Aide to Pope Francis Demonstrates Why Separation of Church and State Is So Important for Freedom

peace be with youZimbioCardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, a top adviser to Pope Francis, attended a conference on "The Catholic Case Against Libertarianism" and, surprise!, came out against libertarianism. The native Honduran, you see, thinks he and Pope Francis, formerly an Argentine cardinal, know all about free markets. Why? Because they grew up in the midst of them. The pope, Maradiaga argued, "has a profound knowledge of the life of the poor" in part because he grew up in Argentina.

The two may be well-meaning but are profoundly ignorant on economics and the kinds of policies that actually alleviate poverty, as opposed to the policies that claim to do so while allowing its proponents to amass more power and demonize their opponents. Argentina is a land of "too many messiahs," in the words of Jorge Luis Borges, which The Wall Street Journal quoted in explaining how Argentina was a sort of paragon for crony capitalism. State capitalism, of course, is not about free markets but about government control and manipulation of markets for the benefit of the politically connected. Sadly, it's a condition far more prevalent around the world than any actually existing free markets.

Were the cardinal, and the pope's other advisors, interested in seeking the truth rather than assuming it, they might come across and critically engage the idea that free markets, and libertarian leanings, have helped lift billions out of poverty. The Catholic church has certainly not done so, either historically or contemporaneously. Indeed, no matter how benevolent or well-intentioned the institution, central planning is not an effective way to combat poverty. Maradiaga says that the pope insists on the "elimination of the structural causes for poverty." If so, he should embrace free markets, which have the power to do so without relying on the oft-misguided and easily appropriated wisdom of men, and reject books like Thomas Piketty's (which Maradiaga praised) that subordinate the truth in favor of pleasant propaganda. Social justice is supposed to be about speaking truth to power. John F. Kennedy, America's first Catholic president, once suggested that the basis of human morality was the ability to "stand against the flow of opinion on strongly contested issues… in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures." Parroting mainstream anti-free-market opinion in the service of accumulating temporal and material power is quite the opposite.

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  • ||

    So the pope, an Argentinian, chooses a Honduran as his advisor. I am shocked that they came out against Libertarianism. Shocked I tell you.

  • Virginian||

    Seriously.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    Exactly.

  • Drake||

    I was waiting for a haircut last weekend and reading an old The Economist. Argentina is just the perfect example of everything not to do to your economy.

    http://www.economist.com/news/.....ry-decline

  • Richard Rider||

    Well at least they didn't issue a proclamation that we libertarians must be burned at the stake.

    Ahhh, the Age of Enlightenment. Clueless as always, at least The One True Faith has dialed down the atonement required.

  • ||

    Wouldn't a system that creates crushing poverty but allows free economic action within that system be ideal for a flourishing Catholic Church?

    They'd be able to act as the agent of doling out voluntary (on pain of damnation) wealth redistribution, which makes the wealthy feel better about themselves and makes the poor feel good about the church.

    If libertarianism is really the evil they say it is, it would be an ideal pairing for a globally established NGO, such as The Church.

  • ||

    They'd be able to act as the agent of doling out voluntary (on pain of damnation) wealth redistribution

    Sheesh. I need more coffee before I attempt to write anything coherent.

  • db||

    I left the Church because of a number of reasons, but primarily it was the Church's increasing advocacy of socialist economics and its anti-individualist rhetoric.

    The Church typically banks on its members fear of God to get them to abandon other beliefs, not the other way around.

  • tarran||

    Not to mention the repudiation of Christ's teaching inherent to embracing involuntary socialism.

  • db||

    Exactly. The Church is an institution of men, not of God, and its policy and dogma clearly show how God is not the focus. I believe this.of all organized religion.

  • John||

    And the fact that envy is considered a moral sin. Socialism is a total anathema to Christianity. First, Christianity is about salvation in the eternity and after this life. It never made any claims about man being able to bring about justice in this world. It was always about the individual and living his living a good life. And a big part of living a good life is not envying other people's shit or wanting to take it from them. Christ said drop your shit and take up my cross. He didn't say go get a sword and make your neighbor do it.

    Christ rejecting making a political message. If he hadn't, he would have started a political movement and eventually a guerrilla band and been the new Judah Macabee. Instead he walked into Jerusalem and got himself executed.

  • Drake||

    Unfortunately the Tenth Commandment has been misplaced along with the Tenth Amendment.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    I can't speak to all your criticism of organized religion, but I certainly understand your frustration with all the pinko padres and now Pope Francis' economic pronouncements.

    What I can say is that the Pope hasn't tried to suppress the free-market Catholics like Fr. Sirico - or even Tom Woods with his strong denunciations of liberal Popes. These folks are still included in the conversation - the role of the market in Catholic teaching remains a matter up for debate in the Church, and they haven't made a final decision.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/suborn Cached
    Full Definition of SUBORN 1 : to induce secretly to do an unlawful thing 2 : to induce to commit perjury; also : to obtain (perjured testimony) from a witness

  • WTF||

    It fails the Turing test again.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    free markets, and libertarian leanings, have helped lift billions out of poverty. The Catholic church has certainly not done so, either historically or contemporaneously.


    I think that would be hard to gauge. It's certainly the case that the Catholic church does a shit-ton of charity work, operating hospitals and schools in many countries with a near-complete absence of them. Literacy and several other skills are highly encouraged by the church, and it is obvious to see how a better skill set could lead to higher-paying jobs. They also run a series of job training programs and of course many successful businesses are run and operated by Catholics who have been helped by these services.

    Charity and the free market are complementary, not conflicting and indeed it is easy to envision a higher morbidity rate among the poor without said charity.

  • DrAwkward||

    Coupled with an admonition against birth control, let's not forget. The effects of charitable acts are dwarfed compared to the misery this little nugget continues to heap on to poor people, imho.

  • John||

    These people are plenty stupid, but I am not seeing the connection between their religion and their stupidity. There are plenty of atheists out there who hold just as idiotic views on these subjects. These people are idiots who are using religion to justify their idiocy. That doesn't say anything one way or another about religion. It just says they are idiots. It doesn't make me feel any better when some atheist or Hindu or whatever uses some amorphous appeal to "social justice" or "the menace of climate change" to justify this sort of idiocy. In fact, blaming this on religion just lets these people off the hook for being stupid.

  • Ed||

    These guys are providing the kind of moral cover for destructive economic policies its atheist supporters could only dream of manufacturing themselves.

  • John||

    Atheists do the same thing. They just make appeals to "justice" and make all sorts of histrionic claims to certainty and horrible consequences to not acting.

    You don't need religion to claim more justification. Communism was explicitly atheists and it didn't have any problems making moral claims and using them to kill people. The fact that people use religion as a justification for advocating stupid things doesn't say anything about religion because if they didn't use religion they would just use something else and be just as effective in doing so. The problem is the idiocy not the justification whatever that is.

  • Ed||

    I just don't see the ravings of social justice warriors and Marxists having as much cachet as the Church. You're right, the problem is the idiocy, and in this case the problem is that the Church has bought into it

  • John||

    I just don't see the ravings of social justice warriors and Marxists having as much cachet as the Church.

    I have a few hundred million bodies from the 20th Century that make me think otherwise. Indeed, our mass culture is totally secular. Yet, it is every bit as moralizing and puritanical as it ever was when the culture was explicitly Christian. It just moralizes about different shit now.

  • Cytotoxic||

    our mass culture is totally secular

    So why can't anyone get elected president without having to pander to the cross lobby?

  • John||

    Because the popular culture is not the voters. You can sure as hell get on TV without being such. And also, to the extent people in public life are "religious", it is just feel good secular muck tied up with the trappings of religion but none of the actual beliefs that might be in any way subversive or objectionable to the real secular religion.

    Don't worry Cytotoxic. Our mass culture works very hard to ensure that as few people as possible get a public platform to say anything that might upset your delicate atheist ears.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Ah good. What starts in mass culture should filter into politics eventually.

  • Drake||

    Obama's pathetic attempt in 2008 was paper thin. Did he even try in 2012? I can't remember any of his fake faith in years.

  • Christophe||

    South America is pretty devout overall. And they don't have nearly as much wealth to squander on socialism before mass starvation happens.

    The risk with this particular embrace of madness is that it may turn currently neutral/conservative leaning folks into socialists. That could be devastating.

  • John||

    The risk with this particular embrace of madness is that it may turn currently neutral/conservative leaning folks into socialists. That could be devastating.

    Maybe but I doubt it. What is it more likely to do is get such folks to tell the Catholic Church to fuck off. That is what happened to the mainline Protestant Churches. Those churches are dying. They went full lefty retard in the 70s and 80s and a large number of their members left and joined evangelical churches.

    The thing to remember is that socialism kills any institution it touches. Socialism is more than anything about making everything in life about politics. So any organization it touches will eventually be co-opted into a tool to advance socialist politics and completely abandon its original mission. This bullshit is a bigger threat to the Catholic Church itself than it is to us.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    These guys are providing the kind of moral cover for destructive economic policies its atheist supporters could only dream of manufacturing themselves.


    LOL. Apparently you haven't been paying attention to the last 100 years of atheism, or for that matter where the "rational skeptic" movement is today.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Apparently you haven't been paying attention to the last 100 years of atheism,

    What are you talking about?

  • John||

    Communism, fascism, socialism and the various other "isms" that substituted government for God.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Ah so things that are NOT Atheism. Got it.

  • John||

    Really? Communism is not atheist? That will come as a hell of a surprise to every Marxist I have ever met.

  • plusafdotcom||

    ... until you look under the covers and note how the Marxists, Communists, Socialists and all their other "fellow travelers" have use religion to help strip power and freedom from 'the masses' they're allegedly trying to 'help.'

    Religion is a weapon.

  • Cytotoxic||

    The Catholic Church has ALWAYS been an enemy of freedom. They have always been at war with rationality and free enterprise. This is just a continuation. The Atheist movement has only gotten larger recently and so, in terms of being a bigg-ish deal, it is very young and in the process of sorting itself out.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    The Catholic Church has ALWAYS been an enemy of freedom. They have always been at war with rationality and free enterprise.


    I am not a Catholic, but this is utterly absurd. The Catholic church completely embraces evolution and just about any scientific development that comes down the pike; it has of course been a benefactor of scientific exploration since at least the Renaissance. Arguably, the closest thing in the world to free markets in medieval times were the city-states in Italy. Not to say that I embrace Catholic social doctrine (which to my mind is incoherent), but as a matter of historical record your statement is pure nonsense.

  • Cytotoxic||

    No your statement is nonsense. The Catholic Church kept Europe dark and ignorant through the Middle Ages. How was it a benefactor of scientific exploration? Harassing Galileo doesn't help science.

    The Italian city-states you talk about were NOT Papal states if I recall correctly.

  • Drake||

    The Catholic Church gave thuggish monarchs legitimacy while oppressing the masses for centuries. They found it a great way to stay rich and powerful - and maintain a religious monopoly for a long time.

    Everyone is all excited about this new Pope, but if he seriously starts advocating progressive politics, it will be a disaster for the church.

  • plusafdotcom||

    Next time please either explicitly indicate "ironic" or "cynical" font, ok?

    You WERE kidding, weren't you?

    "The Catholic church completely embraces evolution and just about any scientific development that comes down the pike; it has of course been a benefactor of scientific exploration since at least the Renaissance."

    LOL! Thanks for the laugh.

  • Longtorso, Johnny||

    When they say God is in favor of certain policies, they put God on the hook for every lie told in order to pass the laws, and every abuse committed by the politicians involved w/ that law. God is not just in favor of your vaguely stated goals. God is on the hook for everything.

    Given that, God has lied time and time again in favor of larger govt, and is perfectly fine w/ abuses that even lead up to the death of innocent civilians. That is what I hear from millions of Christians when they tell me God supports Team Red or Team Blue.

  • John||

    All of that and more. And when they say "God supports" this or that, they are claiming to know the mind of God such that they can interpret it and essentially become the will of God. That is textbook blasphemy in my mind. They should stay the hell out of politics in this world and worry about the next.

  • Gadianton||

    The thing I find amusing in all of this is that Christianity is libertarian on its face. The whole point of the belief is that God gave man 2 things: Free will, and a set of rules to follow to join His club. You exercise your free will, deciding whether or not you want to follow His rules. If you do, you get to join the club. If you don't, you don't.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    Father Robert Sirico, a founder of the Acton Institute, is interviewed on an economics program about free-market cures to poverty.

    http://www.robertsirico.com/20.....doing.html

    The Fr. Siricos of the world are contributing to the debate within the Church over using the free market to implement Catholic social teaching. If these free-market Catholics have to spend a few years in the wilderness, so be it, but they're not going away and their influence can only grow.

    Montalembert stood up for Catholic liberalism even during the pontificate of the anti-liberal Pius IX, and today even the Popes quote Montalembert.

    Don't assume this debate in the Church is over.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    Oh, and how would the article's extreme vision of "separation of church and state" allow for Fr. Sirico's ministry, and the Acton Institute itself?

  • Christophe||

    "Why Separation of Church and State Is So Important for Freedom" as in "If the pope had political power right now, all of Catholicdom would be on the road to Venezuela"

    You're reading it as: "We need further separation". Which isn't defined at all.

    A much more reasonable interpretation is: "Good thing the pope doesn't get to have his way in our day and age or we'd be screwed."

  • heartburn||

    Religion and government are just two technologies for controlling populations.

  • Sorgfelt||

    There are no free markets, if there ever were. If you equate "free markets" with "capitalism", the nature of capitalism leads to concentration of wealth, unless it is properly regulated by a government. Unfortunately, the regulation is far from perfect, allowing some concentration of wealth, which implies concentration of power, which leads to the loss of necessary government regulation under the false guise of liberty, leading to more concentration of wealth, and so on, leading to our current situation in which there is gross inequality of wealth, and the former gains against poverty are being wiped out.

  • Chili Dogg||

    "There are no free markets..." So nowhere do people make voluntary transactions without the use of force, theft, or fraud? Really?

    The "perfect" regulation leads to everyone having the same stuff? Is that what regulation is about - politicians using their power to decide who can have what? You're OK with that? Don't see any potential for oppression or abuse?

    Concentration of wealth implies concentration of power? Don't gov't officials have the power, with wealthy people trying to curry favor with them? Bill Gates learned what happens when you're wealthy and you don't butter up politicians.

    "the loss of necessary government regulation under the false guise of liberty"? If government has less power to micro-manage my life, I'm not really more free? "Freedom is Slavery"? You already admit "regulation is far from perfect", so how can we know which regulation to keep and which to get rid of?

    You start with the conclusion that inequality of wealth is a bad thing. So how do you justify that conclusion?

    You sure gains against poverty aren't being wiped out by some of those regulations you like, such as ones that limit the freedom to engage in certain jobs, and by higher taxes? More regulations and higher taxes don't play any role?

    From the article: "State capitalism, of course, is not about free markets but about government control and manipulation of markets for the benefit of the politically connected."

    Perhaps you are confusing free markets with state capitalism.

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