Gryph’s fun fact:

The longest period of sede vacantus in the history of the RCC occurred in the late 13th century between the death of Clement IV and the subsequent installation of Gregory X — two years and ten months.

gryphon202 on December 3, 2013 at 12:15 PM

(To be fair, I’m just trying to keep this little conversation going because otherwise this thread will inevitably be taken over by one particular poster’s virulently misogynistic strawmen.)

happytobehere on December 3, 2013 at 12:14 PM

I hope you’re not talking about me, are you? I may be misanthropic, but definitely not misogynistic.

gryphon202 on December 3, 2013 at 12:16 PM

Embarrassing really…

workingclass artist on December 3, 2013 at 12:15 PM

Keep beating that dead horse…

mankai on December 3, 2013 at 12:17 PM

I hope you’re not talking about me, are you? I may be misanthropic, but definitely not misogynistic.

gryphon202 on December 3, 2013 at 12:16 PM

That sounds like something some dumb ol’ woman would say.

/

mankai on December 3, 2013 at 12:18 PM

I hope you’re not talking about me, are you? I may be misanthropic, but definitely not misogynistic.

gryphon202 on December 3, 2013 at 12:16 PM

That sounds like something some dumb ol’ woman would say.

/

mankai on December 3, 2013 at 12:18 PM

I don’t think 35 counts as old. And I’m all male. ;)

gryphon202 on December 3, 2013 at 12:19 PM

I hope you’re not talking about me, are you?

gryphon202 on December 3, 2013 at 12:16 PM

No.

happytobehere on December 3, 2013 at 12:21 PM

This is why I love the Sedevacatists. Sure, they condemn me to fiery eternal torment (well, Vat II does that too), but at least they stick to the clear statements of the Popes. They don’t massage the abundantly clear condemnations of everybody (by name) who isn’t a Catholic, they proudly proclaim it. They condemn me, and I thank them for their honesty.

mankai on December 3, 2013 at 11:08 AM

At least you know where they stand. I respect honest people more than I do deceitful ones. Doesn’t mean I agree with them.

I know islam is a murderous faith. I respect the people that admit it including the savages that commit murder in its name. I still want them dead and for God to judge them for their actions accordingly.

Not respecting your enemy is a huge mistake.

njrob on December 3, 2013 at 12:15 PM

Do you apply this respect to Westboro Baptist folks showing up at veterans funerals as well…cause Y’know they’re just being honest or something…

workingclass artist on December 3, 2013 at 12:22 PM

Keep beating that dead horse…

mankai on December 3, 2013 at 12:17 PM

Keep riding that dead horse into the swamp.

workingclass artist on December 3, 2013 at 12:24 PM

Do you apply this respect to Westboro Baptist folks showing up at veterans funerals as well…cause Y’know they’re just being honest or something…

workingclass artist on December 3, 2013 at 12:22 PM

Actually, the Westboro folks are a bunch of lawyers looking for a payday. I admire them in the same sense that I admire Hitler’s innovative military genius, but it’s still a special kind of evil.

gryphon202 on December 3, 2013 at 12:28 PM

workingclass artist on December 3, 2013 at 12:24 PM

wth? You keep bringing up the stupid line to avoid the GAPING HOLE in your argument, not me.

Do you apply this respect to Westboro Baptist folks showing up at veterans funerals as well…cause Y’know they’re just being honest or something…

workingclass artist on December 3, 2013 at 12:22 PM

Let’s follow your logic… by stating that he respects honest Muslims who say they wanna kill us, his opinions are thus rendered moot. Right? Is that how this works in your world?

To get this straight, you prefer people who lie about their intents. These are the groups you respect?

mankai on December 3, 2013 at 12:31 PM

Let’s follow your logic… by stating that he respects honest Muslims who say they wanna kill us, his opinions are thus rendered moot. Right? Is that how this works in your world?

To get this straight, you prefer people who lie about their intents. These are the groups you respect?

mankai on December 3, 2013 at 12:31 PM

The best part is that Islam permits and encourages its adherents to be deceitful towards unbelievers. So maybe the “honest” Muslims who say they want to kill us are actually peaceful…

Whoa. I just blew my own mind.

happytobehere on December 3, 2013 at 12:39 PM

You keep bringing up the stupid line to avoid the GAPING HOLE in your argument, not me.

mankai on December 3, 2013 at 12:31 PM

You mean this line?

This is why I love the Sedevacatists. Sure, they condemn me to fiery eternal torment (well, Vat II does that too), but at least they stick to the clear statements of the Popes. They don’t massage the abundantly clear condemnations of everybody (by name) who isn’t a Catholic, they proudly proclaim it. They condemn me, and I thank them for their honesty.

mankai on December 3, 2013 at 11:08 AM

Embarrassing really…

workingclass artist on December 3, 2013 at 12:15 PM

Keep beating that dead horse…

mankai on December 3, 2013 at 12:17 PM

Keep riding that dead horse into the swamp.

workingclass artist on December 3, 2013 at 12:24 PM

*snicker*

workingclass artist on December 3, 2013 at 12:45 PM

Let’s follow your logic… by stating that he respects honest Muslims who say they wanna kill us, his opinions are thus rendered moot. Right? Is that how this works in your world?

To get this straight, you prefer people who lie about their intents. These are the groups you respect?

mankai on December 3, 2013 at 12:31 PM

The best part is that Islam permits and encourages its adherents to be deceitful towards unbelievers. So maybe the “honest” Muslims who say they want to kill us are actually peaceful…

Whoa. I just blew my own mind.

happytobehere on December 3, 2013 at 12:39 PM

Taqiyya…It’s what’s for Breakfast

workingclass artist on December 3, 2013 at 12:48 PM

happytobehere on December 3, 2013 at 12:39 PM

The Honest Muslims are busy helping Christians achieve martyrdom…and relieving Christians of the burden of property and whatnot.

workingclass artist on December 3, 2013 at 12:51 PM

Let’s follow your logic… by stating that he respects honest Muslims who say they wanna kill us, his opinions are thus rendered moot. Right? Is that how this works in your world?

To get this straight, you prefer people who lie about their intents. These are the groups you respect?

mankai on December 3, 2013 at 12:31 PM

Respect is not a word I would use.

Acknowledging an enemy is not the same thing as respecting an enemy.

workingclass artist on December 3, 2013 at 12:57 PM

This is why I love the Sedevacatists.
mankai on December 3, 2013 at 11:08 AM

I don’t know if I “love” them but I appreciate their consistency, as opposed to the equivocation of being against Socialism before endorsing it.

Akzed on December 3, 2013 at 1:23 PM

Roman Catholic folks who are aghast at Francis’ antics might care look into the Continuing Anglican movement as an alternative.

whatcat on December 3, 2013 at 1:44 PM

Respect is not a word I would use.

Acknowledging an enemy is not the same thing as respecting an enemy.

workingclass artist on December 3, 2013 at 12:57 PM

You have not read or learned enough about warfare then. Respecting an enemy is a crucial part in not underestimating them in order to defeat them.

njrob on December 3, 2013 at 1:51 PM

Respect is not a word I would use.

Acknowledging an enemy is not the same thing as respecting an enemy.

workingclass artist on December 3, 2013 at 12:57 PM

You have not read or learned enough about warfare then. Respecting an enemy is a crucial part in not underestimating them in order to defeat them.

njrob on December 3, 2013 at 1:51 PM

Maybe…But I’d counter that studying an enemy would be crucial and that can be done without necessarily respecting them.

I don’t think Wellington had much respect for Napoleon and yet he defeated him at Waterloo.

workingclass artist on December 3, 2013 at 3:42 PM

Roman Catholic folks who are aghast at Francis’ antics might care look into the Continuing Anglican movement as an alternative.

whatcat on December 3, 2013 at 1:44 PM

Well that may appeal to some folks…not for me though.

But thanks.

workingclass artist on December 3, 2013 at 3:44 PM

You have not read or learned enough about warfare then. Respecting an enemy is a crucial part in not underestimating them in order to defeat them.

njrob on December 3, 2013 at 1:51 PM

Maybe…But I’d counter that studying an enemy would be crucial and that can be done without necessarily respecting them.

I don’t think Wellington had much respect for Napoleon and yet he defeated him at Waterloo.

workingclass artist on December 3, 2013 at 3:42 PM

“‘Bonaparte’s whole life, civil, political and military was a fraud. There was not a transaction, great or small, in which lying or fraud were not introduced … the most important in the military branch of his life. … first, the expedition from Egypt into Syria, which totally failed, and yet on his return to Egypt was represented to the army there as a victory’.” – Wellington. 1835 Letter to John Coker.

workingclass artist on December 3, 2013 at 3:53 PM

If you can’t trust your Pope, who can you trust? There is no mediator between God and man except Jesus Christ. From a Christian perspective (rather than a Roman Catholic perspective) not even protestant pastors, reverends, priests and vicars have a legitimate right to order themselves over other men. How they got there has to do with the early formation of the Roman Church, and it’s modeling after other actual religions, including Judaism. And more fundamentally it has to do with the fallen human nature which tends to bend fallen men to be prideful of themselves, power hungry and greedy. Why wouldn’t these men seek to rule over their brothers and sisters?

Jesus warned against tares amongst the wheat, and the Kingdom of Heaven being taken by force. Paul warned against wolves in sheep’s clothing who would order you to abstain from certain meats, and forbid you to marry, which sounds a lot like meatless Friday and priestly celibacy to me. (1 Tim 4:1-3 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.)

This very dependence upon revering others and willingly placing oneself under the authority of another man does give a certain ameliorative effect on those who prefer not to, or cannot adequately, think for themselves and take responsibility for their own consciences. Are Roman Catholic churches Christian? Perhaps somewhat. Are Protestant churches Christian? Perhaps somewhat. But they are both ungodly institutions that mimic and seek to rule the congregants – those who are instructed to “not forsake the assembling of yourselves together”. So they go to a building useful only for that purpose, and they listen to a pastor who is paid for his Christian obligations: If preaching and teaching are gifts, how are we morally able to charge others for our own spiritual compliance? Peter cursed Simon the magician (who by that time had become a believer) to hell for offering money in return for the ability to confer the Holy Spirit upon others. And Peter said a workman is worthy of his wage, but nevertheless I set the example for you of taking nothing.

Nevertheless, in the end God allows the Roman Catholic church to remain, probably for whatever good it can do, and perhaps to be a loud voice for Christ in an often chaotic world.

But now we see that this Pope is veering off away from his Master, Jesus Christ, and asking us to implement a more just and charitable world, by government force if necessary. Why did Benedict resign? The rumor was that he was fearing for his life. And the implication is that he was the wrong Pope for our times, issues of papal infallibility aside. One is left wondering if this will be what the false prophet of the anti-christ and the image of the beast will be like.

flicker on December 3, 2013 at 4:05 PM

Why did Benedict resign? The rumor was that he was fearing for his life.
flicker on December 3, 2013 at 4:05 PM

Really?

Got any links to that?

workingclass artist on December 3, 2013 at 4:43 PM

Got any links to that?

workingclass artist on December 3, 2013 at 4:43 PM

It’s all rumors but things like this. It was fairly well reported at the time and speculated upon.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/vaticancityandholysee/9073811/The-Pope-will-die-within-a-year-Vatican-assassination-fears-revealed.html

“The Pope will die within a year: Vatican ‘assassination fears’ revealed

The Pope will die within the next 12 months, a senior Vatican figure has reportedly claimed amid fears of an assassination plot.”

http://en.ria.ru/world/20120210/171249830.html

“An assassination attempt against Pope Benedict XVI may be carried out before November 2012, Italian Il Fatto Quotidiano daily reported on Friday, citing a confidential document that was delivered to the Holy See in January by Colombian Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos.”

This is all the more interesting because centuries ago St. Malachy purportedly predicted, and very loosely described, the number of coming Popes until the very last one. And a book was written a year or so before Benedict’s resignation, stating that he would have to resign, and apparently even the authors were surprised when he did.

St. Malachy – “In the extreme persecution of the Holy Roman Church, there will sit. Peter the Roman, who will pasture his sheep in many tribulations: and when these things are finished, the city of seven hills will be destroyed, and the terrible judge will judge his people. The End.”

flicker on December 3, 2013 at 6:05 PM

Bring back Benedict and toss this socialist pig out in the streets where he belongs.

redware on December 3, 2013 at 6:34 PM

Bring back Benedict and toss this socialist pig out in the streets where he belongs.

redware on December 3, 2013 at 6:34 PM

Sir: You are an idiot.

celtic warrior on December 4, 2013 at 8:23 AM

Bring back Benedict and toss this socialist pig out in the streets where he belongs.

redware on December 3, 2013 at 6:34 PM

Sir: You are an idiot.

celtic warrior on December 4, 2013 at 8:23 AM

We’re idiots even though Pope Francis’ defenders are making excuses for his advocacy of state-sanctioned theft? Okay…

/DoTheMath

gryphon202 on December 4, 2013 at 11:13 AM

That’s not what he said. Catholic Church teaching does not abide state run economies. Nothing changes this.

What he did say is that 1) Capitalism has flaws, which could hold the seeds of its own destruction and that 2) individuals have a duty to their fellow man as Jesus taught. None of this should be all that amazing, that it is, is its own terrible testimony.

Catholic Charities just recently discovered the danger in relying on the govt to move your work when the govt decides they no longer like your dogma. I will be watching how they react.

Zomcon JEM on December 4, 2013 at 12:07 PM

Lookie here

Schadenfreude on December 4, 2013 at 12:57 PM

That’s not what he said. Catholic Church teaching does not abide state run economies. Nothing changes this.

What he did say is that 1) Capitalism has flaws, which could hold the seeds of its own destruction and that 2) individuals have a duty to their fellow man as Jesus taught. None of this should be all that amazing, that it is, is its own terrible testimony.

Catholic Charities just recently discovered the danger in relying on the govt to move your work when the govt decides they no longer like your dogma. I will be watching how they react.

Zomcon JEM on December 4, 2013 at 12:07 PM

You’re kidding yourself.

This pope clearly prefers state-run economies. He wants the government to solve poverty. He thinks politics “can be the highest form of charity.”

Look at what this pope said about “trickle-down economics,” “unfettered capitalism,” inequality being “the root of all social ills,” and the call for more politicians who are concerned about “resolving the structural causes of poverty,” and compare to your typical progressive.

Does it change Catholic teaching? Maybe not. But the most powerful man in Catholicism is lining up with the progressives, not just economically, but in calls for big government solutions to social ills.

Let’s not pretend otherwise.

There Goes the Neighborhood on December 4, 2013 at 1:29 PM

Um… then you are just deciding not to read what he said. Nothing has changed. Capitalism has some rough edges. I think we all know that. But it does a heck of a lot better at efficiently creating wealth than anything else. It can lift people up, and it can co-exist with a vibrant, public religious life.

What it does say is that you – an individual, not a country – have obligations to your neighbor. I can pick solitary lines from Marx to convince you he was an ardent capitalist.

If the Pope were saying what you suggest, he would be directly in disagreement with Peter and Paul. Paul’s letters in particular are full of references to the failure of what we would view now as a “state run economy”.

Capitalism is soul-less, so it is important for its adherents to have a soul. When a rich man is invited to join Jesus but cannot forsake his possessions, what is the lesson? That possessions are bad? No. That you cannot be a slave to your possessions. The accumulation of wealth is not a problem – the democrats would of course disagree with that (except for their elite friends) – but the worshipping of wealth is.

That is all he is saying.

State run economies, including increasingly our own, create the worshipping of wealth and the elimination of God.

Zomcon JEM on December 4, 2013 at 3:33 PM

Of course he hasn’t called for communist revolution. The dictates of his faith say that he can’t. But that won’t stop him from dancing around the issue and calling on politicians and governments to do more to end poverty when that’s not there job and they can’t do anything except screw it up as the last 100 years has shown!

You Catholics out there, just keep screwing that chicken. When the Pope turns his back on you once and for all, as he surely will, I hope you take a lot of comfort in all the money you threw into the collection plate all this time.

gryphon202 on December 4, 2013 at 3:59 PM

Well at least I have someone willing to admit that the Catholic CHurch doesn’t teach socialism – that’s a start.

We will all have a greater measure of Pope Francis after some time as to how he lives the teachings of Christ and his Catholic faith. The social services arms of the Church has shown a willingness to foresake their teachings for access to govt’s teat, just like Judas’ 30 pieces of silver. I see signs they realize they may have made a mistake – but who knows how it will end up.

I imagine the Catholic Church, one of the few still growing Christian denominations left in the world, at some point will have to determine how hard to twist the yoke of those charity arms, as well as when the public rebuke of politicians such as Pelosi, etc, who profess the faith but are engaged in mortal sin, must begin.

Zomcon JEM on December 4, 2013 at 10:41 PM

I’ll let God sort out the sinners. What wories me far more are the people who call themselves “faithful” while justifying the politicians and weasels who seek new ways to screw people out of the fruits of their own labor. Yeah Pope Francis, I’m looking at you.

gryphon202 on December 5, 2013 at 12:20 AM

Well at least I have someone willing to admit that the Catholic CHurch doesn’t teach socialism – that’s a start.

Zomcon JEM on December 4, 2013 at 10:41 PM

Let me be real clear: The Catholic Church does teach socialism. It just can’t call it that.

gryphon202 on December 5, 2013 at 12:21 AM

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