Thursday, May 16, 2013


The POPE can feel the winds of the Holy Spirit at his back!

There has been some speculation that the Holy Father, Francis, the Bishop of Rome, does not want to use one of his many titles, the most prominent of which is "papa" in Italian or "pope" in English. Well today in his speech to those who are the new Non Resident Ambassadors who were in the Vatican on Thursday to present their letters of credence. The new Ambassadors from Kyrgyzstan, Antigua and Barbuda, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and Botswana. The Holy Father referred to himself as the Pope but in the third person:

"Dear Ambassadors, there is a need for financial reform along ethical lines that would produce in its turn an economic reform to benefit everyone. This would nevertheless require a courageous change of attitude on the part of political leaders. I urge them to face this challenge with determination and farsightedness, taking account, naturally, of their particular situations. Money has to serve, not to rule! The Pope loves everyone, rich and poor alike, but the Pope has the duty, in Christ’s name, to remind the rich to help the poor, to respect them, to promote them. The Pope appeals for disinterested solidarity and for a return to person-centred ethics in the world of finance and economics."

But here is the true bombshell of his speech:

"The worldwide financial and economic crisis seems to highlight their distortions and above all the gravely deficient human perspective, which reduces man to one of his needs alone, namely, consumption. Worse yet, human beings themselves are nowadays considered as consumer goods which can be used and thrown away. We have begun a throw away culture. This tendency is seen on the level of individuals and whole societies; and it is being promoted!..."


"...Concealed behind this attitude is a rejection of ethics, a rejection of God. Ethics, like solidarity, is a nuisance! It is regarded as counterproductive: as something too human, because it relativizes money and power; as a threat, because it rejects manipulation and subjection of people: because ethics leads to God, who is situated outside the categories of the market. These financiers, economists and politicians consider God to be unmanageable, unmanageable even dangerous, because he calls man to his full realization and to independence from any kind of slavery. Ethics – naturally, not the ethics of ideology – makes it possible, in my view, to create a balanced social order that is more humane. In this sense, I encourage the financial experts and the political leaders of your countries to consider the words of Saint John Chrysostom: “Not to share one’s goods with the poor is to rob them and to deprive them of life. It is not our goods that we possess, but theirs” (Homily on Lazarus, 1:6 – PG 48, 992D)...." READ THE ENTIRE SPEECH HERE.

This ties in with what the POPE said this morning during his homily at the chapel of his Vatican Motel 6 place of residence:

"Apostolic zeal, implies "an element of madness, but of spiritual madness, of healthy madness” and proclaiming Christ has its consequences, which can often result in persecution. Nonetheless, stated the Pope, we must not be ‘backseat Christians’ cozy in our comfort zones.

"Paul is a nuisance: he is a man who, with his preaching, his work, his attitude irritates others, because testifying to Jesus Christ and the proclamation of Jesus Christ makes us uncomfortable, it threatens our comfort zones – even Christian comfort zones, right? It irritates us. The Lord always wants us to move forward, forward, forward ... not to take refuge in a quiet life or in cozy structures, no?... And Paul, in preaching of the Lord, was a nuisance. But he had deep within him that most Christian of attitudes: Apostolic zeal. He had its apostolic zeal. He was not a man of compromise. No! The truth: forward! The proclamation of Jesus Christ, forward! ".


ytc said...

I hate to be a downer, but Popes speak and write officially in the first person plural, not the third person.

However, here, yes, the Pope spoke in the third person.

Anonymous 2 said...

It is worth considering the passage in full. So, in this speech Pope Francis says the following between the extracts quoted:

“. . . and it is being promoted! In circumstances like these, solidarity, which is the treasure of the poor, is often considered counterproductive, opposed to the logic of finance and the economy. While the income of a minority is increasing exponentially, that of the majority is crumbling. This imbalance results from 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. A new, invisible and at times virtual, tyranny is established, one which unilaterally and irremediably imposes its own laws and rules. Moreover, indebtedness and credit distance countries from their real economy and citizens from their real buying power. Added to this, as if it were needed, is widespread corruption and selfish fiscal evasion which have taken on worldwide dimensions. The will to power and of possession has become limitless.

Concealed behind this attitude is a rejection of ethics, a rejection of God. . . ."

Danger, Will Robinson; danger! Socialism alert!!!

Or is it? Is it not rather expression of an authentic Catholic Faith in a God Who cannot be reduced to an ideology of the Left or the Right or made to serve the agenda of one political party or another?

One day Pope Francis is advocating dialogue with Muslims. Another day he attacks relativism. Now he says this. Whatever will he say next?

Gene said...

"Solidarity" is an unfortunate term given its sloganistic history with Leftist rallies, labor unions, Marxist protests, and other rabble-rousing. Pope Francis is anything but a socialist, but every economic/governmental system, Left or Right, abuses wealth and power. He is calling for good stewardship and Christian discernment to be injected into otherwise greedy, power-drunk institutions. Nothing wrong with that.

Marc said...

Socialism is anti-Catholic and has been decried as such by several a popes. So, the pope is clearly not advocating that. He is advocating Christian love and works of mercy, which are quite different from Socialism, a political/economic system that takes from those who earn. The popes who have decried socialism in the past have specifically called out wealth redistribution by pointing out that God, in His Providence, made some rich and some poor, some intelligent and some not. But, the rich have a duty to the poor, which doesn't involve political structures, but love in solidarity and subsidiarity.

Anonymous 2 said...

Gene and Marc: I have two questions then:

(1) How are we to understand the following language in the speech:

“While the income of a minority is increasing exponentially, that of the majority is crumbling. This imbalance results from 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.”

I read this as clearly recognizing a role for the State in regulating the market to curb its excesses and to prevent or rectify resulting egregious disparities in wealth. Now, I have no problem with this myself. It is common sense to me that abusive concentrations of power have to be controlled, whether the power is concentrated in the State or in the Market, and that the State has a role in controlling the latter. However, I am sure that some would condemn such an approach as an instance of the S word.

(2) The Pope’s condemnation of “selfish fiscal evasion.” Again, this assumes the legitimacy of the taxes that are evaded; and given the context of the speech and its concern over gross disparities in wealth one assumes that the taxes in question are redistributive to some extent. And again, I have no problem with this (within reasonable limits, of course). But what would Grover Norquist and his ilk say about imposing such a burden on the "job creators"?

Marc said...

Anonymous 2, I suggest you read Leo XIII's encyclicals on social justice and contra socialism, which will answer your questions better than I can.