Friday, May 09, 2014

Has Pope Francis Forgotten The Ten Commandments?

With apologies to my Catholic readers, it appears to me that he has.

I've pretty much let much of the current Pontiff's remarks on income inequality pass because I'm familiar with Pope Francis' history dealing with real poverty in the slums of cities like Buenos Aires and Rosario in his native Argentina. But he appears now to have crossed the red line - literally.

The AP is reporting that the Pope is now calling for governments to redistribute wealth to the poor in a speech he made to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the heads of major U.N. agencies when they met in Rome this week.

Pope Francis called for the UN to promote a "worldwide ethical mobilization" and said a more equal form of economic progress can be had through "the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the state, as well as indispensable cooperation between the private sector and civil society."

'Legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the state?' Wouldn't that be forced redistribution, using the police power of the state beyond what we'd consider normal taxation in order to seize assets legitimately earned by some people in order to gift them to whomever the state felt was 'more deserving'? And forced redistribution, of course, is simply another word for theft. As I recall, one of the Ten Commandments has something to say about that, not to mention another commandment that has something to say about coveting the possessions of others.

What the Pope is essentially doing here is mouthing a version of a familiar slogan used to deprive millions of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, Lenin's 'From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs'. And, of course, the almighty State decides who's who and which is which.

Aside from the severe damage to individual liberty (including religious freedom in those societies the Pope is urging us all to emulate) Pope Francis is badly wrong on a number of counts.

Capitalism, within a few necessary legal fetters has lifted more people out of poverty and raised the individual standard of living far more than any other economic system. Coming from South America as he does, Pope Francis ought to be able to look around and see for himself how badly the quasi-socialist economies in his own neighborhood handle the problem of poverty as opposed to America, Canada,Japan or Western Europe.

Part of the reason for this is that when government isn't 'legitimately redistributing' other people's money they do the only two things you can do with money. They either spend it on goods and services or they invest it,both of which create economic activity and prosperity in an ever widening ripple. Not only that, but as people develop an economic surplus, they may choose to 'invest' it (for religious and/or tax purposes) in giving to charity, with the Catholic Church being a prime beneficiary.

Yes, by voicing this recycled Marxist nonsense, the Pope is actually working to destroy the ability of the Catholic Church to help the very people he claims to be concerned about! Or does he anticipate that the Church will be one of the beneficiaries of this forced redistribution he's talking about?

Based on previous history, I'd say he's fooling himself badly.Socialist Big Government is not noted for its generosity to religion.

It's a pity that Pope Francis can't have a long conversation with Pope John Paul II at this point. That Pope, who experienced in his native Poland the natural result of what the current Pontiff is pushing could definitely provide Pope Francis with some enlightenment.


Anonymous said...

Or maybe you should read his comments in their entirety instead of the AP version

louielouie said...

well this is one of those few occasions in which i disagree with ff. or to put it another way, i don't have any idea what he is talking about.
for starters ff appears to portray the latest doofus to sit on the throne of st. peter as some sort of johnny come lately marxist. as ff quotes the new testament better than myself, perhaps it is ff that has forgotten the story of ananias an sapphira, at the beginning of chapter 5 in "the acts of the apostles", and also as related in 4:32 in the acts of the apostles.
to wit:
Acts Chapter 4:32 closes by stating that the first followers of Jesus did not consider their possessions to be their own but held all things in common in order to use what they had on behalf of those in want. For example, Barnabas, a Levite from Cyprus, sold a plot of land and donated the profit to the apostles.

As told at the beginning of Acts Chapter 5 Ananias and Sapphira, following Barnabas' example, also sold their land but withheld a portion of the profit.

where i'm going with this is to make the claim to ff that the catholic church was marxist about 1800 years before marx even thought about marxism.
so maybe ff should brush up on his new testament a bit.
francis is only quoting church doctrine. nothing new here. same dogma i've heard from every parish priest for the last 60 years.
i'm curious, is anon a priest?

i will say one thing about ff essay. i always thought the re-distribution equation was uttered by marx. i didn't know it was lenin, who, inspired by marx, uttered the equation.

louielouie said...

this is what i don't understand and/or can not equate about socialism.

Every member of society, performing a certain part of the socially-necessary work, receives a certificate from society to the effect that he has done a certain amount of work. And with this certificate he receives from the public store of consumer goods a corresponding quantity of products. After a deduction is made of the amount of labor which goes to the public fund, every worker, therefore, receives from society as much as he has given to it.

as i read this portrayal of marxism/leninism, it tells me, if you don't work, you don't get no stuff.
so where does all the social welfare come from?
could it come from all the opportunists and reformists, as spoken of by lenin hisself?
maybe conservatism at it's core is leninist, and all these welfare statists are the oppotunists and refomists......

Rob said...

Hi Louie,
Very important difference - Barnabas,Ananias and Saphira did what they did voluntarily as a matter of conscience. So have many others, in fact the Bible exhorts us to tithe,and Leviticus sets forth rules of Tzedakah which translates loosely as 'charity' but in fact literally means 'justice'.

Leviticus 19:9-11, for example:

"When you [plural] reap the harvest of your land, you [singular] shall not reap all the way to the corner of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. You shall not pick your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger; I the Lord am your G-d. You shall not steal; you shall not deal deceitfully or falsely with one another."

Such acts are between man and G-d. And they should be.

Jesus himself acted very differently as well. Those loaves, wine and fishes came from his own efforts and his own choice.No government forced him to fork over or else.

What the Pope is talking about here is not voluntary, but mandatory using government coercion. That is very different, and it's theft.

It is one thing to have the Church teach people to make those choices voluntarily and encourage them to choose to do so and quite another to say that government should force them to do it.

That kind of thing not only perverts the Divine message, but as I point out, will effectively limit the Church's ability to help the very people Pope Francis claims to be concerned about.


Rob said...

Hi Louie,
The Amana society and the Incas, which practiced pure religiously based communism operated in the way you're suggesting, to a point. In the Amana society, the group owned everything. The same was true in our original Massachusetts Bay Colony. In both cases, the system failed because the slackers figured out that they got the same share whether they worked or not, while the more industrious figured out the same thing.

Among the Incas, the Inca (their god-king) owned everything and parceled it out. It succeeded after a fashion because of a relatively low population and an agrarian economy, but it severely restricted that society's development.

The problem with modern Marxist communism is that the State decides what work is 'socially useful', how valuable it is, how much 'labor' is deducted and what that end 'certificate' is actually worth.

In such an environment, corruption becomes rampant, government connections far outweigh all other considerations and hitting artificially established government quotas based on quantity becomes more important that quality.

After all, if you're making shoes and you have to produce 10,000 pairs a month, does it really matter whether they're any good or not? No one is going to boycott your business because it's owned by government.

Ultimately, what happens is a black market/barter economy for necessary consumer goods. Farmers grow crops or slaughter animals on the sly and trade them for a really good pair of shoes made by a worker on the sly and smuggled out of the factory for private sale, or some gasoline illegally skimmed off the government deliveries,or in exchange for other goods and services.

Anonymous said...

I honestly think that Pope Francis is a good man at heart. But he seems to have forgotten the edict to lead by example. If he wants those of us in the first world to divest ourselves of our income so that tyrants in the third world can usurp their ill gotten gains, (does anyone really believe that these evil individuals will distribute this wealth to their poverty stricken citizens) he should start by disinvesting everything that the Catholic church owns. Let the church try income equality for awhile before they tell the rest of us that its a good way to live.

zaba said...

Good point Elise:

I would add that the Vatican IS a country and, as you said, should be the first to 'divest' itself of wealth, of which it has plenty.

Anonymous said...

The parable in Matthew of the 10 virgins who went out to meet The Bridegroom contradicts the pontiff. Five were prudent and conserved their lamp oil for His arrival. Five were foolish and consumed their lamp oil. There was no 'redistribution' of oil. Sucks to be out of oil, in the dark, with no welcome for The Lord. Communist redistributionism, like Catholicism, comes from a Collectivist Mind, both of which claim salvation of the individual, but come with the burden of eternal misery. Collectivism is taking, slavery; Christianity is giving, freedom.

Sara Noble said...

I both agree and disagree with you. The Pope comes from a socialist nation and has some strong anti-capitalist feelings based on what appears to be his limited knowledge. He acts like crony capitalism is all there is.

He did however fight the socialism in his country and he said he's not a Marxist.

In his address, he speaks about "limited" and "generosity." I think what he means by limited is governments should redistribute within the normal scope of taxation. Generosity can only be voluntarily given. He doesn't mean they should forcibly take all we have.

The Catholic Church teaches social justice and redistribution - but voluntary - not mandatory.

That being said, more than half of Catholics in this country are very liberal.

I wish the Pope would stop feeding the beast. I look at the way the left is using his words and it makes me cringe but they are somewhat out of context.

Bookworm said...

I don't want to leave a long comment here, but you might find a post I did about the Left's long march through the church -- especially the Latin American church -- useful here.