The not-so-enigmatic Pope Francis

From The Victory Girls:

Pope Francis: Is He Misunderstood By Progressives?
by KATIE LITTLE on DECEMBER 3, 2013

Pope Francis has become a hot topic as of late. One will see headlines such as “A Progressive Pope is Driving the Wingnuts Batty” or “Is Pope Francis Secretly Pro Gay Marriage” or one will see, if they are avid Facebook users, Leftist/Progressive pages posting images similar to the following:

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Is this Pope really a Progressive? Is he really better than his predecessors? Does Pope Francis care more for the general public and the overall immortality of the souls of those in this world than anyone else in the past?

More at the link.

Mrs Little cited several examples by which she concluded that no, His Holiness is not a “progressive.” Part of the problem, I would posit, is that American writers are looking at our new Pope through a decidedly ethnocentric — and egocentric — lens. Mrs Little cites an article in uCatholic, The Pope and Rush Limbaugh, which tries to nuance its way out of the very serious criticisms His Holiness had of capitalism, in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium. In it, Fr. John Trugilio Jr.1 notes the difference between “unfettered capitalism,” which the progressives — and Mr Limbaugh — thought the Holy Father condemned, and “unfettered consumerism,” citing one sentence, “Welfare projects, which meet certain urgent needs, should be considered merely temporary responses,” from §202, while seeming to ignore that which followed immediately thereafter.

The economy and the distribution of income

202. The need to resolve the structural causes of poverty cannot be delayed, not only for the pragmatic reason of its urgency for the good order of society, but because society needs to be cured of a sickness which is weakening and frustrating it, and which can only lead to new crises. Welfare projects, which meet certain urgent needs, should be considered merely temporary responses. As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems. Inequality is the root of social ills.

203. The dignity of each human person and the pursuit of the common good are concerns which ought to shape all economic policies. At times, however, they seem to be a mere addendum imported from without in order to fill out a political discourse lacking in perspectives or plans for true and integral development. How many words prove irksome to this system! It is irksome when the question of ethics is raised, when global solidarity is invoked, when the distribution of goods is mentioned, when reference in made to protecting labour and defending the dignity of the powerless, when allusion is made to a God who demands a commitment to justice. At other times these issues are exploited by a rhetoric which cheapens them. Casual indifference in the face of such questions empties our lives and our words of all meaning. Business is a vocation, and a noble vocation, provided that those engaged in it see themselves challenged by a greater meaning in life; this will enable them truly to serve the common good by striving to increase the goods of this world and to make them more accessible to all.

204. We can no longer trust in the unseen forces and the invisible hand of the market. Growth in justice requires more than economic growth, while presupposing such growth: it requires decisions, programmes, mechanisms and processes specifically geared to a better distribution of income, the creation of sources of employment and an integral promotion of the poor which goes beyond a simple welfare mentality. I am far from proposing an irresponsible populism, but the economy can no longer turn to remedies that are a new poison, such as attempting to increase profits by reducing the work force and thereby adding to the ranks of the excluded.

American conservatives should not deceive themselves: Pope Francis, very much like his two immediate predecessors, recognizes that a capitalistic system is necessary for economic progress,2 but none of the last three Popes has had anything kind to say about the harshness of the capitalist system.

But, if the American progressives saw some great ally in Pope Francis, they are deceiving themselves. While American progressivism is certainly in line with what His Holiness said about economics and “social justice,” they are inseparably wedded to feminism, to pushing artificial contraception, to abortion on demand, and to normalizing homosexuality in society. Mrs Little noted that, while the Holy Father made statements about it not being the business of mortals to condemn homosexuals,3 he also excommunicated Fr. Greg Reynolds of Melbourne, Australia, for his advocacy of the ordination of women and same-sex “marriage.” And the Pope has been quite clear that abortion cannot ever be accepted.

To try to somehow pigeonhole Pope Francis in terms of American political discourse is really an exercise in futility. On one hand, he looks very much like a friend of American liberals, but, on the other, he is their greatest enemy. For American conservatives, he seems to be a strong ally on the very important social issues of our day,4 but his views on the economy and social justice leave them scratching their heads.

Simply put, Pope Francis is not an American. He comes from an entirely different culture, and attempting to classify him as politically liberal or conservative, in American terms, is doomed to failure. And with the way liberals around the world have accepted and supported abortion and the normalization of homosexuality, it seems unlikely to me that he could be politically pigeonholed in any particular culture.

The answer to Mrs Little’s title question, is Pope Francis misunderstood by progressives, is yes. But the answer to the obvious next question, is Pope Francis misunderstood by conservatives, is also yes.
_______________________________

  1. Fr. John Trugilio Jr, PhD, ThD is a priest of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg and President of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy. His blog can be viewed at http://blackbiretta.blogspot.com/
  2. I would note here that His Holiness Pope John Paul II grew up in Poland under the domination of the Soviet Union, and saw, first hand, the economic stagnation and ruin that Communism/Socialism wrought.
  3. This is not a new thing; the Catechism of the Catholic Church has long taught that homosexuals, as people, must be accepted and not discriminated against, but that homosexual activity is gravely sinful, and that homosexuals must remain celibate. §2357-2359.
  4. I’d point out here that the pope is very much pro-life, but by pro-life he means from conception to natural death; the Church is strongly opposed to capital punishment.

23 Comments

  1. I enjoyed this and agree completely. I’ll share it with our blogger, Katie Little, the author of the piece you reference, and see if she has any comment. Thanks for the link Dana!

  2. Thank you for your view. You basically just added to my thought. And went further with my synopsis of the Pope. My point was to prove a point of how progressives are using him to further their agendas and gain support of Catholics. Being that I studied other cultures I am fully aware of which culture he comes from but being a Catholic myself I also know that with God and his teachings he sees no cultural boundaries…. So it doesn’t matter what culture who are in. You either go with God or you do not. It’s simple.

  3. Lastly just because you are not a progressive does not mean you are a conservative. That statement was very egocentric on your end and saying something you condemned me for doing… When I never actually said it. As for the Pope as I said he’s a man of God.

  4. I’d say the Pope – and the Church hierarchy generally – needs to spend more time studying economics and business. Indeed, it wouldn’t hurt to have a few more priests with MBA’s, so that they could discuss business and know what they are talking about.

  5. the Church is strongly opposed to capital punishment. ↩

    This is something I never understood. I can see atheists being terrified by the death penalty, for them, this life is all there is. But, if you believe in life after death, why should the Church be opposed? Indeed, one might argue that, if a murderer is sentenced to death, then he has paid his debt to both God and Man, and can enter the next life with all his sins wiped clean.

  6. As for the Pope as I said he’s a man of God.

    Then that’s precisely where he should center his pontifications. We already have children’s advocates, community organizers, librarians, lawyers, actors and rap singers throwing their foolish and nefarious notions on economics and business all over the place. The Man of God should stick to God and leave the business to businessmen. If he wants the Church to take on a socialistic outlook that’s fine, but societies haven’t grown over the last 200 years handing out goodies to everyone who didn’t earn them. As a matter of fact one could argue the job of the church is to hand out goodies as well as save souls. But the job of Government is to provide a safe, secure structure in Law to protect the rights of the individual and that includes the right to be secure owning his own property without fear of it being “redistributed” by some idiot third party.

  7. Eric wrote:

    But, if you believe in life after death, why should the Church be opposed? Indeed, one might argue that, if a murderer is sentenced to death, then he has paid his debt to both God and Man, and can enter the next life with all his sins wiped clean.

    If we used that logic, why should the Church oppose abortion, either, death before the child could sin?

    The Church rightly opposes unnecessary killing, which is a rather obvious thing, given the Ten Commandments. From the Catechism:

    2262 In the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord recalls the commandment, “You shall not kill,” and adds to it the proscription of anger, hatred, and vengeance. Going further, Christ asks his disciples to turn the other cheek, to love their enemies.63 He did not defend himself and told Peter to leave his sword in its sheath.64

    2263 The legitimate defense of persons and societies is not an exception to the prohibition against the murder of the innocent that constitutes intentional killing. “The act of self-defense can have a double effect: the preservation of one’s own life; and the killing of the aggressor. . . . The one is intended, the other is not.”

    2264 Love toward oneself remains a fundamental principle of morality. Therefore it is legitimate to insist on respect for one’s own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow:

    If a man in self-defense uses more than necessary violence, it will be unlawful: whereas if he repels force with moderation, his defense will be lawful. . . . Nor is it necessary for salvation that a man omit the act of moderate self-defense to avoid killing the other man, since one is bound to take more care of one’s own life than of another’s.

    2265 Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others. The defense of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm. For this reason, those who legitimately hold authority also have the right to use arms to repel aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their responsibility.

    2266 The efforts of the state to curb the spread of behavior harmful to people’s rights and to the basic rules of civil society correspond to the requirement of safeguarding the common good. Legitimate public authority has the right and duty to inflict punishment proportionate to the gravity of the offense. Punishment has the primary aim of redressing the disorder introduced by the offense. When it is willingly accepted by the guilty party, it assumes the value of expiation. Punishment then, in addition to defending public order and protecting people’s safety, has a medicinal purpose: as far as possible, it must contribute to the correction of the guilty party.

    2267 Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.

    If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.

    Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm – without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself – the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.”

    That is the same argument I have made here, several times, though I chose not to use the religious component: if you have a prisoner so bound that he is helpless to prevent his execution, you have him so closely held that he is not a danger to society, and killing him is not an act of self-defense.

    Further, it greatly weakens our argument for the right to life when it comes to abortion to be willing to take away someone’s right to life for a crime. At that point you have ceased to argue for an inviolable right to life, but are simply arguing over what reasons are good enough to kill when it is not necessary.

  8. If we used that logic, why should the Church oppose abortion, either, death before the child could sin?

    Because, in abortion, THE CHILD IS INNOCENT !!!!!

    Indeed, it is a perversion of morality to equate abortion and the death penalty, since it implies that murdering the innocent and executing the guilty are morally the same thing.

  9. Further, it greatly weakens our argument for the right to life when it comes to abortion to be willing to take away someone’s right to life for a crime.

    Dana, I love ya, man, but if you believe the above, you are delusional. I have never heard a left winger say “I used to be pro-abortion, but now I’m pro-life because some pro-life conservatives are against the death penalty, too.”

    Abortion and the death penalty are totally separate. It is a clever left wing tactic to try to equate the two, since it blurs the distinction between killing the innocent (murder) vs killing the guilty (justice), and blurring moral boundaries is a big part of the Left’s agenda. Why should we be stupid enough to let them get away with it?

  10. That is the same argument I have made here, several times, though I chose not to use the religious component: if you have a prisoner so bound that he is helpless to prevent his execution, you have him so closely held that he is not a danger to society, and killing him is not an act of self-defense.

    Self-defense was never the primary argument for the death penalty, but rather justice. But, that aside, it is hardly unheard of for murderers in prison to commit other murders, either of other prisoners or of guards. Plus, murderers sometimes escape, and commit more murders on the outside.

    In contrast, one thing you can say for an executed murderer is he will NEVER murder again.

  11. “That is the same argument I have made here, several times, though I chose not to use the religious component: if you have a prisoner so bound that he is helpless to prevent his execution, you have him so closely held that he is not a danger to society, and killing him is not an act of self-defense.”

    If a known killer in flight is not a prisoner, and is encountered in hot pursuit, does the pursuer somehow have a moral obligation to the murderer to risk his own life in order to make the killer submit to formal “justice”? If not to the killer, then to whom could such an obligation be owed?

    If there are no formal or working institutions of justice in a supposed society, does say, the man who just now killed your father for cattle, as your father stood at his plow in the field, somehow become immune from retribution? Since there are no jails in which to detain him and killing him violates his killer’s right to life, is he entitled to go Scot free?

    If he’s not entitled to go Scot free, and if he deserves killing for the sake of justice, then, not killing the killer because you merely have the social means to secure him, is not principled, but is merely an act of refraining from killing him when you happen to have the “luxury” of indulging your sensibilities by so refraining.

    Of course there are some people who persistently talk nonsense about “paying debts to society”, and penitence and social redemption, and crap like that, instead of retribution, and justice, and removing the offender from any potential for further contact, but there is no real reasoning with them. With them, it’s all emotional at root.

  12. “In contrast, one thing you can say for an executed murderer is he will NEVER murder again.”

    That’s correct; and from that standpoint alone I would be content to sentence the killer to “social death” as part of a strict and permanent removal to some place wherein he might be able to survive alone and without companions by dint of his own efforts.

    As I have said many times before however, if we tried that we would soon witness the phenomenon of Quakers and other sexually masochistic types sublimating and re-expressing their perversity through “social rescue” efforts. If you dumped the killers on an island with a bag of seeds and a hoe, and just left them there to fend for themselves, you would eventually have to station a gun boat off shore to blast the kumbaya singers as they tried to infiltrate the area and bring back the killers into “society”.

  13. DNW asked:

    If a known killer in flight is not a prisoner, and is encountered in hot pursuit, does the pursuer somehow have a moral obligation to the murderer to risk his own life in order to make the killer submit to formal “justice”? If not to the killer, then to whom could such an obligation be owed?

    Pursuit of a known killer is an act of defense of society, covered in §2265 above, and it is legitimate to use whatever force is necessary to subdue and apprehend him. If he resists, lethal force may be legitimately used; if he puts up his hands and surrenders, you can’t just shoot him.

    Even without reference to the Catechism, the police departments all have criteria for the use of force, criteria which allow the police the proper leeway to apprehend a suspect, and defend themselves against a resisting or fleeing criminal. None of them allow the police to simply shoot a subdued criminal in custody.

  14. Eric wrote:

    Abortion and the death penalty are totally separate.

    No, they really are not; in both cases, we are talking about the taking of a human life, in situations when those persons are unable to defend themselves or prevent themselves from being killed.

    Sometimes killing is simply necessary, in cases of self-defense or defense of family or society, or war. But once we get to capital punishment, we have reached a situation in which it is not necessary to kill. If it is not necessary, then it should not be done.

  15. I’m a Conservative and I don’t misunderstand Pope Francis. He’s an ostentatious, posturing, and self-promoting pretender. Since the day he was elected (Anyone suspect those Cardinals might jump at the chance for a do-over?) he’s taken every opportunity to wallow in publicity with elaborate shows of excessive piety, again and again he disdains the traditional trappings of office and then basks in the reflexive warm glow of praise from those reliably known for mocking the Church of Rome, its teachings, and its adherents.

    Other than outright ridiculing religion there’s nothing Atheists, Socialists, and Progressives love more than touting religious mavericks in high office, ostensibly it provides the appearance of balance, but it’s one of the ways they undermine any authority they can’t control, and the Catholic Church has been a thorn in their side since the day Vladimir Lenin set out to suppress then eliminate all religion and replace it with universal atheism. And it wasn’t just Russian Orthodox Bishops and priests (28 and over 1,200 respectively) he killed, Jews, Protestants of all denominations, Muslims, and Buddhists also suffered the heavy hand of official state persecution.

    If Pope Francis can be known by the Philistines who now sing his praises, if he continues to pander to the zeitgeist while ignoring the traditional role of the Vicar of Christ, first the man and then the office itself will be undermined, and the Bishop of Rome’s position as primus inter pares will be further diminished. Mavericks are harbingers of schizm.

  16. If the Pope is a “maverick” then Christians of all denominations have a problem. It appears to me he has pierced the veil of religion and moved into politics. That’s not a maverick, that’s a fool. Somewhere it is written that one cannot serve two masters. I suggest the Pope decide if he’s a politician or a Priest.

    If he continues he’ll do for Catholicism what Bush has done for republicans.

  17. Editor
    Wednesday, 4 December 2013 at 11:45

    DNW asked:

    ‘ If a known killer in flight is not a prisoner, and is encountered in hot pursuit, does the pursuer somehow have a moral obligation to the murderer to risk his own life in order to make the killer submit to formal “justice”? If not to the killer, then to whom could such an obligation be owed?’

    Pursuit of a known killer is an act of defense of society, covered in §2265 above, and it is legitimate to use whatever force is necessary to subdue and apprehend him. If he resists, lethal force may be legitimately used; if he puts up his hands and surrenders, you can’t just shoot him.

    Even without reference to the Catechism, the police departments all have criteria for the use of force, criteria which allow the police the proper leeway to apprehend a suspect, and defend themselves against a resisting or fleeing criminal. None of them allow the police to simply shoot a subdued criminal in custody.

    No doubt police, who are acting on behalf of others, and who are hired to perform specific functions, none of which include the meting out of justice, do have procedures which they are bound to follow. In fact, theoretically and traditionally, they have had less authority and power than the individual citizen in some cases*, though this is changing, as both our population and our law becomes more pathetic, dependent, and contempt worthy.

    [*As an example: someone parked some construction vehicles on a piece of upscale residential land I owned. A smallish grader, a dump truck, a heavy duty pickup and maybe another construction piece of some sort. Discovering this one dinner hour by chance, and observing that the wear on the grass indicated it had been going on for some time, I went to the police station and stated I wanted them removed immediately. They sent a squad car around and the officer said that they couldn't tell who actually owned the vehicles at that moment or how to get in contact with them at that time of day, and that they did not have the authority to go inside the vehicles and search them. I said I did, as they were on my property and either they were presumptively mine and I could do with them as I wished, or parked there without my permission and therefore trespassing. So I got a rock and went to smash out a door window to gain entry. Just for the hell of it, I tried the door first and found it was unlocked. I went into the glove compartment and emptied the papers on the seat and showed the relevant docs to the cop who said that he didn't want to handle them but would take notes. I told the police that if the equipment was not gone by noon the next day, I would have it towed away. They must have passed along the message because the stuff was gone by nine the next morning. Apparently a group of neighbors were having driveway or culvert work done and my property seemed a convenient place to store equipment.

    The point is that the police could have not have legally done some of this on their own.]

    But of course, the matter of police is irrelevant to the actual question of principle mooted; as is, as you stipulate and agree, the Catholic catechism.

  18. ” ropelight
    Wednesday, 4 December 2013 at 12:15

    I’m a Conservative and I don’t misunderstand Pope Francis. He’s an ostentatious, posturing, and self-promoting pretender. Since the day he was elected (Anyone suspect those Cardinals might jump at the chance for a do-over?) he’s taken every opportunity to wallow in publicity with elaborate shows of excessive piety, again and again he disdains the traditional trappings of office and then basks in the reflexive warm glow of praise from those reliably known for mocking the Church of Rome, its teachings, and its adherents.

    Other than outright ridiculing religion there’s nothing Atheists, Socialists, and Progressives love more than touting religious mavericks in high office, ostensibly it provides the appearance of balance, but it’s one of the ways they undermine any authority they can’t control, and the Catholic Church has been a thorn in their side since the day Vladimir Lenin set out to suppress then eliminate all religion and replace it with universal atheism. And it wasn’t just Russian Orthodox Bishops and priests (28 and over 1,200 respectively) he killed, Jews, Protestants of all denominations, Muslims, and Buddhists also suffered the heavy hand of official state persecution.

    If Pope Francis can be known by the Philistines who now sing his praises, if he continues to pander to the zeitgeist while ignoring the traditional role of the Vicar of Christ, first the man and then the office itself will be undermined, and the Bishop of Rome’s position as primus inter pares will be further diminished. Mavericks are harbingers of schizm.”

    “If Pope Francis can be known by the Philistines who now sing his praises, if he continues to pander to the zeitgeist while ignoring the traditional role of the Vicar of Christ, first the man and then the office itself will be undermined”

    Popes, like Marxists, rhetorically appeal to our supposedly common humanity. Unlike Marxists however, they at least do have official doctrinal reasons both religious (common Adamic descent) and metaphysical (Aristotelian teleology implying a shared human nature) for believing that the human material we encounter and bump up against is objectively like in all important fundamentals.

    Marxists on the other hand don’t even believe in essential natures so there is, it follows, no objective class concept by which to be objectively defined or in which to participate as an indubitable member.

    The problem is that a supernaturally deracinated Catholicism, especially of the New Theology brand, can be made to sound a great deal like the social justice pimping Marxism we are all familiar with. In fact, it’s probably more like it than unlike it. The Marxists know this, and so do many of the Bishop Fumblebutt sorts … these simpering mannequins, gliding with folded unmanly hands and feigned expressions of care on their glabrous bespectacled faces, through the ruins of five generations of faithful rank and file Catholic sacrifices.

    Harry Reid would make a good – in a bad sense – American Catholic bishop.

  19. No, they really are not; in both cases, we are talking about the taking of a human life, in situations when those persons are unable to defend themselves or prevent themselves from being killed.

    You neglect the difference between GUILT and INNOCENCE. Abortion is wrong because the baby is innocent, executing the guilty is an entirely different manner.

    Also, you neglected to address the issue of murderers committing additional murders in prison, or (in a few cases) after they escape. Unless you’re going to confine each prisoner to a single, solitary cell from which escape is impossible, and keep him in there 24/7/365 for the rest of his life (which most people would consider cruel), then he will end up mingling with other people in prison, meaning he will have the opportunity to kill again.

    What do you have to say to that?

  20. In it, Fr. John Trugilio Jr.1 notes

    He was one of our parish priests for about a year or two in the early 90′s. He was too smart to leave in a backwater parish and was fast tracked out of there.

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