Pope Francis: Zacchaeus and “legitimate redistribution”

posted at 10:01 am on May 9, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

The latest speech from Pope Francis is leading Drudge and the Twittersphere, and for good reason. Any time a world leader talks about “legitimate redistribution” in regard to economic policy, it raises eyebrows, if not hackles. In the case of this pontiff, the highlight of that phrase provokes heightened scrutiny. However, the longer context of Francis’ remarks this morning to UN leadership provides a much more nuanced picture of Francis’ view of economic policy — although probably not nuanced enough for libertarian ears:

With this in mind, I would like to remind you, as representatives of the chief agencies of global cooperation, of an incident which took place two thousand years ago and is recounted in the Gospel of Saint Luke (19:1-10). It is the encounter between Jesus Christ and the rich tax collector Zacchaeus, as a result of which Zacchaeus made a radical decision of sharing and justice, because his conscience had been awakened by the gaze of Jesus. This same spirit should be at the beginning and end of all political and economic activity. The gaze, often silent, of that part of the human family which is cast off, left behind, ought to awaken the conscience of political and economic agents and lead them to generous and courageous decisions with immediate results, like the decision of Zacchaeus. Does this spirit of solidarity and sharing guide all our thoughts and actions, I ask myself?

Today, in concrete terms, an awareness of the dignity of each of our brothers and sisters whose life is sacred and inviolable from conception to natural death must lead us to share with complete freedom the goods which God’s providence has placed in our hands, material goods but also intellectual and spiritual ones, and to give back generously and lavishly whatever we may have earlier unjustly refused to others.

The account of Jesus and Zacchaeus teaches us that above and beyond economic and social systems and theories, there will always be a need to promote generous, effective and practical openness to the needs of others. Jesus does not ask Zacchaeus to change jobs nor does he condemn his financial activity; he simply inspires him to put everything, freely yet immediately and indisputably, at the service of others. Consequently, I do not hesitate to state, as did my predecessors (cf. JOHN PAUL II,Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 42-43; Centesimus Annus, 43; BENEDICT XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 6; 24-40), that equitable economic and social progress can only be attained by joining scientific and technical abilities with an unfailing commitment to solidarity accompanied by a generous and disinterested spirit of gratuitousness at every level. A contribution to this equitable development will also be made both by international activity aimed at the integral human development of all the world’s peoples and by the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the State, as well as indispensable cooperation between the private sector and civil society.

Consequently, while encouraging you in your continuing efforts to coordinate the activity of the international agencies, which represents a service to all humanity, I urge you to work together in promoting a true, worldwide ethical mobilization which, beyond all differences of religious or political convictions, will spread and put into practice a shared ideal of fraternity and solidarity, especially with regard to the poorest and those most excluded.

In this case, the term “legitimate” is a limiting factor when redistribution is placed in the context of the Gospel story of Zacchaeus. Who was Zaccheaus? He was a tax collector — an agent of the government — who overtaxed and profited from his cheating. In Luke 19, Jesus’ visit to Jericho inspires this sinner and cheater to repent when Jesus extends an invitation to join him. What does Zacchaeus do in response? He proclaims his intent to redistribute his ill-gotten gains back to those whom he defrauded, and to willingly and privately share his wealth with the poor. “And Zacchae’us stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold.”

In this exhortation, Francis links legitimate redistribution — ie, social benefits that almost every nation distributes in some form or another — with the larger efforts in the private sphere. Francis calls more for the conversion of the heart in private transactions in this exhortation more than any change in public policy. Much like conservatives like to profess in other contexts, Francis argues here that culture is upstream of politics. If we change hearts to be more generous and less attached to the hoarding of wealth as Jesus did with Zacchaeus, then there will be less need for governments to redistribute by force.

This may not be the most conservative or libertarian expression of economic policies, but it’s basic Catholic teaching on economics for decades, if not centuries. The lesson of Zacchaeus isn’t that government should seize more private property, but that private citizens should convert to a greater love of God and therefore have more solidarity with the poor. Those who oppose social-benefit programs will still find fault with Francis on this point, and there’s plenty of room for debate as to what constitutes “legitimate” efforts in that sphere. It’s clear, though, that he wasn’t calling for widespread and massive confiscation of wealth by governments. In fact, the story of Zacchaeus points out the dangers and injustice that result from that kind of policy.

Just remember — when the media provides only small soundbites of Pope Francis, it pays to read the entirety of his remarks, and to know and understand the teachings behind them.

Update: David Freddoso asks, “How do you know Pope Francis is being misquoted? His lips are moving.” Like me, he suggests that people read the speech rather than the coverage:

Pope Francis discussed “equitable development” and a spirit of generosity, and he even mentioned — near the end, almost as an afterthought — that the state should continue to play a role in this. But there’s no “demand” for broader “legitimate redistribution” by government. …

When Francis said “legitimate redistribution” right near the end, he was clearly condoning some kind of role for governments in assisting the poor. Perhaps he even believes in a more robust role than he lets on here. But he did offer anything on that topic here. To be sure, a demand for a more robust government role would not necessarily be inconsistent with anything he said, but it’s also not what he said. In fact, the use of the word “legitimate” here appears to play the opposite role that the AP’s headline implies — namely, the Pope is implying that not all government redistribution is “legitimate,” and that there might be unspecified limits to what it is just for the state to do. (Which is, in fact, part of the message of the earlier papal documents he cites immediately before that line.)

Kathryn Jean Lopez also notes what the AP and other agencies left out of the speech:

He sounded some familiar themes of his past 14 months as pontiff. He admonished our “throwaway culture,” he talked about the need for “solidarity” with the suffering, and to serve the poor. In his talks with Catholics and all people of good will, he injects the Beatitudes even into more secular context. The Beatitudes are who he is, why Catholics are who we are, and they just so happen to make the world more tender and compassionate.

So, of course, the first Associated Press story that hits the wires makes no mention of anything Pope Francis had to say about the “culture of death” but runs the headline “Pope urges ‘legitimate redistribution’ of wealth by the state to poor in spirit of generosity.”

Actually, he didn’t, but that gets in the way of the media’s preferred narrative.

Update: I forgot the link to David’s piece, but it’s fixed now.


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$2,074,032 USD raised of $2,100,000 goal

If you want to be one of the people who helped push the funding up over the goal, you better act quickly… that window is closing fast. You can still donate after the goal is reached, but you would not be able to honestly say that you helped make a difference in whether or not the movie got made.

If you haven’t already, I recommend that you go donate now.

ITguy on May 9, 2014 at 10:03 AM

He’s a Jesuit and that’s all one needs to know about his teachings.

erp on May 9, 2014 at 10:04 AM

I’ve tried to stay out of this. This pope is a total moron. Has he looked down in the basement, lately? Has he looked around the Vatican lately? When he sells off the artwork, gold chairs…and moves into a shack on the side of the mountain, maybe I’ll listen. Till then, ride around in your high dollar pope mobile, wave…and shut up.

msupertas on May 9, 2014 at 10:06 AM

Hmmm. American Catholics should become Protestants.

Oil Can on May 9, 2014 at 10:06 AM

However

Lol.

vlad martel on May 9, 2014 at 10:09 AM

Any American Catholic with a spoonful of brain should switch his or her denomination over this statement. Let American Catholic Church become the Third World Church.

Rix on May 9, 2014 at 10:10 AM

The truth is that capitalism has reduced more poverty than any other economic system. It’s not even close. And it’s undeniable.

gwelf on May 9, 2014 at 10:11 AM

If we change hearts to be more generous and less attached to the hoarding of wealth as Jesus did with Zacchaeus, then there will be less need for governments to redistribute by force.

But one doesn’t get wealthy, or wealthier by hoarding one’s wealth, one increases one’s wealth by risking what one has, and creating opportunities for others to increase their wealth as well. There are documented cases of rich misers, but they are few and far between. There is private charity for those who are in genuine need, but otherwise, the rich create jobs for the less well off.

rbj on May 9, 2014 at 10:11 AM

Ed,
You peered over the precipice yet missed the most important point.
He was a tax collector and agent of the government. The Pope was
not asking private individuals to do as he, but for government to be more
generous with what they had taken and hoarded.

The true message to me is for there to be less government spending on
itself, and creation of further wealth and hoarding, but to distribute more
fairly what it does collect and tax less.

All of this is a tenant of less government.

Tenwheeler on May 9, 2014 at 10:11 AM

The Catholic Church has plundered so many countries.

I suspected they could lead by example by redistributing what they’ve taken.

Bigbullets on May 9, 2014 at 10:12 AM

Maybe the Romans had it right – crucifying thieves.

OldEnglish on May 9, 2014 at 10:12 AM

So…passing the plate is now not enough…you have to force governments to steal more from our pockets…

10% tithing is not enough…

Why don’t you auction of your multi-billion dollar art and world-wide real estate assets and give that to the poor???…

Screw you Pope…

PatriotRider on May 9, 2014 at 10:13 AM

Oh okay Ed….

I thought the Pope was advocating the UN being a tax agency and unelected international power demanding a tithe at gunpoint….

luckily he was just telling me to not be “a wee little man and a wee little man was he”

I don’t go to Hayek and Friedman for advice on scripture and I don’t go to a Communist Pope for economic advice.

harlekwin15 on May 9, 2014 at 10:14 AM

Maybe the Pope’s idea is if he throws enough of the proper buzzwords out to the UN people, they’ll stop trying to brand the Church’s pro-life stance as torture.

jon1979 on May 9, 2014 at 10:14 AM

Pope Francis also comes from a country where the choices have historically been full on socialism or fascism (collusion and mutual corruption between government and private enterprise) so he has a very skewed idea of what capitalism is because the fascism of his home country is often (and erroneously) called capitalism.

gwelf on May 9, 2014 at 10:14 AM

He’s a Jesuit and that’s all one needs to know about his teachings.

erp on May 9, 2014 at 10:04 AM

One might hope that becoming Pope would have stifled some of that.

I figure when the Left follows the rest of the Pope’s positions – abortion, birth control, homosexual behavior, etc – then they can try and push his position on wealth redistribution.

katiejane on May 9, 2014 at 10:17 AM

gwelf on May 9, 2014 at 10:14 AM

then maybe he should stop trying to run the world in every nation a Catholic breathes n’est c pas?

I’ll follow Catholic doctrine on economic theory when the Church sends itself to the poor house by divestiture of its land holdings globally.

harlekwin15 on May 9, 2014 at 10:17 AM

$2,075,792 USD raised of $2,100,000 goal

I wasn’t kidding when I said the window is closing fast… there are only a few hours left to to become one of the donors who helped make this movie happen.

ITguy on May 9, 2014 at 10:17 AM

the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the State

coordinate the activity of the international agencies, which represents a service to all humanity

Sorry.

Gotta part company on this guy. He is what they are claiming.

sharrukin on May 9, 2014 at 10:18 AM

I believe Pope dope Francis is getting his talking points from Nancy Pelosi, Im just waiting for him to get into #HASHTAG activism and selfies during mass.

Scottie on May 9, 2014 at 10:18 AM

This guy is making me a former Catholic.

crrr6 on May 9, 2014 at 10:18 AM

This guy is nuts. There’s nothing wrong with helping the less fortunate, but using the force of government to do it is obscene.

Secondly, people are not equal. There will always be poor simply because everyone is different. There will always be smart people and there will always be stupid people. There will always be hard working people, and there will always be lazy people who want to live off the hard working people. There will always be honest people, and there will always be dishonest people willing to take advantage of anything they can to not work or be responsible.

When you take from others and give it to others they main result is the abdication of any responsibility to take care of oneself and ones family.

darwin on May 9, 2014 at 10:18 AM

Why don’t you work on your pedophile priest problem first…

PatriotRider on May 9, 2014 at 10:19 AM

I was always under the impression the Pope
was to speak on faith and morals only .
Silly me , 12 years of Catholic school and I
learned it all wrong .

( I repeat myself from another thread )

I’m very sad about this .

Lucano on May 9, 2014 at 10:19 AM

Commie in the Vatican. No surprise. He was probably planted decades ago.

darwin on May 9, 2014 at 10:19 AM

Well the good news for the Pope and the left is that America already has a very high amount of redistribution. In fact we’ve gone into a great deal of debt redistributing the fruits of labor that hasn’t even been performed yet to keep it flowing.

gwelf on May 9, 2014 at 10:20 AM

Shorter Francis: “If you won’t donate, the State must confiscate!”

Jesse Jackson would be proud.

WisRich on May 9, 2014 at 10:20 AM

FYI – he’s about as “conservative” as South Americans get, amnesty fans.

crrr6 on May 9, 2014 at 10:20 AM

Bring back Benedict

crrr6 on May 9, 2014 at 10:21 AM

Some people here are defending the indefensible… This Pope is a socialist to say the least… The facts cannot be debated on this matter… It seems that some Catholics really believe that their Pope has the power to damn their souls and are afraid to challenge him…

mnjg on May 9, 2014 at 10:22 AM

The Pope’s “nuance” will be lost on nearly everyone. The fact that the Pope felt compelled to say this and to involve government is enough to prove his socialist bonafides.

WordsMatter on May 9, 2014 at 10:24 AM

Great, the crusades are back, and this time they are socialist.

Irritable Pundit on May 9, 2014 at 10:24 AM

Pope Francis also comes from a country where the choices have historically been full on socialism or fascism (collusion and mutual corruption between government and private enterprise) so he has a very skewed idea of what capitalism is because the fascism of his home country is often (and erroneously) called capitalism.

gwelf on May 9, 2014 at 10:14 AM

Excellent point…

mnjg on May 9, 2014 at 10:25 AM

Just remember — when the media provides only small soundbites of Pope Francis, it pays to read the entirety of his remarks, and to know and understand the teachings behind them.

The Pope has to know by now how these remarks are being interpreted. He’s made a number of anticapitalist remarks now during his tenure, and if he’s still making them, he has to know what kind of impact they are going to have. I think these soundbites are not being taken out of context at all.

Sorry.

Gotta part company on this guy. He is what they are claiming.

sharrukin on May 9, 2014 at 10:18 AM

Yeah, pretty much. After today, I don’t know how anyone can deny that the Pope is a socialist.

Doomberg on May 9, 2014 at 10:25 AM

then maybe he should stop trying to run the world in every nation a Catholic breathes n’est c pas?

I’ll follow Catholic doctrine on economic theory when the Church sends itself to the poor house by divestiture of its land holdings globally.

harlekwin15 on May 9, 2014 at 10:17 AM

I didn’t say I agreed with everything he said I’m just pointing out that the country he comes from has a LOT of poverty and a very corrupt society and government so his perspective is shaped by that.

I also somewhat agree with Ed – the Pope does spend a lot of time talking to people and the faithful (btw, I’m not Catholic) to increase their own efforts to care for the poor and less fortunate but the media attention focuses on his economic policy statements.

And given his economic statements the left doesn’t really have much to crow about – we already have a massive redistributive state on par with European social democracies. We’ve already arrived at the economic model he’s praising but it hasn’t produced the results he and the left are hoping it will produce.

gwelf on May 9, 2014 at 10:25 AM

I was always under the impression the Pope
was to speak on faith and morals only .
Silly me , 12 years of Catholic school and I
learned it all wrong .

( I repeat myself from another thread )

I’m very sad about this .

Lucano on May 9, 2014 at 10:19 AM

Silly you to think that there’s no moral aspect to economic systems.

urban elitist on May 9, 2014 at 10:27 AM

I’ve tried to stay out of this. This pope is a total moron. Has he looked down in the basement, lately? Has he looked around the Vatican lately? When he sells off the artwork, gold chairs…and moves into a shack on the side of the mountain, maybe I’ll listen. Till then, ride around in your high dollar pope mobile, wave…and shut up.

This.

He’s not a moron, he’s a hypocrite. No Christian leader should live so opulently. The Roman Catholic church is worth billions. Why is that???

Ed, as a fellow Christian I have to shake my head at why anyone would want to be Catholic. Jesus said that whoever calls upon his name will be saved. Period. I go to a non-denominational church. Would never think of going back to one that was denominational. And do you really want to give your tithes and offerings to an organization with a history of pedophilia? I’m not throwing stones, but look at the reality of the Roman Catholic church these days. Jesus was poor and changed the world. I don’t see the attraction of a Pope walking around in white attire and living so lavishly. Doesn’t add up to the life and work of Christ.

Deckard BR on May 9, 2014 at 10:27 AM

Yeah, pretty much. After today, I don’t know how anyone can deny that the Pope is a socialist.

Doomberg on May 9, 2014 at 10:25 AM

If you are Catholic I imagine it is a very difficult thing to admit. The Pope is the spiritual head of the Catholic Church and for many Catholics there is a significant cultural aspect involved as well. I don’t think they will easily toss that away even in the face of the obvious.

sharrukin on May 9, 2014 at 10:28 AM

If the Pope’s message is the encouraging of distributing personal wealth to assist the poor, then he is following biblical principle. If he is encouraging the government to use Other People’s money to show a political party’s benovolence, then he’s missed the mark. You can either give like a Mitt Romney or you can give like a Joe Biden, but from your personal wealth. And, it should be sacrificial and not purely from one’s surplus.

iamsaved on May 9, 2014 at 10:28 AM

They are going for the military, churches and sports – and succeeding.

forest on May 9, 2014 at 10:28 AM

Ed—I like you see some ambiguity but that ambiguity is not good in and of itself. The Pope speaks exclusively of “solidarity” without due obeisance to subsidiarity and local community. Taking these latest comments in the context of the Pope’s other polemical remarks, such as “trickle down”, I see a disturbing pattern of unlearned and ill informed remarks masked as teaching.

cthemfly on May 9, 2014 at 10:28 AM

This guy is making me a former Catholic.

crrr6 on May 9, 2014 at 10:18 AM

Hearing rumblings of the same, from the staunchest Catholics in my family.
These stances have them feeling quite betrayed.
Happened to us, about 40 yrs ago.

pambi on May 9, 2014 at 10:29 AM

A contribution to this equitable development will also be made both by international activity aimed at the integral human development of all the world’s peoples and by the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the State, as well as indispensable cooperation between the private sector and civil society.

Ed, I understand why you jump to this guy’s defense, but come on. “Legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the State…”?? Who defines legitimate? Nancy Pelosi, the devout Catholic pro-abortionist? Barack Obama? He could easily claim that ObamaCare is a legitimate wealth redistribution program. The more I hear from this Pope the less impressed I become.

ncconservative on May 9, 2014 at 10:30 AM

I’ve tried to stay out of this. This pope is a total moron. Has he looked down in the basement, lately? Has he looked around the Vatican lately? When he sells off the artwork, gold chairs…and moves into a shack on the side of the mountain, maybe I’ll listen. Till then, ride around in your high dollar pope mobile, wave…and shut up.

msupertas on May 9, 2014 at 10:06 AM

+100000

melle1228 on May 9, 2014 at 10:30 AM

Silly you to think that there’s no moral aspect to economic systems.

urban elitist on May 9, 2014 at 10:27 AM

There is a moral aspect.

And history undeniably shows that capitalism is THE best economic system to decrease poverty. So if you care about reducing poverty then capitalism is a core part of the solution (the only caveat being that capitalism – an economic system – requires a moral society to operate in moral ways).

gwelf on May 9, 2014 at 10:30 AM

Redistribution used to be called charity but it wasn’t forced on the giver.

Kissmygrits on May 9, 2014 at 10:30 AM

Pope Francis is a communist. I now consider the Church leaderless on Earth and turning against millennia of doctrine.

ConstantineXI on May 9, 2014 at 10:30 AM

LOL. So glad I wasn’t born into the Roman Tradition.

Murphy9 on May 9, 2014 at 10:31 AM

Jesus didn’t ask Zaccheus to do anything. Zaccheus was a thief who repented, is all. He offered to make 4x retribution as the law demanded. To base economic redistribution on that example is silly.

The pope said that everyone who can should “give back generously and lavishly whatever we may have earlier unjustly refused to others.” Zaccheus was actually giving back to those he defrauded.

I haven’t defrauded anyone and resent the implication that I am doing something wrong by spending my money on my family and saving for retirement.

Akzed on May 9, 2014 at 10:31 AM

Zacchaeus was a tax collector and, judging by the passage, a wealthy tax collector. Since the Pope focused on Zacchaeus, the following passage should be raised:

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

A tax collector cheating? The IRS should learn from Zacchaeus. Unfortunately, the left will cherry-pick what it wants and demand higher taxes.

Kingfisher on May 9, 2014 at 10:31 AM

Ed—I like you see some ambiguity but that ambiguity is not good in and of itself. The Pope speaks exclusively of “solidarity” without due obeisance to subsidiarity and local community. Taking these latest comments in the context of the Pope’s other polemical remarks, such as “trickle down”, I see a disturbing pattern of unlearned and ill informed remarks masked as teaching.

cthemfly on May 9, 2014 at 10:28 AM

Good point. Subsidiarity is a very important element that seems to be left out of the discussion too often.

gwelf on May 9, 2014 at 10:32 AM

I like this guy when he started but now man he gives me the shivers.

gophergirl on May 9, 2014 at 10:32 AM

If we change hearts to be more generous and less attached to the hoarding of wealth as Jesus did with Zacchaeus, then there will be less need for governments to redistribute by force.

My God, you can’t possibly be this naive, can you?

To compare the economic world of Jesus’s Jerusalem to 2014 America is a non-starter. Poverty back then could literally mean staring death in the face, especially after a character like Zacchaeus shook you down. Today, our poor people are the most likely to be morbidly obese, and the most probably cause of death will be from heart disease, Type II diabetes or lung cancer from the cigarettes they smoke.

I believe in personal charity. I believe in a generous heart. But I don’t believe I owe anybody a cell phone or cable TV or a new car. Whether anyone wants to confront this or not, charity always has an element of moral hazard attached to it: is my helping hand giving a man a new life or a new six-pack?

Finally, the government forcibly redistributes wealth because it has allowed politicians to develop a constituent class that will reliably vote for them.

I’m Catholic and I can’t wait for Pope Francis to go away.

dreadnought62 on May 9, 2014 at 10:32 AM

This guy is making me a former Catholic.

crrr6 on May 9, 2014 at 10:18 AM

He’s no Saint John Paul II that’s for sure.

ConstantineXI on May 9, 2014 at 10:32 AM

As a life-long Catholic, very disappointed with this statement–and this Pope. “Legitimate” Redistribution By The State = “Forced” Redistribution By The State. (Sigh)..Maybe its time I gave the Lutherans a look…

ColBubba on May 9, 2014 at 10:32 AM

Silly you to think that there’s no moral aspect to economic systems.

urban elitist on May 9, 2014 at 10:27 AM

There is only one overarching law in economics – spend your money wisely.

OldEnglish on May 9, 2014 at 10:33 AM

I liked this guy when he started but now man he gives me the shivers.

gophergirl on May 9, 2014 at 10:32 AM

FIFM

gophergirl on May 9, 2014 at 10:33 AM

Remember lefties, before you demand redistribution of wealth from the middle class demand it from Pelosi, Reid, Obama and the other extremely wealthy Democrats first.

Kingfisher on May 9, 2014 at 10:33 AM

Wouldn’t it be marvelous if the federal government cut taxes and a smaller government emerges instead of defrauding us like Zacchaeus. Wouldn’t that be “legitimate” redistribution? What if the EU nations cut taxes also, wouldn’t their citizens be better off too? Just wondering. So is Pope Francis really all that wrong?

Michael Harlin on May 9, 2014 at 10:33 AM

there’s plenty of room for debate as to what constitutes “legitimate” efforts in that sphere.

Here’s a debate I’d like to have on that point: is it “legitimate” when a President of the United States, who has (three times) placed his hand on the Bible and taken an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution and laws of the U.S., to knowingly violate those very same laws and authorize his administration pay out billions of dollars in welfare benefits every year to illegal aliens?

When a politician deliberately lies and violates laws that he pledged a solemn oath to uphold in order to “redistribute” Americans’ wealth, is that a “legitimate” redistribution, Your Holiness?

AZCoyote on May 9, 2014 at 10:34 AM

Just remember — when the media provides only small soundbites of Pope Francis, it pays to read the entirety of his remarks, and to know and understand the teachings behind them.

Yeah, the teachings found in Das Kapital and the Communist Manifesto. It’s fascinating to me how Catholics are in complete denial that the head of their faith is an avowed communist who got along quite well with the various socialist regimes in his native country.

Happy Nomad on May 9, 2014 at 10:34 AM

I suspect Francis might be an antipope.

ConstantineXI on May 9, 2014 at 10:35 AM

Redistribution used to be called charity but it wasn’t forced on the giver.

Kissmygrits on May 9, 2014 at 10:30 AM

Exactly.

So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.

2 Corinthians 9:7 New King James Version (NKJV)

Governments should not be in the “forced charity” business.

ITguy on May 9, 2014 at 10:35 AM

Silly you to think that there’s no moral aspect to economic systems.

urban elitist on May 9, 2014 at 10:27 AM

There is certainly a very moral aspect to Capitalism that has enhanced the life of hundreds of millions of people and lifted hundreds of millions of people from poverty to middle class and prosperity… On the other hand there is a very immoral and very evil aspect of socialism and communism that have caused misery, suffering, death, and lost of freedom for hundreds of millions of people…

mnjg on May 9, 2014 at 10:35 AM

Ed. You’re kinda sounding like a Pope fanboy here.

ReaganWasRight on May 9, 2014 at 10:36 AM

As a Catholic, it pains me to say this, but Pope Francis is also a good communist! Not anything like the Jesuit chaplain who was a close family friend and baptized my eldest son….a “real” soldier of Christ, who had 2-silver stars from WWII service.

tomshup on May 9, 2014 at 10:36 AM

If you are Catholic I imagine it is a very difficult thing to admit. The Pope is the spiritual head of the Catholic Church and for many Catholics there is a significant cultural aspect involved as well. I don’t think they will easily toss that away even in the face of the obvious.

sharrukin on May 9, 2014 at 10:28 AM

This is a good point.

My God, you can’t possibly be this naive, can you?

dreadnought62 on May 9, 2014 at 10:32 AM

As sharrukin noted above, it’s going to be very hard for some Catholics to admit their church has been hijacked by a socialist.

Doomberg on May 9, 2014 at 10:36 AM

I treat the Bible as a spiritual document because Jesus was far from a capitalist.
I think he could pass for a communist or socialist today.
The Bible is a spiritual book not a science or economic book

weedisgood on May 9, 2014 at 10:36 AM

The biggest problem of poverty is not one of redistribution.
It’s one of economic opportunity. State redistribution of wealth can at best keep some amount of poverty at bay at not only a very high cost to society but also destroys the social capital of those who come to depend on it.

Poverty is the default situation of humanity and redistribution doesn’t provide a way out.

gwelf on May 9, 2014 at 10:37 AM

Wouldn’t it be marvelous if the federal government cut taxes and a smaller government emerges instead of defrauding us like Zacchaeus. Wouldn’t that be “legitimate” redistribution? What if the EU nations cut taxes also, wouldn’t their citizens be better off too? Just wondering. So is Pope Francis really all that wrong?

Michael Harlin on May 9, 2014 at 10:33 AM

Perhaps I misunderstood.

Did he call for tax cuts and reduction in wasteful government spending?

sharrukin on May 9, 2014 at 10:37 AM

I treat the Bible as a spiritual document because Jesus was far from a capitalist.
I think he could pass for a communist or socialist today.
The Bible is a spiritual book not a science or economic book

weedisgood on May 9, 2014 at 10:36 AM

So the Bible is not an economics book but you know Jesus would be a commie or a socialist?

You’re toking awfully early today.

gwelf on May 9, 2014 at 10:37 AM

“It is the encounter between Jesus Christ and the rich tax collector Zacchaeus . . .”

And, what of those who have not had such an encounter? What of those who have had an encounter who elect, for whatever reason(s), not to be charitable? What of those who recognize all the various needs of the world, yet want the freedom to respond to them as they decide, not under the compulsion of other persons, organizations, or governments? What of those who object to they’re resources being appropriated by bloated bureaucracies who first take “the finest fat” before the poor receive anything? These are questions that I wrestle with.

I don’t have the answers, but I do know one thing. If there is such a thing as judgement day, I, and I alone, will be responsible for how I lived my life.

VALman on May 9, 2014 at 10:38 AM

As a life-long Catholic, very disappointed with this statement–and this Pope. “Legitimate” Redistribution By The State = “Forced” Redistribution By The State. (Sigh)..Maybe its time I gave the Lutherans a look…

ColBubba on May 9, 2014 at 10:32 AM

I am still Catholic even if the pope isn’t. Popes don’t last forever, and we’ve had bad ones before.

ConstantineXI on May 9, 2014 at 10:38 AM

I suspect Francis might be an antipope.

ConstantineXI on May 9, 2014 at 10:35 AM

Not really.

The Catholic church has never been down with the free enterprise system.

Twisting scripture for purposes of state control is hundreds of years old.

tetriskid on May 9, 2014 at 10:38 AM

However, the longer context of Francis’ remarks this morning to UN leadership provides a much more nuanced picture of Francis’ view of economic policy

Kind of like Obama’s nuance in claiming 500 Republican filibusters?

The context doesn’t much matter if people only hear the keywords that seem to be used intentionally to get the point across, with the context thrown in – you know, having read way down into the thing – to be able to say to anyone that disagrees, “but wait, you’re missing the context” – meanwhile, people run about bleating that “see, even the Pope says the government should be busy redistributing wealth, harhar!”

Midas on May 9, 2014 at 10:38 AM

A need is not a claim.

Period.

Bat Chain Puller on May 9, 2014 at 10:39 AM

BTW, when is the Vatican having a garage sale to get rid of all that worthless art that is cluttering up the place. Shouldn’t the church practice legitimate redistribution too?

Happy Nomad on May 9, 2014 at 10:39 AM

If we change hearts to be more generous and less attached to the hoarding of wealth as Jesus did with Zacchaeus, then there will be less need for governments to redistribute by force.

But one doesn’t get wealthy, or wealthier by hoarding one’s wealth, one increases one’s wealth by risking what one has, and creating opportunities for others to increase their wealth as well. There are documented cases of rich misers, but they are few and far between. There is private charity for those who are in genuine need, but otherwise, the rich create jobs for the less well off.

rbj on May 9, 2014 at 10:11 AM

Good point. Ed knows this very well. But as a devout Catholic he seems to feel the need to jump to this guy’s defense. But his statements are indefensible from a conservative standpoint.

ncconservative on May 9, 2014 at 10:40 AM

I’d like to hear the Pope’s response if citizens being forced by the State to redistribute their wealth were to refuse, then what?

Bishop on May 9, 2014 at 10:40 AM

OT

$2,074,032 USD raised of $2,100,000 goal

If you want to be one of the people who helped push the funding up over the goal, you better act quickly… that window is closing fast. You can still donate after the goal is reached, but you would not be able to honestly say that you helped make a difference in whether or not the movie got made.

If you haven’t already, I recommend that you go donate now.

ITguy on May 9, 2014 at 10:03 AM

Getting close, only 21K to go! They’ll probably hit by this evening.

22044 on May 9, 2014 at 10:41 AM

Silly you to think that there’s no moral aspect to economic systems.

urban elitist on May 9, 2014 at 10:27 AM

There is a moral aspect.

And history undeniably shows that capitalism is THE best economic system to decrease poverty. So if you care about reducing poverty then capitalism is a core part of the solution (the only caveat being that capitalism – an economic system – requires a moral society to operate in moral ways).

gwelf on May 9, 2014 at 10:30 AM

What actually works doesn’t matter. This is about making urban elitists feel better about themselves.

forest on May 9, 2014 at 10:41 AM

Silly you to think that there’s no moral aspect to economic systems.

urban elitist on May 9, 2014 at 10:27 AM

There is no moral aspect to economic systems. The morality lies with the individual person. Liberal morality is to use government force. Conservative morality is to give voluntarily. If liberals would accept conservative morality then the billions they have spent getting democrats elected to write laws that steal could have gone to help the needy.

A consequence of liberal morality is that millions are now dependent on the government, and will vote to keep themselves dependent.

darwin on May 9, 2014 at 10:41 AM

No. The article is incorrect. He did not say “legitimate redistribution” by private individuals, but BY THE STATE. There is no such animal. Redistribution by the state requires the state to take what does not belong to it, and give those things to others which those things do not belong to. In other words, the State is a looter taking your stuff and giving it to the moochers.

Anybody who reads the history of the middle ages knows how the poor fared under the auspices of the Catholic Church. They remained poor. It was only when Protestantism arrived that the poor had any hope, and a true middle class was created. The evolution of religious and economic freedom began there, and culminated in the 1680s, when Protestants and Catholics stopped beating each other and both stopped beating up independent Christians. The American colonies were awash in economic freedom, as was Britain.

Now the Catholic Church wants to turn back the clock to the medieval times, where the rich were villified and regulated, the government glorified and “educated,” and the poor humble and devastated.

RockinRickOwen on May 9, 2014 at 10:41 AM

The context of the Pope’s comments is the United Nations and world leaders, hardly the private sphere. Overlooking that context raises suspicion on anyone who tries to “explain” what he means. For those with no personal interest, his message of redistribution through the state is quite clear.

conservative pilgrim on May 9, 2014 at 10:42 AM

Jesus does not ask Zacchaeus to change jobs nor does he condemn his financial activity; he simply inspires him to put everything, freely yet immediately and indisputably, at the service of others.

I think many Americans try to be of service to their families and neighbors…It is an attitude of Charity.

That is the message I will take from this speech…that Grace inspires Charity.

Grace inspires a change of attitude and responding actions to that change.

Charity begins in the heart with humility.

Charity is the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God.

http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s1c1a7.htm

Catholics should discuss the virtues…The link I posted is the teaching on the virtues.

workingclass artist on May 9, 2014 at 10:42 AM

Good point. Ed knows this very well. But as a devout Catholic he seems to feel the need to jump to this guy’s defense. But his statements are indefensible from a conservative standpoint.

ncconservative on May 9, 2014 at 10:40 AM

Yup I am not seeing how one can be a Republican and a Good Catholic and that is not hyperbole.

Dope Frank is saying in essence we must empower an ALREADY corrupt, immoral, and Godless state with our wealth so they can continue to cultivate a captive voting block and use the power of the state to stifle individual effort and enterprise through hyper-regulatory fiat and punitive use of the civil service.

I cannot cotton to that.

Sorry Ed it’s a time for choosing and I choose personal liberty and capitalism every time.

harlekwin15 on May 9, 2014 at 10:42 AM

The Bible is a spiritual book not… (an) economic book

weedisgood on May 9, 2014 at 10:36 AM

You’re wrong.

ITguy on May 9, 2014 at 10:43 AM

BTW, when is the Vatican having a garage sale to get rid of all that worthless art that is cluttering up the place. Shouldn’t the church practice legitimate redistribution too?

Happy Nomad on May 9, 2014 at 10:39 AM

I visited the Vatican and it was quite the awesome experience, but I was charged a fee to see the various sites, including $250/person to do the Scavia tour of the tombs. Seems like a simple tourist should be able to view some old diggings without having to be gouged for $500.

Bishop on May 9, 2014 at 10:43 AM

The apostle Paul said in his letter to the Thesolonicans that if you don’t work, you don’t eat. And no, he wasn’t speaking about the elderly and mentally/physically disabled as defined in their time. High blood pressure didn’t constitute a dibilitating disability as it does now. We now have a dependent class capable of working but choose not to because it’s much more profitable to get a free check in the mail for doing nothing.

iamsaved on May 9, 2014 at 10:43 AM

This may not be the most conservative or libertarian expression of economic policies, but it’s basic Catholic teaching on economics for decades, if not centuries.

Exactly.

JetBoy on May 9, 2014 at 10:43 AM

Pope Francis is a Democrat and communist.

So his position could cause many constant and direct conflicts with most fiscal conservative Republicans down the road.

sohumm on May 9, 2014 at 10:43 AM

I’d like to hear the Pope’s response if citizens being forced by the State to redistribute their wealth were to refuse, then what?

Bishop on May 9, 2014 at 10:40 AM

Well, that’s the thing.

We’ve ALREADY got a massive redistributive government. So the Pope and the lefties can relax – we’re already doing what they want.
Unfortunately for the poor this isn’t a solution to their problems though it does a great job enriching politicians and bureaucrats who run the redistributive system.

gwelf on May 9, 2014 at 10:44 AM

There is certainly a very moral aspect to Capitalism that has enhanced the life of hundreds of millions of people and lifted hundreds of millions of people from poverty to middle class and prosperity… On the other hand there is a very immoral and very evil aspect of socialism and communism that have caused misery, suffering, death, and lost of freedom for hundreds of millions of people…

mnjg on May 9, 2014 at 10:35 AM

This.

WisRich on May 9, 2014 at 10:44 AM

If one is making a spiritual argument about taking care of the poor the means should always be through the church. There is no theocracy. It is not the government’s responsibility, but those who follow and profess Christ. And yes, my personal life and actions back up those words.

conservative pilgrim on May 9, 2014 at 10:44 AM

Makes me sick. He’s emboldening the statists — who are, incidentally, the most greedy and the most wealthy among us — and death and destruction will inevitably follow his seal of approval for what will surely be their ongoing campaign against the rights of the individual. This Pope, by the time his reign is over, is going to have a lot of the blood of innocents on his hands.

Shame, shame, shame, shame, shame. The road to hell…good intentions…he should know better. Then again, maybe he does — a horrifying but not entirely unlikely thought.

Rational Thought on May 9, 2014 at 10:44 AM

John Paul II came from a communist country that had been abused by foreign regimes since the 1700′s, and that didn’t prompt him to support world communism when he was Pope. In fact, he played a role in STOPPING IT.

Francis apparently wants the world to follow the Chavez or DeKirchner socialist model.

To say the Church needs to do better than that is an understatement.

ConstantineXI on May 9, 2014 at 10:45 AM

I treat the Bible as a spiritual document because Jesus was far from a capitalist.
I think he could pass for a communist or socialist today.
The Bible is a spiritual book not a science or economic book

weedisgood on May 9, 2014 at 10:36 AM

So the Bible is not an economics book but you know Jesus would be a commie or a socialist?

You’re toking awfully early today.

gwelf on May 9, 2014 at 10:37 AM

lol – weedisgood’s non-sequitur count and vacuum of critical thinking displayed is impressive for such a short statement.

And besides, Jesus was probably afraid of a Hillary presidency, or *puff puff* something.

Midas on May 9, 2014 at 10:45 AM

I suspect a resurgence of love for the Pope by Obama and the Leftists.

conservative pilgrim on May 9, 2014 at 10:46 AM

I am still waiting for this Pope the leader of the Government of Vatican the tiniest government in the world that has hundreds of billions of dollars in assets to start distributing the entire assets of his government to the poor and needy around the world… Lead by example Francis… We Americans, “the greedy capitalists”, have donated over $ 300 billions to charities last year and that is by far, far, far more than any other nation in the world…. Not only in total charitable donations but also our per capita charitable donations we donate by far, far, far more than any other nation in the world…

mnjg on May 9, 2014 at 10:46 AM

Funny how the left, which hates God (except Allah) and all things Christian will now start quoting the head of the Catholic Church.

darwin on May 9, 2014 at 10:46 AM

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