Francis Strikes Again
Well, he did it again. Pope Francis has once again publicly dissented from the Creed of market capitalism. Also from the creeds of libertarian Catholicism and Americanism.
In an address to UN bureaucrats the other day Francis, among other things, said “A contribution to this equitable development will also be made both by international activity aimed at the integral human development of all the world’s peoples and by the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the State, as well as indispensable cooperation between the private sector and civil society.” (The line that has been getting the most attention in the secular press has been highlighted). Most news stories began with something like “Pope calls for redistribution of wealth.” But the Catholic News Agency’s headline says “Pope urges UN leadership to resist ‘culture of death’ ” The Register had the same headline, all framed in terms that are comforting to politically conservative Catholics. I am sure the response to this latest from the pope will echo the other uproars over the pope’s pronouncements, with some in the Real Catholic Corner openly criticizing, others explaining it away, others searching for the ‘gems’ hidden in the obvious.
Nothing Francis has said is outside the Catholic social tradition, though he has a way of distilling the inherent radicalism of that tradition in a way that few popes have.
But the idea that the State is inherently evil, even if it is a necessary evil, has no basis or support in Catholic teaching. “The State” is just the term we use for the human community at a certain level of population and development. It is a natural institution, like the family. Like the family, it is often dysfunctional, but the alternative is worse.
You can read the whole speech here:
A Punch in the Gut
The other day, which felt like summer, I was talking with a patron about what a relief the warmth and the green are after that epic winter. As I turned to leave she said “Have a great day!” I answered “Oh, I certainly will.” And immediately realized that I should never say that. I thought of the many times in life when everything is altered by some sudden event – a phone call in the night, sudden affliction, someone running a red light. Heck, I thought about my knee suddenly buckling a few weeks ago. Then I thought that thanks be to God, such events are rare. And immediately realized that there are people in the world for whom such sudden disaster is the norm, for whom every day comes with a punch in the gut. Isn’t that why we are not to judge others? Because we have no idea of what anyone else is going through at any moment, what dramas or burdens they carry? Every life, however humble, is epic, a cosmic struggle, literally. That is why I hope for the salvation of the world; for God sees every struggling heart -and every heart is struggling- and He sees with the eyes of Love.
I picked up Peter Jackson’s movie The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug for the kids the other night. I made it through about 30 minutes before I could take it no more. All I can say is that I immediately thought of Mystery Science Theater 3000: I hope Joel and the ‘bots come out of retirement just to riff on this movie. Everything was overblown; every hairdo, every action scene, every detail. And I add Jackson’s portrayal of Beorn to my list of his unforgivable sins.
Painting by Kathy Fleming….