The Pope's Bad Grasp of Basic Economics

Where are his priorities?

What is the worst problem in the world today? Might it be war, starvation, genocide, sectarian violence, murder, slaughter of babies in the womb? Any of these would be a rational answer. But when Pope Francis was asked this question recently, he replied, "Youth unemployment."

To be sure, youth unemployment is a serious problem. In some parts of the United States, the richest country in the world, it has reached 25 percent. These are people who are no longer in school full time and are not yet 30 years of age. It is a problem for them and their families, for their communities, and for the welfare states that are supporting them. But is it the worst problem in the world? Is it a problem for the Roman Catholic Church? And is it something the Pope is competent to comment upon or to resolve?

The Pope's youth unemployment comments recently were removed from the Vatican's website. No sooner had that been done than the Holy Father issued his first encyclical: a formal papal teaching, as opposed to his now famous impromptu back-of-the-plane yet on-the-record comments.

His encyclical is about economics, and it reveals a disturbing ignorance. I say this with deference and respect. I also say this as a traditionalist Roman Catholic who laments the post-Vatican II watering down of sacred traditions, lessening of moral teaching and trivialization of liturgical practices. But I also say this as a firm believer that Pope Francis is the Vicar of Christ on Earth and, as such, personifies the teaching authority of the Church. He is morally and juridically capable of speaking ex cathedra -- that is, infallibly -- but only after surveying and distilling traditional Church teachings and only on matters affecting faith and morals.

Thank God, so to speak, that his teaching authority is limited to faith and morals, because in matters of economics, he is wide of the mark.

His encyclical, entitled "Joy of the Gospel," attacks free market capitalism because it takes too long for the poor to get rich. "They are still waiting," the Pope wrote. Well, without capitalism, which rewards hard work and sacrifice, they will wait forever. No economic system in history has alleviated more poverty, generated more opportunity and had more formerly poor people become rich than capitalism. And the essence of capitalism goes to the core of Catholic teaching: the personal freedom of every person. Capitalism is freedom to risk, freedom to work, freedom to save, freedom to retain the fruits of one's labors, freedom to own property and freedom to give to charity.

The problem with modern capitalism—a problem that escaped the scrutiny of His Holiness—is not too much freedom, but too little. The regulation of free markets by governments, the control of the private means of production by government bureaucrats, and the unholy alliances between governments, banks and industry have raised production costs, stifled competition, established barriers to entry into markets, raised taxes, devalued savings and priced many poor out of the labor force. The Pope would do well to pray for those who have used government to steal freedom so as to satisfy their lust for power, and for those who have bowed to government so as to become rich from governmental benefits and not by the fruits of their own labors.

Traditional Catholic social teaching imposes on all of us a moral obligation to become our brothers' keepers. But this is a personal moral obligation, enforced by conscience and Church teaching and the fires of Hell—not by the coercive powers of the government. Charity comes from the heart. It consists of freely giving away one's wealth. It is impossible to be charitable with someone else's money. That's theft, not charity.

If you give until it hurts, freely and out of love, and seek nothing temporal in return, you have built up treasure in Heaven. But if the government takes from you and redistributes your wealth to those whom the government has decided to benefit—rich and poor alike—what merit is there in that for you? If you give a poor person a fish to eat, in a day, he'll be hungry. If you show him how to catch fish and teach him how to acquire the tools needed to do so, he can become self-sufficient and perhaps one day rich enough to help others. If the government takes money from you to buy the person a fish, half of the money will be wasted.

The Pope seems to prefer common ownership of the means of production, which is Marxist, or private ownership and government control, which is fascist, or government ownership and government control, which is socialist. All of those failed systems lead to ashes, not wealth. Pope Francis must know this. He must also know that when Europe was in turmoil in 1931, his predecessor Pius XI wrote in one of his encyclicals: "(N)o one can be at the same time a sincere Catholic and a true Socialist."

The Church does not teach just for today, but for the life of man on Earth. That's why the essence of the Papacy is not contemporary problem solving, but preservation of truth and continuity of tradition. For this reason, Popes do not lightly contradict their predecessors. If it was sacred then, it is sacred now.

Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, recently discovered serious structural problems with St. Patrick's Cathedral that will cost $200 million to repair. He will soon have that bill paid. Where did that money come from? It came from the disposable income of rich Catholic capitalists. Who will benefit from this? The blue-collar workers whom the restoration project is employing now have jobs, and everyone—rich and poor—who attends Mass at the refurbished St. Patrick's will do so in comfort and beauty.

What shall we do about the Pope and economics? We should pray for his faith and understanding and for a return to orthodoxy. That means Holy Mother Church under the Vicar of Christ—saving souls, not pocketbooks.

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    If you give until it hurts, freely and out of love, and seek nothing temporal in return, you have built up treasure in Heaven. But if the government takes from you and redistributes your wealth to those whom the government has decided to benefit—rich and poor alike—what merit is there in that for you?

    That's why it's a sin to complain about taxation. That's why you are going to hell, or at least purgatory, any time you lament social programs, no matter how wasteful you think. Jesus Himself commanded you to render unto Caesar all that the government sees fit to take at swordpoint because it knows better (or something like that, it's somewhere in the back of Bible, you can look it up).

    Where was I? Oh yes, you elect a pope from the Southern Hemisphere and this is what you get. Take the bad with the good.

  • Number 2||

    Actually, I defy the pope to cite me one passage in the Gospel -- just one -- in which Christ called upon his followers to use the power of government to seize property from others, against their will, to redistribute it to the "poor."

    In point of fact, Christ not only called for voluntary sacrifice, He also demanded that the poor themselves likewise sacrifice. He taught that if all you own in the world is a worn coat, you were to give that coat to someone else in need. That hardly sounds like the modern Welfare State to me.

  • sarcasmic||

    You don't understand. Government is us. We are government. So when government redistributes wealth, it's us redistributing our own wealth. Since government is us and we are government, nothing government does is coercive. How can you coerce yourself? You can't.

    Now corporations on the other hand, they are the ones who use force. When people voluntarily purchase goods and services or voluntarily produce those goods and services, they are being coerced. Sure, what they do is voluntary, but it's really coerced.

    See? When government uses coercion it's voluntary. And when you voluntarily interact with a corporation it's coercion.

    Black is white, up is down, left is right...

  • ||

    War is peace, freedom is slavery, and ignorance is strength.

  • KalkiDas||

    That's great. Thank you for making me laugh!

  • Doctor Whom||

    It's the part of the Gospel in which Christ says to Pilate, "My kingdom is very much of this world." See also the passage from Romans that says that only those powers that engage in extensive wealth redistribution are ordained of God.

  • Mike M.||

    You would also think that the Pope of all people would know that Jesus said that the poor would always be with us.

  • mtrueman||

    "cite me one passage in the Gospel"

    Render unto Caesar, in most of the gospels, shows Jesus not opposing the taxes imposed on the Jews by the Romans.

    There are other parts of the bible where Jesus shows a lack of interest in the accumulation of wealth. He asks his followers to give away all their possessions, and indeed his followers held all property in common, sharing with those who had need.

  • ||

    "He asks his followers to give away all their possessions, and indeed his followers held all property in common, sharing with those who had need."

    That's actually not un-libertarian, since the said sharing of common property was completely voluntary. The "render unto Caesar" part is however. Moreover, the God of the old testament, which Jesus claims to be, is very clearly not a libertarian.

  • mtrueman||

    "That's actually not un-libertarian"

    Maybe, but there's a big difference between being 'libertarian' and 'not un-libertarian.' Libertarians believe in markets, and holding property in common is not a market solution. Capitalists also believe in that the accumulation of wealth is a good thing. That also runs contrary to most of the gospel teachings.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Corporate property isnt owned individually, its voluntary collectivis. The reason foundation's money is corporately, ie collectively owned. Monasteries got the concrpt early on - some of them had commercial relations with the outside world. Some still do. Caskets ring a bell?

  • mtrueman||

    "Some still do."

    We were actually discussing scripture not the church's notion of property. The church sold indulgences too. It wasn't only Luther who opposed these practices, you can read the book The Name of the Rose which is set in times when there were factions of monks who emphasized Christ's poverty and opposed the church's accumulation of secular wealth doing battle with those who had no problem with monasteries getting rich.

  • Brian||

    mtrueman:

    Libertarians believe in markets, and holding property in common is not a market solution.

    I believe in hammers. That doesn't mean I believe that everything's a nail.

  • mtrueman||

    "I believe in hammers. That doesn't mean I believe that everything's a nail."

    Rather vacuous. I doubt any believer in hammers also believes that everything's a nail. Your belief that not everything's a nail doesn't say anything interesting or illuminating about yourself.

  • Brian||

    mtrueman:

    Rather vacuous.

    And, by the same argument:

    Libertarians believe in markets, and holding property in common is not a market solution.

    Rather vacuous.

    Hey, you said it. Not me.

  • mtrueman||

    Libertarians stress markets and Christians stress charity. That's not vacuous, it's a reflection of the core of their beliefs. If you believe otherwise, then tell me. Otherwise you offer nothing of interest.

    Christ was a moocher.
    http://mtrueman.blogspot.mx/20.....er_29.html

    Your trying to paint Christ as some free marketer entrepreneur. Nothing could be further from the truth.

  • Brian||

    mtrueman:

    Libertarians stress markets and Christians stress charity. That's not vacuous, it's a reflection of the core of their beliefs. If you believe otherwise, then tell me.

    Libertarianism (Latin: liber, "free")[1] is a set of related political philosophies that uphold liberty as the highest political end.[2][3] This includes emphasis on the primacy of individual liberty,[4][5] political freedom, and voluntary association.

    Freedom of association is a term popular in libertarian literature. It is used to describe the concept of absolute freedom to live in a community or be part of an organization whose values or culture are closely related to one's preferences; or, on a more basic level, to associate with any individual one chooses.

    Libertarianism != markets. Your argument is like saying Christians stress charity. freedom of association != charity. therefore freedom of association isn't in accordance with Christian philosophy.

  • mtrueman||

    Firstly, I'm not the one to drag free markets into the discussion. That would be the author of the piece.

    I'm not sure I follow you. You seem to be saying that the concept of freedom of association in accord with Christianity. I'm not sure that it is, really and if it were, it wouldn't matter much anyway.

    Is there any scripture on the subject of freedom of association? I'm not aware of it if there is, but believe me, I'm no biblical scholar. As a practical matter of day to day running of the church over centuries, one hardly gets the impression that those who ran the thing cared a fig for freedom of association. Indians in the Americas were forcedly baptised en masse to join the church. Minors as young as six are routinely indoctrinated in church teachings and some religions mutilate the genitals of non consenting infants as an initiation rite of passage into the religion. Don't talk to me about freedom of association.

  • Brian||

    mtrueman:

    I'm not sure I follow you. You seem to be saying that the concept of freedom of association in accord with Christianity.

    No, that would be the fallacy fallacy: a fallacious argument doesn't imply that it's conclusion is false. It just means that establishing the conclusion can't be done by the argument.

    For example, free association and Christianity. Earlier, you said that "Libertarians stress markets and Christians stress charity." When you were explaining why freedom of association wasn't a Christian virtue, do you see that Christian charity didn't come up in your argument? Whether or not freedom of association is or is not charity had nothing to do with it.

    Similarly, what do free market tests have to do with whether or not a group of people voluntarily deciding to share property is in accordance with libertarian principles? People having the freedom to make their own arrangements is in accordance with libertarian principles. Having a market test for everything libertarian is like having a charity test for everything Christian.

  • mtrueman||

    "Similarly, what do free market tests have to do with whether or not a group of people voluntarily deciding to share property is in accordance with libertarian principles?"

    Again, I'm not the one you should be asking. I suggest you consult Hayek who made a career out of his advocacy of free markets. Ask some of the posters here. The Reason website wants me to give them some money. A pop-up ad appears - the words, and they are essentially the only words, "free markets, free minds" appear. I am surprised you have not come across the association of libertarianism and free markets before. As I said, the judge feels it necessary to bring up the subject of free markets right in this article we're trying to discuss.

    I really don't understand the point you are trying to make about free association and christianity. Sorry to be so dense about it.

  • Brian||

    mtrueman:

    I am surprised you have not come across the association of libertarianism and free markets before. As I said, the judge feels it necessary to bring up the subject of free markets right in this article we're trying to discuss.

    Yeah, I get it. Libertarians do favor free markets, but that doesn't mean that libertarianism is all about turning everything into a market. So, people sharing property in common, and not coming up with some reason to start exchanging it in a market, is niether anti-market or anti-libertarian.

    You're talking as if you all you know about libertarians is that they like free markets, and that's all they like, and have no opinion on anything else.

    For example: common property. Free people can decide to share property. That's not a market. That doesn't mean it's against libertarian principles.

    For example: people can dance. Dancing isn't a market. Does that imply that dancing is not libertarian? Most libertarians would say that you're free to dance if you want to.

    As far as free association goes, I've brought it up as an example of a bad argument.

    "Libertarianism != markets. Your argument is like saying Christians stress charity. freedom of association != charity. therefore freedom of association isn't in accordance with Christian philosophy." Whether or not free association is in accordance with Christianity has nothing to do with whether or not a hand-picked principle like charity supports it or not. Sorry.

  • mtrueman||

    "You're talking as if you all you know about libertarians is that they like free markets, and that's all they like, and have no opinion on anything else."

    I don't mean to give that impression. And I take your point. And thank you for the civil nature of your arguments. I was only trying to point out the central role markets play in most libertarian thinkers I've come across, including the writer of this article, and the editors of Reason and the commenters here. I stated before that being libertarian doesn't preclude a charitable disposition, but I simply can't imagine a libertarian who doesn't advocate markets and privatization as a key solution to how society distributes its wealth. If you can point to articles here advocating commonly owned property as a preferred alternative to the market, I'd really like to see. That seems to go against the grain of this magazine if not libertarianism as you and I might define it.

  • Juice||

    The Render unto Caesar passage is NOT telling all people to pay all taxes demanded. Its purpose was to show the Pharisees to be hypocrites, that they really worshiped Caesar and not God.

  • mtrueman||

    "The Render unto Caesar passage is NOT telling all people to pay all taxes demanded"

    Read what I wrote again. Carefully. You will agree with me. Jesus was given the chance to denounce the tax, and he declined. I never claimed that Jesus was telling people to pay all taxes demanded of them. He was far too slippery to get caught like that.

    I agree with you about the hypocracy of the pharisees, but there is a broader interpretation - there is a secular world and there is a spiritual world. They are separate and the spiritual world is more important.

  • Juice||

    Well, the request was for one passage where Jesus advocates taxing people and distributing it to the poor. The render unto Caesar passage isn't that.

  • mtrueman||

    "The render unto Caesar passage isn't that."

    I never claimed it was. I pointed out that Jesus was given the opportunity to denounce taxation and he declined. As to distributing money to the poor, he advocated this repeatedly. The notion that he would oppose distributing money to the poor is proundly anti-christian.

  • DarrenM||

    Well, the request was for one passage where Jesus advocates taxing people and distributing it to the poor.

    What did that passage have to do with redistributing anything to the poor?

  • mtrueman||

    "What did that passage have to do with redistributing anything to the poor?"

    What a perceptive question! I'm glad you asked. The redistribution to the poor is implicit. Remember, these are Roman taxes we're are talking about, and some of it will go to pay for bread and circuses, or caesarfare, as they called it in those days.

  • Stevo Darkly||

    The "render unto Caesar" passage is at once a great evasion, a great revelation and a great invitation.

    The Pharisees were trying to trick Jesus into either supporting the tax (unpopular with the conquered peoples of Palestine) or speaking against it (treason against the Romans).

    "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's; render unto God what is God's" is an evasion that means more than it says. It implicitly raises the question, "What actually is Caesar's?" People will interpret that response according to their own assumptions.

    The evasion also invites everyone to question those assumptions.

    With regard to giving to the poor: Is giving charity to the poor a duty to the state, or is it a duty to God? To whom do you ultimately owe everything you have, the state, or God?

    The statist will assume the former, the godly will assume the latter.

    Unfortunately, it does seem that this pope (whom I rather like overall) is pretty ignorant of free-market economics and its blessings. I think that's because his personal exposure to "capitalism" is to the type that is too common in Latin American. And I'm afraid a lot of Pope Francis' pronouncements on economics are like relationship advice from someone who was raised in a strip club. A government-run strip club, at that.

  • mtrueman||

    "Unfortunately, it does seem that this pope (whom I rather like overall) is pretty ignorant of free-market economics and its blessings."

    You may be correct, but I think it dubious to underestimate the wit and gravity of the man who got himself elected as pope. I don't think that's going to help your approach to this issue. Too bad coz I like the things you were saying about the render scripture. It, the verse, certainly packs a punch.

    I think you are way off at the end. The Catholic Church has nothing to thank capitalism for. The accumulation of wealth is not an appropriate goal for the church, unless it is a calvinist church where the accumulation of wealth is a way to glorify god. But that's not Catholicism and that's not gospel. I repeat an earlier comment:


    "No economic system in history has alleviated more poverty, generated more opportunity and had more formerly poor people become rich than capitalism."

    This is missing the point. Christianity is not about alleviating poverty or creating opportunity or making lots of people rich. Rather, it's about storing up treasures in heaven. The bible again and again teaches people to give away their property. In fact the accumulation of property is seen as a impediment to achieving what must be the ultimate goal in Christianity, an eternity in heaven. " It is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God."

  • Ann N||

    'cite me one passage'

    he wasnt asking for a verse that guided an individuals REACTION to taxation.

    he was asking for a verse that justified disciples to coerce others into giving them something for nothing.

    there is no such justification given by jesus to anyone. if he is the king of kings, then he has the moral right or rulership. why isnt he coercing ppl as a basic virtue he is properly due?

    the idea christianity is even remotely connected to coercion, of any type, is incredibly ignorant.

    salvation occurs at individual level, beyond the choice of other actors. god NEVER forces you to be good. its always by invitation, and reconciliation is on your terms, or not at all.

    implying there is any parallel between christian philosophy and the initiation of force is absurd.

    the golden rule and the NAP are ideologically in the same family. they are both mixtures of reciprocity and respecting others needs/wants.

    the fact jesus is never recorded JUSTIFYING coercion should be properly noted.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    "Rational?" The guy has been celibate since 1969 and you expect him to be rational? Would you be?

  • KPres||

    Good point. Miserable people see misery all around them.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Yeah, the pope looks real miserable. Is marriage the only source of happiness? That's romantic, but its not true.

  • Brian||

    The guy has been celibate since 1969...

    That's what she says.

  • cavalier973||

    The pope apparently thinks that if there are more poor people, then his Church's ranks will swell. That's the only reason I can think of for his advocating economic programs that have been so thoroughly debunked and criticizing the one institution that actually creates wealth.

    We need to vet our popes better.

  • ||

    We?

    The pope is vetted by guys whose only desire is to further the interests of the church.

  • Number 2||

    And we know that there was far greater wealth and equality in the pre-capitalist Medieval world in which the Church was the dominant institution. Poor people, for whom life was nasty, brutish and short, became rich much faster back then, right?

    Just ask the Borgia and Medici popes about the evils of capitalism.

  • Doctor Whom||

    Actually, it's just a myth that poor people ever become rich. A progressive told me so.

  • KPres||

    There's a difference between income movement and income mobility. In a just world, there wouldn't be much income movement, because the good people would already rich, and the bad people would already poor. Of course there'd still plenty of income mobility should anybody change their ways.

    So tell your progressive friends that if poor people never become rich that could very well be a sign that we live in a just society.

    Then enjoy their raging.

  • ThomasD||

    That's just really piss poor history.

    Firstly it entirely ignores what was going on in the eastern remnant of the Roman Empire to focus solely on western Europe.

    And even in the west it fails to acknowledge the role of the Church in bridging the gap between the collapse of Rome and the Renaissance. It may be something of a simplification but in the west no monasticism would mean no, or very delayed scholasticism.

    The implication that the Borgias, much less any Florentine (or Venetian) trading houses were capitalists, much less free marketeers, is simply icing on the cake of ignorance.

  • KPres||

    Religion is perfectly rational to anybody with more than a cursory understanding of it. That apparently doesn't include the pope.

  • Juice||

    Religion is perfectly rational to anybody with more than a cursory understanding of it.

    Yeah, I don't see how. It may SEEM rational to the practitioner, but it clearly can't be.

  • cavalier973||

    Religion may SEEM irrational to the non-practitioner, but it clearly can't be.

    Your turn.

  • Juice||

    It's demonstrably irrational to believe in something for which there is no evidence.

  • Ann N||

    you mean like a chain letter?

    those things must wreak havoc on someone who is Obsessive/compulsive.

    conceptually religion is very similar.

    so is running from a pack of wolves at night. 1 mode of perception (sight) does not provide any evidence, while another modality (sound) tells you they are howling right behind you.

    if a tree falls in the forest does it make a sound?

    before the advent of measuring and recording sound, perception and reality of sounds was ambiguous where one ended and one began.

    the fact we havent measured 'spiritual energy' thru technological means does not mean it doesnt exist.

    before sound recorders how do you prove something makes a sound?

    once the sound is made its gone forever and is only in mind of observer, exactly where believers' store 'spiritual experiences'.

    your demand of evidence is a slap in the face of millions of ppl who got on their knees and experienced 'communication with god'.

  • Ann N||

    evidence is dependent on recording equipment. before sound recording, the only record we had of sound was the human vessel, which is where spiritual evidence currently lays.

    until man maps all of reality he is in no position to refute literally billions of claims of divine communion.

    before sound recording we take a historians account of a delivered political speech as accurate, yet we cant independently verify any of it. and so it is with the bible, its a bunch of words representing events in a modality we have no recording instruments (beyond the human 'heart') to verify any of it.

    the recklessness of science in 'taking their word for it' is staggering (when it comes to science and politics). when it comes to issues with moral significance they become existentialists who ponder if we are in "The Matrix". this is an inconsistent application of scrutiny. one questions fabric of reality and the other takes reporters on blind faith.

    Its why we, as a PC society, are 'certain' there is global warming, but could never know if cheating on your wife with a gay lover is wrong.

    IMO the reason for the inconsistency in scrutiny is very basic. its harder to be moral than hedonistic and its very alarming to be told your actions are evil. all other emotional gambits to justify atheism are excuses.

    atheism can have no emotional motives. atheism's implications are nothing more than the silence of the grave. nothingness.

  • cavalier973||

  • cavalier973||

    Socialism offered itself as the solution for the ills of society; it is no exaggeration to say that in Rerum Novarum Leo looks upon this offer with withering disdain. Of the socialist program, he says that it “is so unsuited for terminating the conflict that it actually injures the workers themselves.” (#8) Socialism does this, the pope argues, because it violates the right of people to direct their own lives and to improve their lot, and because it violates the right of man “to possess things privately as his own.” (#9 and #10)
  • cavalier973||

    Likewise, Rerum Novarum renounces any form of coercive egalitarianism and asserts: “There are truly very great and very many natural differences among men. Neither the talents, nor the skill, nor the health, nor the capacities of all are the same, and unequal fortune follows of itself upon the necessary inequality in respect to these endowments.” (#26)

    So, in your face, Francis

  • ||

    "This last factor, especially the attack on the church’s property, is what led Leo into his defense of private property..."

    I wonder if the implications of what the nitwit Francis had to say will sink in the hard way. The RCC owns about 177 million acres of land and vast amounts of wealth in addition to that.

  • CatoTheElder||

    Church property is not as threatened by Francis' economic vision as you might think.

    The Argentine and Venezuelan governments have experienced some difficulties, but I haven't read anything about their seizing Church assets. The problem is that after modern socialists have wrecked the economy, impoverished the wealthy, and killed the entrepreneural spirit, to whom can it sell those assets?

    If one thing was learned from 20th century communism, it is that the State's interests are better served by co-opting religion rather than crushing it.

  • Vincent Milburn||

    So true. Remove the profit motive and the God motive and how do you expect to motivate millions of people?

  • mtrueman||

    "the State's interests are better served by co-opting religion rather than crushing it"

    The interesting corollary, and it goes back way before the 20th century, is that religions are better served by an antagonistic relation to the state than a friendly one. Modern Israel is a socialist state, even a self described Jewish state, but atheism is stronger there than any other nation on earth.

  • KPres||

    That's exactly what happens in capitalism.

    Producers make things according to their abilities, and sell them to consumers according to their needs.

  • KPres||

    That isn't Marxism. Marxism is a contorted justification for theft born out of class envy engineered by the intelligentsia who hopes to displace capitalists as the ruling class.

  • sarcasmic||

    He's got the straw man on the ropes! If you leave him alone he might finish it off!

  • sarcasmic||

    So says the guy who aptly named himself after shit in tangled pubic hair.

  • SugarFree||

    Please don't feed the troll, KPres. Our troll is already so very fat.

  • Juice||

    All authoritarians say please.

  • ThomasD||

    It 'happens in capitalism' because capitalism is a Marxist term.

    Had Marx made his dictum a personal, moral imperative he'd have been talking like Jesus, absent the I am my Father's son bit.

    But that wasn't what he wanted, and it sure as Hell isn't what Engels wanted.

  • ThomasD||

    And had Marx stopped right there he might have been ok. Had he taken a different turn and made his dictum a personal creed he would have been succeeding in nothing more than recapitulating scripture unmoored from the authority of a deity.

    But that was his problem in a nutshell, he knew that absent such a moral authority he'd need to find an alternative, hence the -materialist- collective.

  • Rich||

    Well, to be fair, Pope Francis may simply be making a plea for more youth to enter the priesthood.

  • CatoTheElder||

    That may be one reason, but I think it is because Pope Francis loves the poor, and truly believes Jesus' beatitude, "Blessed are the poor."

    The Holy Father wants everybody to experience the blessings of poverty, and advocates policies that will ensure that result.

  • Juice||

    Or for the priesthood to enter more youth.

  • LibertyMark||

    Well played, Juice.

  • woodNfish||

    I told my wife 3 weeks ago that the pope is a communist after reading of his "back of the plane" comments. It is not surprising if ou look at his history - he's a Jesuit. Jesuits and their social justice activism are responsible for much of the communist fronts in South and Latin America. And he is from Argentina a fascist country with a long history of socialism.

    Now 3 weeks later I am beginning to read the rumbles of revelation that I already know. You folks are so 3 weeks ago.

  • Danno||

    This is why America used to never elect a Catholic President until Kennedy.

  • Danno||

    Wherever there are massive atrocities you will find a dictator with a representative of the Roman Catholic Church.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    1979s Cambodia?

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    1970s

  • mtrueman||

    Pol Pot had very cordial relations to the crown, and Funcinpec, the royalist party, always had the closest relations with the communinists. Relations with organized religions, especially Buddhists, were not so close, but not nearly so antagonistic as the communist's dealings with the urban bourgeousie. The religious organization that suffered the most were the muslims. But that is probably due to the fact that most muslims were urban merchants. Most Buddhists, on the other hand, were ignorant farmers.

  • PS||

    Economics isn't the only thing the pope lacks a grasp of. The basic tenets of Christianity itself seems to elude the Holy See.

  • ||

    The Pope seems to prefer common ownership of the means of production, which is Marxist, or private ownership and government control, which is fascist, or government ownership and government control, which is socialist.

    Cue Eduuard van Halen to tell the judge what an ignorant anti-Catholic rube he is, because a different pope 3/4 of a century ago wasn't down with soviet-style communism.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    The Judge has a lot of good points in the article, but he has the libertarian tendency to call all non-libertarians Marxists, socialists and fascists. These terms have definite meanings, and such nonsense alienates the mushy middle who know they're not any of these three things, so they assume the freedom philosophy must be full of crap if so many of its followers say such silly things. Calling people fascists or Marxists when they know they're not makes them think you're...special.

  • woodNfish||

    Despite Napalitano's grovelling to the phony authority of the pope in the fourth paragraph, this pope is a dope. What is even better about my assertion is that it rhymes.

  • ||

    I kind of wonder how someone so skeptical of government institutions could be so wholly devoted to the notion of the pope's infallibility. The Roman Catholic church is every bit as much a man-made institution as government. I don't recall Jesus ever making a pronouncement of the pope as his infallible messenger.

  • Juice||

    I kind of wonder how someone so skeptical of government institutions could be so wholly devoted to the notion of the pope's infallibility.

    Agreed. That sort of shit utterly baffles me.

  • LibertyMark||

    I was raised a Lutheran but converted to Catholicism a couple years ago. I had always been taught how wrong and sacrilegious it was to have the concept of papal infallibility. Even though I converted, I'm still uncomfortable or skeptical of some of the teachings of the Church.

    But, I learned that the Lutherans either didn't understand it, or purposely distorted the meaning of it. The official teaching is that the Pope is a sinful person just like everyone else. He's only infallible when he proclaims as truth a specific doctrinal teaching. It's only happened twice in history.

    So, the concept of infallibility wrt the pope is very narrow. There is some scriptural justification for it as well as centuries and centuries of tradition.

  • Michael Hihn||

    Jesus opposed organized religion. See Sermon on the Mount, where he teaches to pray in private, instead of making a public spectacle of one's faith. And give to the needy in secret, unlike the hypocrites in synagogues and on the streets. The Pope might heed Jesus on this.

  • mtrueman||

    "No economic system in history has alleviated more poverty, generated more opportunity and had more formerly poor people become rich than capitalism."

    This is missing the point. Christianity is not about alleviating poverty or creating opportunity or making lots of people rich. Rather, it's about storing up treasures in heaven. The bible again and again teaches people to give away their property. In fact the accumulation of property is seen as a impediment to achieving what must be the ultimate goal in Christianity, an eternity in heaven. " It is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God."

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  • KalkiDas||

    I have to quote Rand. My favorite quote of the day:

    "It is said that [Robin Hood] fought against the looting rulers and returned the loot to those who had been robbed, but that is not the meaning of the legend which has survived. He is remembered, not as a champion of property, but as a champion of need, not as a defender of the robbed, but as a provider of the poor. He is held to be the first man who assumed a halo of virtue by practicing charity with wealth which he did not own, by giving away goods which he had not produced, by making others pay for the luxury of his pity. He is the man who became the symbol of the idea that need, not achievement, is the source of rights, that we don't have to produce, only to want, that the earned does not belong to us, but the unearned does. He became a justification for every mediocrity who, unable to make his own living, had demanded the power to dispose of the property of his betters, by proclaiming his willingness to devote his life to his inferiors at the price of robbing his superiors."

  • mtrueman||

    Robin Hood was fighting for the right to hunt and gather firewood in the king's forests. Those caught by the sheriff could be killed, or merely blinded if the sheriff was in a good mood. Robin Hood is a hero of the commons. King John signed documents shortly after the Magna Carta recognizing the public's right to gather fuel on crown land.

  • Jackand Ace||

    I always marvel at how often Christians bristle when reminded of those things of which they are instructed. Judge, you are just the latest.

    The fact is that the Pope does not pretend to be an economist, like you Judge evidently pretend to be a theologian. The Pope knows that Christ instructed the rich man to sell all his possessions and give the money to the poor in order to gain heaven...and the rich man went away depressed. The Pope also knows that in Romans, Paul said that governments too fall come from God, just like people, and therefore are instructed similarly.

    The Pope knows that whether you want to blame individual charitable giving, or governments, the poor still are poor. And getting poorer everyday. And therein lies the challenge, for us as individuals AND as the body politic. Get over it. Its fair to challenge him on the riches the church maintains, but he is new...he may not be done yet.

    Those instructions from Christ...they just are so inconvenient...at least to us Christians.

  • LibertyMark||

    Jesus did instruct individuals to help the poor. I challenge you to show where Jesus advocated the use of force to help the poor.

  • Jackand Ace||

    No need to challenge, because that is not the point.

    You should get it straight, particularly if you are Christian. Jesus did not say that we are to "help the poor." He instructed us that if you want to gain heaven (that was the question asked of him), that you should sell ALL your possessions and give the money to the poor. All. You should have no possessions.

    You may find that impossible (so far the Catholic Church finds it impossible), but that was the instruction.

  • optimusratiostultum||

    if one gives all their possessions to the poor does that not make one poor as well? And what of those who receive the possessions are they then damned to hell for merely owning a thing?

  • Jackand Ace||

    You may be having a problem in understanding what being poor and destitute means.

    According to Jesus, these people are not getting your TVs and IPhones...you are selling them, and giving them the money in order that they may feed themselves and their children, get health care, put a roof over their heads.

    Its the disparity in income. There are plenty of people the world over with absolutely nothing to their name. And then plenty of people with 6 TVs in their home. That's the point.

  • SQRLSY One||

    LibertyMark … “I challenge you to show where Jesus advocated the use of force...” But LibertyMark! Jesus rubber-stamped ALL of what the Old Testament says! See Matt. 5:17… So Jesus rubber-stamps GOD’s command that we use “force” to kill EVERYONE, actually, which I am SURE will help the poor, because God told me so! Here, see for yerself…
    No one is righteous, NONE (Romans 3:10). Therefore, ALL must have done at least one thing bad, since they’d be righteous, had they never done anything bad. Well, maybe they haven’t actually DONE evil, maybe they THOUGHT something bad (Matt. 5:28, thoughts can be sins). In any case, they must’ve broken SOME commandment, in thinking or acting, or else they'd be righteous. James 2:10 tells us that if we've broken ANY commandment, we broke them ALL. Now we can’t weasel out of this by saying that the New Testament has replaced the Old Testament, because Christ said that he’s come to fulfill the old law, not to destroy it (Matt. 5:17). So we MUST conclude that all are guilty of everything. And the Old Testament lists many capital offenses! There’s working on Sunday. There’s also making sacrifices to, or worshipping, the wrong God (Exodus 22:20, Deut. 17:2-5), or even showing contempt for the Lord’s priests or judges (Deut. 17:12). All are guilty of everything, including the capital offenses. OK, so now we’re finally there... God’s Word COMMANDS us such that we’ve got to kill EVERYBODY!!!

  • Bush League||

    I guess I've never really understood the libertarian catholic argument. There are several times in the bible where God commands that people give all that they have to the poor, as well as the passage about it being harder for a rich man to get into heaven than a camel passing through the eye of a needle. Is this not a form of coercion? Do as I say or I will torture you for the rest of eternity. Sounds very anti-libertarian to me.

  • Eric Bana||

    I am glad I do not believe in any god. That is all.

  • Michael Hihn||

    The Pope fails to realize what libertarians have known from the very beginning (I was there). The rich of today are not the rich of 2000 years ago. It's about creation not exploitation, unless the state gums it up.

    Then we have the Sermon on the Mount:

    "Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others."

    The Pope would do well to listen to Christ on this, understand Him and preach the message. Then again, Liberation Theology was always created for the hypocrites.

  • Jackand Ace||

    Not sure how the quote you use from the Sermon on the Mount applies to the Pope (he is not trumpeting what he gave, just suggesting that more can be given), but you should also note that Jesus said this:

    “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

    40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

    And that is what the Pope is asking for...more to be done for the "least of these." Because they too are Jesus.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Hi Jackand Ace, What about the real world of today? If I offer my used sweat-shirt or my used furniture to the local hodlums… Even if I deliver it to their abode and try and fluff the pillows… Been there, done that… They resent me as some sort of “mighty whitey” who intrudes on their space, I get no thanks at all. And this is AFTER Government Almighty has ALREADY made my charity choices for me, in “the Name of the Hive”, and extracted (at the point of a billy club, jail, Taser, etc.) my charitable monies for me… Is it really TOO MUCH for us to ask The Infallible Pope, “Economic freedom sucks, you say? WHAT are you going to replace it with? North Korea? A theocracy?” Donating of our own free will to the poor is good, OK, got that… Will the Pope EVER acknowledge that Government Almighty is NOT the way to conduct charity?

  • optimusratiostultum||

    All I think needs to be said is look at the tax returns of Mitt Romney and Barry-O,

    Mitt donated MILLIONS, about 40% of his income, Barry-O about 6k which was about 3% of his income.

    Who helped more poor? who gave more of what they had?

    Jesus said to give up everything to help the poor, but he could also pull fish and bread out of his ass and turn water into hooch. If I could do that I wouldn't need to worry about material things either. If any of us intend to help the needy we kinda need stuff to help them with or else we become the needy ourselves, which is why I think Jesus would forgive us for not giving absolutely everything away.

    Btw a big part of dogma is that Jesus was supposed to be an unobtainable ideal, recognizing that we did not need to follow his example exactly, hence why the Church does not say one must be crucified like Jesus in order to enter heaven either.

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