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The Sometimes Warring Schools of Francis Print E-mail
By Austin Ruse   
Friday, 13 December 2013

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The world is obsessed with, really cannot get enough of the Catholic Church. And the new pope has the world blushing like a schoolgirl – as TIME’s choice of him as Person of the Year Wednesday confirmed.  Mostly, it’s because he seems – to certain people – to have kicked the “right wing” in the keister, first with abortion, then with homosexuality, and now with economics in Evangelii Gaudium. I don’t know of another papal document, except Humanae Vitae, that has so intensely interested the world.

Whole Schools of Francis have sprung up. There are probably more, but I count four main ones: the Gloating Left, the Enforcers, the Faithful Questioners, the Silly and Straw Men.

Rush Limbaugh heads the last group, though he is more straw man than silly. He called the document “Marxist.”  Well, who cares? The answer is everyone who wants to bash Catholics who are politically conservative. They haven’t been able to get enough of those few paragraphs spoken by Limbaugh, who by the way loves the Catholic Church.

The Silly is an unfortunate guy named Adam Shaw, a video-game reviewer who wrote a ridiculous piece for Fox that said Francis “will prove a disaster for the Catholic Church.” It may be the last time you ever hear of him, but you would think he was the most influential “right-wing” Catholic ever.

The Gloating Left believes this document is the final comeuppance for all the “right-wing” Cafeteria Catholics. In the National Catholic Reporter, Michael Sean Winters says: “There are not enough red and gold pens in the world for George Weigel to parse the clamant social justice sections out of Evangelii Gaudium.” The ever-ideological E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post and Commonweal asked: “Will conservatives among American Catholics who have long championed tax cuts for the wealthy acknowledge the moral conundrum that Francis has put before them?” And a political lefty named Dan Nichols, who runs a little-visited site called Caelum et Terra, says how happy he is to see conservatives “squirm.”

The Faithful Questioners are those trying to engage the Pope’s exhortation. While not outright rejecting his underlying arguments, they are trying to make sense of the economic claims that have drawn so much attention.

Michael Novak, one of the treasures of the Church in America, has taught a few generations both here and overseas about the faith and democratic capitalism. A regular adviser to Blessed John Paul II, Novak is one of the most qualified Catholics to engage Francis on this topic.

Novak says you cannot understand this document without taking into account the “populist fascism” that Francis lived under in Argentina; an economy once among the largest in the world now lies long-ruined by an elite that largely ignores the poor.

While Novak acknowledges that society must care for the poor – he parts company with Francis in his “highly partisan and biased” use of certain terms such as “trickle-down economics,” which Novak says is a mistranslation anyway.

        Destruction of the San Saba Mission in the province of Texas,
           and the martyrdom of Fathers Alonso de Terreros and Jose de Santiesteban, 1758
    by Jose Paez (c. 1765)

Sam Gregg of the Acton Institute wants to know where exactly “markets operate with ‘absolute autonomy’ and exactly who, except a minuscule number of “anarcho-capitalists”, rejects “the right of states. . .to exercise any form of control.”

I am most closely aligned with the questioners, but I recognize the danger. Dissident Catholics on abortion, for instance, will say things like “of course I hold the teaching of the Church, but I wonder. . .”, and then rattle off questions that amount to unbelief. I do not say that about Novak and Gregg. Not in the least. But that can be the danger for some.

Finally, there are the Enforcers who seem to have been lying in wait to go after their fellow Catholics who are not falling in line fast enough and in exactly the way they want them to.

Patrick Deneen of Notre Dame has taken a swipe at pro-life and pro-family Catholics who, he says, have been bought off by a “massive funding apparatus.” They get big Catholic money – provided they remain faithful Republicans on economics. But anyone who actually works in traditional Catholic non-profits will wonder where that massive funding apparatus is.

Mark Shea spends several hundred words pounding away with his sledgehammer on what he calls the “Thing that used to be Conservatism” and on the poor flea Adam Shaw, who wrote the stupid column for Fox and as a result got canned as a video-game reviewer by Catholic News Service.

There are better-balanced voices. Andrew Abela is Dean of the Business School at Catholic University of America. He quite sensibly says that the pope cannot condemn the market economy and champion socialism because that would go against Church teaching. And that Francis understands perfectly well that there is no place on earth where there exists a completely laissez faire economy.

Abela says it is clear to him what the pope is really denouncing is “crony capitalism” whereby big corporations, and not just those in Argentina, game the system through lobbying and political contributions. They use government to punish smaller companies and then get bailed out when they get in trouble. He claims the pope also condemns unimaginative businessmen who use the market as an excuse for bad and sometimes immoral decisions.

This puts you in mind of, say, Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan Chase. Evangelii Gaudium is for all of us, and for him, too. It is a document about evangelization. And I wonder: who is evangelizing Jamie Dimon?

If Dimon does not have God, then he most certainly has a god – and that is probably profit and loss, return on investment, and little else. So how much better would it be for Dimon, his employees and investors, if it were profit and loss and the supernatural motivating him?

And if it were, perhaps JP Morgan wouldn’t just this minute be ponying up $2 billion to the Justice Department for its part in the Madoff Ponzi scheme.

 
Austin Ruse is the President of the New York and Washington, D.C.-based Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), a research institute that focuses exclusively on international social policy. The opinions expressed here are Mr. Ruse’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of C-FAM.
 
 
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Comments (53)Add Comment
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written by Sue, December 13, 2013
"Andrew Abela is Dean of the Business School at Catholic University of America. He quite sensibly says that the pope cannot condemn the market economy and champion socialism because that would go against Church teaching. And that Francis understands perfectly well that there is no place on earth where there exists a completely laissez faire economy.

Abela says it is clear to him what the pope is really denouncing is “crony capitalism” whereby big corporations, and not just those in Argentina, game the system through lobbying and political contributions. They use government to punish smaller companies and then get bailed out when they get in trouble. "

And why, if this is true, did the Pope not say this in so many easily articulated words?
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written by Matt, December 13, 2013
One must read the Apostolic Exhortation in continuity with the past Encyclicals on the evils and threats to society of Communism and Socialism. Pope Francis' exhortation would have been aligned with the truth if he observed our s0-called free markets have been captured by Globalism which is the marriage of High Finance and Corporatism to corrupt national governments and destroy local economies. The Pope's solution of a one world government with power...aligns with the globalists plans. Globalists that also supported socialism and communism and well as today's corporatism.
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written by Mack Hall, December 13, 2013
Rush Limbaugh loves Catholicism? Is the author being ironic? I haven't had my first cuppa joe yet, so I might be a little obtuse.

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written by DeGaulle, December 13, 2013
It can sometimes appear to those of us on the outside that American Catholics worship money as their primary god. To me, as an employer, the reality that corporate CEO's in many American corporations earn many hundreds of times that earned by the most low-paid employees in these businesses is obscene. It wasn't the case in the USA of fifty years ago. Was that USA a Marxist one, in that case? I think not, and believe this exponential growth in the size and influence of corporate business parallels the equivalent growth of an increasingly socialist state with both as opposite sides of the same totalitarian, ungodly coin. Anyone who feels that the Pope is not within his rights to criticise this state of affairs, which makes a bosom ally of the United States and atheistic, totalitarian, Communist China, is ignorant of Catholic teaching and tradition. Remember, what we know as modern,individualistic capitalism was born with the Reformation when entrepreneurial princes and aristocrats saw the theft of Church property as a good investment opportunity-and had no more regard for the property rights of the then Church than today's banksters have for those of the common citizen.
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written by Guest, December 13, 2013
Sue,

You said it all and said it best.

Why cannot some of these intellectual Catholics with a high profile stand up and say Holy Father we agree with you. Please speak with greater clarity so that there is less confusion?

There may be ideologues on the right who place politics and money before faith, but I think authentic folks readily accept what the Pope is saying. The problem is the way it is said allows the leftist ideologues to graft their ideology onto his words and then claim that is Catholic teaching.

All this confusion is not good.
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written by Jim Mason, December 13, 2013
Very well written... We all need to slow down and listen to the Lord our God. Both right and left have good points but true giving comes from the heart and not big government. God is good and He rewards those of us that give from the heart.

Merry Christmas to all.
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written by Sam Schmitt, December 13, 2013
@Sue et al - An article by Michael Pakaluk at Zenit, "How to Read 'The Joy of the Gospel'" might help. It's a reminder that the pope assumes past Church teaching and so has no need to repeat it, and to read the entire document in context instead of just the snippets talked about in the media. Look it up!
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written by grump, December 13, 2013
Few could argue with Churchill's view: "The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries."

And it was Keynes, who said, Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it's just the opposite."

I'm pretty far to the right on most issues but can't deny the fact that in the last decade pay for American CEO's has gone up more than 800 percent while the galley slaves have eked out 5 percent in real terms, essentially losing more than gaining. Another stark stat: In America, CEO's make 300 times what their average employee earns; in Japan it's 20 percent.

It's also true that the JP Morgans of the world, representing the face of capitalism, hate government regs but are the first to run to the government for money when the "free market" fails and things go bad as back in 2008 when under the guise of the "Emergency Economic Stabilization Act," Bush, Obama, McCain, Paulson and the Wall Street bunch got together to hand over $700 billion in taxpayer money to fat cats including American Express and big banks such as Capital One. Two years later, Cap One took me to court for $1,500 for a credit card default. I told them I already paid them back in 2008 so we're even.

The aforementioned act emerged as TARP (Troubled Assets Relief Program), yet another form of corporate welfare that wound up using the 700 bil to buy up failing bank assets. But actually an investigation by Bloomberg analysts revealed that the Federal Reserve committed $7.8 trillion with a T to rescue the financial system; half the value of everything produced in the U.S. that year.

I think Austin is right in highlighting this kind of "crony capitalism" the Pope likely was alluding to. And while there were big protests against the bailout, polls showed Americans favored it by a wide margin to "stabilize the economy" and "boost investor confidence." It was a great sales job by the boys on both sides of the aisle with a national election nearing and Obama and McCain in step on the big con despite superficial differences on other matters.

Ralph Nader, who coined the term "corporate welfare" back in 1956, wouldn't get my vote for dog catcher but he was right in his critique of the American brand of capitalism that hands out tax breaks, favored treatments, money grants, etc., that benefit the rich and richer who pay big bucks to lobbyists to advance their causes. The rest of us have no such advocates and that infamous gap between us and the wealthy grows ever wider year after year. Now more than ever there is a push for "redistribution of wealth" and "income equality" by the likes of the hypocritical Obama who pocketed millions in "campaign contributions" from his corporate benefactors.

I have to get by on Social Security and two small pensions amounting to less than $25,000 a year but wind up paying more taxes to Uncle Sam than General Electric. Is this really what Adam Smith had in mind?

The Pope is no economist but he's on to something that there are many things wrong with an economic system that makes the rich richer and the poor poorer.
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written by senex, December 13, 2013

Pope Francis’ frequent off the cuff comments over the past several months and his somewhat rambling comments in Evangelii Gaudium is symptomatic of people being elevated to positions of power and prominence when they are not ready for ‘prime time’. Early on his ‘handlers’ had to come along to ‘explain’ what he really meant, and this continues. Every leader needs to measure his words carefully because he must anticipate certain phrases will be taken out of context and used to cause dissension.

He has not instilled confidence in many loyal church going Catholics. How do we reconcile his statements with Pius XI who wrote in Quadragessimo Anno: “No one can be at the same time sincere Catholic and a true Socialist.”
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written by Henry, December 13, 2013
Listening to Rush Limbaugh, he comes off as very Catholic friendly. His often said "talent on loan from God" statement is closer to good Christian common sense theology than some of which we understand from our higher clergy. It is more in sync with the good news theology we received from humble 8th grade teaching Sisters, than many folks think think.
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written by DeGaulle, December 13, 2013
Grump, you are correct in your diagnosis. The hard part is in devising the right treatment. Socialism would be worse than the disease, and it is noteworthy that it is not only attractive to the State, whose interests it obviously serves, but also to global capitalism which co-exists quite merrily with it here in Europe, but also in China. Perhaps the best road may be represented by the ideas of Major Douglas, whereby the control of the money supply would be wrested from the banks by the state, with the latter being simultaneously emasculated in its control of the poor by the simultaneous provision of a universal living wage.
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written by Tony, December 13, 2013
My father told me when I was a kid that the conflict between big government and big business was a hoax, and that big business helped big government write the regulations that would hurt them a little and temporarily, but would hurt their smaller competitors a lot and for keeps.

I think that there's plenty of justification for people who believe in free economic activity to argue that people who deal mainly in notional "products" -- bundles of bundles of funds -- are parasites. One reform I'd love to see: criminal prosecution of offenders, with real time behind bars, and not in spas for the rich, but in Leavenworth, among the thugs whose sight and smell they have managed to avoid all their lives. It bothers me that nobody from the big banks rescued by TARP is doing time.
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written by Dan Kennedy, December 13, 2013
I have to admit that this is the first Pope, in my lifetime, that I have seen so many gyrations exercised in explaining to the faithful in particular, what he actually means. With other Popes, I've certainly seen secular misinterpretations, but mostly mockery and derision in opposition to very clear teaching of Church doctrine.
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written by Guest, December 13, 2013
Sam Schmitt,

I read that piece, and many others. I am sure many people do the same. The real question is how many, and which ones, are correct? I have read we have to re-interpret our Holy Father's words based on : his being a Jesuit, he being from South America, he being formed post VII, he using a different pastoral approach, and so many other variables that you can just pick one and then add your own spin and call it Catholic teaching.

My favorite is when some claim his words are clear you just do not like what he says.

Why so much confusion? Really I ask why?
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written by Ted Seeber, December 13, 2013
You redeemed yourself in the last three sentences. I was about to say that what the Faithful Questioners have missed is that there are two ways to create an autonomous market- law and corruption. And while unfettered markets by lack of rule of law exist (Somalia comes to mind, where rule of law is so non existent that regulation would be a step up, heck, a government that isn't your neighbor with a machine gun would be a step up), far more common is rule of corruption creating the autonomous market of crony capitalism- where the rich pay to play, and if you can't pay, you don't play- you're frozen out of the market.

And you don't have to go to Argentina to find it- you can find it right here in the United States.
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written by william manley, December 13, 2013
Mr. Ruse, you have done a good job of covering the waterfront of comments about the Pope and his views on capitalism and poverty with one exception. There is another important perspective: is it hypocritical for the Head of one of the richest entities in the world to discuss caring for the poor without divesting the church of many of its huge financial resources. Christ's answer to the rich young man desiring salvation was "sell all you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven." My prediction is that this verse will be quoted more and more in the coming weeks, months, and years. Can the Church live up to the words of its founder?
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written by Deacon Ed Peitler, December 13, 2013
The next time this Pope issues another document or provides us with impromptu interviews, he should also devise a multiple choice quiz to accompany it. Then after all consumers of his words have completed the quiz, the Holy Father can give us the answers to the questions he has posed so that we can all get an idea of how well we have comprehended what he hoped we would get from the content of his pronouncements.

Then the average correct responses for each of the four groups Austin identifies - the Gloating Left, the Enforcers, the Faithful Questioners, the Silly and Straw Men - could be compared. The scores would be most revealing - perhaps most of all to the Holy Father himself.
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written by Austin Ruse, December 13, 2013
Mack Hall, I am glad you didn't have a cuppa joe because you might have spilt it.

On his show, talking about his controversial remarks, Rush said he loves the Church. He said further that the place outside the US he has visited the most is, get this, the Vatican. He didn't say Rome. He said the Vatican. Maybe he meant Rome, but he said the Vatican. Whoa.

He also said he has thought many times over the years about becoming a Catholic. I know of a priest, whose name is certainly known to my fellow writers at TCT, and to many others (he used to have a show on EWTN), who was in touch with Rush and often said Rush was close to swimming the Tiber. Still hasn't happened though and that was a long time ago.

He, like many, is well and truly flummoxed by the sound of European democratic socialism you hear in Church documents on economics. He reads "redistribution of wealth" and he understands it as Marxism.

We need to give him a break and also move off of him in this debate. It is a sideshow.

Also, pray for him and his conversion!
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written by Bill Hocter, December 13, 2013
I'm still only about 40% of the way through Evangelii Gaudium and thus can't really comment about it intelligently yet.

However, a couple of thoughts about economics and politics in general from a reasonably conservative Catholic apropos today's article above:

1. Has the disaster provoked by Marxism during the 20th Century caused some of us to overlook or minimize the problems engendered in a market based economy? These problems include, among others, consumerism, persistant poverty, an inevitable crony capitalism, and inequality of wealth.

2. Does the liberal fault of near deification of politics and the state find a symmetrical counterpart among conservatives in an overglorification of the free market?

3. Has 5 years of living under the current Administration caused any of us to become a bit more humble in extolling the virtues of democracy, capitalistic or otherwise?
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written by Amy, December 13, 2013
Friends, Google Aica Documebtos and you will have for your viewing homilies given by Cardinal Bergolio, from as far back as 2005. A couple of them especially, will give you further insight into Pope Francis' integration of the Joy of the Gospel with economic generosity and consideration.

I especially recommend his "Homily at the Closing Mass of the National Congress on the Social Doctrine of the Church" May 8, 2011, Rosario, Argentina.

They are short and in Spanish, translation available - somehow.

It's nice to read something he has written before he became Pope and didn't have worldwide pressure and scrutiny.



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written by Just Wondering, December 13, 2013
I was just wondering what Pope Francis says in the apostolic exhortation or in his January 1st Peace Message that is at odds with what the Church has always taught about the economy or about what our Lord says in sacred scripture about our possessions? Isn't Pope Francis reiterating what Pope Benedict XVI said in Caritas in Veritate?
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written by Austin Ruse, December 13, 2013
@Bill Hocter
I believe that income inequality is a phony issue. I am totally indifferent to the fact that Bill Gates and a whole lotta folks make exponentially more than I.

And, didn't we read something, apropos persistent poverty, that the poor will always be with us? The presence of poverty hardly casts a doubt on the efficacy of the market economy. The market system has carried more people into material well being, good health, and longer lives than any other system in the history of the world.
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written by Sue, December 13, 2013
Bill Hocter, exactly in which economy in the last 100 years are you saying free market has actually been tried? It seems to me that once you have crony capitalist/monopolist/oligopolists controlling the market it is actually no longer "free". So what reality, exactly, is Pope Francis referring to when he talks about a "free" market?

It seems like for over a century, you have had an oligarchic puppeteer with a "capitalism" puppet on one hand and a "marxism" puppet on the other. The puppets are easily seen on stage bashing each other like punch and judy. They stage genocides and bank bubbles, legalize abortion and legalize waterboarding, always pointing the finger at the opposite puppet. Noone sees or comments on the unseen puppetmaster, who is behind all of these evils. If someone does venture a guess about that evil puppeteer in the shadows, the whistleblower gets a tinfoil duncecap placed on his head by punch and judy, everyone laughs, and the bread and circuses continue.

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written by Louise, December 13, 2013
Austin, it seems that one more group needs to be added: Maybe we could call it the Joyful Faithful. That group comprises those who are happy with the Holy Father, love what he is saying and doing, accept everything the church teaches, trust the pope and consider everything he has said as pope to be in keeping with Church teaching and tradition, are not letting the world define and interpret the Holy Father's message but are keeping up with it firsthand, accept where the Holy Father's message convicts them as necessary in their own lives, and want to incorporate in their own lives the principles that the Holy Father is holding out to the world. What do you think?
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written by Just Wondering, December 13, 2013
Austin: I was just wondering why you skip over the fact that the market economy also gives us the abortion clinics you so rightly oppose? Those who are killed in those clinics have no life at all. Yes this system is unprecedented in the history of he world but hardly something to venerate.
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written by Guest, December 13, 2013
Louise,

Would the group you propose really understand what has been said? I ask because many very educated people in these disciplines are contradicting each other while they all claim to know what was intended .
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written by Ray Hunkins, December 13, 2013
Thank you all for your thoughtful comments.
I offer this as food for thought:The Founding Fathers of this Nation understood that the problem we would face in organizing ourselves into a civic society was what the problem has always been, from the beginning of time: human nature. They spent many hours debating ways in which we could be saved from ourselves, and they structured a government designed to make it difficult to accumulate unbridled power, economic or political. The methods of restraint were based on the rule of law.
In the end however, they warned that the solution to the problem was also what it had always been, since the beginning of time: Probity and morality as defined by the Natural Law.
The Holy Father would do well to remind us of basic truths; to focus on human nature and not on the structure of our economic or political systems, which by the way, until recently have been successful and guaranteed opportunity.
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written by Austin Ruse, December 13, 2013
Just Wondering,

I suppose it was the market economy which gave Soviet Russia the highest abortion rates in the world?
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written by Austin Ruse, December 13, 2013
Louise, everyone mentioned above, except perhaps Adam Shaw and Rush, are the joyful faithful. No?
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written by Louise, December 13, 2013
Guest, they would think they do. But that's not to say they would know how to apply it in areas that call for a certain expertise such as developing economic policies. But even the church does not claim that expertise, right? Catholic social teaching is simply principles to which a Catholic assents, and like all other church teaching, the church understands them better and better as time goes by so is able to present more facets of the truth therein. I'm not criticizing the "Faithful Questioners", I'm just saying there is another group who is not covered by the term. Could it be that this group is an example of "ignorance is bliss"? Perhaps, but perhaps not.
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written by Just Wondering, December 14, 2013
Austin: So what , the ideology of socialism gives us abortion but so does the ideology of capitalism. I am wondering why you pass over the reality of what the worship of Mammon results in ?
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written by Austin Ruse, December 14, 2013
Oh...sorry...you want me to condemn the worship of mammon. OK...I do....

Better?

The market economy remains the system that has broght more people out of poverty, made people healthier, better educated, longer living etc etc etc....
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written by Just Wondering, December 14, 2013
All right, lets try again. The market economy delivers abortion and pornography on demand and 500,00 deaths per year just in the USA from tobacco sales etc etc etc... The Church condemns capitalism just as surely as it does socialism. Both are ideologies and the Church insists we remain grounded in ultimate reality not in our own desires. The reality is that this life is not all there is. There is also life beyond the grave. Following capitalism and trading in Good Friday for Black Friday was a terrible exchange.
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written by Austin Ruse, December 14, 2013
The market economy delivers none of the things you list. Sin does. Just as sin delivers these things in non-market economies.

The Church most assuredly does not condemn capitalism. The Church is critical of some of capitalism's excesses but not the thing itself. You really should watch yourself. Deliberately misrepresenting the teachings of the Church is a very dangerous thing.
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written by John Zmirak, December 14, 2013
I won't back everything Adam Shaw said, but calling him a "video game reviewer" is as fair as calling Austin Ruse "a condom critic, with an addiction to the United Nations." Go after the likes of Patrick Dineen and Mark Shea all you want, but don't warn the Acton Institute against the dangers of becoming like "dissident" Catholics who reject the Magisterium, when they are pointing out what they believe are EMPIRICAL ERRORS with STATEMENTS OF FACT and historical analysis in a papal document--all of which are areas that are not even covered by divine protection. Just as a pope could be mistaken about the wisdom of excommunicating Queen Elizabeth, or launching a crusade against Florence, he could be mistaken about the causes and effects of inequality.

It won't do to pretend that we're in the pontificate of Pius XII, whose every sentence was crystalline-clear and organically connected to the Church's traditions. The current pope is loose, sometimes careless, and frequently reliant on secular sources whose ideological provenance is suspect. It's not just undesirable to corral Catholics into Legionary-style docility to every papal utterance; it's impossible, since there's nothing terribly coherent to which to adhere. Must we endorse every word the pope utters--until he admits it was mistranslated and removes it from the Vatican website? Catholics should have more self respect than that.
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written by Just Wondering, December 14, 2013
I am not deliberately misrepresenting the Church's teachings. Read your Catechism #2424 " a theory that makes profit the exclusive norm and ultimate end of economic activity is morally unacceptable". This is repeated by Pope Benedict in Caritas in Veritate #46 "profit ...[is] a means for achieving human and social ends." Capitalism , using money to make money, or as Friedman says we ought to "make as much money as we can" (Capitalism and Freedom, p.20) directly contradicts what the Church teaches here and everywhere else. It is strange indeed that you want to uphold the structures that lead to abortion, pornography etc. but then want to see fewer of the acts. Saying that capitalism is fine except for sin is also strange since the pathology of purpose at the heart of capitalism leads to ever greater sinfulness. I started a long way back on this thread by asking where Pope Francis is at odds with what the Church has always taught about the sound ordering of the material goods of this world. Where is he in contradiction with Benedict XVII,John Paul II, Pius XI, Leo XIII, CCC The 7th Commandment, and with what Jesus teaches in Sacred Scripture?
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written by Louise, December 14, 2013
Just wondering,
No no no! the Church does not condemn capitalism like it does socialism. socialism is based on inherently wrong principles so it can never be "tweaked" to accord with Church teaching; it is wrong at its root...re capitalism, the church mainly warns of its limitations and points out its strengths all the while explaining that it is not the mission of the Church to design an economic system but to hold out to men the principles upon which a just one is based...so we shouldn't expect the Church to say, "Capitalism, that's the ticket!"

But the church has never said that capitalism is wrong at its roots, in fact, the church teaches that a just profit is a good sign that a business is healthy among other things!

Pope Francis is speaking to the world with a myriad of problems, specific to each nation.

But Francis has pointed out a significant flaw in our system right now which we tried to deal with once through welfare reform: too many people are permanently on welfare and are not working or are underemployed. Working is one of the ways that man becomes a co-creator so when an otherwise able to work person does not have this opportunity or is gaming the system to avoid this responsibility to "till the land" something is wrong. Haven't we heard ad nauseum about the 47%?
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written by Louise, December 14, 2013
Austin, my point is merely to point out that there are some out there who are not having or seeing the difficulties that the "faithful questioners" are so they are distinct from them. I hope all the above are joyful!
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written by Just Wondering, December 14, 2013
Louise: It would have been good if you had actually read my post and responded to the Church teaching that I cite.In the Catholic worldview profit is a means. In capitalism profit is the ultimate end. The CEO of Exxon was asked about the 40 billion dollars in profit and his response was that this was Exxon's reason for being-not service to society but accumulating as much profit as possible. This is why we have a Fortune 500 list and not a Fortunate 500 list. We count up who has made the most money, who is the richest. How that money was made is irrelevant in capitalism. This is why we get abortion,pornography,tobacco,destruction of the environment, workplace hazards and so on. There is money to be made. Of course the Church recognizes that we have free will and it calls us to be enterprising but it never falters on insisting that money is a means. It cannot bless capitalism and remain the Church since the Lord it serves was absolutely clear that we cannot serve God and Mammon (Matthew 6:24) Jesus did not say we should not or that it would be difficult but that we could not.
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written by Bill Hocter, December 14, 2013
Austin and Sue-Thank you for the comments. A couple of brief responses. Sorry for the delay-family responsibilities and all that.

1. The poor will be with us. May they speak well of us at our judgment! I'm also relatively indifferent about Bill Gates's wealth, even thoughWindows stinks, because I've been able to meet the needs of my large Catholic family by dint of hard work and God's blessings. If I were poor, through no fault of my own, I might feel differently given the way Windows was forced on most of us through Gates's deft leveraging of an inferior system via his connections with IBM.

2. Crony capitalism is not a free market nor is one able to find a free market anywhere on Earth. Communists made similar excuses about their system as well. At some point we're responsible for the performance of our systems under real world conditions.

3. Democratic Capitalism is likely to be the least bad of available systems. Nonetheless, after 5 years of Obama and cronyism with GE, GM, the ACA, not to mention 40 years of Roe V Wade, it's seeming less and less like something to get excited about. Cheers.
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written by Austin Ruse, December 14, 2013
Just wondering. You should check with the World Bank adn the International Monetary Fund. Global poverty is half what it was 20 years ago...thanks to the march of a global market economy. You are a bit of a Donatist: capitalism can only be clean if the motivations of the CEO are pure. I suspect that those lifted out of poverty by impure CEOs are quite as happy as those lifted out by those CEOs who are pure.

And do please stop with this nonsense about how capitalism has given us abortion, pornography etc. The market economy existed for centuries before these poisons sprung from dirty soil of the sexual revolution.
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written by Austin Ruse, December 14, 2013
Bill Hocter, I refer to you my post to Just Wondering.
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written by Louise, December 15, 2013
Just Wondering, when I posted my comment your catechism comment was not yet posted so I was responding to your post where you said, "The Church condemns capitalism just as surely as it does socialism."

This is partly what I was thinking of in my response (JPII in C.A.):
42. Returning now to the initial question: can it perhaps be said that, after the failure of Communism, capitalism is the victorious social system, and that capitalism should be the goal of the countries now making efforts to rebuild their economy and society? Is this the model which ought to be proposed to the countries of the Third World which are searching for the path to true economic and civil progress?

The answer is obviously complex. If by "capitalism" is meant an economic system which recognizes the fundamental and positive role of business, the market, private property and the resulting responsibility for the means of production, as well as free human creativity in the economic sector, then the answer is certainly in the affirmative, even though it would perhaps be more appropriate to speak of a "business economy", "market economy" or simply "free economy". But if by "capitalism" is meant a system in which freedom in the economic sector is not circumscribed within a strong juridical framework which places it at the service of human freedom in its totality, and which sees it as a particular aspect of that freedom, the core of which is ethical and religious, then the reply is certainly negative.
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written by Austin Ruse, December 15, 2013
Just wondering...what the catechism describes is not capitalism..it is not the market economy. the market economy is about profit but also altruism because profitable companies benefit everyone who comes in contact with them. And I will just reassert that the World Bank tells us that global poverty has been halved in the last 20 years. How has this happened except the growth of global markets?

And, as to your claim that abortion and pornography are the casue of capitalism. Please prove it because to me your claim is insupportable.

Now, certainly, infanticide, whcih has always existed, and pornography, which has always existed, have exploded in recnet decade due to advances in technology. Are you saying that technology is evil? If these things existed in eras prior to teh rise of the market economy, how it is that the market economy created them? But then maybe you are saying that infanticide never existed prior to Adam Smith?

I;m confused...
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written by Austin Ruse, December 15, 2013
John Zmirak and I had this exchange on Facebook but I will repeat myself here. I think you are right about Adam Shaw. Mea culpa. I also think I was a bit rough on him.

About suggesting that SAme Gregg could drift into dissent becuase he raises questions. I was hoping I made it clear I was not talking about him or Novak. i was mostly talking about myself. I wonder when questions reach the level of dissent or at least mase dissent. I have little doubt that many oh-so-thougtful Catholics asking endles questions about abortion or contraception are really just masking their inward dissent.

If i was to choose a school described above, i would be in the Faithful Qustioning School. Maybe even the What the Heck are you Talking About School. which, I would bet is the school you are in, John. Eh?

Anyway, your comments were helpful. A tad fortissimo, but helpful nonetheless.
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written by Guest, December 15, 2013
Mr Ruse,

I think you are on target. Asking questions to grow deeper in understanding and clarify vagueness is not dissent nor obstinate doubt. Many are trying to reconcile the Pope's words with constant Catholic teaching. That is not masking dissent. It is genuine concern and genuine confusion.

What I am waiting for is for high profile Catholics to charitably point out how serious this problem is and the effects on the faithful and others. The constant explaining away by blaming the media or translations has become almost intellectually dishonest.
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written by Sue, December 15, 2013
"And, as to your claim that abortion and pornography are the casue of capitalism. Please prove it because to me your claim is insupportable. "

Mercantilism, capitalism's godfather, fostered the transAtlantic slavetrade, which became the original sin of the United States constitution (3/5 of a person being the flagrant contradiction of all men created equal). That disrespect of black lives bloomed into the first massive demonstration of "eugenics" as the slaveowners realized they had to breed their slaves to make a profit (bec. of import ban). Which degradation of sex and human life set the stage for the intersection of the Fabian socialists with the Darwinists in the later 19th century and the subsequent 20th century marriage-assaults of abortion, porn, etc.

QED

The tragedy is that the popes spoke out against slavery in the early days of our country, but the bishops of the US decided that that teaching didn't apply to the United States. Sound familiar?
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written by Austin Ruse, December 15, 2013
Sue, so you are making the case that abortion and porn are inventions of the 20th century? That is simply false, of course. They existed even before mercantilism. So, how were these things created by a system that came after them?
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written by Austin Ruse, December 15, 2013
And by the way, Sue. Slavery existed before the British/American version. And, were the Africans who colluded, mercantilists, too?

And one more thing. The 3/5 rule was created by the northern states in order to blunt the political influence of the slave states. The 3/5 rule had the effect of giving the south fewer members of Congress than they would have had if the slaves were counted as full human being.

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written by Louise, December 16, 2013
Austin, I understand your concern about your concerns. It shows a goodness of soul. I have to admit a great relief that I do not share the concerns of the "faithful questioners". By saying that I'm not putting myself above them either.

When I look at the pope I see a faithful, strongly Catholic, deeply intelligent man with great trust in God who seems keenly aware of his responsibilities and speaks simply, directly, and from the heart. I have no problem understanding him. He has inspired the world by walking his talk. Personally, I think he is a mystic and well on his way to being a saint which means he has and will suffer a lot. His desire to be closer to people through an unscripted outreach opens him up to situations in which he has and will be misunderstood. He has judged there is a greater good that can be achieved despite that possibility. He is developing the papacy before our very eyes. He is giving us many opportunities to speak with others about the faith. He has repeatedly said that he only intends to speak with the mind of the church and that everything he says should be interpreted in that vein. He is trying to help us with an attitude adjustment. He has laid out a game plan which he intends to develop with our assistance. His closeness to Mary and his deep understanding of her role in our lives is one of his greatest gifts to us.

I can't help wondering if it wouldn't be more productive for the "faithful questioners" in their discussions to show how what he is saying can be reconciled with the teaching of the church and to highlight the beauty. And perhaps the "faithful questioners" could also witness to how what the Holy Father has said has convicted and helped them? I think the Holy Father is especially relying on this group to be the first responders for the field hospital and so far I'm not sure that is happening.
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written by Austin Ruse, December 16, 2013
Louise, I am not sure if you noticed the finished paragraphs I wrote about Andrew Abela..and how much I appreciated his attempt to think with the pope.....I think his approach is much more helpful than that of the faithful questioners. I am sorry I did not make that more clear.

I wish all those I wrote about above were attempting to explain the pope, who sadly does not express himself all that clearly, as you suggest.
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written by Sue, December 17, 2013
I would compare the 3/5 slave clause to the Stupak amendment - an obvious figleaf to cover the greasing of the skids for state-approved slavery or euthanasia. But, I repeat - it was the US bishops, not the pope, who erred on slavery.

Louise speaks eloquently for us to articulate the papal positives. For me, sharing a love for Manzoni and Benson is a big plus. And I am learning to love La Strada by Fellini. Perhaps the errant bishops in the Church could be compared to Fellini's male protagonist in that film?
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written by Louise, December 17, 2013
Austin, I think the pope speaks clearly but he's also very quotable and his quotes are sometimes misinterpreted, having been taken out of context. Those quoting don't consider the fullness of what he says, a very common problem when one is quoted. Sometimes this is done in a "gotcha" way but I don't think the press is doing that to the pope. I think they truly like him. I really don't know why they are not taking complete stock of what he is saying though. For example, how many journalists read the catechism's treatment of homosexuality after the pope referred them to it as the context in which they should understand what he is saying? he seems to respect the craft of journalism and is expecting them to do their job in a professional manner.
the thing is though, I am starting to see a little bit of that happening--quotes and then context given.

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