People keep saying Pope Francis is a Communist. I'm Catholic and decidedly not a Communist, so I don't want to believe them.
Then he says shit like this:
"I can only say that the communists have stolen our flag. The flag of the poor is Christian. Poverty is at the center of the Gospel," he said, citing Biblical passages about the need to help the poor, the sick and the needy.
"Communists say that all this is communism. Sure, twenty centuries later. So when they speak, one can say to them: 'but then you are Christian,'" he said, laughing.
Hahaha! Christianity and Communism are the same thing! It's hilarious!
Except they're not, and it's not.
It's so, so not.
How could a Pope say something like that? It bothers me on levels I didn't even know were there.
Does this man not understand the difference between private charity and confiscatory taxation? He has vociferously condemned "unbridled capitalism" - as if we have that anywhere - but not the unbridled state, which is the actual problem.
Does he really think people in third world countries are poor because of free market capitalism? I hate to disappoint the man, but it's the opposite of capitalism that is to blame, and the lack of a free market - everywhere - that is the problem.
Liberty is not the problem.
I know your typing fingers itch to tell me how Pope Francis himself stated unequivocally that he is not a Marxist. And that's fine. But then there's the Evangelii Gaudium:
While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control...
I encourage financial experts and political leaders to ponder the words of one of the sages of antiquity [St. John Chrysostom]: “Not to share one’s wealth with the poor is to steal from them and to take away their livelihood. It is not our own goods which we hold, but theirs.”
I get the uneasy feeling that Pope Francis loves the poor so much he wants them to stay poor.
Free-market capitalist Catholic writer Thomas E. Woods, Jr. said this on his blog:
When I noted on Facebook that I was going to discuss the Pope’s attacks on markets, I was told by at least one person that this was the media’s misleading spin on the Pope’s views. But read the document for yourself. He is indeed criticizing markets. I did not make this up.
I could have written that. I have posted several times on Facebook about the Pope's troubling anti-capitalist views, and every time I do, I receive a bevy of comments from disgruntled Catholics claiming anti-Papist bias in the media. Very few of them get around to accepting or addressing what the Pope actually freaking said.
Woods devoted an entire episode of his podcast to Pope Francis and capitalism, and I highly recommend you listen.
Towards the beginning of the podcast, Woods says matter-of-factly, "Pope Francis is a left liberal." He also says, "You don't have to get a lobotomy to be a Catholic."
There is certainly a lot to admire about Pope Francis. His personal commitment to the poor, to living a Christ-like life, is commendable and even inspiring. But his failure to understand the difference between a personal commitment and a state mandate is troubling, to say the least.
To live St. John Chrysostom's words, to accept that all you own belongs to the poor, is a beautiful personal choice a Christian can make. To have that "choice" forced on you by an all-powerful state is the opposite of beautiful. It is, in fact, the opposite of Christianity. Virtue isn't virtue if you have no choice. If it were, God wouldn't have given us free will. It is the choice to be a Christian that matters.
Please remember that the Pope's infallibility does not apply to everything, or even to most things. You do not have to believe him when he says capitalism is bad for the poor, and I would recommend you didn't, because he's super duper wrong.
Free markets are the only hope for the poor of the world.
I will continue to be critical of Pope Francis because I believe his adherence to anti-market economic policies is antithetical to Christianity, and that the spread of these ideas will result in more suffering for the poor he loves and sincerely wants to help.
For those who think all this stuff about the Pope being a redistributionist is a bunch of hooey, read Evangelii Gaudium and get it straight from the holy horse's mouth.
"I think this document is a source of tremendous scandal and can do tremendous damage," said Woods. He reminds the listener, at the end of his podcast, of St. Thomas Aquinas's admonition to the layman to correct his prelate if doing so can prevent scandal.
We all need to correct Pope Francis, for the good of the poor, the Church, and the world.