Pope Francis as an Open Supporter of Tyranny
Pope Francis as an Open Supporter of Tyranny: His Ignorant Opposition to Free-Market Economics
By Joseph Andrew Settanni
Human beings, according to traditional, classical Natural Law teachings, have the inalienable right to be free. God has not decreed that men are to live as slaves. Socialism, by whatever euphemism, seeks to enslave people to the State. The clearly charismatic Pope Francis, in his attack upon free-market economics, has firmly aligned himself openly with the massively evil forces of injustice, corruption, oppression, and tyranny. His extravagant praise, e. g., for the late Nelson Mandela who was a militant supporter of abortion and life-long communist, shows how morally warped the Holy Father’s thinking really is.1 [see: Notes]
He ought to be thoroughly ashamed of himself but will never be. This prelate, moreover, is already being talked of publicly as the (neo-Marxist) Occupy Movement’s Pope, in a way that, e. g., John XXIII was called the Maoist Pope. And, the Holy Father has been called, one ought not to be surprised, the Barack Obama of the Catholic Church.2
Fortunately, his morally brutal ideological/political opinions that basically match Obama’s, in favor of Leftism/collectivism, are not to be confused or confounded with Roman Catholic doctrines or dogmas. But, is this current Vicar of Christ being wrongly, once again, misunderstood? Are all the liberals and leftists, as is often alleged, always forcefully just putting words into his mouth, directly and certainly contrary to his own more “moderate” beliefs and opinions?
A valid question may be properly raised here as to if this assertion is tenable, plausible, and likely given occurrences surrounding this extremely prominent leader of the Catholic world who had, e. g., enjoyed denouncing the memory of Ronald Reagan in terms of specific economic matters. Yet, is there any valid gage or, perhaps, test of the Holy Father’s thinking? Do birds of a feather flock together?
A Theology of Liberation was a book written in 1971, by Gustavo Gutiérrez, a Peruvian Marxist, priest and theologian. In September 2013, it is quite interesting to note that Pope Francis had held a friendly meeting with Fr. Gutiérrez, as was so reported by L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican’s semi-official newspaper. It is known, moreover, that the Pontiff has favorable views about the Marxist-oriented, so-called liberation theology, which is, one may guess, by no means a moderate point of view or, perhaps, a modest opinion.
At a minimum, he went, with aforethought, out of his way to deliberately engage in ideological debate and must, logically speaking, accept the largely predictable penalties thereof. He has stated openly that he has come across many Marxists who are good people.
One seriously wonders, however, if he would be so easily willing to publicly say that he had ever met, e. g., Nazis who also are good people in his esteemed opinion? This is as unlikely as it is fairly doubted. In any event, it is not absolutely necessary to be a fully “card-carrying communist” to still have certain sympathies in that direction, even regardless of not being a Marxist.
Capitalism versus Free-Market Economics
Of course, an important and critical epistemological distinction needs to be properly made, which he does not at all make, between capitalism and free-market economics, the latter which the Holy Father has openly condemned as being always wrong. Capitalism, known also as crony capitalism, statist capitalism, state capitalism, or neomercantilism, is supported by and, in turn, fully upholds statism and its consequences. The concentration of economic power supports the consolidation of political power for the sake of the political-ruling class, for all corporate-welfare oriented capitalism is, for instance, merely a legalized form of theft.
It affirms wanted domestic interventionism in economics, for oligarchical reasons, to help secure the corrupt ruling class in its unjust power exercised against the common people; it favors, logically, any degrees of suppression, repression, and oppression necessary for, thus, securing capitalist profits to be wrongly guaranteed, moreover, by State power. Crony capitalism, and its conduct, is the very definition of such absolutely anti-free-market activities by which the State determines the economic winners and losers. If this is what the Pope condemns, he would be completely and unquestionably correct to do so at all times.
Such obviously heinous corruption and injustice favors corporate welfare, subsidies, tariffs, quotas, and all such means of vilely ensuring that Big Government, Big Business, and Big Labor, the Iron Triangle as it has been rightly called, makes sure that any free-market activities are either suppressed, severely limited, or, whenever necessary, eliminated entirely in the immoral service of capitalism; it is the corrupt economics of oligarchical supremacy necessarily favoring the ruling class, the power structure, the technocracy.
Thus, having the common satanic goal of subjecting all of the common people to tyranny, there is, therefore, seen to be absolutely no real antagonism or any assumed hostility between communism and capitalism. Force and fraud are then the true hallmarks of capitalism and communism; both necessarily rely upon statism, the demonic lust for all temporal power, for their evil success and allied corrupt achievements to advance a materialist-secularist society and culture dedicated toward nihilistic ends.
Capitalism, by factual definition, abhors all true entrepreneurship, competitive innovation, actual economic risk, and truly genuine competition; it seeks, moreover, to actually destroy or, at least, greatly inhibit or substantially reduce all four such aforementioned free-market forces from any economy. It prefers having actual monopolies and utilities existing rather than to permit free and fair competition for, thus, helping any consumers. Consumers, the common people, are held in contempt as mere sheep to be sheared at will.
Capitalism and communism, in fact, are merely the two sides of exactly the same coin of modernity; both do greatly support secularism, hedonism, positivism, pragmatism, materialism, and, most of all, temporal power to be used against the masses, the people. Communism began, moreover, as the ideological attempt to better rationalize capitalism in the better service of the fullest modernization, industrialization, and urbanization of life, society, and culture by producing a positivist civilization dedicated to materialist goals for achieving complete secularization and an allied nihilistic mindset.
Whether ignorantly done or not, Pope Francis in his Evangelii Gaudium, who ought to have at least some basic knowledge about authoritarianism and totalitarianism, has solidly aligned himself with the forces of evil on earth; and, may God have mercy on his blemished soul. As far as can be seen, he has blatantly sided with the forces of corruption and tyranny against all the poor, the working classes, and humanity in general by his seeming support for collectivism. He is, surely, a disgrace to Catholicism and, it ought to be said, his apparent attitude deserves mightily to be denounced as such.
Free-market economics or entrepreneurialism3 supports the right of people, without force or fraud, to peacefully engage in economic intercourse without the State determining the losers or winners. No mechanism, in all of previously recorded human history, had beforehand existed for raising hundreds upon hundreds of millions of the common people up out of poverty, squalor, and hopelessness, as to their economic circumstances and futures. No amount of private charity or government supplied funding conceivable, moreover, could have possibly ever done so or has ever done so.
For instance, since the 1960s War on Poverty in America, at least a minimum of $15 trillion dollars has been uselessly spent, for over 50 years, to forcefully and ideologically/politically fight poverty in, thus, seeking its total eradication; it has fundamentally failed; it will always fail and, one can here easily add, predictably so.
But, this extremely wasteful ideological-political effort, let it never be forgotten, was and is the greatest of its kind in the entire recorded history of humanity aimed at supposedly exterminating poverty in any one country. It remains a purely utopian project, a false dream, to ease the consciences of upper middle class and wealthy liberals and leftists. However, only productivity really produces; not statist fiat. What is then properly meant? Redistributionism, in fact, never at all works to really eliminate any substantial poverty, which is plainly an empirical fact of economic reality.
Today, the same rate or percentage of people living in poverty exists as it did in the 1960s, though the exact level at which such official poverty is declared, ironically, keeps being constantly raised, which, upon critical analysis, really does not make any sense. Why? This is because such forever relativistic “poverty” becomes, by definition, totally eradicable and, moreover, exists only as a mere statistical consideration; it is, in effect “idealized” as an abstraction. It is, thus, an absurdity to contemplate.
An America “poor person” these days, be it well noted, would have been appropriately called middle class in the 1960s! This obviously makes a total mockery out of any meaning attributed to what may or may not be characterized as so-called poverty, especially after the government has spent $15 trillion. Nonetheless, it is still an empirical fact that real progress has been yet made, meaning that significantly hardened poverty has been truly beaten down, not through supposed State interventionism but, rather, whenever a free-market economy has been allowed to function.
Free-market economics, especially as is rightly defended by the Austrian School of Economics, supports hopeful entrepreneurship, interesting innovation, creative risk, and, of course, many degrees of always useful competition. Consumers are, therefore, free to be the proper masters of economic decisions, not the State.
Thus, there truly needs to be, as may be guessed, a total political/ideological separation of Economy and State to allow a free people to live with a free economy and a liberated political order. Furthermore, there is no conflict between free-market economics, when rightly understood, and Catholicism, as is evidenced, continuously, by the Acton Institute headed by Fr. Robert A. Sirico.4
Admittedly, human beings are not perfect; no economic system ever works perfectly and can never do so because people are involved with it, besides many other related causes of error, difficulties, etc. The issue at stake concerns what does less harm. A State that tries to create a Utopia, in the name of an ideology, that delivers not Heaven but Hell on earth or the Welfare-Warfare State that gradually reduces most people toward a basic subsistence level the longer it operates are, therefore, both much worse than a free economy with a representative, constitutional republican order qua free government.
As long as both capitalism and communism/socialism are suppressed as cognate moral evils, then the poor, the working class, middle class, and others are then free to live without fear that the State can determine how they intimately ought to live, as with, e. g., Obamacare. Or, as with its horrid death panels, not live at all. Socialism, by its very materialistic nature, is ultimately nihilistic and tends toward the worship of death; it positively, moreover, celebrates the Culture of Death, which certainly makes all the more disturbing and downright shocking the Holy Pontiff’s strong and overt support for it.
Of course, as the State can only be the power sufficient or great enough to allow for the existence of successful monopolies by its support, therefore, no truly free-market activities would, thus, come to economically threaten consumers, the buying public, the general masses at large. But, what can further help to better make sure that possible corruption does not make a free-market institution become oriented toward capitalism and its many noted and known faults?
What is needed is correct adherence to the Catholic social principle of subsidiarity, which Pope Francis seems to publicly reject, by which appeal for the redress of grievances is made first to the lowest private levels within society and, later, on up, step by step, to the higher levels; if, however, the private attempts at remediation or arbitration are found not to be satisfactory or better, then public appeals can properly be made.
The same is to be civilly done by first going to the local political order(s) before, if needed, going on to the higher ones; the Holy Father, unfortunately, with his faith placed in statism, prefers direct massive action done at the highest level of the interventionist State or international interventionism, if thought necessary by him. Above all, his open favoring of tyranny, through a heartfelt devotion to socialism, is quite distressing, to say the least.
Of course, one may note that it has been repeatedly said, as always, that the present Pope has been mistranslated, according to his many dedicated spin-doctors. He may end up, no doubt, being then the most mistranslated and, consequently, highly misinterpreted popes in the entire history of the papacy, breaking all previous records. But, among many others, such notable Catholic websites as http://www.cfn.org and http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/ do still seem to basically understand and comprehend his overall political liberalism and, at times, overt radicalism quite well. Only his sycophants definitively state that they (and they alone?) are correctly interpreting (or is it reinterpreting?) his [disturbing] words.
In any event, Pope Francis, filled with charisma, has made it abundantly clear, time and again, that he sincerely upholds and greatly respects the work of the Second Vatican Council, which, in his thinking, is a position much more congenial toward collectivism than was true for the preconciliar Church.
One can easily cite: Pius IX’s Encyclical Nostis et Nobiscum, December 8, 1849; Leo XIII’s Encyclical Diuturnum, June 29, 1881; Encyclical Humanum Genus, April 20, 1884; and Encyclical Quod Apostolici Muneris, December 28, 1878; also, St. Pius X’s Apostolic Letter Notre Charge Apostolique, August 25, 1910; Benedict XV’s Encyclical Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum, November 1, 1914; and, of course, others issued by later pontiffs.
But, Francis, a darling of the progressive media, also does not heed and, perhaps, studiously ignores the surely important and insightful considerations of his predecessor, Benedict XVI, when he wisely wrote, in his Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, promulgated on December 25, 2005, that:
“The State which would provide everything, absorbing everything into itself, would ultimately become a mere bureaucracy incapable of guaranteeing the very thing which the suffering person − every person − needs: namely, loving personal concern. We do not need a State which regulates and controls everything, but a State which, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, generously acknowledges and supports initiatives arising from the different social forces and combines spontaneity with closeness to those in need.”
Benedict XVI knows that with State socialism, having, by definition, coercion and force on its side, there is no genuine choice, no real chance to truly exercise free will; one is expected to obey or possibly get arrested and imprisoned, e. g., for not paying any confiscatory taxes necessarily demanded by the evil collectivist regime. In sharp contrast, a free market qua free-enterprise economy allows, by definition, free choices to then exist; there is consumer sovereignty, the opportunity to exercise self-government without coercion or force being applied to choices made. And, if a consumer feels mistreated by a company or business, there can be the appeal made to government.
But, when the culprit is the State, as with Obamacare, there is no appeal, which points out just one of the many differences between a true market economy versus the command economy demanded by statism, meaning implemented by and for the needs of the Administrative State, the Bureaucratic State.
Obviously, free choice among consumer goods and services offends Pope Francis; he would rather, one supposes, that the common people, inclusive of the poor, are dictated to by the State. The State will, thus, determine what the needs and wants of the people supposedly are, again, as with Obamacare being a major example of its kind.
Nonetheless, it is not obligatory for all Catholics to accept the Pontiff’s apparent preference for tyranny. On the other hand, if he meant to condemn and thoroughly criticize capitalism as discussed in this article, then he is to be praised to high Heaven for opposing such evil; however, it is rather too clear that it is free-market economics which really draws his fire and hatred, not the kind of economics allied to statism. The noted compatibility and reciprocity, friendship and mutuality, of true capitalism and communism, therefore, seemingly does not greatly attract the keen attention of this particular pontiff.
The best economic hope, for the oppressed masses that Pope Francis says he is so very concerned about, resides in firm support for free-market economics, not State socialism or State capitalism as has been above indicated. But, instead, he seems to absurdly dream up collectivist [nightmares] visions as his version of Utopia. Consequently, it is not very unusual than Hans Küng, a contemporary heresiarch, has publicly expressed his truly ardent enthusiasm for Evangelii Gaudium; he contends that it validly expresses the thinking of the Pontiff.
If the Pontiff had a greater appreciation for truth and knew more about the real history of poverty, he would then logically reject the cause of tyranny, oppression, injustice, and corruption, instead of warmly embracing, by at least implication, all those essentially evil features of communist/collectivist regimes with their harsh and malevolent command economies.
Historically speaking, meaning as to the documented facts, prior to free-market economics sustaining a market economy for the masses of people, there was no socioeconomic vehicle whatsoever by which literally millions of people over many years or, sometimes, a few years could raise themselves up or be moved up out of poverty. It is, thus, the most tremendous poverty destroying mechanism that has ever existed.
In ancient and medieval times, for instance, and given even a maximum, e. g., of great concerted effort and good will unparalleled in all of human history, there was simply no way of achieving this kind of absolutely incredible and extremely impressive success, as to the eradication of deadening poverty, meaning on a truly mass scale, for many millions of people. It needs to be said that the growth of income inequality, furthermore, resides with capitalism or collectivism; this is because the market economy qua entrepreneurial society tends greatly to spread wealth around because of increased social mobility, availability of capital in general, capitalization per worker, technological innovations, etc.
Economic prosperity for the masses, one of the main functions and results of free-market economics, a humane economy, since it naturally requires mass consumer prosperity, was made empirically possible, not theoretically conceivable. Substantial poverty, at a deadening level, was no longer the historical norm for those countries that would intelligently chose having a true market economy, a broad basis for prosperity and entrepreneurship, an opportunity society qua the good society.
Furthermore, the replacement of a premodern society of status for one of free contract relationships enabled human beings to take more personal responsibility for their lives and added to enlarged social mobility and widened freedom in the world. The Leftist totalitarians, with which he has, unwittingly one hopes, aligned himself, desire to re-create the premodern social status society in the false name of progress. They want, in fact, a ruling oligarchy on top ideologically and brutally dictating to the masses, which is not at all consistent with Catholic social teachings as ought to be known by the Pope.
The free-contract society of modern times, made possible by intelligently allowing the existence of free-market economics regarding the operation of economic order, usefully prevents the always scheming totalitarians from succeeding at their plans for totalist domination and oppression or, at the least, authoritarian repression/oppression of the people. If he, however, attributes economic, social and other evils to capitalism (meaning not to actual free-market economics), then he is completely accurate, of course, concerning such a proper condemnation, though this problematic interpretation, perhaps, may be yet doubtful. But, something is clear.
Doing away with needed free-market economics or entrepreneurship will not actually help the poor, just the opposite can be easily expected and predicted. Communism qua supposed collectivism, in fact, has not eradicated poverty anywhere that it has been ever tried, which significant fact ought to be known to Pope Francis. With his open attacks upon having a free economy for people, his concerns for the poor, when analyzed, are thus really utopian, not Catholic.5 One of the best means or ways of showing true solidarity with the poor is to render support for an economic system that actually offers them hope and a positive future, not the pessimistic and negative favoring of a form of zero-sum game qua collectivism.
It is doubtful that he could be so highly ignorant, especially about the past terrible doings of all the command economies of the 20th century. Of course, on the other hand, one does not suppose that any pope would come out with an endorsement of, e. g., the Austrian School of Economics; however, it might be hoped that any reasonable pontiff, knowing as he should about the documented suffering of poor people under Communist regimes, would still be somewhat skeptical to some degree about the ideologically alleged virtues of collectivism. This should be logically true, unless Pope Francis is devoted to aspects of liberation theology with its open and evil love for tyranny.
Collectivist utopianism, of which liberation theology is merely a variant, is related to neo-Pelagianism, the secularization through ideology, meaning Marxism, of the Pelagian heresy, which taught the idea that man can be perfected because the dogma of Original Sin is denied; in contrast, fallen creatures in a fallen world, acknowledged by the perennial teachings of Catholicism, are easily suitable participants within a free-market economy that does not, e. g., assume any supposed thoughts of perfectionism on earth, unlike collectivism with its necessarily allied utopianism.
The imperfect but always viable market economy, not the command economy seemingly preferred by Pope Francis, is then much more aligned with the defective realities of human life, inclusive of how Catholicism is completely compatible with the elements of entrepreneurship, not socialism by whatever euphemism. Man is not destined on earth to become, therefore, a perfected creature free of sin, regardless of how the optimistic secularist Enlightenment and then post-Enlightenment thought would so characterize human beings.
The horrific world wars and genocides of the 20th century, among other developments, had crushed forever the optimism of the 18th century Enlightenment and the hopeful 19th century with its vision of unending Progress (a God-term if there ever was one) of future peace and contentment. The nature of man, however, sides with free-market economics in terms of its acceptance of the reciprocal realities of this world of scarce resources matched with the need for applying the economic law of supply and demand.
The greed, inequality, suffering, injustice, cruelty, unfairness, and much else that the Holy Father surely objects to relates fundamentally to the actual conduct of either capitalist or communist oligarchies, the latter refers, of course, to when communist parties are running countries. None of the terrible things he mentions has anything substantially to do with the realities, not ideological stereotypes, of free-market economies if truly allowed, by the State, to function and operate as such.
Therefore, the massively pathetic ignorance of the Pontiff is obviously backed up by his manifestly uninformed bigotry and observed prejudices, not the truth. While his heart is charitably said to be in the right place, his mind remains ideologically elsewhere, meaning, apparently, somewhere on the political Left. For instance, the Social Darwinism of Manchesterian Liberalism, as depicted accurately by Charles Dickens in the character of Ebenezer Scrooge, had nothing whatsoever to do with, e. g., the then contemporary political conservatism in England.
Pope Francis, in wanting to be piously fashionable by attacking nasty things, has picked the wrong target. Equally, he ought to know that modern moral sentimentalism, applauded loudly by secularists and Leftists, is not ever to be correctly or appropriately equated with Catholicism. And, all so-called public charity ends up, sooner or later, being the disgusting immorality of merely robbing Peter to pay Paul. True social justice, furthermore, is accomplished privately by acts of compassion and good will, not through thievery/confiscatory taxation done under ideological cover of State benevolence.
The public or coercive sector, empowered ever by collectivist-inspired greed and injustice, engages in redistributionism and interventionism at the expense of the taxpayers who subsidize the taxtakers; it is, by definition, always a false/deceptive form of charity that usually, on average, makes the majority of the recipients ungrateful and, consequently, the plundered angry. The former are rarely ever fully satiated by the plunder that comes to then seem, over time, inadequate; and, the latter are typically assumed, by the Leftist ideologists and social engineers, not to be adequately taxed enough.
Only a zero-sum game, a command economy, results by which the economic pie necessarily gets smaller and smaller, generation by generation, which is, of course, always totally unlike the entrepreneurial, ever-expanding nature of a free-market economy. Thus, collectivism in the real world, eventually, must fail. In a sense, redistributionism is actually calculated to fail, as with the example of Obamacare.
It is designed to keep poor people poor for helping to maintain the powerful in their positions within a social status society. Pope Francis, on the other hand, may be suffering from some Don Quixote fever in his romantic desire to attack windmills. In any event, regardless of his intentions, the important cause of Catholicism is not truly served by the Holy Father’s seeming desire to be popular, to be a celebrated media star. He has obviously projected upon free enterprise his bad experiences with capitalism in his native Argentina and thinks that what he saw there simply, by definition, represents a universal reality.
If he is genuinely serious about helping the condition of poor people, with the basic assumption that he is honestly interested, then what is actually needed is to successfully provide increasing access and availability to more good and services for the poor; this is, of course, as to its basic accomplishment, simultaneously the increasing of the progressive and active reach of free-market economics, which, ironically, he adamantly opposes, even though a genuine market economy helps the disadvantaged.
It is the seeming and bizarre paradox that gets quickly resolved by understanding that his ideological opposition to truth is what is involved here, not the substantial ability of a true market economy to, thus, function when left free to do so by the State. The Holy Pontiff’s own absurd bigotry then creates the unfortunate economic blindness. He cannot ever see the truth that freedom is much better than economic slavery, however, because he is an ideological bigot. His public pleadings become self-serving rhetoric as he condemns a system necessarily based upon free cooperation that helps the common people versus collectivist nightmares built upon systemic fraud and force, deception and coercion.
The pontifical preference is to just slander and attack the only economic system for providing more and more goods and services to an increasing number of millions of people than has ever, in fact, been true prior to modern times, which thought, thus, substantiates his so totally invalid prejudgments on this important matter. What seems to be going, however, is how a media-star guided papacy comes to create in the mind of its holder the desire to expand the actually limited principle of papal infallibility from ethics and morals towards economics and anything else he may so have in mind.
And, this is how a cult begins to develop among his ardent admirers as a pope pontificates further and further afield. Someday, it is hoped, he will remember that he is the Holy Father, not a White House economist, and appropriately concentrate his needed critical efforts at the salvation of souls.
Ironically, Obama’s Amerika (as the Left spells it) still gets criticized by Pope Francis, a place where, from 2009 to 2011, basic income inequality had increased four times faster than under Obama’s predecessor. Those who, in positions of power, typically preach against income inequality are almost always the same ones who end up producing more of it. On the other hand, with a true free-market economy, the rapid increase in wealth that naturally occurs from crescive productivity and enterprise spreads more rapidly throughout a society, over the course of time, than has ever been true of any actual collectivist regimes in all of recorded human history, which significant fact, apparently, does not impress the Holy Father.
The substantial creation of wealth, its accumulation as a surplus that can then be spent privately, allows for an upper strata in society that can demand improved and new products that then eventually spread out over an entire population; as obvious examples, telephones, cars, televisions, refrigerators, gas ovens, etc. were once owned only by a very tiny minority of wealthy people; now, by the workings of free enterprise over time in terms of requisite wealth generation, they are amazingly possessed by many hundreds of millions upon millions of people throughout the entire world.
It is clearly demonstrated, empirically, that the highly useful generation of wealth, not the zero-sum redistribution of it, definitely raises, again and again, millions of poor people out of crushing poverty, not socialism. Productivity, the proper activation of capital, plant, equipment, and personnel, produces abundance.
The scarcity favored by collectivism and crony capitalism does not benefit poor people, the working class, or the middle class; only the political-ruling class oligarchy enjoys the always dubious benefits of supposed redistributionism done through the oddity of democratic despotism with its quite hellacious claim to populism. The bad things condemned rightly by Pope Francis are systemic to either capitalism or communism, not free-market economics when uncorrupted by State interventionism and its results.
Thus, Obama’s Amerika ought to be Pope Francis’ version of an earthly paradise, though it is known not to be. But, the ugly growth of the cult surrounding the Holy Father will insulate and isolate him, more and more, from criticism, so that he will believe strongly in the “truths” of his own pronouncements concerning free enterprise.
Papal Cults: A Modern Danger
Starting with John XXIII and as was vividly seen with the pontificate of John Paul II, there has arisen, in line with the new orthodoxy coming out of the Second Vatican Council that created the neo-Catholic movement, the rise of papal cults now plagues the Catholic and even much of the non-Catholic world. Part of the offered proof of this considered assertion concerns the dual canonizations of John XXIII and John Paul II (remember, he is called by many “the Great”) scheduled for April 2014. What is the trouble here?
The purpose of the Vicar of Christ on earth, the Bishop of Rome, is not to seek to become, directly or indirectly, a solid media personality. Why may this be said? The fairly cultic aspects of such papacies, becoming truly international sensations, are then revealed to be a true danger to religion. Dynamic personalities, getting intense press coverage, tend to skew thinking away, in their pronouncements, from the particular and constant teachings of the Church and toward the idiosyncrasies and attitudes, opinions and preferences, of the then current pontiff. What may usually happen as a result?
Loyalty to the office of the papacy and its institutional reality and meaning, which ought to be expected from all Catholics, gets unfortunately confused and confounded with how one “feels” about the man who then currently holds the hierarchical office. This is not healthy, religiously or theologically speaking, regarding always the precise theological basis and cognate significance of what so needs to be properly understood and comprehended as such. If a particular pope in public, say, would wish to pray the Our Father with his hands raised up to the sky, then, e. g., numerous neo-Catholics get the “signal” that they also should adopt the same practice, as if it were, equivalently, a new found dogma or doctrine of the Faith.
The practices or beliefs of popular popes get transmuted into becoming somehow or other “dogmatic” enough to find a general assent among those who align themselves with the cult surrounding that Holy Father. A too-often media generated popularity leads to the desire to conflate individual idiosyncrasies with essential beliefs and practices of the Faith, especially in the minds of the neo-orthodox, meaning the neo-Catholics in tune with the radical attitudes and aftermath of the Second Vatican Council.
Thus, e. g., the cult status of John Paul II seemed, in effect, to axiomatically immunize him from a great deal of valid criticism from those who wished to defend the teachings of the preconciliar Church versus the postconciliar Church. A cult is now arising, as could be guessed, among the contemporary followers of Pope Francis who, again, seek to basically accept whatever he has to say, as if it is simply equivalent to Gospel truth. However, the true nature of the hierarchical-monarchical papacy, as a consequence, gets wrongly confused. He is the religious shepherd, chief pastor, of the entire flock of Christ, not just another “democratic” cleric, among many, within the Church.
Pope Francis’ preference for command economies, therefore, is not relegated, in isolation, to the mere status of an opinion but, rather, gets powerfully transformed, especially by a favorable mass media, into becoming the seemingly official attitude of the Catholic Church, meaning, thus, a blanket opposition to all of free-market economics and its cognate implications and ramifications entire. The neo-Catholic position, as a result, then seeks to conform itself to what overtly appears to be the known papal position against entrepreneurship or free enterprise economics. Conversely, for such papal cultists, if he came out as explicitly against socialism, they would adopt the same beliefs as being orthodox.
The significant point to properly cover here is that actual religious and theological orthodoxy ought to relate appropriately to the perennial teachings, doctrines, and dogmas of the Church, which the papacy is, of course, duty bound to accept and defend and promulgate as such. What is the modern danger?
Excessive and unwarranted loyalty to a pope, his separate cult during the contemporary era of his office, can get quite wrongly conflated with requisite loyalty to one’s Catholicism, which should never be case. Furthermore, no pope is to be thought of as being free of criticism, though, these days, most criticism is usually said, by the mass media, to validly come only from the religious left, not the right. And, this adds greatly to the various and sundry peculiarities that do exist as a consequence of such absurd thinking.
On the contrary, as correctly taught by the Common Doctor, the Angelic Doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas, any Catholic, in orthodox defense of the Faith, is entitled and expected to respectfully admonish even a pope, as, e. g., St. Paul had spoken to St. Peter to rebuke him concerning the Gentiles Controversy. Furthermore, St. Catherine of Siena and St. Teresa of Avila had admonished popes during their lives. The sacred office of the papacy does not at all fully exempt it from appropriate criticism, meaning when there is the genuine need to properly and firmly reprimand, reproof, a sitting pontiff.
However, the modern and entirely distressing papal cult status acts as a kind of protective device to supposedly shield the Holy Father from criticism, as if there were a papal version of the Divine Right of Kings, which is, of course, contrary to Catholic teachings. If Pope Francis uses official statements or encyclicals to push forth his political ideas and notions, as with such an obvious attack on free-market economics/human liberty, under the ever convenient guise of religious exhortation, he is asking for trouble, not just a sympathetic hearing for those beliefs.
Human liberty is indivisible. If mankind has ever learned at least one thing of absolutely permanent significance from the 20th century, with its terribly vicious world wars, barbaric genocides, horrendous death camps, etc., it ought to surely be that human liberty is indivisible. Thus, within such a prominent context, Pope Francis is then seen to be forever manifestly and irrefutably wrong. His then unfortunate position is, therefore, morally indefensible and untenable to the nth degree.
One ought to perceive so clearly, therefore, that if a man’s economic freedom, political freedom, religious freedom, etc. is robbed from him, there can be no real guarantees whatsoever that other freedoms are then to be kept truly secure either. As with genuine constitutional governments, it takes the existence of a reciprocal civil right to make a constitutional civil liberty operational and functional, e. g., a civil liberty allowing freedom of assembly is still empirically, practically, meaningless unless it is accompanied by a civil right of freedom of association.
Otherwise, disallowing freedom of association only makes freedom of assembly a theoretical, not actual, right, as was totally true, e. g., in the Soviet Union, which was said by positivists and others to have had a rights-giving constitution. But, supposed rights fully minus the practical means of reasonable actual exercise are obviously meaningless, within the context of their theoretical perfection, having no real-world application therefore; thus, in reiteration, human liberty is indivisible. Q. E. D.
If Pope Francis had followed the advice and thinking of Pius IX, Leo XIII, Pius X, Benedict XV and other pontiffs, there would be no need to admonish him concerning his rather unfortunate aberrant beliefs that are, sadly, more in line with liberation theology and not according to the teachings of the Church. Thus, pronouncements against free-market economics has nothing to do with promotion of the Catholic Faith in terms of what the papacy is supposed to be about, especially regarding the advancement of the cause of Catholicism qua true belief, not the Pope’s internet or media presence.
A Catholic Case for Free-Market Economics
Therefore, free-market economics, since it holds force and fraud to be illegal and contrary to a true market-based economy, is consistent with Catholicism as regards the economic realities of human life and existence; it is, of course, never to be absurdly thought of as some sort of odd rival or alternative theology.
Its concerns are with matters pertaining to this world, and it is only a neutral mechanism; human free will is, thus, required for its operation by which good can be chosen against evil, as to the economic decisions made; and, Catholicism, moreover, ought to be appropriately exercised for all decisions, economic and otherwise, which includes abundant appeals for the increase of private charity and ongoing concern and compassion for the poor.
Everything pertaining to this fallen world of fallen creatures ought, as the Church teaches, to be kept within its proper limits, which is, certainly, forever untrue of the forever demonic and expansionist aspirations of the blatant utopianism seen in collectivism. Entrepreneurship, when held true to its inclinations and operations free of oppressive State interventionism/regulationism, can never enslave people, unlike what is so evidently true of communism or its various substitutes.
When the economic pie is allowed to freely grow, everybody, not just government technocrats and bureaucrats as under a collectivist system of a command economy, benefits. Moreover, the standard of living of consumers, including the poor, improves more and more, unlike want systematically happens under all statist-dominated systems, as witness the massive power failures in communist Venezuela.
While capitalism and communism definitely have blood on their hands, the same can never be said of the mere practice of free-market economics when kept within legal, ethical and moral restraints, which are needed for its correct and sound operation and functioning. Capitalism and communism, however, know no true legal, ethical, or moral restraints, which ought, at a bare minimum, to suggest the many superiorities of a free-market economy for sustaining a free people in freedom versus tyranny, meaning in strong defense of the former with its general sense of reasonable hope, rational optimism, and open opportunity for many millions of people.
The noble and positive pursuits of private charity, benevolence, munificence, and magnanimity are, moreover, not to be ever held in any conflict with free-market economics; the same cannot be said, one can easily guess, of the evil goals of totalitarianism, of a thoroughgoing police state. A free people under God, if capitalism can be properly avoided, are much less likely to ever pursue the many known evils of collectivism that do axiomatically exist, by definition, within a command economy, as is favored by crony capitalism. In any event, it can, also, be added that Catholicism opposes tyranny, not just capitalism (meaning as it is defined in this article).
Good reading, attesting to these and cognate assertions, would surely include: Samuel Gregg’s Tea Party Catholic: The Catholic Case for Limited Government, a Free Economy, and Human Flourishing, Fr. Robert A. Sirico’s Defending the Free Market: The Moral Case for a Free Economy, and Thomas E. Woods, Jr.’s The Church and the Market: A Catholic Defense of the Free Economy, which all do much further and significantly substantiate and extrapolate, demonstrate and expostulate, the forceful contentions that were made briefly in this present article.
While such a recent book as Christopher A. Ferrara’s The Church and the Libertarian correctly condemns libertarianism for the nihilistic ideology that it is, however, he commits the old error of wanting to throw the baby out with the bath water. Moreover, compared to the vast bulk of professional economists, only a relatively infinitesimal number are Austrian School economists; and, extremely few people, among the academic community and general public, even know of its existence. The Austrian School thinking is not a prescriptive code of morals or compilation of religious precepts.
Ferrara’s volume is the result of a personal vendetta or feud with Thomas E. Woods, Jr., which is an unseemly affair not worthy of this public exhibitionism. The support for a free economic system is not equivalent to the notion that people must think and act like good Manchesterian liberals of the 19th century. So-called cutthroat competition need not be endorsed as the moral standard of conduct. Equally, workers, in terms of rational morality, do not ever owe their lives, health, or safety to their employers; this is now, after all, the 21st century. No committed and believing Catholic advocates an economy of Social Darwinian proportions, a kind of economic jungle with creatures bloody in tooth and claw, contrary to Ferrara’s absurdities. Nor support for Manchesterian liberalism.
A truly humane economy, therefore, can exist today with rules, laws, and a sense of order that does not exclude, in any way whatsoever, notions of solidarity, subsidiarity, and social justice; none are, in short, incompatible with economic liberty within a free society, contrary to the negative, anti-free market beliefs of Ferrara. He sets up an argumentative straw man for knocking down and assumes, of course, that the putative argument gets fully proved as a result. Confiscatory taxation, however, has done much more to actually destroy private charitable impulses than has, for instance, the mere creation of wealth.
Collectivist or socialist systems have and do still, in fact, exist that have and will terrorize, oppress, butcher, and subjugate millions of human beings; the same, however, cannot be ever said about the Austrian School of Economics. Ferrara absurdly uses the proverbial sledge hammer for his effort to kill a flea; the argumentation, as could be guessed, is then entirely disproportionate to any conceivable threat within the real world, which makes his book essentially farcical in nature as an excessive diatribe against the Austrian School and free-market economics in general. Catholicism, it should be known, is not ever meant to become a fetish of intellectual dispute concerning economics or anything else.
The Catholic Faith, therefore, should have no real affinity whatsoever for any command economies where the people, especially the poorest, are exploited by the ruling oligarchy, whether capitalist or communist, meaning the corrupt political-ruling class. Thus, Catholicism, directly contrary to Pope Francis, can fairly coexist reasonably within a free-enterprise economy where the people, including the poor and working class, can both genuinely and substantially experience an improved standard of living, as well as needed political and economic freedom to live.
There can be no real economic perfection on earth, only the chance for allowing for the existence of a humane economy, which is to be completely denied to the poorest of the poor by the Holy Father, their assumed champion. He wrongly wants to deny to them the only economic system, historically speaking, that can genuinely help them and their children’s children as well.
Athanasius contra mundum!
2. http://spectator.org/blog/56873/francis-occupy-pope 11/26/13. See also: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/12/04/pope-francis-is-catholic-churchs-obama-god-help-us/
3. The Austrian School of Economics best defines and defends the thinking about and nature of free-market economics should the reader be interested in further research upon this matter. In any event, the world will never ever be terrorized by the Austrian School of Economics, unlike collectivism and its results.
4. For easy confirmation of this fact, one can consult: http://www.acton.org
5. For instance, see: Thomas Molnar’s Utopia, the Perennial Heresy.
Alejandro Chafuen, Faith and Liberty: The Economics of the Late Scholastics, 2003.
Christopher A. Ferrara, The Church and the Libertarian: A Defense of the Catholic Church’s Teaching on Man, Economy, and State, 2010.
Samuel Gregg, Tea Party Catholic: The Catholic Case for Limited Government, a Free Economy, and Human Flourishing, 2013.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism, 1982.
Fr. Robert A. Sirico, Defending the Free Market: The Moral Case for a Free Economy, 2012.
Thomas E. Woods, Jr., The Church and the Market: A Catholic Defense of the Free Economy, 2005.