Pope Francis, the Market, and Liberalism

I like and respect Ryan McMaken, but I can’t go along with his suggestion that “much of the negative reaction to the Pope’s remarks stems not from any devotion to free markets (because of course, few conservatives actually care about free markets) but actually from a disdain for poor people.”

I agree that it is preposterous to call the Pope a Marxist.

However, while I can’t speak for everyone, I suspect I am not alone in being upset by the following:

(1) The passages about markets and the economy are an embarrassment and will do serious damage coming from a man in his position. Rush Limbaugh may have gone over the top, but Rush’s were passing remarks that will be forgotten by next week. The statements by Francis will be waved in our faces by left-wing Jesuits from now until the end of the world. I can’t bring myself to be especially upset by Rush when I consider matters sub specie aeternitatis.

(2) The passages about markets and the economy don’t even seem especially Christian. As Peter Bauer said of Pope Paul VI’s disastrous Populorum Progressio (1967), whose faulty understanding of economic development and its preconditions no doubt increased the level of avoidable suffering in the world, “The spirit of these documents [he includes Octogesima Adveniens] is contrary to the most durable and best elements in Catholic tradition. They are indeed even un-Christian. Their Utopian, chiliastic ideology, combined with an overriding preoccupation with economic differences, is an amalgam of the ideas of millenarian sects, of the extravagant claims of the early American advocates of foreign aid, and of the Messianic component of Marxism-Leninism.”

(3) If the Pope is going to condemn the financial system, can there be any excuse for absolute silence about the world’s central banks? If the answer is that the Pope can’t be expected to be an expert on central banking, then what is he doing making these comments in the first place?

(4) We are told Pope Francis is bold, but his alleged boldness consists of doing and saying things that please the world. This is not how I define bold. He meets with representatives from every religion on earth, to whom he is kind and generous, but he has little pastoral sensitivity left over for the kind of faithful Catholic whom the post-Vatican II popes have all too often left hanging out to dry, and whom Francis himself regularly scolds. (These folks belong to the “‘no’ Church,” while he represents the “‘yes’ Church.”) He is in no way bothered by liturgical escapades that would horrify a civilized non-Catholic (this, after all, is a man who placed a beach ball, which he’d gotten at World Youth Day, on the altar of sacrifice at St. Mary Major), but spends his time persecuting normal Catholics, as in the ongoing case of the Franciscans of the Immaculate. Meanwhile, he assures everyone that he loves them. Unless you’re a traditional Catholic, in which case you will get kicked in the teeth.

The leftist passages in Evangelii Gaudium were simply the last straw for a lot of people, quite understandably.

I went through all this more systematically in my podcast on the subject.


4:41 pm on December 13, 2013