Saturday, June 27, 2009

Dear Pope, Butt Out!

As a Catholic, I pay close attention to what the Church is preaching, but that does not mean that I blindly agree with everything they tell us to do or think. This is one of the times that I have to disagree with the Pope.

In Charity in Truth, which should be released next week, he is expected to point out the failings of capitalism and lament the world's roiling markets, exploited workers and the harsh disparity between rich and the poor.

"Many conservatives will be shocked and disappointed by the encyclical, which will reflect Benedict's skepticism toward unbridled capitalism based on greed," wrote Father Thomas Reese, an American Jesuit scholar and an expert on the Vatican.

"Unlike President Obama, who wants to reform a system that he believes is out of control, Pope Benedict wants to rethink the whole system."

Rethink the system into a communist state? Leave politicians like Obama out of this, or you will wear his defeat. Obama supports partial birth abortions.

Unbridled capitalism based on greed? Does the Church not preach 10% of your wages go to the tax exempt Church? Have you seen how the Pope lives? This Pope is a total disaster, he is doing more to drive people away from the faith than to unite them. "Harsh disparity between rich and the poor"? I might have accepted that from Mother Teresa because she lived what she preached, but from a Pope who lives in luxury, not a chance.

"We're in a desperate world," Fr. Rausch said. "To have some kind of clear teaching on how economic decisions impact on people is probably a good counterbalance to the typical American emphasis on 'Let the market be free. The market will solve its own problems.' "

The Church should stay out of the market, that is none of their business, except for how their billions donated by Catholics are invested. Let the Catholics be free than. Free to give nothing to the Church, because the Church invests that money in the "free markets" they are about to condemn!

It's time for the Pope to get back to the roots of what it means to be a Catholic. I have always been proud to be a Catholic, mainly because in a world with disintegrating morals, the Church has stood firm on issues like abortion. They have given clear guidance that we could follow. Even when I questioned some of the Churches stances, at least I knew what they stood for, and I could make my own decisions based on their teachings. It is not so clear anymore what they stand for, and that is disappointing in a world that needs a clear moral compass.

"Part of the role of the pope is to be able guide the Catholic Church and help it to read the signs of the times."

Said Prof. Gillis: "He is addressing the entire world, including non-Catholics. He is being a voice for the voiceless."

He is NOT being a voice for the voiceless, he is taking a stance from his own personal viewpoint. If he could really read the signs of the times he would understand that we are looking for clear moral direction, not a discussion on capitalism.

We lived through multiple Priests who lost their own moral compasses, and we gave the Church a chance to redeem itself by setting an example. I have yet to see that happen. Greed in the form of capitalism is not at fault for the existence of poor people. The Church is at fault for the decline in attendance at Mass because the people are losing faith.

Maybe the Church should concentrate on their lambs and forget about the lions.


Anonymous said...

Hi Hunter. I am not Catholic so I can't really comment to strongly one way or the other. I do, however, agree with you about this pope - he sticks his nose in where it does not belong and he also makes some pretty contentious statements. When he became pope, I was of the understanding that he was to be a quasi-interim pope.

It seems as though he is here to stay.

I do have some opinions about the Vatican but, as I am not Catholic, I won't voice them - out of respect, not for the Vatican, but for followers of the Catholic church.

Southern Quebec said...

"...quasi-interim pope."

No such thing E. It's one of those 'jobs for life' things. He is there until death do them part.

One of his major problems, is just the fact that he followed John Paul -- who I understand Catholics liked.

"Unbridled capitalism based on greed?"
It will be interesting to see what he says about capitalism. Hunter, just because someone tithes to a religious organization, does not automatically make them a good person. Look at all the CEO's that are in jail. Most of them were HUGE charitable contributors. (It's easy to be generous when it's not your money.)

Also, if get rich on the backs of workers at a sweat shop, it doesn't make you a good person. Karma and all...

dupmar said...

Speaking as a Catholic as well, you are off base on this one. This is pretty traditional as far as Catholic doctrine goes, and similar statements have been made numerous times by previous popes. Now why do you think Catholic archbishops get assassinatedn in South America, priests get murdered. Do you think this is the work of Muslims or some competing faith. No, it has to do with their meddling in social affairs, speaking out on injustices, including those of unbridled greed, capitalism in its pure form if you will, if we are referring to modern economies and not other forms.
If you go back to the history of the split between the Catholic Church and Protestant faiths, this is one of the key dividing points, the Protestant Churches celebrated and advocated the rise of capitalism, greed is good etc, the
Catholic Church objected.
Now it's a complex world out there,
Catholics fought communists, socialists, republicans during the Spanish Civil war, the Catholic Church was a key opponent of the Soviet regime in Poland, the Catholic Church has been an organized opposition to the Castro regime, but is likewise interceding on behalf of the Cuban regime to normalize relations with the US, Catholic priests were part of the Sandinista government in Nicaragua denounced as a "communist threat" by Reagan, and the list goes on.
But on the whole, the Church has interceded to play a moderating role, to speak out against the injustices and curb the excesses of society, whether we are speaking of a market economy or some land based agrarian system.

dupmar said...

As an example of how perceptions, and political tags, can cloud reality, there is not really that much difference between the stance of the Catholic Church in the US and the Church in Canada, but in Canada there is some core support for Conservatives from Catholics, not exclusively as it spreads to other parties, but the support is there. In the US, the same people with the same world outlook are deemed " liberals" and core support goes to the Democratic Party. I would imagine Catholics can be deemed liberals in the US simply because there are so many other crazies out there as far as religion goes. There was this news item this week about some gay exorcism being performed by some Church in Conneticut, not the catholic Church, but some other outfit, it sounded really whacko to me, but that apparently is what passes for religious faith.

Southern Quebec said...

"...he would understand that we are looking for clear moral direction, not a discussion on capitalism."

I don't think that you can separate the two, do you?

dupmar said...

I seriously doubt the Catholic Church intends to replace the existing market economy with some other form. I believe he is referring to a regulated capitalist economy, with respect to laws and protections, and such comments are not targeting Western Europe, or the US, Canada, but other regions of the world where such protections do not exist.
Keep in mind the Catholic Church has existed in societies with both market economies as well as planned economies, and in both instances sought to exert a moderating influence. In this country some of the earliest trade unions, particularly in Quebec, were Catholic based.

There is a belief in other quarters that capitalism equals democracy. Catholics do not subscribe to this view, the world is full of examples of capitalist economies with no corresponding human rights or democratic freedoms.

Gayle said...

"There is a belief in other quarters that capitalism equals democracy. Catholics do not subscribe to this view, the world is full of examples of capitalist economies with no corresponding human rights or democratic freedoms."

This one has always puzzled me. One is a political system and the other an economic system. I believe they were equated as part of the rhetoric out of the cold war.

An example of a democratic socialist government is the Sandinistas.

JR said...

I read that article yesterday too, Hunter and I couldn't agree with you more. If the Pope's pronouncement is as expected then he'll be way off the mark. I don't think the Vatican should be in the business of "rethinking" economic systems. And the "capitalist greed" line is just more populist Obama-like socialist babble. Greed is a constant in human affairs - it's hardly unique to capitalism.

Capitalism certainly has its flaws but, like democracy, its better than any other system that's been tried. The existence of any wealth in the world is due to capitalism. To the extent that people have been able to rise out of poverty anywhere is due to wealth generated by capitalism; and the evidence for it's success can be measured in increasing standards of living and longer life expectancies world-wide.

Are there problems of poverty that remain unsolved? Of course. Basket cases like much of Africa come to mind. But their problems stem mainly from a lack of capitalism, a lack of democracy and a lack of the rule of law.

Let's hope Benedict doesn't come off as big a naif as expected.

dupmar said...

And thus pope Benedict's "skepticism toward unbridled capitalism based on greed" becomes nothing more than Obama-like socialist babble. First off, Obama is not a socialist, if contemporary definitions of socialism have any relevance and Harper would be ill-advised to so characterize the US government. If greed is a constant in human relations, this hardly signifies the Catholic Church should lift its moral condemnation or admonition against "unbridled greed" to satisfy the Milton Friedman's of the world and Republican ideologists complicit in the murders of Catholic priests elsewhere on the planet for speaking out against the oppression engendered by such "unbridled greed".
Basket cases like Africa are already subject to the rule of unbridled capitalism, what such countries lack is actual capital, and of course the rule of law, social protections and freedoms we enjoy.

JR said...

Obama’s not a socialist? During the presidential campaign he was identified as the most left leaning Democrat in congress. His administration so far has borne this out - trillion dollar bailouts and “stimulus”, nationalizing banks and automobile companies, firing CEOs and socialized health care and a cap-and-trade climate change tax grab are in the works. Massive government involvement in the economy is contrary to free-market capitalism - it’s socialism.

All this talk of “unbridled greed” is rhetoric that ignores the government role in the financial meltdown. Last fall in the Financial Post, William Watson asked and answered several pertinent questions:
(1)Who inflated the housing bubble with 1% money in a strong economy? (The Greenspan Fed.)
(2)Who encouraged all sorts of low-income, high-risk borrowers to acquire mortgages and homes they were doomed to lose? (Government agencies of all stripes.)
(3)Who created the stock-option mania in big investment companies by capping tax deductions for executive salaries? (Congress, in the early 1990s.)
(4)Who prolonged the current crisis with continuing destructive ambiguity, still unresolved, about which institutions would be bailed out and which wouldn't be? (Today's regulators and policy-makers.)

The notion promoted by anti-capitalists (socialists) is that the meltdown resulted from a lack of regulation (and corporate greed). So they now condemn corporate greed and call for more regulation as a cure, conveniently ignoring or denying the government’s role in the first place.

African countries are “already subject to the rule of unbridled capitalism”? The basket cases are subject mostly to the rule of despots and their corrupt bureaucrats imposing “unbridled” regulation (one measure being how much time and baksheesh it takes to start a business). Though you’re right about lack of capital - capitalism doesn’t amount to much without it. What capital there is (including the heaping wads contributed over the decades by the west) is controlled by kleptocratic rulers and their cronies.

hunter said...

Excellent comments. It's not a topic that will attract lots of interest, but it should. The Pope has huge power over millions of people, for him to come out against capitalism will only hurt our economy more.

Thanks for the link and your comments JR!

dupmar said...

There is a difference between a socially responsible capitalism, and "socialism" ( government ownership and control of the major industries, a planned economy dictating economic choices rather than the free play of the market), though the distinction escapes some critics of the current American administration. As for massive government investment in the economy, didn't Sir John A MacDonald do this very thing when he promoted the Canadian National Railway. He promoted what he felt what was right for the country and didn't worry about ideological labels.
I fail to understand the zeal with which so many at blogging tory sites attack the policies of the current US government and promote the policies of the Republicans. The Republicans are not running for office in this country, and were they to do so, would fail much worse than they did in the US election. There is little resonance for such policies and such a worldview in this country.
From what I can judge of the current policies of Prime Minister Harper, he is seeking to find common ground with the US administration and not launch some ideolgical assault on their policies, which find favour with most Canadians.
I trust he will give due consideration as well to the Pope's statement on social policy, and not be as dismissive as some of his overzealous supporters.