I love Pope Francis. He drives a Ford Focus. However, I have been apprehensive about his political ideology. My apprehension has been based partly on what the pope himself has said, but also based partly on what has been reported about him.
The Pope’s politics came into question most recently in November when he released an 84 page apostolic exhortation. The Guardian reported, “Pope Francis calls unfettered capitalism ‘tyranny’ and urges rich to share wealth.” The Washington Post reported similarly on, “Pope Francis’s stinging critique of capitalism.” Is the Pope truly anti-capitalist? Is he anti-liberty? Is he a Progressive or a Liberal? I reserved my judgement of him, mostly because I respect a man of his stature.
Good news today, though. This is what Pope Francis said to his conservative critics within the Church:
“Marxist ideology is wrong. But in my life I have known many Marxists who are good people, so I don’t feel offended.”
I’ll even give him his point about Marxists being good people: they aren’t really dangerous unless they have power or influence. But this issue is not settled. For while the Washington Post and Guardian headlines above are certainly hyperbole, the following comment from Pope Francis is telling:
“Today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills.”
Evidently, the Pope means for government leaders to interfere in the free-market, and to restrict it. Liberals like to interfere with the free market, so as to redistribute income and wealth. They like to restrict the free market so as to narrow the wealth gap between rich and poor. They abhor the accumulation of wealth. However, Liberals should also pay attention to what else Pope Francis had to say:
“I was not, I repeat, speaking from a technical point of view but according to the Church’s social doctrine.”
So redistribution of wealth is a part of the Church’s social doctrine. And I agree: generosity is in fact a Christian principle. On the other hand, the accumulation of wealth and material goods appears to fly in the face of Christian principles. One other thing about Liberals, though: they are against religion and religious values–especially Christianity and Christian values–in Government. So why do they advocate for the Government to be re-distributors of wealth? On one hand, Government leaders are not to pray in the course of their official duties, much less to legislate or enforce Christian values. On the other hand, these same leaders are supposed to govern with the Christian values of generosity and wealth redistribution espoused above by the Pope.
The above line reasoning may appear contrived , as it reflects the false value of “Separation of Church and State.” There is a practical reason, though, why governments should not redistribute income or otherwise interfere in free-markets. If history tells us anything, it is that people with undue power will use that power for their own benefits, and NOT in pursuit of altruistic Christian values like generosity or compassion. The main point of this post is to show that the Government should not be in the business of redistributing incomes, as this is the church’s work and the church’s values. But it is also to show that it is absurd to think the Government interferes in the free market, redistributes incomes, etc… for altruistic reasons.