Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Is Jorge Bergoglio, The New Pope Francis, A Capitalist?
Townhall.com ^ | March 10, 2013 | Jerry Bowyer

Posted on 03/15/2013 10:18:44 AM PDT by Kaslin

I remember when Cardinal Ratzinger was announced as Pope. It happened while I was on live TV, on CNBC with Larry Kudlow. They cut away from me and the other pundits to a live correspondent, who announced that the former Cardinal Ratzinger had decided to call himself Benedict XVI.

Larry said something like “I wonder what the significance of that is.” I turned my head away from the camera and said to my wife “It means he’s not giving up on Europe.” I wondered whether to try to get the attention of the line producer to inform him that I had something to say about the choice of name, but decided not to. I was there as an market pundit, not a church pundit (if there even is such a thing). But I’d always regretted not saying something, because subsequent events really did show that Pope Benedict XVI had in fact, chosen that name partly to evoke the memory of Saint Benedict who could reasonably lay hold to the claim that he was the father of Europe. His Benedictine monks, through great learning, and with great courage preserved the learning of the ancient world, mixed with piety, and used it to lay the foundation of what eventually became Europe.

So, while on an investment committee conference call, when the white smoke appeared and shortly thereafter we learned that an Argentinian Cardinal named Jorge Bergoglio had been elected and had chosen for himself the name Pope Francis, I decided that this time I was going to share my first thought with friends and colleagues on the call. Here it is: the Pope will probably move the Church culturally to the right, and more likely move it economically to the left.

In other words, the age old answer to the question, “Is the Pope Catholic?” is, “Yes.” But the answer to the question, “Is the Pope capitalist?” is, “Probably not.”

First, there’s the basic biographical particulars: He’s a Jesuit from South America, Argentina in particular. Both facts on their own represent intellectual and ideological milieus which are decidedly unconducive to creating appreciation for the virtues of the market system. The movement known as ‘liberation theology’ , which splices Marxist economic theory onto Christian vocabulary, has strong roots both among Jesuits and Argentinians. This is not to say that Cardinal Bergoglio was in any sense a liberation theologian, let alone a Marxist. He resisted that tendency, and was often criticized by the hard left. Then again, entering fully into liberation theology would have been a bridge too far, outside of the good graces of the Church entirely. But one can be a fierce critic of the market system and still remain within orthodox Roman Catholicism.

And that appears to be the case with Cardinal Bergoglio. Although he’s been criticized by the hard left, his biographer, Sergio Rubin (who no doubt is a very happy man right now), says that such complaints should be put in context:

This kind of demonization is unfair, says Rubin, who wrote Bergoglio’s authorized biography, “The Jesuit.”

“Is Bergoglio a progressive — a liberation theologist even? No. He’s no third-world priest. Does he criticize the International Monetary Fund, and neoliberalism? Yes.

Neo-liberalism is a term used by the left to describe the modern school of economics which attempts to move the world towards free-markets (classical liberalism) and away from various forms of central control. But the Argentine political debate tends to take place between two statist camps: Peronism on the ‘right’ and Marxism on the left.

According to the Catholic Herald the former Cardinal’s ideological orientation is more from the anti-market right than from the anti-market left:

“Where do his political sympathies lie? Certainly not on the Left. Those who know him best would consider him on the moderate Right, close to that strand of popular Peronism which is hostile to liberal capitalism. In the economic crisis of 2001-2002, when Argentina defaulted on its debt, people came out on to the streets and supermarkets were looted, Bergoglio was quick to denounce the neo-liberal banking system which had left Argentina with an unpayable debt.”

The liberal National Catholic Reporter says that “Bergoglio has supported the social justice ethos of Latin American Catholicism, including a robust defense of the poor…” and approvingly quotes him as saying,

“We live in the most unequal part of the world, which has grown the most yet reduced misery the least. The unjust distribution of goods persists, creating a situation of social sin that cries out to Heaven and limits the possibilities of a fuller life for so many of our brothers.”

The former Cardinal placed a strong emphasis on the distribution of wealth, not the creation of it. Spiritually he places emphasis on identification with the poor and the spiritual benefits of living a life of poverty. His decision to choose the name Francis squares well with that. Conflicting press reports claim that he either chose the name to honor Francis Xavier, the founder of his order, or to honor Saint Francis. I think probably the latter is true. Francis built a monastic movement on vows of poverty, recruiting men, many of them wealthy nobles, to imitate Jesus’ life without property. Resisting the Albigensian heresy which held that poverty is morally obligatory and that private property is immoral, the Franciscans stayed within orthodox Church teaching. Nevertheless, Francis has become a revered figure among the Catholic left partly because of his practice of voluntary poverty.

There is nothing remotely untoward in St. Francis’ simple lifestyle. There is nothing remotely untoward in Cardinal Bergoglio’s simple life, cooking his own food, living in a modest home, using public transit, spending time in the slums. In fact, both men are wonderfully admirable for this choice.

But let’s not ignore the fact that the poor profoundly benefit when the economy grows; more so, even than when the church offers them a soup kitchen to visit. Neither the rightist Peron, nor the current leftist administration of Argentina has done much good for the poor. A century ago it was one of the world’s more prosperous countries, but it’s repeated rejection of both classical liberalism and (later) neo-liberalism, caused its prosperity to plummet compared with much of the rest of the world.

It is no coincidence that Argentina’s score of 47 on the Index of Economic Freedom (placing it as a miserable 160th of the freest counties in the world) accompanies its terrible poverty. Even mild attempts at ‘austerity’ were criticized by the Cardinal and much of the Argentine Church, but when austerity was abandoned and the currency devalued and debt reneged upon, the lot of Argentina’s poor became even poorer.

In his Te Deum homily, Cardinal Bergoglio told the story of Zaccheus from the Gospels:

“At the celebration of the Te Deum at the most recent national feast, last May 25th, there was a record audience for Cardinal Bergoglio´s homily. The cardinal asked the people of Argentina to do as Zacchaeus had done in the Gospel. Here was a sinister loan shark. But, taking account of his moral lowliness, he climbed up into a sycamore tree, to see Jesus and let himself be seen and converted by him.”

For a country that is in an almost constant state of conflict with investors who have loaned money to it, and who actually have the “nerve” to insist that the funds be repaid according to contract, the image of a ‘sinister loan shark’ is, well, sinister, and politically charged.

The problem is that this is not actually what the gospel says about him.

“Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.”

Not a lender, but a tax collector. Seems like Argentina with its appallingly low score of 52 out of 100 on controlling its government spending, and its craterously low 30 out of 100 on investment spending, might want to turn its attention away from the alleged loan sharks of the international investment community and the bogeyman of excessive neo-liberal deregulation, and towards its own Zacchaeus’s in its bloated government sector.

The new pope seems like a wonderful man. Humble, simple, decent. But if he is going to help the Church do as much as it possibly can for the poor, he’d do well, not just to look to the wonderful St. Francis, who became poor to serve the poor, but also to the John Paul the Great who, having lived under socialism in its most virulent form, embraced the market economy for its ability to liberate the poor.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS:

1 posted on 03/15/2013 10:18:44 AM PDT by Kaslin
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

When allowed the luxury of a Limo and driver, Pope Francis chose the bus. When given the use of a cook, Pope Francis cooked most of his own meals. Living with in one’s means regardless of circumstance, shows integrity and responsibility and I have come to understand that being responsible is also a capitalist virtue.


2 posted on 03/15/2013 10:32:48 AM PDT by yoe
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: yoe

He also paid his own hotel bill when he checked out of the Vatican hotel. It shows you that the people, which says a lot


3 posted on 03/15/2013 10:43:31 AM PDT by Kaslin (He needed the ignorant to reelect him, and he got them. Now we all have to pay the consequenses)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

How much does a pope make? Salary or hourly?


4 posted on 03/15/2013 10:46:32 AM PDT by stuartcr ("I have habits that are older than the people telling me they're bad for me.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin
Here it is: the Pope will probably move the Church culturally to the right, and more likely move it economically to the left.

For those that are not Catholic and are more interested in the economic impact the new Pope will have, this is not good news at all. Sounds like the new Pope is a typical Jesuit leftist on economic issues. Thankfully not a marxist, but not a person who appreciates the fact that it is free markets that lift societies out of poverty - not forced government charity.

5 posted on 03/15/2013 10:49:45 AM PDT by Longbow1969
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Longbow1969

It has to be remembered that Pope Francis comes from the Third World, where governments are usually a mixture of statism and crony capitalism. Until the rule of law is established in those places, capitalism or the free market, won’t cure poverty. Honestly, there would also probably have to be some redistribution of wealth before the beneficial effects of the market could take place. You can’t start economic competition with huge numbers living in squalor and the elites living completely different existence and expect the outcome to be any different than the status quo.

This goes back to how the founding of America was different than most other countries which began as colonies. The American colonists could own property and were given an immense amount of freedom compared to colonies settled by other powers.

Finally, “I’ve got mine, you get yours” capitalism is incompatible with the teachings of the RCC. And the teachings of Jesus for that matter.


6 posted on 03/15/2013 11:07:50 AM PDT by Lou Budvis
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: stuartcr

He doesnt get paid until he dies. All his needs are taken care of by the Church.


7 posted on 03/15/2013 11:11:59 AM PDT by RummyChick
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin
... I decided that this time I was going to share my first thought with friends and colleagues on the call. Here it is: the Pope will probably move the Church culturally to the right, and more likely move it economically to the left. In other words, the age old answer to the question, “Is the Pope Catholic?” is, “Yes.” But the answer to the question, “Is the Pope capitalist?” is, “Probably not.”

Ping for later

8 posted on 03/15/2013 11:13:57 AM PDT by Alex Murphy ("If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all" - Isaiah 7:9)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Lou Budvis
It has to be remembered that Pope Francis comes from the Third World, where governments are usually a mixture of statism and crony capitalism.

Argentina has had the same problem over and over again. They spend more than they have and end up with currency defaults. It's a regular bad habit for them - and they never seem to learn. Argentina has too much government "social justice". From reading about this Pope, he apparently opposed cutting government spending on social programs. This sounds like typical economic leftist nonsense. True, it seems clear he isn't an actual marxist, but that hardly makes him better than the typical liberal Democrat (when it comes to fiscal policy).

This goes back to how the founding of America was different than most other countries which began as colonies. The American colonists could own property and were given an immense amount of freedom compared to colonies settled by other powers.

What does this have to do with anything? The founders did not believe in big government social welfare states. Free markets work. Even the most impoverished places can thrive if they put free market, capitalist systems in place. It government "social welfare" spending that destroys economies, creates dependence and prevents people from being lifted out of poverty.

Finally, “I’ve got mine, you get yours” capitalism is incompatible with the teachings of the RCC. And the teachings of Jesus for that matter.

Forced government charity doesn't work. Period. I am aware the RCC is very liberal on these sorts of economic issues, and I oppose them. I was hoping the new Pope would be more enlightened about why free markets work (and big government doesn't), but apparently this is not going to be the case. I do not believe the teachings of Jesus Christ tells us that forced government charity is the proper path forward.

9 posted on 03/15/2013 11:33:07 AM PDT by Longbow1969
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

I’ve read quite a bit in the last couple of days and here is my take:

I think Pope Francis will speak more to the spiritual rather than the systematic in terms of economics. I am thinking along the lines of: “the problem with socialism is socialism; the problem with capitalism is capitalists.”


10 posted on 03/15/2013 11:47:24 AM PDT by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: RummyChick

How did he pay his hotel bill?


11 posted on 03/15/2013 11:49:24 AM PDT by stuartcr ("I have habits that are older than the people telling me they're bad for me.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: Longbow1969

What is a typical leftist Jesuit?


12 posted on 03/15/2013 11:50:48 AM PDT by stuartcr ("I have habits that are older than the people telling me they're bad for me.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: stuartcr

The Pope is the one that does not get paid.

He just became Pope.


13 posted on 03/15/2013 12:06:52 PM PDT by RummyChick
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin
In other words, the age old answer to the question, “Is the Pope Catholic?” is, “Yes.” But the answer to the question, “Is the Pope capitalist?” is, “Probably not.”

In other words, the age old answer to the question, “Is the Pope Catholic?” is, “Yes.” But the answer to the question, “Does the Pope understand the Tenth Commandment?” is, “We'll see.”

If he starts telling governments what to do with taxpayers' money we'll have the answer. Redistribution by coercion is theft, and not charity.

14 posted on 03/15/2013 12:13:45 PM PDT by Carry_Okie (An economy is not a zero-sum game, but politics is.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: D-fendr

“the problem with socialism is socialism; the problem with capitalism is capitalists.”

I think this is a very good point. Left to its own devices, the gov’t will increase its powers at the expense of citizens’ freedoms. Capitalists left unchecked will enrich themselves at the expense of others. John Adams believed that the human impulse to control others remains constant throughout time. Whether it is economic, poltical, or some other type of control, humans will inevitably seek domination over others. Both socialism/communism and unregulated capitalism are unworkable.


15 posted on 03/15/2013 12:33:47 PM PDT by Lou Budvis
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: yoe
When allowed the luxury of a Limo and driver, Pope Francis chose the bus. When given the use of a cook, Pope Francis cooked most of his own meals.

What kind of lifestyle do these guys normally live?

16 posted on 03/15/2013 12:46:07 PM PDT by ansel12 ( August 29,2008 A Natural Born Reformer inadvertently unleashed within palace walls, change ensues.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Lou Budvis

Argentina is horrible, but it’s not the third world.


17 posted on 03/15/2013 12:51:54 PM PDT by kabumpo (Kabumpo)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: stuartcr
What is a typical leftist Jesuit?

An educated, intellectual leftist. The most radical, of which the new pope is thankfully not, were liberation theologists. Many Jesuits in South America were shot through with this populist socialist thinking - the worst of the bunch became marxist and joined revolutionary movements (terrorists) and government (such as the Nicaragua Sandinistas).

18 posted on 03/15/2013 1:10:01 PM PDT by Longbow1969
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: Longbow1969

Yeah well, if he thinks socialism works then he`d better think about resigning too :

PIUS IX (1846-1878):
“Overthrow [of] the entire order of human affairs”
“You are aware indeed, that the goal of this most iniquitous plot is to drive people to overthrow the entire order of human affairs and to draw them over to the wicked theories of this Socialism and Communism, by confusing them with perverted teachings.”

LEO XIII (1878-1903):
Hideous monster
“...communism, socialism, nihilism, hideous deformities of the civil society of men and almost its ruin.” (Encyclical Diuturnum, June 29, 1881)

Destructive sect
“...socialists and members of other seditious societies, who labor unceasingly to destroy the State even to its foundations.” (Encyclical Libertas Praestantissimum, June 20, 1888)

Socialists debase the natural union of man and woman and assail the right of property
“They [socialists, communists, or nihilists] debase the natural union of man and woman, which is held sacred even among barbarous peoples; and its bond, by which the family is chiefly held together, they weaken, or even deliver up to lust. Lured, in fine, by the greed of present goods, which is ‘the root of all evils, which some coveting have erred from the faith’ (1 Tim. 6:10.3), they assail the right of property sanctioned by natural law; and by a scheme of horrible wickedness, while they seem desirous of caring for the needs and satisfying the desires of all men, they strive to seize and hold in common whatever has been acquired either by title of lawful inheritance, or by labor of brain and hands, or by thrift in one’s mode of life.” (Encyclical Quod Apostolici Muneris, December 28, 1878, n. 1)

PIUS XII (1939-1958):
The Church will fight to the end, in defense of supreme values threatened by socialism
“[The Church undertook] the protection of the individual and the family against a current threatening to bring about a total socialization which in the end would make the specter of the ‘Leviathan’ become a shocking reality. The Church will fight this battle to the end, for it is a question of supreme values: the dignity of man and the salvation of souls.”

JOHN XXIII (1958-1963):
“No Catholic could subscribe even to moderate socialism”
“Pope Pius XI further emphasized the fundamental opposition between Communism and Christianity, and made it clear that no Catholic could subscribe even to moderate Socialism.”

JOHN PAUL II (1978-2005):
Fundamental error of socialism: A mistaken conception of the person
“Continuing our reflections, ... we have to add that the fundamental error of socialism is anthropological in nature. Socialism considers the individual person simply as an element, a molecule within the social organism, so that the good of the individual is completely subordinated to the functioning of the socio-economic mechanism.

BENEDICT XVI (2005 - present):
“We do not need a State which regulates and controls everything”

http://www.tfp.org/tfp-home/catholic-perspective/what-the-popes-have-to-say-about-socialism.html


19 posted on 03/15/2013 3:58:14 PM PDT by Para-Ord.45
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: D-fendr; Lou Budvis
I think Pope Francis will speak more to the spiritual rather than the systematic in terms of economics. I am thinking along the lines of: “the problem with socialism is socialism; the problem with capitalism is capitalists.”
Here, I think my analysis of "social”ism is illustrative.

Socialists systematically employ euphemisms such as “society” or “public” when they mean nothing other than government. If you hear a “liberal” talking about “society” you should check to see if the word government is not what is meant. Thus, “socialism” can be evaluated to see if what is actually meant is governmentism. And everyone on FR is likely to agree that that is precisely what the “socialists” are and stand for - governmentism. And governmentism is obviously a synonym for tyranny.

It may be true that the trouble with capitalism is capitalists, but the trouble with socialism is that it is promoted by, and promotes, tyrants.

20 posted on 03/15/2013 8:06:44 PM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: yoe
You will know them by their fruits.

I'm no papist, but I have to admit Pope Francis is winning my respect on every score. God bless him.

21 posted on 03/15/2013 11:38:46 PM PDT by Lexinom
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Lou Budvis

“Honestly, there would also probably have to be some redistribution of wealth before the beneficial effects of the market could take place”

LOL. “Hey, lets try Socialism and see if that works!”


22 posted on 03/15/2013 11:45:16 PM PDT by RFEngineer
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: D-fendr; Lou Budvis
“the problem with socialism is socialism; the problem with capitalism is capitalists.”
Another way to look at it is that the problem with socialism is that it makes people poor, and the problem with capitalism is that it makes people rich . . . and there are harsh words for rich people in the Bible.

It can seem heroic to elect to be poor in a society in which wealth is not a choice available to all. But ordinary GI Joe American was thought of as rich in the WWII era, and the standard of living in America is much higher now than it was then. It could be plausibly argued that (what with her access to MRI’s and other advanced health care, to high-quality food, electric appliances, automobiles, air travel, etc.) an American secretary was in 2000 better off than Queen Victoria had been.

It might easily seem confusing, if not actually annoying, to a person who elected poverty in an effort towards virtue to then be faced with a society in which failure to be, by biblical standards, wealthy is by-and-large a choice (and one more suggestive of vice than virtue). A society regulated by a government which (consider the phrases “secure the blessings of liberty” and “promote the progress of science and useful arts” in the Constitution) was instituted with that general idea in mind.


23 posted on 03/16/2013 4:28:22 AM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: conservatism_IS_compassion
Another way to look at it is that the problem with socialism is that it makes people poor, and the problem with capitalism is that it makes people rich..

Well put. I remember a humorous quote: "God must really hate me, He gave me everything I wanted."

thanks for your post.

24 posted on 03/16/2013 12:45:39 PM PDT by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

To: Longbow1969

Could you explain what a liberation theologist is?


25 posted on 03/16/2013 5:41:01 PM PDT by stuartcr ("I have habits that are older than the people telling me they're bad for me.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: stuartcr
Could you explain what a liberation theologist is?

You know you could just look this up, right? There is a Wikipedia entry along with thousands of articles explaining all about it.

26 posted on 03/16/2013 5:51:12 PM PDT by Longbow1969
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 25 | View Replies]

To: Longbow1969

I figured you’d know it off the top of your head, and would offer a better explanation. Sorry


27 posted on 03/16/2013 6:57:53 PM PDT by stuartcr ("I have habits that are older than the people telling me they're bad for me.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 26 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson