Archive for November 30th, 2013



“There is absolutely no room for the neocons or libertarians to spin this letter. None.”

That was me, just a few days ago. Boy, was I wrong.

You would think, at my age, that naivete would be long gone, but nope. I continue to underestimate the tenacity of the neocons and libertarians and their concerted effort to somehow reconcile the global capitalist order with Catholic social teaching. I continue, actually, to overestimate humans, despite long experience of disappointment.

If you watched Fr Sirico’s video, which I posted here, you can see the outline of their defense: the problem Francis is addressing is nonexistent . There are no unfettered markets. Further, he isn’t talking about us; we believe in some regulation.

As if the pope were only addressing the most radical anarcho-capitalist notions of a lawless, moneymaking utopia (for the few; for the many it would be a dystopia).

Indeed there are regulations in place just about everywhere, but they tend to be the sort of bureaucratic hoops that the individual or small businessman has to jump through. For all intents and purposes corporations rule unfettered.

Proof? Not one of the bankers whose irresponsible wheeling and dealing and speculating led to the economic collapse of 2008 is in jail. Indeed, the government bailed them out, in an instance when “the market” should have been allowed to kick their asses, right before they were arrested.

Proof? Corporations will get around the very flawed attempt of the ACA to insure all Americans by reducing hours and hiring more part time workers. Because they can, with impunity.

Proof? The stock market has hit an all time high, while at the same time the working class and poor are sinking further into misery.

But the defense that is, oddly, being taken most seriously by those who are threatened by the pope’s criticism is that the English translation is faulty, that it somehow does not faithfully convey the pope’s thoughts.

I do not speak Spanish, so I cannot comment on the specifics regarding translation. However, if Spanish speakers were unanimous in criticizing the translation I might think there was something to the concerns our hand-wringing friends on the right are expressing.

But that is not the case. I have read any number of Spanish speakers say that the English translation is accurate. And translation, by definition, is an inexact process.

Further, all this is a bit moot: the official version is the Latin one, regardless the language in which it was originally composed.

And really, the Vatican is going to release a translation of the pope’s words that somehow contradict him? Incompetence? Or something more sinister?

Is it not clear that these things are really smokescreens? That in fact many people are uncomfortable with the Holy Father’s radical ideas about the global capitalist system?

I would only suggest to our libertarian or neoconservative friends that they read this beautiful exhortation with an open mind and open heart; after all with all the concentration on social questions a lot is being missed. While the pope pretty clearly is critical of the international corporatocracy that is but small part of what he is offering us.

And if, after prayerful reading, you still cannot agree, fine. I realize that much of what the pope says contradicts your long held beliefs, maybe even received under the mistake notion that economic liberalism is somehow “Catholic”; there has been a lot of disinformation about such things for a very long time.

If so, relax. It is not de fide; no one is go kick you out of the Church for adhering to your beliefs, any more than they are going to kick out people who dissent on any number of other teachings of the ordinary magisterium.

Heck, few are shown the door even for dissenting on de fide doctrines, and Francis shows every sign of opening the doors, rather than battening down the hatches.

Just, please, stop telling people that free market ideology is somehow “papal economics”, as the unfortunate Fr Zieba OP  titled his untimely book.

Please stop spinning.

In a world seeing the effects of forty years, more or less, of free market policies, which have provoked nearly unprecedented inequalities and the destruction of the working classes, such a contention can only give scandal.

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