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Nate Jackson / September 23, 2015

Francis Confuses Corporatism and Capitalism

The pope arrives in the U.S. to lecture us about poverty and climate.

Pope Francis arrived Tuesday for his first visit to the U.S. He will not only tour a Philadelphia prison and a Harlem school to showcase his trademark concern for the poor and downtrodden, but he will give the first-ever papal address to Congress Thursday on a range of topics. The political angle is that Democrats have finally found a pope with whom they can agree on the issues of climate and poverty — all while ignoring traditional Catholic teaching on marriage and the sanctity of life.

Francis arrived here by way of the Communist paradise poverty-stricken totalitarian island known as Cuba, where he spent four days and met not with dissidents but with Fidel Castro — whom he reportedly thanked for his contributions to world peace. Notably, Francis arrived by plane, not by homemade raft on the shores of Florida as do many of the poor people fleeing Cuba’s oppressive regime for the Land of Liberty.

Indeed, if Francis truly cares for the poor, he showed it quite poorly in this instance.

Of capitalism in general, he said in his recent apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, “Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape. … Such an economy kills.”

It’s no wonder he has an eager audience in the Democrats and Castros of the world.

But it’s important to understand that Francis’ views on capitalism are informed by his experience in his home country of Argentina — a nation beset with powerful families and businesses influential in government. In other words, it’s not the free market and it’s not capitalism. It’s cronyism and corporatism.

It’s also ironic, writes Thomas Sowell, considering “Argentina was once among the leading economies of the world, before it was ruined by the kind of ideological notions [Francis] is now promoting around the world.”

God does warn His people about loving money, and greed and inequity are part of sinful human nature no matter the economic system. But which country’s poor are better off — Cuba’s, Argentina’s or America’s? The truth is that no economic system has done more than capitalism to lift the poor out of poverty.

Tyranny kills, not Liberty.

Furthermore, Jesus never told his followers to perform charity by giving their money to the Romans instead. Contrary to the assertions of far too many, Jesus was not a socialist — He always preached individual responsibility for our brothers and sisters, not collective statist mandates.

In many respects, Francis’ care for the poor is welcome. All Christians ought to see every opportunity to help the disadvantaged among us. But it’s the pope’s methods we object to. He is a proponent — at least tacitly — of liberation theology, a synthesis of Marxism and Christianity born in South America in the 1970s and 80s. Liberation theology embraces collectivization, the subordination of the individual in favor of the group, and the forced redistribution of wealth and property without fair compensation. Furthermore, Marxism is profoundly anti-religion, making its blending with Christian teaching like mixing oil and water.

It’s noteworthy that Francis has thus effectively reversed the position of John Paul II, who was a staunch opponent of such noxious theology, and, together with Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, brought down the Soviet Empire. Try to imagine John Paul glad-handing Fidel Castro while dissidents languished in prison.

On the subject of climate change, the onerous regulations and top-down government solutions favored by Francis and his fellow alarmist travelers (and we do mean travelers in fuel-burning jets all over the world) are exactly the policies that will hurt the poor the most.

In his recent encyclical, Francis declared, “The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.” He blames the problem on consumerism, corporate greed, overreliance on technology and the poisonous political atmosphere in and among many nations. He called for a radial change in how people conduct their political and economic affairs and suggested that the time has come for each of us to alter our individual lifestyles in response to climate issues.

But The Wall Street Journal retorts, “Well, he should have seen East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall, or the air in Beijing today. Coercive governments are the worst befoulers of the environment. Democratic capitalism has created the wealth and electoral consent to clean the air and water, and only continued economic growth will create the resources to deal with climate change if it does become a serious threat to the Earth.”

Francis says, “Humanity is called on to be aware of the need to change lifestyles, production and consumption” because the world is filled with a “culture of waste.” We’re all for using energy judiciously and curbing waste, but not under the pretense of a UN-Vatican mandate, which is essentially the prescription Francis gives.

In short, while Francis has authority over doctrinal issues in his own church, his message on climate and economics is dead wrong and it should be rejected.

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