Pope Francis has stepped in the deep end of the political pool with his attack on capitalism. As with any translation into English, maybe we’re reading him wrong. I haven’t seen anything that corrects any misunderstanding of what the Pope was saying.
President Obama got in the act and agreed with Pope Francis. That ought to tell us something. They are two people dependent on people with wealth to make their governments work. (The church is by definition an ecclesiastical government. Vatican City is officially Vatican City State and operates as a sovereign city-state ruled by the Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis, and has diplomatic relations with more than 175 countries.)
It’s hard to take the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church seriously when they are dependent on the free market to survive and minister. Where does the Pope think the money comes from to build parish churches and schools and general ministry work? It doesn’t come from poor people. And if everybody was equal in terms of income, then we’d be living in North Korea or Cuba.
I can certainly agree with the Pope that money should not be an idol:
“The worship of the ancient golden calf (cf. Ex 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption.”
Are we to get the government involved in assessing the hearts of individuals who have lots of money? If money is such an evil thing, what makes us think that government officials won’t idolize money – trillions of dollars of money? Money and power are the engines of politics.
I agree with the Pope when he says, “Behind this attitude lurks a rejection of ethics and a rejection of God.” True enough, but again, the State rejects God and both biblical and natural law. What makes the Pope think the State will do the right thing with our money? Look at the dependency culture that governments around the world have created.
Why is it that tens of millions of illegal immigrants are flooding into the United States? For economic opportunity, both in terms of government programs and the free market to make money. Why do the Marxist governments of Cuba and North Korea keep people from leaving? Why did the Communists build a wall dividing East and West Berlin?
Here’s one of the worst segments of “The Joy of the Gospel” that demonstrates that the Pope is not thinking straight:
“Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills.”
Let’s be clear, murder is a crime. A free economy is the free exchange of labor for financial compensation. There is no compulsion involved. People are free to pursue work, start their own companies, and look for better working opportunities. Try doing any of these things in a government-controlled economy.
An economic crime would be theft, not paying a promised wage, taxation for unconstitutional programs, corporate and private welfare.
An economy where people are free to work and companies are free to hire, is not an economy built on theft. Are some people greedy? Certainly. But the State does not have jurisdiction over greed or the sin of covetousness.
There may be a lot of greedy people who own businesses, but it’s those businesses that supply jobs. If their greed gets the best of them, market forces put them out of business. I don’t care if my employer is greedy as long as I get paid what he promises. If I don’t like him or his company, I can go elsewhere.
Governments don’t create jobs, because governments don’t have any money. The money the government gets must be taken from people who have it. In addition to the Sixth Commandment, “You shall not murder,” there’s the Eighth Commandment that states, “You shall not steal,” and that includes governments, civil and ecclesiastical.
Judge Andrew Napolitano offers a good summary of the Pope’s economic shortcomings:
“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.”