The Pope's Self-Defeating Anti-Capitalistic Rant

He shouldn't bite the hand that feeds the church


Pope Francis doesn't have to thank capitalism, a system that has done far more to alleviate poverty, his pet crusade, than the institution he leads. But he should at least stop demonizing it—not least because it enables the very activity that he cherishes most: charity.

For about the 6th time since assuming office eight months ago, the Pope last week offered a sweeping condemnation of "unfettered" capitalism, blaming its alleged obsession with the "golden calf" for perpetuating poverty, oppression, tyranny and much else.

The Pope claims that the "opinion" that "economic growth, encouraged by the free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness" has "never been confirmed by the facts." (He obviously hasn't been listening to Bono, which isn't entirely a bad thing.)

Therefore, governments "charged with the vigilance of the common good" must take strong steps to "exercise any form of control," including redistributive taxes, to stop the march toward a society where "those excluded are no longer its underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised—they are no longer even part of it.

No doubt such purple prose about "exclusion" will gain him adoring fans among the left—notwithstanding the irony that he is speaking for an institution that excludes half of humanity—women—from the ranks of priesthood. But is capitalism the cause of poverty and is redistribution the cure?

No and Nyet.

Poverty is the default condition of humanity. It is the given. What needs explaining is wealth. And the greatest engine of wealth creation is the market. By raising productivity and lowering the price of goods, markets certainly help the rich, but they help the poor more. Capitalism's most impressive achievement, Joseph Schumpeter noted, was not providing more silk stockings for the Queen, "but in bringing them within reach of factory girls."

Indeed, far from promoting Social Darwinism that thrives on "the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless," as the Pope claimed, capitalism does the opposite: It fosters economic competition among producers so that consumers don't have to compete for scarce goods. In 1900, it took an average worker in the West about an hour to earn a half a gallon of milk. In 1930, half an hour. And today? Scarcely a few minutes.

If all the profits of the rich in America were handed over to workers, notes economic historian Deirdre McCloskey, the workers would only be 30 percent better off. "But in the last two centuries we're 3,000 percent better off."

But capitalism hasn't only produced gains in the West. Between 1990 and 2010, the number of people in extreme poverty as a share of the total population in developing countries has been cut in half from 43 percent to 21 percent—a reduction of one billion people. Why? Because China and India jettisoned Big Government Socialism, the very thing the Pope advocates, and liberalized their economies.

It is no exaggeration to say that charity is a balm for poverty but capitalism is the cure—or in Bono's evocative mixed metaphor capitalism's "job creators and innovators are the key, and aid is just a bridge."

Indeed, without capitalism, even this balm would be in short supply or this bridge too short.

Capitalism puts more discretionary income in the pockets of people to devote to charitable pursuits. It is hardly a co-incidence that America donates over $300 billion annually toward charitable causes at home and abroad, the highest of any country on a per capita basis.

The church itself is a big beneficiary of this capitalist largesse with its U.S. wing alone contributing 60 percent to its overall global wealth. Some of this money comes from donations, but a big chunk comes, actually, from directly partaking in capitalism: The church is reportedly the largest landowner in Manhattan, the financial center of the global capitalism system, whose income puts undisclosed sums into its coffers.

So the new Pope needs to be careful not to bite the hand that feeds his institution and its work. Otherwise, neither he nor the poor in whose name he is speaking will have much to be thankful for.

A version of this column originally appeared in the Washington Examiner.

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  1. “No doubt such purple prose about “exclusion” will gain him adoring fans among the left”
    Doesn’t matter. He’ll get props from the left since the left despises the fact that some people are willing to work harder for what they want.

    1. But he’s also against abortion and contraception, so that clearly makes him an enemy of the left, and not to be trusted.

      1. Cafeteria atheists, picking and choosing what they want to believe.

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      2. The bottom line is simple. They’ll use him and trash him when it proves convenient.

      3. Never underestimate the power of doublethink. An acquaintance of mine once flat-out said that the Catholic Church should speak out on nuclear war but not on abortion.

    2. He’s already got some love at “Nation of Change”.

  2. Methinks the Pope needs to get on the horn with the big guy and get himself straightened out.

    In the bible, Jesus (whether or not you think he was fictional) doesn’t espouse that we should be forced to take care of the meek and the downtrodden but rather that we should do it on our own out of our own sense of justice and morality.

    Calling for governments to actively force redistribution is completely contra to “being God’s light in the world”.

    1. good point because having someone else attend church on your behalf wont get you into heaven anymore than having someone else, the government, take care of the poor on your behalf.

    2. People “interpret” the Bible to agree with whatever they wanted to believe anyway. People on both the left and the right argue for “Christian” approaches to health insurance and don’t like it when I point out that what the Bible actually talks about is faith healing.

      1. God people are fucking retarded.

        1. “God-People are fucking retarded.”


          “God, people are fucking retarded.”

    3. Maybe he already did and you are wrong. Who are you to claim to know the mind of God?

      Anyway, doesn’t the Bible also say that you shouldn’t worry so much about secular powers and should focus on your spiritual life?

      1. It also says something about rendering unto Caesar, but damn if I don’t hate paying taxes.

        1. Sure. But I think that using the Bible to argue for libertarian policies is a loser. There are loads of people in the world (including most of the Catholic Church) who think the Bible supports quite the opposite about the role of governments.

          As someone who thinks it is all made up, I really don’t have a dog in this fight.

          1. Oh I know it’s a loser, even if it IS technically correct. This is just the only place where I can talk about it and not get lectured by those “loads of people” (mostly family) about how wrong I am.

            1. Yep. I just have a hard time understanding the doublethink required to believe in an omnipotent and perfect judge granting you free will, yet giving a government full of limited, imperfect men the power to restrict your free will. If God lets you sin, and only requires you suffer the consequences of your actions, then who are the governing class to impose their judgment by restricting free will?

        2. The irony is that the only time Jesus and the apostles are shown paying their taxes, they miraculously get the money out of the mouth of a fish.

          I always ask progs who bring up the “render unto Caesar” line if we should follow Christ’s example and only pay taxes if they’re provided through divine intervention.

          1. Beyond that, “render unto Caesar” needs to be taken in context. The Jews were expecting God to come as man to conquer the world and establish a global Jewish state. Jesus is simply saying that his revolution was not one of government, but of spirit. “render unto Caesar” is effectively “I’m not here to overthrow Rome.”

        3. Caesar had a 1% sales tax, a 5% estate tax, and not much else. I wouldn’t mind rendering that.

        4. Yes you should render unto Caesar that which is Caesar, but who says anything is Caesar’s? Remember the Jews he was talking to didn’t regard the Roman rule of their country as legitimate, so would not have thought that they did owe Caesar anything. So one interpretation is that he was saying don’t pay your taxes.

    4. Involuntary charity is an oxymoron.

      1. ^^THIS^^

        Simple and true

    5. Correct: Jesus repeatedly spoke of his kingdom being no part of this world (economic, social, political). Pope is of this world, as is apparent.

      BTW: Christ deniers of the 60’s etc finally found the Roman legal (secular) references to Christ. No denying. Catch up. Plus the scriptures, apologists, etc.

      Free will, baby!

      1. “BTW: Christ deniers of the 60’s etc finally found the Roman legal (secular) references to Christ. No denying. Catch up. Plus the scriptures, apologists, etc.”

        BTW, there is no shred of evidence for an historic Jesus.
        Prolly a conflation of several whackos.

        1. There are the Gospels, and the letters of St. Paul. They are enough for those who want the truth.

          1. cavalier973|12.3.13 @ 11:44PM|#
            “There are the Gospels, and the letters of St. Paul. They are enough for those who want the truth.”

            Those are enough for fools who prefer to be fooled. Help yourself if you so choose.
            There is no one shred of evidence for an historical jesus

  3. Don’t EVER FORGET, that this man is a Jesuit through and through. The Jesuits are the most LIBERAL of all Catholic religious orders. They are the very order that said a Jesuit would never be Pope and should not be. However, now that one of their own is in power, they are delighted. This Pope will divide the Catholic Church even more between the ultra-Conservative Traditionalists and the liberal church since Vatican II. In effect there are two churches right now, with the Society of Pope Pius X as one such movement. He is what he is, but in Latin (South) America he will become an alternative to the late icon Ernesto “Che” Guevara de la Serna y Lynch who is still worshipped by millions of Hispanics as a secular savior south of our border, and not just a few north of it. The man is a JESUIT, and that is the key word when attempting to understand what he is doing since he took over the Holy See.

    1. Don’t forget Opus Dei and the Priory of Sion. They’re in this up to their ears.

  4. All religious leaders eventually succumb to their power and decide control of the masses creates even more power so why wouldn’t it work with and promote controlling ideals like Marxism,communism,socialism.

  5. Cafeteria atheists, picking and choosing what they want to believe.

    When the chips are down, they’ll deny their denial in a heartbeat.

    “Haha, just kidding. I believed in Him all along! What are you going to do with that pile of brush?”

  6. “Poverty is the default condition of humanity.”

    Um, no. Poverty of natural RESOURCES is the default condition of humanity. Capital is not a natural resource, but a human invention, based entirely on fiat money, and with no inherent real world importance or value. The existence of capital itself is not a “default condition”, therefore poverty of it is only ever the result of deliberate top-down machinations and reorganizations. Those who issue and control it also give it its worth, and tell you that if you dont have it and use it, you will be barred access to natural resources. Even if you as a human being are the one more adept at actually securing, obtaining, and creating those resources, usually for the benefit and procurement of those very same moneychangers, who are physically weak, unskilled in labor, and either cannot or refuse to procure the resources themselves.

    Fiat money is slavery to the moneychangers, and the tyranny of the weak over the strong.

    1. Okay buddy, whatever you say.

      Needs more CAPITALS though.

    2. Dear Pope,

      Commandments 7 and 10.


      1. err… Commandments 8 and 10 depending on your interpretation.

        1. Coveting is okay if the government does it.

          Just be glad it’s not coveting your wife. Yet.

        2. Commandment No. 2.

          Also, 9 and 10, the ignored ones.

        3. Nuh-Ahh!!! Commandment 666!!! Though Shalt Worship Government Almighty!!!

  7. Therefore, governments “charged with the vigilance of the common good” must take strong steps to “exercise any form of control,” including redistributive taxes, to stop the march toward a society where “those excluded are no longer its underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised?they are no longer even part of it.


    1. Part of me wonders whether this guy has ever read St. Augustine and understands the difference between the City of God and the City of Man, or understands it and is simply ignoring it.

      Far too often, Catholic leaders forget that the Reformation probably would have happened if the church hadn’t been so involved in the affairs of state and simply focused on tending to the needs of their members.

      1. Nah. They followed tradition over the scriptures then, same as now.

    2. “”those excluded are no longer its underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised?they are no longer even part of it.””

      That’s funny, because Christianity goes on and on about how you should exclude YOURSELF from the world. Seems like those people getting “excluded” are receiving a benefit according to his stupid fucking religion.

  8. Life on earth or mysticism? You can’t have both.

  9. The pope likes charity so much, he wants it collected by force! Old school!

  10. I wonder what the Pope would have to say about a wealth tax if it applied to the assets of his church?

    1. With this Pope, I think he actually wouldn’t have a problem with it.

      I imagine there are a lot of Cardinals that would be more than a little angry about it though.

    2. Vatican City:…..IwY2l0eQ==
      Right in downtown Rome; I’m sure that would auction at a pretty good price…

      1. It would make a fabulous… district.

  11. It’s funny. I was discussing this last night. Basically, Pope Francis has all the coherence of a slow-witted undergrad. At one point, even though I disagreed with the RC Church, I could credit it with having a consistent, thought-out argument. Francis, on the other hand, sounds like he’s getting his policy analysis from Salon or Gawker.

    1. Amen – Jesus was a libertarian all the way.

      1. A new thought, to be sure.

        He did speak a whole lot about his father’s kingdom and commands, tho.

  12. The Catholic leadership yammers about helping the poor and downtrodden. Their policies, on the other hand, have done more to keep people under the yoke of poverty than any number of soup kitchens and homeless shelters could ever alleviate. Combine opposition to birth control and socialism and you have a recipe for mass human misery. It’s Munchausen by proxy on an industrial scale.

    1. Well you’re the one that told them to go and make disciples of all nations.

      1. Disciples, not rice Christians

  13. That’s why, in 1900, it took an average worker in the West about an hour to earn a half a gallon of milk. In 930, half an hour.

    *sigh* Those were the days.

  14. All this makes me ponder the nature of human mediocrity. As I look around the world it seems that the generic nature of societal systems is that, despite a natural instinct to be free and act in one’s own interest, there exist the characters who want to be in control (expanding exponentially with increased power), those who resist and see the inevitable disaster coming that eco-system’s way, and then there are all the dumb-asses who bend over willingly and smile while they shove a hot poker up there backside because they’re told some fantasy bs that they suck down like Xmas pudding.
    Most people are just fuckin’ morons. And we watch in disbelief as the ship sinks.

  15. Give a man a fish and you are vigilant of the common good. Teach a man to fish and you are participating in unfettered capitalism.

  16. Any of you ever see “The Shoes of the Fisherman?” Once in a while, TBN will show it letterboxed and uninterrupted. It would rightly be considered alternate history science fiction, including what happens at the end.

  17. It’s like you can’t fight something without some one claiming it is what raised you. Let the man have his good fight.

  18. “Unfettered” capitalism is Tony’s kind of capitalism, which is not free market capitalism. Actually, it can look a lot like socialism.

    1. Or it can turn into this kind of public-private deal.

      1. Crony tax deals are a form of socialism.

        1. That’s not right. Crony tax deals are just cronyism, they’ve got nothing to do with either capitalism or socialism.

  19. Fuck the po-ope.

  20. What I find baffling is so many people, the Pope included, seem ignorant of the role capitalism has played in raising people out of poverty. These aren’t unintelligent people.

    1. A cursory survey of post-schism history will reveal very different paths taken by the Catholic and Orthodox domains, plus the Freemasons/Knights Templar basically invented the western banking system, so that’s how there was an emerging artisan class in late medieval times, yet Russian serfs weren’t liberated until 1865.

      1. And of course, the Church itself expedited social reforms by getting lots of idiot nobles killed in the Crusades.

    2. They are MORALLY apposed to capitalism. Freedom serve your rational self-interest and to build the best life for yourself possible is the essence and moral basis of capitalism.

      Church teachings are diametrically apposed to this. Selflessness (Mother Teresa, The Cross) is the moral ideal. A philosophy of self-sacrifice is incompatible with capitalism. It is one or the other.

      1. “A philosophy of self-sacrifice is incompatible with capitalism.”

        That’s fucking stupid. You could be a capitalist because you know that capitalism allocates resources more efficiently than any other way. Then you could strive to become wealthy so you have more money to give away.

        Love possessions has nothing to do with capitalism, and money is method of accounting for good and bad behavior, and nothing else.

        1. Some major package league package dealing going on in this response.

      2. A philosophy of self-sacrifice is incompatible with capitalism. It is one or the other.

        Which is why capitalism failed so miserably in highly religious nations, like Great Britain (before the 20th century) and the USA.

        1. Followed up by generations of socialism that they still are in the grip of. Thanks for making my point.

  21. Disclaimer, I am (kinda sorta) Catholic.

    It seems the *Pope* forgot Jesus’ own words on the subject-

    Matthew 21-

    “Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.”

    Moral authority is NOT Caesar’s and should not be given to Caesar.

    We have seen the hell that ensures from giving government moral authority in Russia, Germany, China, Cambodia, Romania, and others.

    And the free market is optimally efficient anyway. ‘OMG there are poor people!’. No, it’s ‘OMG, it is now possible NOT to be poor thanks to capitalism, and even our definition of poverty has increased drastically. We have obese poor people… Think about it.

    1. I’ll add that secular authority shouldn’t be in the hands of the Church, nor should the Church want it. I think one of the reasons that religion has declined so much more in Europe than in the U.S. is that in the U.S., religion has stayed out of government (at least relative to European history). When the two mix it degrades public confidence in both.

  22. until I looked at the draft that said $8761, I have faith …that…my best friend had been actualie erning money part time at their laptop.. there mums best friend has been doing this 4 only about 8 months and resently repaid the morgage on there villa and purchased a brand new Aston Martin DB5. see here now

  23. Still don’t get the beef here. Adam Smith was against unfettered capitalism too, and I think he had a pretty clear understanding of how things actually work.

    1. Adam Smith also believed in the labor theory of value. His only important contributions are the invisible hand and gains from specialization. Granted, those two probably constitute 80% of a functioning capitalist system, but the rest of what he wrote was crap.

      1. This. Smith also argued pretty well in favor of Free Trade.

    2. In Adam Smith’s case, if it’s Scottish, it’s crap!

      Adam Smith was a plagiarist, stealing his ideas from the continental physiocrats whom he visited.

      As stated above, Smith, believed wrongly in the Theory of Labor Value, often wrongly said as The Labor Theory of Value.

      Of course, anyone who gets economics knows that reciprocal demand in exchange is what creates value at the moment of exchange. Value fails to arise by other means.

      It’s too bad that Adam Smith gets the accolades he does. Perhaps he does because of his better work, the Theory of Moral Sentiments earned him reputation. Perhaps too, it is because the the Wealth of Nations published in 1776.

  24. Based on reading through his papal proclamation I don’t see so much that he is a Marxist or a socialist but someone who unfortunately conflates Capitalism and Free Markets with the Crony Capitalism and protectionism that is typically advocated by politicians and the lobbyists who help keep them in office.

    I do think it’s unfortunate that he seems to think we need government to step in and fix all of these problems, that people cant and wont take care of themselves so politicians have to bravely legislate equality. But overall his criticisms are more directed at the social Darwinist, he is just misguided in placing the blame on capitalism.

    If someone were to apply the same logic to the church, based on the whole little boy thing, or gay rights, or ideological wars, or whatever you choose…. You could easily come to the conclusion that Christianity is responsible for bigotry and violence and we need government to regulate it.

    The full text is here for anyone who wants to read it, and has a couple hours because its long.…..y_of_money

  25. Christian philosophy is a dogma of self-sacrifice (think the cross) and service to God (service to God and service to others). (Leftist only quarrel is that service to God needs to be replaced with service to their secular God, society, the collective, whatever). The underlying philosophy is identical. Christian and leftist altruist dogma is diametrically opposed to capitalism–which is based upon serving your own rational self-interest.

    Shikha Dalmia seems to be trying to present an argument against the Pope by saying he is acting against his own self interest and that capitalism is justified because it delivers the good. Both arguments are weak. No doubt the Pope truly believes in self-sacrifice for himself and his flock. He could care less about the fact that that capitalism delivers the goods to mankind on earth. His providence is heaven anyway. He likes suffering, he deals in suffering. Man is suppose to suffer. Suffering means people are being noble and moral. Much easier to get into heaven that way. His argument is moral, and it is an evil argument for suffering. Take these religionist at their word. The rich have to no chance to get into heaven.

    The arguments against the Pope should, therefore, be moral. Anything less is a waste of pixels.

    1. AKA, the more you suffer, the more virtuous you are! The more guilty you feel, the more virtuous you are! Some people like to feel guilty about not paying all their taxes, or speeding, or having sex, or smoking, or whacking their pee-pee, or looking at porn, or lusting after Hillary-Bob or Monica, “Presidential Babe” material that she once was? Me, I like to go guilt-tripping for my being an obsessive “lactochugalugarian”, which is AKA drinking milk straight out of the plastic jug, spreading my cooties to un-suspecting guests at my house! And to our dog, who I have also secretly taught to be a cover-of-darkness “lactochugalugarian” as well. Don’t tell ANYONE, OK?!?! ? Drinking milk straight out of the plastic jug, though, is getting old, it’s not dirty enough any more? I am wanting to move on up the supply chain, to this here special babe, but I have not been able to find her yet? See ?

  26. Any reading of the Gospels that imputes capitalism is a misreading.
    The Gospels are not economic treatises; they are moral treatises, a personal calling.
    I am a Christian, yet I have no moral objection to the likes of Penn Teller, John Stossel, Michael Schermer and Ayn Rand. I do not look to them for moral guidance in my personal life. I watch and read them because they understand the human impetus toward freedom.
    Once freedom is had, only then can we begin to discuss “what we should do.” Charity is a beautiful thing, but it has to be real; it has to be charity.
    Charity at gunpoint puts a flame to the Gospels.

    1. Nothing wrong at all with charity. If you can help someone, they are deserving, and you can afford it, by all means help the other guy. But it is morally neutral. Like supporting any other value you may have.

      It is the moral imperative of charity–altruism–that must be attacked. That is, you are wrong to do anything for yourself. This IS what the Church promotes and it IS evil, evil, evil. Furthermore, all despots of the 20th Century have justified their slaughter based upon this same altruism. Obama and all leftists for the past 100 years justify their programs & pogroms on the same altruism. Sorry, there is no way around this. The Church and the leftist are philosophically the same.

      1. What would cause you to say charity is morally neutral? Are you some kind of sociopath?

        i suppose for your next trick you will say liberty has no moral merit.

        humans have intrinsic worth. helping them maximize their potential is a good thing and a moral good. its the right thing to do.

        1. Nothing sociopathic about advocating that each of us should properly pursue a life of happiness. A proper morally is focused on the virtues required for building the happiest life possible.

          Altruism is the enemy of liberty. Liberty is not specifically a virtue which is a characteristic of an individual. Liberty is a fundamental human value, though.

          Ann, you seem confused. Start with Aristotle, then Ayn Rand. They will help.

    2. Any reading of the Gospels that imputes capitalism is a misreading?

      Jesus took every day life, with which commoners were familiar and used such as metaphors to teach.

      It seems that the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard deals quite a bit about free market economics and capitalism.

      Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear

      1. Parable of the Talents(Matthew 25:14-30), even more so.

        Put your money to work, bitches. Sounds pretty capitalist to me.

        Not that I think this pope actually reads the bible.

  27. I preffered it when the pope was a pedophile to this communist.

  28. Social Darwinism happens no matter what – you just have to wait long enough.

  29. Your analysis is very reasonable.

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  31. Someone talks on and on about how capitalism excludes and denigrates and everything else and doesn’t mention anything about how GOVERNNMENT does. That’s the hint, this is not a condemnation but an alibi. In 2007 someone might be taken seriously when they said that “ideologies
    which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation.” were in control. In 2013 to say this you have to ignore “Too Big To Fail”, trillion dollar secret loans, quantitative easing bailouts, etc. etc. Anyone who listens to this man is either completely uninformed or wants to believe things that aren’t true. Actually isn’t that why anyone listens to the pope. Not to worry apparently nobody listens to Catholic Church leaders on how to live their life anyway.

  32. My mothers neighbour is working part time and averaging $9000 a month. I’m a single mum and just got my first paycheck for $6546! I still can’t believe it. I tried it out cause I got really desperate and now I couldn’t be happier. Heres what I do,…WWW.JUMP85.COM

  33. The problem with the Popes’ statements is that they are going to be used as a sword by those who want to dismantle organized religion.

    The left loves this almost as much as they hate organized religion.

    This is ultimately self defeating.

  34. “The charge we gave you on our visit was that the man who refuses to work must be left to starve. And now we are told that there are those among you who live in idleness, neglecting their own business to mind other people’s. We charge all such, we appeal to them in the Lord Jesus Christ, to earn their bread by going on calmly with their work.”
    –2 Thessalonians 3:10-12.

    I cite it not to argue that Christians aren’t called to take care of our neighbors — clearly, many times in the Gospel, we are ? but simply to point out that even Saint Paul realized that freeloaders were a problem. The unthinking criticism of “unfettered capitalism” (where does that exist, by the way? Certainly there are plenty of fetters here in the U.S.) doesn’t even have a solid basis in the Bible.

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