Skip to comments.Rush Limbaugh Doesn't Get Pope Francis
Posted on 12/05/2013 6:26:41 AM PST by NYer
In a recent segment on his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh talked about the popes new apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium. I dont have the space to address everything Limbaugh said, but what struck me was his mischaracterization of Pope Francis's comments about economics.
The fundamental problem was that Limbaugh chose to quote not what Pope Francis wrote but a Washington Post article on the exhortation, which stated:
Pope Francis attacked unfettered capitalism as "a new tyranny" and beseeched global leaders to fight poverty and growing inequality, in a document on Tuesday setting out a platform for his papacy and calling for a renewal of the Catholic Church. . . . In it, Francis went further than previous comments criticizing the global economic system, attacking the "idolatry of money."
Limbaugh responded by saying, This is just pure Marxism coming out of the mouth of the pope. Unfettered capitalism? That doesn't exist anywhere. 'Unfettered capitalism' is a liberal socialist phrase to describe the United States.
Granted, it takes hours to read this massive document but, for someone whose words are heard by millions of people, before calling the pope a "Marxist" a simple use of the control+F function would have been warranted. If Limbaugh had done that, he would have found that the phrase unfettered capitalism does not appear in Evangelii Gaudium.
Neither is the global economy the main theme of this exhortation; rather, it's only one area where Pope Francis is calling on the Church to evangelize the world. He describes specific financial and cultural challenges facing the human community and then addresses the temptations of pastors who must face these challenges. Nowhere does the Pope blame humanitys woes on the concept of the free market or demand a Marxist government to save mankind.
A Betrayal of John Paul II?
Limbaugh later said, [J]uxtaposed against the actions of Pope John Paul II, this pope and the things that he released yesterday or recently are really striking.
No, they arent. In his 1991 encyclical Centesimus Annus, Pope John Paul II reflected on socialism and capitalism in light of the recent fall of the Soviet Union. Although he acknowledged that profit has a legitimate role in the function of a business and that the Marxist solution to economic inequality had failed, he also spoke of the inadequacies of capitalism and said that profit is the not the only indicator that a business is doing well. The human dignity of workers matter too, and if capitalism is left unchecked it becomes ruthless and leads to inhuman exploitation. Pope Francis's words are consistent with John Paul's.
You talk about unfettered, this is an unfettered anti-capitalist dictate from Pope Francis. And listen to this. This is an actual quote from what he wrote. "The culture of prosperity deadens us. We are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase. In the meantime, all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle. They fail to move us." I mean, that's pretty profound. That's going way beyond matters that are ethical. This is almost a statement about who should control financial markets. He says that the global economy needs government control.
But the Pope is not saying that. He is saying that a global economy needs global control, not government control in the form of some creepy one-world government that runs everything. Pope Francis said, If we really want to achieve a healthy world economy, what is needed at this juncture of history is a more efficient way of interacting which, with due regard for the sovereignty of each nation [emphasis added], ensures the economic well-being of all countries, not just of a few (206).
A Complex Question
The Church teaches that the dignity of the human person and the management of global economies is more complex than just choosing "capitalism" over "socialism/communism." What is required is an approach that respects individual freedom without allowing that freedom to become some all-consuming monster that tramples the weak and poor.
In Centesimus Annus, Pope John Paul II was asked if capitalism should be the dominant economic model in light of the fall of the USSR. His answer is insightful, and I think it's an excellent parallel to Pope Francis's attitude on the subject. Pope John Paul II said:
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 sees it as a particular aspect of that freedom, the core of which is ethical and religious, then the reply is certainly negative.
The reality is that the Catholic Church, and Pope Francis included, cannot simply say it is for or against capitalism. Its a complex question. While the Washington Post said Pope Francis issued a decidedly populist teaching the Pope said in Evangelii Gaudium that he was not arguing for an irresponsible populism, or a solution that naively pits the poor against the rich (204).
On the other hand, while the Pope might agree with Limbaugh that Adam Smiths invisible hand can lift some people out of poverty, it can also strangle the life out of the poor, and so the Pope says in that same paragraph that we can no longer trust the market alone to ensure that all people are treated with dignity.
In closing, I think that the following paragraph from the Popes exhortation is something that should be mailed to Limbaugh and maybe we can turn down the heat just a little bit:
If anyone feels offended by my words, I would respond that I speak them with affection and with the best of intentions, quite apart from any personal interest or political ideology. My words are not those of a foe or an opponent. I am interested only in helping those who are in thrall to an individualistic, indifferent and self-centered mentality to be freed from those unworthy chains and to attain a way of living and thinking which is more humane, noble and fruitful, and which will bring dignity to their presence on this earth (208).
Neither do I.
As with so many other American pundits, Limbaugh thinks nationally whereas the pope speaks universally. Not holding my breath but Limbaugh owes an apology to his audience. Ping!
Sure he does.
Is the writer so clueless as to ignore the past 200+ years of human history? All the evidence is there to see that using the adjective "some" is ignorance.
I don’t get him either.
He strikes me as a communist. I’m not interested in what he has to say anymore either.
The guy is marxist. True believers will see it. Cultists won’t.
? Neither do you get Pope Francis? What is it you don't get?
NO ....... he .......... doesn't!
"Since the origins of modern capitalism around 1780, more than two-thirds of the worlds population has moved out of poverty. In China and India alone, more than 500 million have been raised out of poverty just in the last forty years. In almost every nation the average age of mortality has risen dramatically, causing populations to expand accordingly. Health in almost every dimension has been improved, and literacy has been carried to remote places it never reached before.
Whatever the motives of individuals, the system has improved the plight of the poor as none ever has before. The contemporary left systematically refuses to face these undeniable facts."
-- Robert Novak, from the thread Economic Heresies of the Left (Novak on Caritas in Veritate)
There are too many words, going in circles, in what Pope Francis wrote. Anyone, not only Rush, could focus on a particular section but later, a different one, and wind up concluding that Pope Francis was almost conducting a debate with himself.
Why should the reader have to dissect and dissect down to the syllable and even then, wonder if he truly “GOT” the overall essence, or the bottom line?
I’m not insulting anyone of the Catholic faith - not my intention - I’m just calling this controversy as I see it.
The main point appears to be that he is deeply concerned about the poor, and any system which leaves them poor is in line for critique.
Uh, didn’t Jesus say, “the poor you always have with you”?
He showed no lack of concern for the poor by saying a truism.
What he wanted his followers to do is to show kindness and compassion as individuals, as his followers. Doing good to others as unto God. It is a spiritual issue that Jesus addressed, and in the process, the poor get helped. But also they are to have the Gospel of Christ preached to them.
Whether certain economic systems were or were not helpful or harmful to poor people was not Christ’s issue.
Rush is right, though, that Capitalism has done the only decent job of lifting people up to a higher economic plane.
The rest of the “isms” are crashing failures.
“The reality is that the Catholic Church, and Pope Francis included, cannot simply say it is for or against capitalism. Its a complex question. “
It is not a copmplex question. It is quite simple. If churches don’t want to weigh in because it is too complex then stay out of it. The church has enough to do without getting into poitics anyway.
The Catholic Church also seems to be one of the biggest supporters of Amnesty for illegal immigrants.
Shortly after making the aforementioned comments, Rush said that he was being inundated with e-mails from Catholics who said that the WaPo took Pope Francis's words out of context and Rush ended the segment by saying something along the lines of, "I don't know what to believe" or something along those lines.
As a lifelong Dittohead, the only part of Rush's show that rankles me is when he quotes from The Washington Post, The New York Slimes, The LA Slimes, CNN, etc.
I don't give a flying fig what any of those outlets say about anything.
Rush should know by now to preface anything he is about to say that is in response to those sources is to say that the information he is about to comment on may be inaccurate.
I gotta get me one of those Kirk-speak keyboards.
I agree. Why can't he just come out in favor of free enterprise just as he does for the sanctity of life? We don't have to parse his words when he wants to be clear.
have we reached a time now that the media can pick and choose whatever words they want to hear from figures such as the Pope?....
because frankly, I don't know what to believe...
yes...there are winners in capitalism....winners based on effort, skill, work ethic, or talent, or intelligence, or athletic ability, or beauty.....
as opposed to communism which awards winners simply on their party affiliation....not on merit at all...
no system is perfect, but at least capitalism inspires people to better themselves and their families thru hard work....
Nowhere did Limbaugh CALL this pope a Marxist. There is a difference between calling someone a Marxist and stating that what they were hearing was classic Marxism. Maybe a thin difference but one just the same.
If the writer of this article had more journalist integrity he would also have made mention that Limbaugh has been to the Vatican several times, has considered the Catholic Church and that he had already SEVERAL emails and communications stating that he had not understood what the pope originally meant. In addition, Limbaugh, unlike some others, trusts his audience to think for themselves—in other words they don’t have to take what he says as Gospel.
As you well know, Catholics do not have to listen to the Pope when he blathers on about political or social issues. I hope non-Catholics understand that. I choose - generally - not to listen to Popes (or that oily Cardinal Dolan).
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