October 15, 2013

Progressive Pope Redux

Quite a while back (well, in April) a said I had an issue with the new Pope - he was a socialist, progressive.  While he might attract a new crowd to the church, he is still pursuing a progressivist (i.e. socially liberal, anti-capitalist) agenda.  It looks like the Washington Post has caught up to the fact that conservative Catholics are catching up to the Papal political predilections.
Rattled by Pope Francis’s admonishment to Catholics not to be “obsessed” by doctrine, his stated reluctance to judge gay people and his apparent willingness to engage just about anyone — including atheists — many conservative Catholics are doing what only recently seemed unthinkable:

They are openly questioning the pope.
But what the Washington Post regards as liberal, isn't in synch with what the Pope is actually propagating. In fact, the WaPo misses what is at the root of the question, entirely.  Nevertheless, they forge ahead with the premise.
During the previous three decades, popes John Paul II and Benedict shared a focus: Make orthodox teachings crystal clear so Catholics don’t get lost in an increasingly messy, relativistic world.

Catholics also became accustomed to popes who were largely speaking to “the Church,” rather than the public. These men often communicated in the language of Catholic theology, and through books, not through long, freewheeling interviews, like Pope Francis.
 
So the Pope is trying to get converts to Catholicism by talking to non-Catholics rather preaching to the choir, so to speak? That's not so radical. But that's not all the Pope is doing.  In addition to what I blogged about, a lot has been made about the Pope's comments on the world financial system: not that money is the root of all evil, but that preventing governments from doing good was a problem of capitalism.  That is highly debatable - what about corruption, and governmental inefficiency and despotic governments to name a few other causes.

Papal infallibility may be a difficult mental hurdle for some to overcome but not all Catholics just swallow Papal statements as pardon the expression, gospel.
Speaking to newly accredited ambassadors to the Vatican, Pope Francis attacked the ‘‘dictatorship’’ of the global financial system, and warned that the ‘‘cult of money’’ was making life a misery for millions.

He blamed “ideologies which uphold the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation, and “thus deny the right of control to states”, which are themselves charged with providing for the common good.”

He further blamed inadequate regulation which has resulted in “a new, invisible and at times virtual, tyranny … one which unilaterally and irremediably imposes its own laws and rules.”

He said, “Not to share one’s goods with the poor is to rob them and to deprive them of life,” he said, quoting St. John Chrysostom. “It is not our goods that we possess, but theirs.”
Again, I'm not Catholic though I was baptized Catholic.  So my opinion may not resonate with devout Catholics.  But it seems to me that "Not to share one’s goods with the poor is to rob them ..." is again a simplification.  Doesn't it make more sense to teach a man to fish than to give him a fish?  In the end, the former choice is actually more compassionate.  You can feed a man for life if you teach him to catch the fish himself.  To do otherwise is to short change the man by giving him one fish instead of thousands.  Alternately you could give the man a fish every day but then he becomes dependent on you.  That might serve your own sense of moral goodness (falsely) but it takes away the mans self-sufficiency, and sense of self and his own moral obligation to try, and to work.  That to me, is really robbing the poor.
 
It's okay to help, but if it becomes a crutch, it serves no one well.  I'm no Pope but that is my opinion.
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