Not all Popes are great

No offense here.  Popes are human.  Their infallibility refers only to the Church doctrine.  John Paul II was a truly great man.  Brilliant, pious and an agent for change by merely being a figure standing for human dignity.  And simply by doing so, JP2 became a pope for the ages.  Some want to grant him the designation, John Paul The Great.  His successor, Benedict XVI was actually the intellectual workhorse behind JP2, but Benedict lacked the charisma.  His resignation has led to the first Latin American in the papacy, Francis I.

Pope Francis has been called “The People’s Pope” because he has shunned material possessions and condescended to wash and kiss the feet of some of the most poverty stricken people in the world.  Pope Francis is a good and Godly man.  But Pope Francis is also a political pope, who has found himself in the midst of controversy, sometimes revealing a genuinely profound ignorance.  Here are just two examples:

“Never has the use of violence brought peace in its wake.” Pope Francis I

This is just factually untrue.  The Second World War in both Europe and Asia has pacified Germany, Italy and Japan for 70 years.  Violence seemed to solve Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo.  The comment by Francis is oddly out of line with recent history.  Surely, he must know, as his two most recent predecessors did, that war and violence is on rare occasions the least immoral choice.  Radical pacifism is immoral because it sanctions attacks on the innocent and ignores the more moral choice of acting in their defense.  Those actions are defensive and violent, but in the example of the Second World War, peace was achieved in its wake.  His Holiness is either prone to the cavalier remark or worse still, intellectually unserious.

“The benefits of free market growth have never been confirmed by the facts.” Pope Francis I

This pope is well known for condemning the excesses of capitalism, but has actually admitted that he’s “allergic to economics.”  So, why would the pope who admits to ignorance on the topic, make statements that are demonstrably untrue.  To find the answer, one really needs to examine who Pope Francis is and where he came from.  Francis grew up in Argentina.  During his lifetime, it slid from the world’s 14th largest economy to 64th.  Through that time, cronyism, corruption, authoritarian governments and poverty were prevalent.  Francis’s only exposure to Capitalism was his native Argentinian experience.  His critique of Capitalist Free Enterprise is astonishingly narrow, dull and dare I say, ignorant.  The pope is under the mistaken notion that Capitalism fosters greed.  This is incorrect.  Capitalism does not foster greed.  Capitalism redirects greedy motivations toward constructive social and economic results.  Greed is a human condition.  Humans in government, capitalist businesses and even in the Catholic Church can be greedy.

Over the past two decades, Capitalism is responsible for lifting at least 500 million people in China and India out of grinding poverty.  It would appear that the more nations adopt the principles of free enterprise and the less they adopt socialist and redistributionist principles, the more people are lifted out of poverty.  How can anyone take this pope seriously when he claims the facts fail to confirm the benefits of free market growth?

If we could imagine for a brief moment having the pope’s ear for a few minutes, one might whisper to him:  “Holy Father, have you yet noticed how those who praise you the most, hate the Church and all that it stands for?  Hopefully, that would wake him up.  And even more hopefully, we’d find that he wants to be awakened.

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