Andrew Napolitano reacts to Pope Francis comments on economics

I am close to being done with Pope Francis Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium. Let’s remember that it is not an encyclical. It is not even an Apostolic Letter. It’s only an Exhortation.

It is, however, an Exhortation which has some puzzling stuff in it and not all reactions have been accompanied by applause. It is good to attend also to the less than positive reactions as well as to the warmly enthusiastic.

Here is one from the Washington Times, an op-ed piece by Andrew Napolitano, a former judge in NY, writer, broadcaster, who has strongly libertarian leanings. He is also a hard-identity Catholic, from what I can tell.

NAPOLITANO: Pope Francis should be saving souls, not pocketbooks
Church teaching on personal freedom includes a moral imperative to work and share

By Andrew P. Napolitano Wednesday, December 4, 2013

What is the worst problem in the world today? Might it be war, starvation, genocide, sectarian violence, murder, slaughter of babies in the womb? Any of these would be a rational answer. When Pope Francis was asked this question recently, he replied, “Youth unemployment.”

To be sure, youth unemployment is a serious problem. In some parts of the United States, the richest country in the world, it has reached 25 percent. These are people who are no longer in school full time and are not yet 30 years of age. It is a problem for them and their families, for their communities and for the welfare states that are supporting them. Is it the worst problem in the world, though? Is it a problem for the Roman Catholic Church? Is it something the pope is competent to comment upon or to resolve?

The pope’s youth-unemployment comments recently were removed from the Vatican’s website. No sooner had that been done than the Holy Father issued his first encyclical — a formal papal teaching, as opposed to his now-famous, impromptu back-of-the-plane yet on-the-record comments.

His encyclical is about economics, [No.  It is neither an encyclical nor is it – primarily- about economics.  These errors of fact, however, don’t change the argument too much.] and it reveals a disturbing ignorance. [At least about economics.] I say this with deference and respect. I also say this as a traditionalist Roman Catholic who laments the post-Vatican II watering down of sacred traditions, lessening of moral teaching and trivialization of liturgical practices. [OORAH!] I also say this, though, as a firm believer that Pope Francis is the Vicar of Christ on Earth and, as such, personifies the teaching authority of the church. He is morally and juridically capable of speaking ex cathedra — that is, infallibly — but only after surveying and distilling traditional Church teachings and only on matters affecting faith and morals.

Thank God, so to speak, that his teaching authority is limited to faith and morals, because in matters of economics, he is wide of the mark.

His encyclical, [See above.] titled “Joy of the Gospel,” attacks free-market capitalism because it takes too long for the poor to get rich. [That may be the money quote.] “They are still waiting,” the pope wrote. Without capitalism, which rewards hard work and sacrifice, they will wait forever. No economic system in history has alleviated more poverty, generated more opportunity and helped more formerly poor people become rich than capitalism. The essence of capitalism goes to the core of Catholic teaching: the personal freedom of every person. Capitalism is freedom to risk, freedom to work, freedom to save, freedom to retain the fruits of one’s labors, freedom to own property and freedom to give to charity.

The problem with modern capitalism — a problem that escaped the scrutiny of His Holiness — is not too much freedom, but too little. The regulation of free markets by governments, the control of the private means of production by government bureaucrats, and the unholy alliances between governments, banks and industry have raised production costs, stifled competition, established barriers to entry into markets, raised taxes, devalued savings and priced many poor out of the labor force. The pope would do well to pray for those who have used government to steal freedom so as to satisfy their lust for power, and for those who have bowed to government so as to become rich from governmental benefits and not by the fruits of their own labors.

Traditional Catholic social teaching imposes on all of us a moral obligation to become our brothers’ keepers. [This isn’t just an imperative from Catholic social teaching, by the way.] But this is a personal moral obligation, enforced by conscience and church teaching and the fires of hell [When is the last time you saw that in a secular paper?  When is the last time you heard that from a pulpit?] — not by the coercive powers of the government. Charity comes from the heart. It consists of freely giving away one’s wealth. It is impossible to be charitable with someone else’s money. That’s theft, not charity.


The pope seems to prefer common ownership of the means of production, which is Marxist, or private ownership and government control, which is fascist, or government ownership and government control, which is socialist. All of those failed systems lead to ashes, not wealth. [Sometimes those ashes are human.] Pope Francis must know this. He must also know that when Europe was in turmoil in 1931, his predecessor Pius XI wrote in one of his encyclicals: “[N]o one can be at the same time a sincere Catholic and a true Socialist.” [Which has been on the masthead of The Wanderer for decades.]

The church does not teach just for today, but for the life of man on Earth. That’s why the essence of the papacy is not contemporary problem-solving, but preservation of truth and continuity of tradition. For this reason, popes do not lightly contradict their predecessors. If it was sacred then, it is sacred now. [Sacred then… sacred now which is a phrase associated with preservation of traditional sacred liturgy.  The judge is tapped into traditional sacred worship.]


You can read the rest there.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Francis, Hard-Identity Catholicism, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Our Catholic Identity, SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM, The Drill and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. mr_anthony says:

    Judge Napolitano is great. His commentaries are big reason I lean very libertarian. Pity about the “encyclical” error in an otherwise great piece.

  2. Jet41815 says:

    “If it was sacred then, it is sacred now.” Judge Napolitano.

    “What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too.” Pope Benedict XVI, Summorum Pontificum.

    I wonder what form of the Mass Judge Napolitano attends?

  3. vandalia says:

    Is the ultimate goal of an economic system for people to “become rich” or to “become saints?”

    The real question is whether people are holier today than they were prior to 1776? (The year Adam Smith wrote “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.”)

  4. Phil_NL says:

    This is what His Holiness gets – and in this case, as opposite to Fox’ mr Shaw’s piece, deserves – for publishing pieces that give the impression that Catholic teaching is leftist. Of course it’s nothing of the kind – mr Napolitano is right on all fronts except the ‘encycical’ part, and moreover, all his observations are in keeping with Catholic teaching properly understood – but the phrasing is often abysmal, and probably deliberately so, which results in very unbalanced pieces and pronouncements.
    (As an example, youth unemployment as a spiritual problem – in terms of what young men and women tend to do when lacking a proper purpose for their time – is indeed a big deal. And it seems plausible that was at least in part what Francis had on his mind, I cannot believe he meant it any other way. But such a clarification is of course never asked, it is immediately assumed that them not earning a lot is the problem being referred to – it suits the story so very well, so why bother digging a bit deeper).

    As I argued earlier, I don’t think that Pope Francis can help it. He probably cares little for the image that is being painted, and even if he does, he might – probably mistakenly – see it as not unhelpful in other areas. We’ll just have to bear that cross, both now, when we sigh in response to the drivel that the media distills from poorly informed texts, and later, when the ‘media honeymoon’ is over, and tying Francis to some element of the Argentinian dictatorship or other vicious unfounded line of attack will be the press’ favorite hobby again.

    But even that he cant help it doesn’t negate what I wrote even earlier about bishops and economics, namely that they are indeed unqualified to pronounce on it, and that they do well to leave matters of prudential judgement alone, lets they loose the attention and complaince of the faithful when they do start teaching on faith and morals again. Bishops should simply leave those issues – and that includes His Holiness.

  5. Robbie says:

    I think the last few weeks have been quite interesting for the traditional Catholic movement. After eight or nine months of quiet, many have begun to openly criticize or at least critique much of what Pope Francis has said or written. The loudness of the complaints is really what has caught my attention as I don’t think we would have seen anything like this even ten years ago.

    I think it’s very good that Napolitano pointed out the comments made about youth unemployment. When the Pope said the two biggest issues that faced the Church were youth unemployment and the elderly, I was left scratching my head. Those are certainly issues of concerns, but the economic ones are for our political leaders. Maybe I’m off base, but the Pope should concern himself with working to save souls. And as we know, the world could use a lot of that right now.

  6. slainewe says:

    The papal exhortation I would like to see would tell the able-bodied unemployed the truth: that it is a SIN to take taxpayer money and contribute nothing to society; and that it is a SIN for taxpayers to encourage sloth by paying able-bodied men to do nothing.

    Taxpayers should make it clear to the able-bodied unemployed that they are being paid to spend 40 hours a week looking for gainful employment; furthering their education to find gainful employment; or volunteering for non-profit organizations.

    The most merciful thing we could do for the able-bodied unemployed is to make them go to some site within a mile of their home every weekday morning between 7 and 8 AM to pick up their daily wage from the taxpayer. (Perhaps a thumb ID at an ATM.) It would train them to rise every morning and begin their Christian work day. I have a feeling they would be gainfully employed in no time. And, if not, at least they would be MEN and not supported children.

    Work is a gift!

  7. Dan says:

    Fr. Z, I eagerly await anything from you on EG that might be called ‘warmly enthusiastic.’

    You write that it is not primarily about economics. From the posts you have written, one might be forgiven for thinking otherwise.

  8. Tradster says:

    Judge Napolitano’s stock just skyrocketed for me. The layman’s mistake of referring to it as an encyclical is minor, although Father Z was right to correct it. The rest of the article was perfect, in my opinion. I applaud him for writing it and I thank the Wasington Times for publishing it.

  9. McCall1981 says:

    I don’t have strong feelings either way on what Francis said about economics, but this quote struck me: “The church does not teach just for today, but for the life of man on Earth. That’s why the essence of the papacy is not contemporary problem-solving, but preservation of truth and continuity of tradition.”
    This puts into eloquent words something I’ve been thinking for a while. This Pope IS primarily concerned with worldly, practical, problem solving, which I think is detrimental to the spiritual, bigger picture.

    Fr. Z had a post on how this Exhortation “torpedoed” the women’s ordination issue, which it did, and no one noticed it because of the economic stuff.

  10. Geoffrey says:

    I’m tired of all these political “commentators” picking apart a papal document.

    “The Pope… is not owned or dictated to by either the minions of the right or minions of the left… The Catholic Church does not trim its teachings to suit the fancy of American politicians. For all their arrogance and power, these political forces and their operatives cannot control or dictate to the Pope…”


  11. Priam1184 says:

    How can one be both a libertarian and a ‘traditionalist Catholic’? Being libertarian means that basically you think that people should be allowed to do whatever they want (sex, drugs, rock n’ roll, etc.) as long as it doesn’t cause you material harm, doesn’t it? And while it is very true that one cannot be a Socialist and a Catholic at the same time, can we really be an ardent worshiper (and make no mistake that is what Rush Limbaugh and Judge Napolitano, his traditionalist Catholic quotes aside, present themselves as) of free market capitalism and a Catholic at the same time? Free market capitalism produces such an adoration of this world and its goods that it strikes me as simply the opposite side of the same materialist coin as Communism, except Communism is much more honest about its intentions. I will put my trust in the Church and in the Holy Father before Rush Limbaugh or Judge Napolitano. The Church existed for long ages before the Socialist/Capitalist debate began, and will exist long after both Socialism and Capitalism descend into the ashes of history.

  12. wmeyer says:

    When I read Pope Francis’ comments on economics, I was saddened. Napolitano gets it right, apart from his characterization of the document. As to the MSM referring to “unfettered capitalism”, that is something which existed in this country only briefly, and led to a financial boom. Then the Feds enacted the railroad land grants, and the Interstate Commerce Act, and it’s been all downhill from there. The current economy is anything but free.

  13. jack gibes says:

    The comments say more then the JUDGE.
    The judge better be judging himself not the Pope. It’s like any Catholic would like to start judging Jesus Christ. I wonder how that would work. We all know that anyone with ample dose of intelligence can spin any text into anything. Seems to me that judge N> spins it for his political gain and personal popularity, because all that is controversial, sells nowadays.
    We as Catholics are supposed to follow the lead of the Pope as best as we can and live the Gospels not the Gossips.
    If all people tried harder to live the Gospel and truly follow Jesus instead talking and writing, the world would be a better place and youth would also be able to find more work, and many other problems would get closer to solving.
    In this Christmas Season, please love and share, and don’t pretend it’s just “holidays” .
    May God Bless you all

  14. Gemma says:

    I am sticking my neck out here. I don’t think people know what is happening in this country yet. I am a mother who homeschooled their children successfully for 17 years. Unfortunately my children graduated during a time in history in this country where they cannot find jobs. My children are very close together. I have watched what has happened to this group of Americas that have graduated from college and the like since 2008. There are not enough jobs or no jobs for them. They are the future of the church. While I don’t think this is the most important problem, I am tired of people sounding off on them freeloading. The poor will always will be with us., but unmistakeably there is a very serious problem in the US right now that is not being addressed and is being covered up. You will not know this unless you have parented children around this age. It is going to have very serious affects in the future it it is not being taken care of. Along with this problem are all the Americans fathers who are working two P/T jobs to support their families with no future. These men were not so long ago gainfully employed in good jobs that had a future. Now they are working very long hours and in their spare time looking for F/T work. Their families are suffering from what comes from living from moment to moment. Try it sometime. I know this personally. This is the new silence, growing America. Making due. They are not the welfare state . They are respectable Americans you are doing the best they can. As far as Pope Francis we have been spoiled for sometime with JPII. He was a free market pope.

  15. Facta Non Verba says:

    Bravo!! Well stated, Judge.

  16. Michelle F says:

    Geoffrey: Amen!

    Everything Pope Francis has said to date about economics is found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

    The Pope and the Catholic Church are fully competent to pass infallible judgements on matters of economics, politics, medicine, and everything else that touches on human life and relationships because everything we do comes from and points toward faith and morals.

    St. Paul says this explicitly in 1 Corinthians:

    1Co 6:1 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to be judged before the unjust: and not before the saints?
    1Co 6:2 Know you not that the saints shall judge this world? And if the world shall be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters?
    1Co 6:3 Know you not that we shall judge angels? How much more things of this world?

    And here is the Church’s infallible teaching on economic matters:

    Any Catholic who claims to be a “traditionalist” and yet rejects the Church’s infallible teachings on economics, war, or anything else because it conflicts with American conservative political doctrine is of the same substance as Pelosi, Biden, et al. Same substance, different flavor.

  17. JonPatrick says:

    As usual with these economic arguments we seem to be stuck in this concept that there are only 2 possible models – Socialism or Capitalism. At one time the Church supported a third way which was distributism [Here we go!] and the principles of subsidiarity, however Liberation Theology has clouded the thinking of those in the Church so that they only think of the socialist model as the only possible antidote to the evils of Capitalism. And of course there are many as unfettered free enterprise seems to always tend toward a monopoly as the more efficient producers squeeze out the less efficient. The “solution” then becomes government intervention which introduces a new set of issues such as crony capitalism, lobbying, and so on.
    A true distributist system would be difficult and probably only possible in a totally Christian society where individuals would be willing to concede maximizing profits for the sake of more spiritual values. But isn’t that what the Church should be trying to achieve (a Christian society that is)?

  18. JKnott says:

    I’m glad for this post and others that Father is calling to our attention. I find them thoughtful and informative and supported by the Vatican II emphasis on the role of lay Catholics in the world. I also hesitate to lump all commentaries which are trying to discern the meaning of our Holy Father’s statements in with the political statements of the secular and political media. Andrew Napolitano’s points are correct. He seems a serious Catholic. Good. Thanks. I learned from reading it.
    Didn’t Pope Benedict’s “Caritas in Veritate” address Catholic teaching in the areas of economics anyway?
    Frankly, I am getting tired of good Catholics criticizing other orthodox Catholics (traditional) for thoughtful discernment of some of the papal comments. It shouldn’t matter what their job title is and doesn’t necessarily constitute disrespect or disobedience to do so.

  19. Dan says:

    How far do we think this game of “it’s ONLY an exhortation” will get us?

    Oh, Pope Francis speaks out against women’s ordination and abortion? Well, it’s ONLY an exhortation!

    It wouldn’t matter, even if it were an encyclical. The same game was played with Benedict’s ‘Caritas in Veritate,” with George Weigel comically attributing the parts he didn’t like to another author.

    We have met the cafeteria Catholics, and they are us.

  20. Phil_NL says:

    Michelle F,

    Infallability is something to be applied with care, and the Church does so. Not everything that exists the mouth or pen of the Pope is infallible. For starters, it needs to have the intention to be infallible, and it is very clear that 99% that is written by the Holy See is nothing of the kind, the current exhortation included. Moreover, assuming that any subject at all can be infallible because there is some remote connection to faith and morals is quite a stretch.
    (Please do not force me to elaborate on the fact that even passing wind, driving to your local store or sighing when hearing one’s not-quite-with-it-anymore grandfather is up to its antics again have potential moral dimensions, and could under your characteristation be the target of infallible pronouncements.)

    There are plenty of areas in which we are free to disagree – vehemently if need be – with our bishops, the pope not excepted. The sad part is that undue emphasis on these areas (war, economics are just a few, but the most prominent) will only serve to reduce their standing when do teach about faith and morals. Properly understood, that is.

    And that brings us to the difference in substance between most of the right and most of the left: the teachings on life are to be held by all, yet disregarded by the latter. That makes all the difference in the world.

  21. Robbie says:

    Is the phrase “trick down economics” in the Catechism of the Catholic Church? Is it written anywhere in the Catechism of the Catholic Church that “trick down economics”, a liberal slander of a widely held economic view, has never worked? On both points, I think the answer is no.

  22. mr205 says:

    We know the objective of the liberal press is to turn the Church into a cultural NGO charity. So, they take pieces of the Holy Father’s message out of context and attempt to paint the picture that the Pope is a universalist, who doesn’t care about getting your soul to heaven, only about social inequality. I think what gives everyone the most anxiety is we just don’t know how the Holy Father is connecting with those that are ignorant of the Catholic Faith, but we are scared they will believe the media.

    The biggest problem in Western Society is people are hungry to believe. They want to believe in God because it is written on their hearts to believe. Before I found the Church, I visited almost every mainline protestant church in Washington, DC. These churches were like depressing tombs, mostly empty, small congregations. I stopped going to the Episcopalian Church because one day I decided I wasn’t sure the Episcopal Priest believed in the resurrection. I next went to the Methodist Church. The back pews were roped off to make everyone sit up front. The sermon was about acceptance of homosexuality. Finally, I made it to the Southern Baptist Church. The preaching was hell and fire and about sin and getting saved from being damned to hell, every Sunday. The place was overflowing, literally overflowing, and they were adding on to a 100 year old protestant church in DC, the heart of liberalism! Sadly, they convert Catholics all the time because they have the nerve to stand up and say, “Brother, are you saved?” They tell them, “The Catholic Church lied to you” and those uncatechised Catholics don’t know what to say.

    By the grace of our Lord, I found the truth in the Catholic Church, but I think back to my experience in DC. When the world sees what I saw, that the Catholic Church is the truth, that there are real miracles still occurring, that the Church really believes what it has always believed, I am convinced that converts will be rushing in and Catholics will be back in the pews. But, when the Church seems to be just another NGO, they might think, “Ohh that’s nice but not nice enough to get out of bed on Sunday.”

    What does the world see in Pope Francis: NGO or leader of the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ? I don’t think we can know yet. Those attacking the Church forget about the supernatural desire of all to know God. The truth is attacking the Pope publicly like Judge Napolitano did is not only disrespectful to the Vicar of Christ but is, more importantly, an awful idea. It plays directly into the media’s narrative, they’ll say, “See, look at the crazies trying to stop Pope Francis from his goal of universalism!”

  23. Peggy R says:


    You are quite right to raise the points you’re raising. There are structural economic problems as well as public policies stifling job growth. The unemployment rates are not all free-loaders. Various economic regs are hurting all businesses and employers, Ocare exacerbates it badly. O’s admin has been very regulatory of businesses in general. We’ve been stalled at 7%+ unemployment for a reason. These have not been ordinary times. Both parties’ favoring of legal and illegal immigration has hurt American citizens in the unskilled labor markets (ie, teens at fast food) as well as professional markets, ie, IT. My husband, NOT a recent college grad, must compete not only with American youth, but with H1b immigrants who will work for lower wages. For those employed, wages are depressed. Our nominal income is flat over the past 10 years. Actually, less as I am primarily home with kids now. Plus our new insurance rates took $200/mo take home away from us. Just like that! Zap! Only in 2017 will things get better, and then it will take time with a new president with more economic growth policies. Some things will improve quickly, though I think.

  24. mamajen says:

    Amen, Geoffrey.

    Pope Francis has said nothing new, really. He’s a popular figure, so people are paying more attention (and using him for attention). I don’t remember an outcry from pundits on the right when the Vatican got involved with climate change nonsense under Benedict…or any of the other times we’ve heard about social justice and economics well before Francis.

    I’m tired of people saying “[Insert conservative pundit here] says Pope Francis is bad, so he must be bad (just as I suspected)!” or “[Insert liberal pundit here] says Pope Francis is good, so he must be bad (just as I suspected)!” And the schadenfreude being enjoyed by some when they see conservatives pick apart Pope Francis is a little disturbing.

    The Church doesn’t fall under a particular political ideology, period.

  25. There are some good and useful comments here, apart from Dan’s, of course! o{];¬)

  26. robtbrown says:

    Michelle F says:

    Everything Pope Francis has said to date about economics is found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

    The Pope and the Catholic Church are fully competent to pass infallible judgements on matters of economics, politics, medicine, and everything else that touches on human life and relationships because everything we do comes from and points toward faith and morals.

    Disagree. Not every human act is of moral value.

    The Church has nothing to say about whether medication or surgery is the best way to treat coronary artery disease–or whether one anti-hypertensive drug is better than another. Nor does the Church have the competence to say that one economic policy is superior to another.

  27. Joboww says:

    Just an FYI Father, The Judge often refers to himself as a “Pre-Vatican II Catholic”, he wrote about his sadness at Benedicts abdication.

    Glad to see at least one distributist point made, I worry that we treat Capitalism/free markets as an unchallengable system. As if its God given. Criticism of capitalism is fine, defense is fine as well, but you are not a dunderhead to question it on its principles

  28. Peggy R says:

    I, like RobtBrown, disagree that the pope and the Church are infallible on economic matters. That infallibility extends to faith and morals and Catholic doctrine. Not even every pronouncement of the faith from the mouth or pen of a pope is infallible.

    Excerpt from Catholic Answers:
    “Other people wonder how infallibility could exist if some popes disagreed with others. This, too, shows an inaccurate understanding of infallibility, which applies only to solemn, official teachings on faith and morals, not to disciplinary decisions or even to unofficial comments on faith and morals. A pope’s private theological opinions are not infallible, only what he solemnly defines is considered to be infallible teaching.

    Even Fundamentalists and Evangelicals who do not have these common misunderstandings often think infallibility means that popes are given some special grace that allows them to teach positively whatever truths need to be known, but that is not quite correct, either. Infallibility is not a substitute for theological study on the part of the pope. ”

  29. defenderofTruth says:

    Priam: he has “libertarian leanings”, which indicates his belief in a small government, with little to no influence on everyday life. Small ‘l’ libertarians are more concerned with laissez faire economics, individual freedoms as enumerated in the Constitution, and tend to be non-interventionist, while big ‘l’ Libertarians are libertine in nature, particularly when it comes to sex and drugs (and use economics only as a side note) and generally are isolationists.

  30. Arele says:

    Wow, this is just spot on!

    This is why I read Fr. Z’s blog. As a conservative, traditionalist and relatively new Catholic in very liberal leaning times, I need this sort of support, clarity and “chiropractic.”

    This is the best analysis I have read yet, not only on the Exhortation, but just on the entire subject itself.

    Thank you so much!!!

  31. ghp95134 says:

    Youth unemployment?

    That’s an easy fix: join the military, learn a skill (even infantrymen have useable skills! I speak as a former infantryman), save some money, then go back on Civvy Street more marketable; or, make the military a career. It sure beats living in their parents’ basement and just hanging around waiting and complaining about no job opportunities … waiting for someone to proffer a $50/hr job.

    Oh … that’s right, in order to join the military, one would have to forego a high-dollar career; however, medium-dollar is better than (1) no dollar, and/or (2) the Dole.

    Heck! Let’s go further and institute mandatory National Service! Not a “draft,” but true National Service for EVERY student after high school (if they do not go to university); or, after they graduate (or leave) university; only elegible for grad school after National Service. National Service could be military, civil (Red Cross, hospital, police, EMT, Civilian Conservation Corps), or a synthesis: med students transitioning to military hospitals as interns. The possibilities are endless.

    Oh, while I’m at it: no voting privileges until after National Service (or 2 years if staying in military/police). oops….. was channeling “Starship Trooper” there!



  32. rahalpern says:

    Michelle et alia,
    I took your hint and went to the catechism. The discussion of private ownership of goods, Article 7, sect. I, para. 2406 states: “Political authority has the right and duty to regulate the legitimate exercise of the right to ownership for the sake of the common good.” Sounds like government has carte blanche to limit the right to own private property, maybe even redistribute wealth to achieve social ends. At least that seems to me a plausible reading. There is a footnote: Cf. Gaudium et Spes 71, 4; Sollicitudo rei socialis 42; Centesimus annus 40; 48. I went and looked them up. None of them support the statement in the catechism. In fact, in the relevant paragraphs of Centesimus annus, JPII, is warning of the dangers of political authority regulating (i.e., interfering with) the “legitimate exercise of the right to ownership” of private property, and that interference by the government, in the manner of the modern welfare state, is destructive of the common good. I invite you to read the documents adduced to support the statement in 2406, and then say if you think the catechism, por si mismo, represents infallible teaching.

  33. StJude says:

    I agree with the Judge… I dont think Jesus would say ‘youth unemployment’ is the biggest problem the world has.

    I also think Francis’s world view is so much different than ours.. his background in Argentina is so far removed from even the worst American economic experience. Those poor people suffered a total economic collapse .. the things preppers here are stockpiling years of food for… they actually lived it. Just imagine what he has seen first hand.
    Having said that… he is the Pope of the world.. not just South America.

    Gemma.. I am with you.. I have a 21 year old and his future scares me.

  34. robtbrown says:

    vandalia says:
    Is the ultimate goal of an economic system for people to “become rich” or to “become saints?”

    From what I’ve read, seen, and heard from certain members of the hierarchy, priests, and religious orders, the economic system is at this moment better at making people rich than the Church is at making people saints.


  35. robtbrown says:

    BTW, I knew lots of priests from Argentina during my Roman years (two now bishops)–and one layman who is a philosophy prof there. The consensus among them was that Peron ruined the economy in Argentina.

  36. defenderofTruth says:

    I think there are two major issues here:

    1) on our part, we are using the terms “free market” and “capitalism” synonymously when they are not the same thing. Adam Smith described a free market as “free competition” for parties to meet the needs of the people of their communities (profit being an obvious marker of success), which is different from “capitalism”, a term coined by Marx to describe “the use of capital to obtain a profit”. The free market (based on the meeting of people’s needs) has been responsible for an increase in the standard of living and alleviating suffering, whilst capitalism (based on getting as much profit as possible) has indeed helped some, but caused suffering as well.

    2) on His Holiness’ part (as well as Pope Benedict, who likewise said some interesting economic statements), he is using a European and Latin American conception of economics, not one that considers the economic history of the US. Europe and Latin America, with their feudal backgrounds and aristocratic classes, has never been a fertile ground for free-market tendencies, and so cronyism, government interference, socialism have been the norm. In the US, not excusing obvious corruption and immorality along the way, free markets were essentially the norm for a long time …which accounted for the US becoming a major economic powerhouse (and the land of economic opportunity for all…hence the allure to immigrants) in the 1800s.

    Thus, there is a disconnect. When Pope Francis criticizes “free markets” and “capitalism” he’s talking about something different than what American conservatives are. In reality, I find no fault in what he said, because I agree that “capitalism” in a European, Marxist perspective is grossly immoral and has caused massive inequality and suffering and is caused by greed. Words are powerful things, and Progressives have been allowed to coopt them to suit their purposes.

  37. Michelle F says:


    You twisted my words.

    I said the Catechism is infallible. I said the Catholic Church is infallible. I said the Pope is infallible.

    I said Pope Francis has not deviated from any of the Church’s infallible teachings.

    I said the Catholic Church and the Pope are fully competent to pass judgement, infallibly, on all matters of human endeavor such as politics, economics, and medicine. I did not say anything about “passing wind” or any of the other red herrings you introduced.

    I said the Church can pass judgement infallibly on all matters of human endeavor (politics, economics, medicine, etc.) because too many people claim that these topics are outside the realm of faith and morals.

    The decisions people make regarding political, economic, and medical subjects is based on what they believe, and what they believe should be based on their faith – Roman Catholicism.

    How people behave politically, economically, medically is based on their morals, which should be Roman Catholic.

    Everything a person says or does is based on his faith and morals, and everything he says or does shows both his faith and his morals – or lack of them.

    Just to give you some examples of faith and morals using some of the red herrings you brought up:

    Driving to the store: Did you obey the speed limit? Did you come to a complete stop at all stop signs? Did you lose your temper at another driver? Did you take a handicapped parking space even though you are not handicapped?

    Sighing at grandfather’s [undefined] antics: Are you practicing the virtue of patience? Are you acting with charity? Are you impatient because he does not do what you want? Is your sighing an indication of Pride lurking in your heart?

    Back to the real topic: I pointed to St. Paul’s writings as an example of the fact that the Church has claimed for itself the ability to pass true, correct (“infallible”) judgement on anything since its beginning.

    The Church may not use this ability all of the time, nor apply it to every subject under the Sun every day of the week, but that does not change the fact that the Catholic Church possesses the ability.

    Furthermore, the Pope himself possesses this ability. He may not use it all the time, but the pope can make an infallible, dogmatic declaration without consulting with anyone.

    Pope Francis has not claimed he used his charism of infallibility to write this document. The document is an assimilation of things he has said in the past, and things that were said by others such as the “G-8” group of cardinals. So what? Everything he said here and at other times regarding economics has been perfectly in line with the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which I accept as infallible.

    As for Robbie’s mention of “trickle-down economics”: No, that particular phrase is not used in the Catechism. The word “capitalism” is used, however, as is “free market.” So are the words “socialism” and “communism.”

    The Catholic Church finds fault with all three economic systems.

    Those faults are discussed in the section for which I provided the link in my original response above.

    The Roman Catholic Church does not support American conservative political viewpoints any more than it supports American liberal political viewpoints. Any overlap between any of the political viewpoints and Roman Catholic teaching is pure coincidence, and everyone has to decide which side they will choose: American conservative/liberal OR Roman Catholic.

  38. Siculum says:

    I grew up learning that it is the poor who might just be the richest of all.

  39. Dundonianski says:

    This was a remarkably prescient article by the learned judge Napoitano-and a most insightful analysis by Fr Z; perhaps some scales beginning to drop from the Francis through Benedict proposition. Here in the UK there is presently a significant trial taking place of two muslim fanatics who heinously butchered and almost decapitated an off duty soldier on the street in South London. They were according to trial reports following their consciences and doing “good” as they saw it, with the blessing of allah-our shared God? I think not. I pray Francis reappraises his declared confidence viz a viz salvation without Christ.

  40. acricketchirps says:

    JonPatrick; As usual with these economic arguments we seem to be stuck in this concept that there are only 2 possible models – Socialism or Capitalism. At one time the Church supported a third way which was distributism…

    This is because there is only one spectrum – at one end a free market (which exists nowhere in the world today) and at the other a command economy (which only exists in only a few places and only if we ignore the underground economy in those places). Distributist models try to distribute different aspects of the economy along the spectrum in the interest of the ideal of the worker owning his own capital, but such systems will always devolve into a free market if the ideal is not enforced and socialism if it is. A stable distributist system is impossible.

  41. Unwilling says:

    “Free markets” is a more accurate term than “capitalism” for the kind of political-economic system that has proven itself able to deliver the most efficiency (least economic waste) and efficacy (most economic output). The word “free” indicates a value that the alternative (“command economies”) treats as unimportant. The word “markets” recalls the fact that all our economic changes, ex-changes, and contracts for services are of one person or agent with another. Human beings by nature are both essentially social members and essentially autonomous individuals — typical Catholic paradox. Our natures are what they are because that is how God wanted them and us to be — at once free and interdependent. In that sense, we can see a way in which it is reasonable to understand free markets as “God-given”.

    I do not suggest that economic theory can be “read off” the Bible. But for those wondering whether a rejection of economic liberty and placing private wealth under public discretion can be the answer, consider the parable of the vineyard (Matt 20) and the assumptions implied in the discourse of the owner. “‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you, and go; I choose to give to this last as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’”

  42. Sword40 says:

    No, the Judge is not “libertarian”. Ultra conservative, but not libertarian. I like him. Its refreshing to hear a public figure voice his opinion and not fear what others think.

    Saw him on Fox the other night. Looks like he is loosing lots of weight or perhaps has been ill.

  43. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Spanish, or it didn’t happen.

    Seriously. The further I compare Spanish (or even Italian) versions with English versions, the freakier the differences get. Me no likey.

  44. Supertradmum says:

    The problem is not primarily what the Pope is saying (and I agree with Napolitano on his points) but the vast majority of Catholics in both America and in Europe who are socialists. This sad fact has ruined not only Catholic charities in many places, but created a mind-set that the government should deal with the poor and not each one of us on a daily basis. There has been no Catholic Charity in my diocese for many years, and in this area, Catholics overwhelmingly voted for O. There is a connection.

    Painfully, many people, and some of have commented above, are ignored by their fellow Catholics when they are truly in need. The socialist creed has darkened the consciences of most Catholics, and those who do not believe in socialism sometimes fall into the opposite heresy of Calvinism, which harshly judges those who are poverty stricken, as being greater sinners than they, being punished by God for some horrible sins, and therefore, allowed to suffer great poverty. We are all sinners.

    Both ends of this spectrum deny the great blessings which the poor bring to us, including the opportunity to reach out, even get “down and dirty” and actually help individuals who are in need.

    Poverty puts people in prisons of all types, which those who have never experienced this state do not understand. When one is poor, one has no rich friends, no networking of those in power, no influence, no or very few options. That the Pope is addressing the problem is good, but only when Catholics leave behind either the great evil of socialism or the great evil of judgment will we see a change.

    Napolitano’s statement about hell is not taken seriously. Too often, the poor are “someone else’s problem”. No, God allowed in His infinite Wisdom to have the poor always with us so that we shall be made holy be denying ourselves in order to help them. I pray and hope Catholics stop following socialist creeds or stop being Calvinist in their thinking, and begin to think like Catholics. Napolitano, obviously, thinks like a Catholic.

  45. Salvelinus says:

    I REALLY dont like to say this, but the more I hear Progressives chearleading Pope Francis…., and the more Obama/Biden (or Wendy Davis, here in Texas) bumper stickers in my local parish Parking lot….. The more the SSPX Chapel becomes interesting to me! This is likely the wrong way to go, but even the remnant Catholic is nowhere to be seen down here in the Lone Star State.

  46. vmanning says:

    It is dangerous that every pronouncement must be followed by an explanation. The Pope has no economic competence, just as the bishops do not. What jobs have they held, what business did they start, when did they sweat making payroll at week’s end, or when did they sign personal guarantees with lenders to keep their workers employed? What is the average BMI of the USCCB?The danger is that with every naïve pronouncement on matters in which he has NO competence, when Pope Francis does speak about faith or morals he will be ignored ( and reasonably so?)

  47. Woody79 says:

    Well said by the former judge. As for Dan’s comments, “Yawn.” Recognize that one, Dan?

  48. McCall1981 says:

    I think you make a very good point there. Personally, I pretty much agree with what he said about economics, but I still think he comes off as uninformed and way out of his depth. I’m not saying he actually is uninformed (I wouldn’t know either way), but he certainly comes off that way. I don’t know if it’s because he’s trying to speak plainly to connect with the “every man” or what, but yes, some passgaes of this exhortation sound like they were written by a college kid who has a Che Guevara poster on the wall because he’s been told it’s cool.

  49. Imrahil says:

    First, Judge Napolitano (on a lighter note: any relation to the president of Italy?) has the right to say what he said.

    In this sense: dear @Michelle F, there has not yet been any infallible pronunciation in economical matters to date (which does not mean there could not possibly be one). If there was one, I’d be very much interested where to find it.
    (They are regulary marked by phrases such as “if anyone dareth to teach otherwise, let him be anathema” or “We [the Pope that is] solemnly and finally proclaim with the authority given to St. Peter to strengthen the brethren” or the like.)

    Second, his gives an important piece of opinion.

    Third, that does not mean that I can agree to everything.

    Where I personally beg to differ are three points.

    Without capitalism, which rewards hard work and sacrifice, they will wait forever. No economic system in history has […] generated more opportunity and helped more formerly poor people become rich than capitalism.

    But I guess the poor neither want hard work, nor sacrifice, nor – though they wouldn’t object – to get rich.

    I do not mean this as criticism. We are talking about economics and not Christian morals. While doing so, we can only assume natural law. The Christian, indeed, is bound to make some – as far as the obligations go and as long as no exceptional necessity arises, little – sacrifices, such as going to Church on Sunday, following the rules on fasting, etc. But this cannot here be our basis of argument.

    What the poor want, even mentally separating any sinful laziness, is to have some decent, but not too hard, work, do it conscientously, and be able to live a decent life from the salaries.

    As to the opportunities, that means that some who perhaps have worked harder, who perhaps had the better luck, get rich while others don’t. This is a good thing (society, economy, and the new rich man himself profit from it), but it would be wrong to assume it can do just about anything to instill peace into the poor. In fact, the poor have never taken offense at heirs of grand inheritances, especially with a title of nobility: men like themselves, just having the better luck, and paying back to society by adding to it the beauty of lordliness. Who they take (just or unjust) offense at is the new rich, who think (rightly or wrongly) they deserve what they have, frequently are in positions of superiors and as such give (justified or unjustified) unpleasant orders.

    [It is indeed one of the big points in capitalism-criticism that it mentally apparently makes people assume getting rich is the only way out, instead of only desiring their sahre, which is something different.
    I guess I’ve just written something diametrally opposed to everything the American Way of Life stands for, but… well, I’m not American.]

    Judge Napolitano does, however, write that capitalism also served to alleviate poverty. This, indeed, is what the poor want.

    Second point. Judge Napolitano writes, The Pope seems to prefer common ownership of the means of production, which is Marxist, or private ownership and government control, which is fascist, or government ownership and government control, which is socialist. All of those failed systems lead to ashes, not wealth.
    On another technical note, Marxism is a certain doctrine; “common ownership” in the sense used here is aptly termed “Marxist”, but is “communist according to the Marxist sense” (and can be rather overlooked in discussion, it’s an utopia, as even the Marxists say). Socialism, in fact, is itself Marxist.

    What my point is, though: I can hardly believe Judge Napolitano actually means what he says: there should be no government control of private property, or that doing so would be fascist. Anyway, to say so would (indeed) be contrary to Catholic (fallible, but still) doctrine, cf. e. g. Rerum Novarum 13, Quadragesimo anno, 23ff. and actually passim through Catholic social teaching. Governmental control must be subsidarian to freedom, yes; but exist. It cannot possibly not exist (which btw. is not even the case in libertarian societies) or solely restrict itself to prevent theft, violence and perhaps fraud. Or why do we have anti-cartel legislation.

    Third point: I’m sorry, but I also have my problems about something like:
    Traditional Catholic social teaching imposes on all of us a moral obligation to become our brothers’ keepers. But this is a personal moral obligation, enforced by conscience and church teaching and the fires of hell—not by the coercive powers of the government.

    Precisely the fact that it is a matter of hell and heaven would indicate, would it not, that people cannot be left alone with it. Morality is not about giving occasions to sin so that those who don’t give in to them get their rewards. To quote Fr Vincent McNabb [on an issue where I tend to disagree with him as to the application, but nevertheless], occasions of sin must be overcome by flight, not fight. Precisely because it is a matter of Hell and Heaven, Church and State might be strongly inclined so exact a sufficient minimum from their subjects so that they, by their good intention in paying taxes alone and without the incentive of legal comforts for their own persons, evade mortal sin. (Venial sin is a different matter.)
    On the possibility of fulfilling the precepts of almsgiving by taxes to some extent, cf. the Catholic Encyclopedia on “alms and almsgiving”.

    Anyway, though I might not have sounded like it, it was a great piece of opinion (I’ve yet only read what you printed, dear @Fr Z, but I’m now going to read the rest), a good evaluation of many things that are good in free-market economy, and an entirely necessary contribution to the discussion.

  50. Imrahil says:

    Dear @slainewe,

    while I don’t personally think that it’s directly a sin to benefit from a legal right permitted by positive law…

    still what you say is spot on. Indeed.

    I’ve privately sometimes mused that people receiving aid and not occupied by job-hunting, bureaucracy, or charitable services, should … encourage themselves to… go to Daily Mass and pray the Daily Office. Or something alike.

    After all, they receive a beneficium, or don’t they. Praying is work to the Catholic.

  51. Imrahil says:

    “common ownership” in the sense used here is not aptly termed “Marxist”, in the second comment above, second point. Excuse the mistake.

  52. Imrahil says:

    Btw. while I may have sounded differently, (as always) resting on the theoretical points in which I differ, I do agree to the practical statement that

    The problem with modern capitalism is not too much freedom, but too little.


    Just talking to an acquaintance who runs a business will make you sure of that. In the European Union that is, not sure about America, but I’m inclined to believe him.

  53. Uxixu says:

    To echo defenderofTruth, one can still be lower case libertarian and think that the US Constitution does not give the Federal government authority for issues on abortion or drugs and that they should be 10th Amendment issues. I would still oppose legalization of both in most circumstances at the state level, but principles of Federalism should take both (amongst others) out of the hands of Congress, POTUS, or SCOTUS.

  54. Joboww says:

    @Sword he calls himself a libertarian and subscribes to the things libertarians agree to, hense he is indeed a libertarian, for better or worse

  55. annmarie says:

    I agree with most of what Judge Napolitano said. However, I believe him mistaken about over regulation. It is the de-regulation or non enforcement of of such people protecting regs such as prohibition of surious interest rates, of “creative” equities, and tax laws which favor families. When is the last time we heard of vigorous enforcement of the trust busting laws? Conservatives need to be populists again and articulate the principles to an uneducated voting population.

  56. Dave N. says:

    It’s a little difficult to reconcile “hard-identity Catholic” with someone who’s (apparently) proclaimed himself “the Ayn Rand of Fox News” and doesn’t know what an papal encyclical is. The Judge has every right to his personal opinion, but he doesn’t seem an appropriate spokesperson for Traditionalist Catholics.

  57. happyCatholic says:

    Here is what I will say for capitalism as it has been in the USA the last century or so; I realize this may not be capitalism in its purest or possibly unfettered form, but this is what the economic system did here for my family, and I am sure many others have similar stories. We went from my paternal grandmother arriving from Poland at age 14 at Ellis Island and begin working as a maid to less than a century later her great-grandaughters all having college degrees and working pretty successfully in careers. Through dint of hard work and the grace of God, each generation’s socio-economic opportunity increased significantly, for which I am very grateful. And by the way, it was because of the dedication and sacrifice of the young women and men who became nuns and brothers and then teachers in Catholic schools that there was such opportunity. I hope and pray we can renew such culture.

  58. mr205 says:

    It seems to me that some on the left think that the Pope’s Apostolic Exhortation literally read, “Attention United States of America: Ronald Reagan was wrong.” Unfortunately, by attacking the Holy Father, some on the right are giving that idea legitimacy…

  59. CGPearson says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, @JonPatrick, but to my knowledge the Church has never advocated distributism by name. Distributism was the brain-child of Belloc and Chesterton, which they came up with through their own interpretation of various papal statements.

    I have no personal beef with the idea of distributism, but I do get very annoyed at the growing number of Catholics who act like distributism is some Church doctrine which is binding on the consciences of all Catholics.

  60. Johnno says:

    The reason there are so many problems in the Church and why it is infiltrated top to bottom with heretics and compromised positions is because the Church has gotten involved in matters that are none of its expertise or concern.

    Pope Francis said things that are ammunition for communists. Even with the obvious translation errors, his words are strongly supportive of an interpretation of further government intervention and control of the economy. You can’t sommersault our way around it merely by appealing to translation errors. The best way governments can help the economy is to keep their hands off of it as much as possible.

    And Judge N. does indeed have libertarian leanings, but by thismeaning his libertarianism is only with regards to the role of a secular government in our lives. NOT for the advocation of unbridled liberty with regards to sex and other irresponsible actions in our lives. So those of you trying to tarnish him ought to know better. it is YOUR job to convert people and teach them to be moral. Not the governments! Certainly NOT a SECULAR ‘democratically elected’ government! A Catholic Confessional State under a monarchy that recognizes Christ is another story.

    And yes, Pope Francis deserves criticism when it is warranted. Since some of you haven’t been paying attention, Pope Francis himself humbly accepts criticism and thanks us for it. And it looks like he indeed is amending himself given his recent strong remarks about abortion, tradition, etc. whichi is deserving of praise. So you don’t need to be a butt-kissing ‘yes-man’ to serve the Pope. That’s not what he wants, and rightly so!

  61. Johnno says:

    Dave N. –

    The Judge sure is an appropriate spokesperson with regards to the role of the American Constitutional Government and economics.

  62. AgricolaDeHammo says:


    Indeed it’s now the case that I’d hesitate to send a child of mine off to college at all, unless he/she had a specific plan whereby a certain degree (such as accounting in my case) practically guarantees employment.
    It’s a simple matter of supply and demand. Too many people go to college nowadays because it’s the thing to do. A college degree doesn’t carry the same weight it used to.
    John Zmirak has good advice on the topic. Also, don’t go into massive debt for a degree! If you need a degree, either get scholarships or go to community college.
    The only way this is turned around is if colleges start being stricter about grades and admissions. From what I’ve seen, where highschool level math is barely handled by college grads, the schools are not going to turn away money because of “standards.”

  63. Johnno says:

    CGPearson –

    There is some precedent for a method of distribution if we look at ancient Israel and the Mosaic laws regarding fields being open for the poor to take what they wished, setting slaves free after a certain time of service etc. Of course the circumstances and lifestyles are different now.

    Pope Francis isn’t wrong when he says that Capitalism BY ITSELF won’t help the poor. And indeed government is moraly obligated to help the poor (much like government is morally obligated to recognize God and the true religion, but we all know that won’t happen absent some miracle). So what is the role of government in helping the poor? Is it communism? Or could it be simply that government should encourage Christian morality and charity free of coercion?

    If a man had a right to control his finances and keep what he earns without worrying to everyday meet some government mandated figure on his income or else risk losing his home if things go south for him, then I’m sure he can be more generous during his years of plenty.

    Also the best way of fighting poverty and sickness??? LARGE FAMILIES! Government should be encouraging subsidirity by encouraging large families of parents, brothers and sisters who act like a community to look after each other and pull together for one another. Yes initially this is hard, but it’s just like sowing a field and then doing the hard work to reap a harvest. Unfortunately government is too busy doing the opposite by killing people and castrating its future.

    Sadly governments worship secularism and treat people like math problems and statistics. So one shouldn’t be surprised when people are just cattle to those with power. All our problems would be solved by conversion to the Catholic Faith. That’s the root that we’re all dancing around so we don’t offend other people.

  64. Ryan says:

    The only “ideologies” that believe in an objective reality and objective truth are Catholicism and Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand. If Objectivists had a deity as one of their premises, they would be Catholic.

    As for Napolitano being the Ayn Rand of Fox News, well, he’s a media figure and as such is subject to easy labels for the sake of demographic recognition. Libertarian, with or without the capital L, almost never means Libertine and is readily at hand and in the minds of the viewers. For instance, while I was an Objectivist, I had a very difficult time describing my political views to others so “libertarian” was the easiest label I could use.

  65. samgr says:

    A minor correction on Andrew Napolitano: He was a superior court judge in Union County, N. J., not New York The area includes post-industrial (read empty factories, high unemployment, large African-American and Latino population) smallish cites like Elizabeth and Plainfield, prosperous suburbs like Fanwood and Scotch Plains, and big-bucks places like Summit.

  66. MaryL says:

    Capitalism, Trickle-down effect, Socialism – all require Common Good and Justice. How many businesses, corporations and governments have these as their priorities? All they care about is money profits for themselves. Pope Francis is an absolute hero for speaking up about these issues. So you might be a “good” traditional Catholic, but what is it without the love of your neighbour, the common good and justice of your neighbour – the poor, the exploited, the human-trafficked, the refugee, the family in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan who has had their livelihood or hometown demolished and obliterated by American and British bombs and their financed and sanctioned rebel groups, so that Lockheed Martin and du Pont and BAE Systems can prop-up the American tax-payers by their trickle-down effect? Capitalism survives on wars and arms trading and exploiting other country,s natural resources to the extent of creating situations like in these countries. They do not care about your neighbour. Pope Francis knows about this exploitation only too well. He has simply mentioned theses issues. Viva Papa Francisco.

  67. PA mom says:

    If I were trying to encourage very ideologically opposed people to start working more cooperatively together, I would go to my list of items for discussion and start with one I thought they might largely be brought to agreement on.
    Is Pope Francis looking his opportunity to speak on economics in this light? After all, both conservatives and liberals claim to desire work to be available to all those who want it, and it is a serious crisis that this generation has so little opportunity.
    No work means no marriage for many, no commitment or responsibility is a serious danger for young men. It is a potentially dangerous situation for a civilized society when too high a percentage is out of work, or has been in the past.
    The Judge can be correct and so can the Pope.

  68. Robertus Pittsburghensis says:

    Is there anything this judge said that pertains to what His Holiness was saying? He seems to be reading into the Pope’s words his own nightmares, and not paying attention to what the Pope actually said, which is remarkably similar to the words of Benedict XVI when he spoke on economic matters, to wit, broad statements of principles with very little on specifics, as befits his role.

    The only difference I see between Francis and Benedict is that while conservatives controlled the interpretation of Benedict’s words, liberals have seized the interpretive mantle in Francis’ case. The judge is playing right into their hands.

  69. Uxixu says:

    @annmarie Government interference is hurting far more than it helps, especially in the minimum wage (which has been proven to REDUCE employment for those that most need it (the unskilled, the young, etc).

  70. gatormom says:

    I don’t understand. I agree with everything written here but so many good Catholics are saying the same thing and not following these implications to the logical conclusions. If the Pope is a true socialist, which he apparently is, then he is not a sincere Catholic. So how can this be? Do we have a Pope who isn’t Catholic; I just don’t understand what is going on here??

  71. JARay says:

    I rather like what Andrew Napolitano is saying.

  72. The good judge is right in his analysis. He doesn’t call the pope marxist, or a fascist, but rather correctly points that the philosophies do have those tendencies. Salvation of souls is job one, things of prudential judgement are places where we can disagree (which economic system works best for example)…The Church is of course right to point out the moral principles and direct us in that regard…great to see such clarity…if only our Bishops’ spoke with the same clarity…let us pray.

  73. BLB Oregon says:

    I’m a bit uncomfortable with such strong objection to moral correction of economics, as if economics is some realm of behavior that is beyond the reach of moral correction. Socialism is a reactionary way to correct the excesses of capitalism, but that doesn’t mean that capitalism is beyond moral correction. I am reminded of this passage from Leviticus:

    “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not be so thorough that you reap the field to its very edge, nor shall you glean the stray ears of your grain. These things you shall leave for the poor and the alien. I, the LORD, am your God.” Lev. 23:22

    and “You shall not defraud a poor and needy hired servant, whether he be one of your own countrymen or one of the aliens who live in your communities. You shall pay him each day’s wages before sundown on the day itself, since he is poor and looks forward to them. Otherwise he will cry to the LORD against you, and you will be held guilty.” Deut. 24:14-15

    The Torah put limits on the bounty that was realized from personal property, because let us face it, the bounty ultimately comes from God. God gives strength and prosperity, and let us face it, the Scriptures are very clear about how Heaven views those who use their strength to dominate those who are defenseless against their superior leverage. Those who find themselves holding all the cards will answer to Heaven for whether they played them fairly, and it is not out of place for the princes of the Church to remind them of it often. As the Lord told Pilate, “You would have no power over me if it had not been given to you from above.” John 19:11. That is true of the employer and the lawmaker, too, and those of us in a democracy do well to remember that we are lawmakers.

    Likewise, the letter of James has little patience for capitalists who thanked only themselves for their successes: “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we shall go into such and such a town, spend a year there doing business, and make a profit’ – you have no idea what your life will be like tomorrow. You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears. Instead you should say, ‘If the Lord wills it, we shall live to do this or that.’ But now you are boasting in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So for one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, it is a sin.” James 5:13-17

    I do not think it at all out of line or out of role for the Pope to warn those in business to beware of falling into self-centered arrogance. I do not think it out of line for him to lay down the law to those in business any more than it was out of line for the Old Testament prophets to do the same. What did they know of business? Yet we know from the readings of Lent that they did tell those in business how to conduct themselves when they held the advantage, lest they face eternal correction for their arrogance. I do not see that the Pope is issuing reminders that are much different than those.

  74. Unwilling says:

    To get it out of the way: nothing Francis said can justify apostasy (e.g. SSPX). “You have the words of everlasting life.” So we are stuck being Roman Catholics and having Pope Francis. The penalty for leaving, to use the Judge’s words, is everlasting fire.

    So, that’s where we are. Now… we need to get over it and on with it.

    It can be helpful (even if hard work) to say things that tend to a correct understanding of whatever area (e.g. economics) is being discussed.
    It can be helpful (even if embarrassing or humiliating) to find ways to interpret (“spin”) what Francis says so as to make his words, statements, teachings understood as more reasonable or palatable.
    It can be helpful (and a Work of Mercy) to apply intellectual and spiritual medicine, to bind up wounded hearts, to offer solidarity and consolation.
    It can be helpful to make acts of submission, contrition, supplication…

    But it cannot help to say or think that the Pope has made an error, is incompetent, is an idiot, a heretic, ought to be abandoned — except as a mental preparation for helpful actions, like the two above.

    Read carefully, think with clarity, act meekly, and follow the example of Fr Z.

  75. PA mom says:

    Mark Steyn has thoughts on the loss of work and it’s effect on our country.

  76. Netmilsmom says:

    People are forgetting “free will”.
    Governments should not be forcing our charity.
    The Church should be shepherding our conscience instead of our wallets.
    I pray for Pope Francis and hope he understands that while those monies taken from our purses can go for good, they can also go for some VERY bad actions.
    While a government takes my cash to “feed the poor”, sometimes they use it to abort babies and give nods as EBT cards are used in Strip Clubs.
    Actually, I’m taken aback that Pope Francis seems to have so much trust in governments that are totally secular while lecturing people whom he can influence.

  77. Nicholas says:

    Of all Pope Francis bashing, this is the most nonsensical. When I read the Pope’s statement before hearing any of the ranting about it, I thought it was spot on. The quoted article makes no sense. If the author was referring to 51, then the pope is bashing the trust in complete free market which will supposedly bring greater justice and ‘inclusiveness’ (not money) to all. Meanwhile, those who are excluded are still waiting.

    I frankly find the claims that Pope Francis is a socialist based on his exhortation rather weak.

  78. Peggy R says:

    I get bothered by thinking of “capitalism” or “markets” as “systems” and determinations that they are immoral “systems” because of what some economic actors do within them. Indeed, I suppose they are such. Yet, these “systems” are actually the aggregate effect of individuals, millions these days, making choices, some moral within Catholic teaching and some not. The decisions of economic actors are not directed by a higher temporal authority in such “systems.” I suppose some actors may operate like Ebenezer Scrooge or Mr. Potter, the great villains of 2 Christmas morality tales. (Scrooge reforms of course.) But such greed and selfishness are not required by markets. These “systems” which operate on the bases freedom and free will exercised by individuals (and families) are not “immoral” in themselves, in my view. The decisions of individual economic agents are what may or may not be immoral. That we should discuss. Is Company X acting morally by doing A? Is is moral to buy Y? Is it moral to save B% and spend C%?

    When I think of “systems,” I think of some process, usually top-down, regulated, highly-structured and without choice (ie, free will) by the participants. And participants may or may not be voluntary. Under socialist and communist or other statist forms of governance/economics, there is nearly no free will. So, no person is in a position to make a moral or immoral decision. The system is evil in this case for what it does to the people who cannot choose whether to do the moral thing within its strictures. The people have little power to make moral or immoral choices based on their faith’s criteria. If they violate the secular rules, they will be punished. See the HHS mandate and Catholics, as well as wedding vendors who’ve lost to homosexuals. Additionally, such top-down economic systems stifle freedom and prosperity. They are immoral in the poverty they do not alleviate, but spread, and destroy the dignity of man.

  79. SonofMonica says:

    We can all agree that the Church and the Popes are infallible in areas concerning faith and morals. But when you claim that economics has nothing to do with faith and morals, you are setting yourself against the Church and the Popes.

    *And to claim that economics don’t involve faith is ironic to say the least, when you see folks putting faith in a blind market.

  80. Phil_NL says:

    Michelle F,

    I do not think I misconstructed your words. Your phrase “I said the Catholic Church and the Pope are fully competent to pass judgement, infallibly, on all matters of human endeavor such as politics, economics, and medicine. ” is exactly the issues I disagreed with from the first post, and still disagree with. Infallibility can – as an option, it is certainly not automatic – be attached to matters of doctrine, faith and morals. Neither politics nor economics nor medicine is within that realm. Your claim that infalability does not have a limit in terms of its contents opens wide the way for all those red herrings; by showing them I hope to make the point that such limits are necessary and make sense.

    That human behavior is based on morals does not make all human behavior in essence a moral question; morality can – and often does – take a back seat, as various options will have similar moral consequences, or the difference might be irrelevant, or it would be moral to balance various effects.

    I also think it’s highly relevant that the Church has thought it wise not to inundate us with infallible statements over the past 2 millenia. It does not use its charism of infallability for anything else than matters that are clearly and by nature matters of doctrine, faith and morals, and even within that subset it uses it with extreme caution and rarity.

    I hold therefore that it is not within the charism of infallability to pronounce on economic policy, especially not in regards to specific measures (a point where I’m sorry to have to disagree with dear Imrahil).
    Also, you claim the church finds fault with any economic system, at least in theory; I notice that the cathechism is worded such that it can be compatible with all economic systems. as one should expect, as it is individual behavior that gets us to Heaven, not the economic system under which we live.

    I also hold that even common sense is often in very short supply when the episcopate does say something about economics, and moreover, that they would be well advised to say nothing at all about it. Having to dismiss episcopal rumblings 9 times in a row makes it harder to pay attention the 10th time, when he would actually be doing his job.

    And last but not least you end with: “The Roman Catholic Church does not support American conservative political viewpoints any more than it supports American liberal political viewpoints. Any overlap between any of the political viewpoints and Roman Catholic teaching is pure coincidence, and everyone has to decide which side they will choose: American conservative/liberal OR Roman Catholic.”

    I daresay that with the left making abortion as conditio-sine-qua-non of their platform, there should in fact be a difference in the level of support, if only by means of making sure that it is known the position of the pro-aborts is out of bounds. Moreover, if the overlap is coincidental, there is no reason to assume that each overlap in equal measure. What you probably try to say is that the Church will not support any cause because it is left or ring, liberal or conservative. That is true, but that doesn’t mean both sides deserve the same treatment, or are equally right/wrong. Which, incidentally, is exactly the reason the Church should not be drawn into politics on issues only tangetially (or not at all) related to faith and morals. If the Church interferes too widely, as it does on e.g. immigration, it will indeed paint the picture that it supports a party. I daresay many on the right regulaly feel that most bishops are a bunch of leftists, which is counterproductive.

    Oh, and finally: I can’t even choose between “American conservative/liberal OR Roman Catholic”. I’m not American to begin with.

  81. slainewe says:


    You post, “I’ve privately sometimes mused that people receiving aid and not occupied by job-hunting, bureaucracy, or charitable services, should … encourage themselves to… go to Daily Mass and pray the Daily Office. Or something alike.”

    Yes! I consider attending Mass daily and/or prayers for one’s nation more than adequate work for accepting taxpayer subsidies, if one is disabled from physical labor. And it would definitely be a good place to start for those who want gainful employment.

    It seems to me we have to throw away the idea that every adult member of a family must have an income. What is wrong with adult children living at home while performing community service? The only work that wins treasure in heaven is work given for free. And this merit redounds to both the giver and THOSE WHO SUPPORT THE GIVER. (There is no marriage poorer than that of the two-income couple with no time left to serve each other, their children, or their community. They outsource all their opportunities for true almsgiving to day-care centers, fast food restaurants, and the government; who in turn receive no merit because they are PAID for these services. Our whole nation suffers for lack of the work done for love of God and neighbor that brings down heaven’s blessings.)

    The Holy Family gave us the example of a low-middle class family. It is these families who are especially blessed today because they pay little or no taxes, avoiding complicity in the evil acts of our anti-Christian government. The more dependents one is supporting, the less taxes he pays. To me, this should be a GOAL of Catholic families in protest to the persecution we are suffering; that is, live on as little income as possible so as to starve the beast of government.

  82. robtbrown says:

    1. Acc to St Thomas a scientific discipline is defined by its formal object. Both ethics (moral science) and economics have the behavior of man as the material object. The formal object of Ethics is the moral goodness of human acts. The formal object of Economics is the production, distribution, and consumption of human goods. The governance of the former over the latter is negative. It judges the justice of the three aspects of economics but it has nothing to say about the effectiveness of the method.

    2. Whenever I read a document from the Church (whether universal or particular magisterium) about the Eucharist, I have a simple rule: I look for the words “sacrifice” and “meal”. If the first occupies pride of place in the text, then it’s likely a good document. If, however, the second predominates, then what I’m reading is likely Protestant bat guano. If they have equal status, then the document is more interested in Ecumenism than Truth.

    3. When Ecclesiastical documents refer to economics, I use a similar approach: Both “production” and “distribution” must be found in the text. The first has never been found without the second (in fact, found for the first time in Centissimus Annus). The use of the second alone manifests naive ignorance in how wealth is created—and it has to be created before it can be distributed.

    BTW, one of the reasons that the US Middle Class is not doing well is the importation of goods from South America, which has made life better for the poor by employing them.

    4. I re-read the relevant paragraph in EG (no. 54), and it lacks any reference to production. I’m not saying that the pope is a socialist or Marxist, but he seems to make the mistake of thinking of wealth as a zero-sum game, i.e., the only reason one person has money is because another one does not. Perhaps someone should tell His Holiness about the Multiplier Effect and Henry Ford, who said he was going to pay his workers enough money so they could buy his cars.

    5. Some of the comments (written and otherwise) from the pope seem to me warmed over 1970 Counter Cultural platitudes that lack historical foundation. On the one hand, I wonder whether he is out of touch. He didn’t come into office with the advantages of JPII or BXVI, and it is obvious he is in OJT. On the other, he has already made a move against the gay clique in the Vatican. And so I still hope that he will do something about the Jesuits, who are involved in a suicide spiral, and determined to take the Church down with them.

  83. Cathy says:

    I’ll admit the shoe kind of hurts. Perhaps, what hurts more is seeing that companies and their capital have left the countries of their origination and all parts and components being made in China and Vietnam. While increasing the wealth of the company and the shareholder, many which originate in the US, I have to ask an important question, do we care about the human person put to work in these countries? Sure, they have more capital in order to pay capital fines to their governments for crimes like, having a second or third child.
    Are these countries who were to benefit from proposed “trickle down” economics seeing greater freedom in their citizenry, or is their citizenry simply viewed as another commodity. Are they becoming more like us, or we them? At times, with the direction of our own government, I wonder if there will come a day where our differences will be hardly distinguishable, and not in a manner in which the human person is respected in his/her dignity.

  84. Priam1184 says:

    @Peggy R: You are correct that markets have existed outside of ‘capitalism’, really since the first moment in history where somebody had more of something than they needed, wanted to sell it, and could find somebody else willing to pay a price for that thing. And you are also perfectly correct that individuals can make good or bad choices in that regard just as they can with anything else. But the thing we call ‘capitalism’ is entirely different. It is a whole society organized completely around the process of bringing goods to market, fixing a price for them, and facilitating the exchange. Commerce and trade as aspects of human life are part of God’s creation and are, in and of themselves, very good things. But, as with any good gift that God has given to us, they can be abused and come to enslave us. Everything in a capitalist society after a time becomes something that can be bought or sold because buying and selling is what life is all about in that world. The problem is of course that there were many things that God created that He had no intention for human beings to put on the market. And Communism and Socialism are natural, less subtle, and more openly hideous outgrowths of the materialism that comes from capitalism. Karl Marx was 100% correct on that I think, though not in the way that he intended.

  85. dcs says:

    If the Pope has no competence to speak on economic matters, if his authority is limited to “faith and morals,” and economic matters do not fall under that very broad category, on what grounds then can we say that the Pope, or the Church, condemns socialism?

  86. The Masked Chicken says:

    “While increasing the wealth of the company and the shareholder, many which originate in the US, I have to ask an important question, do we care about the human person put to work in these countries?”

    Of course, all of these problems would go away if they would get rid of the concept of stocks as being some faux ownership in the company entitling you to on-going returns. No stockholder, no appeasement of stockholder by making ever draconian management choices.

    The Chicken

  87. torch621 says:

    I’ll never understand the fascination with Napolitano. He seems completely in love with the idea of libertarianism.

  88. Elizabeth D says:

    I would like to see more concern from everyone for the working poor and the problem of the young who are of the age to marry and start a family but do not have the financial means to do so. So many horrendous choices are made as a result of economic pressures against that. How come the rich get richer and the poor, especially the young poor, get poorer? The statistics say that the young have less wealth than they used to, while the old have more wealth than they used to. How can things get better for marriage and family aged people? I little understand it. But I would like to see “conservative” Catholics acknowledge and get serious about the needs rather than just react against statements like Pope Francis’. I have wondered if the reason why Pope Francis has claimed youth poverty to be the “most important issue” is that it may be because of in a certain sense the logical priority of this, if youth are to be more fully free to live in accord with God’s plan for them of marriage and parenthood. Right now, there are so many things coercing and twisting the young against that.

  89. Johnno says:

    torch621 –

    That’s because many people are still stuck in the trap of a 2-party system and can only think in terms of left/right , red/blue, democrat/republican totalitarianism. So they don’t understand what the libertarian position even is.

    Judge Napolitano understands the American Constitution and its emphasis on individual liberty. A government that is libertarian would NEVER do what the Obama administration is doing when it forces Catholics to pay for contraceptives and abortions.

    If you want to live in a secular nation like America which is post-Christian with a multiplicity of views, you’re better off with a Libertarian government. For example, take the whole ‘marriage’ debate:

    Conservative View: Marriage is defined between a man and a woman only. Everyone in the country is forced to adhere to this definition under penalty.

    Liberal view: Marriage should be defined so that both homosexuals and heterosexuals can be legally married. Everyone in the country is forced to adhere to this definition under penalty.

    Libertarian view: The Government has no business defining what marriage is. Nobody is to be coerced by government to accept one view or the other. No penalties.

    If you subscribe to the former two, then depending on who is in power, there will be consequences. Now that liberals are increasingly gaining power, and even conservative parties are also adopting the same liberal views about marriage and sex, the country increasingly slides into a liberal totalitarian position that will impose its views upon Christians with many penalties for not accepting what it commands.

    The Libertarian position effectively nullifies the government’s power to do any of this and citizens are free to behave and believe what they want to free of coercion. Do note however that THIS ONLY PERTAINS TO THE ROLE OF GOVERNMENT. This does not mean individual citizens cannot debate and protest against each other to convince or convert the other freely. But these are matters between people, families, friends etc. So long as there is no coercion that brings physical harm against a person or property, then there is no need for government involvement. So you can still stand on the street and freely discuss the dangers of homosexuality and the call for conversion to become a Christian. And likewise, liberal people can do the same, and there is no government or lobbying group that can ever change that.

    The only divisive issue between libertarians is with regards to abortion. Some see it as a natural woman’s right to control her body. However, libertarians like Judge Nap and Ron and Rand Paul would argue that abortion is a moral matter, and that true liberty can only be protected if life is protected from conception, therefore a truly free society must also recognize the right to life of the child in the womb who is also a person deserving of liberty which they must not be deprived of. Most libertarians therefore lean pro-life as a matter of principle.

    If you want to live in a secular world, which is what America is, then a libertarian government will best serve everyone. If you wish to impose restrictions and definitions upon another using government coercion, then know that likewise the same can be applied to you depending on who’s in power. As Catholics, we do not wish for a merely secular state, we ideally strive for a government that recognizes only the Catholic Faith and its moral system. But since that isn’t going to happen, you’re better off in a libertarian system that allows you to freely preach the Gospel and convert others freely without the threat of secular governments and the courts telling you what you should say and do in public and how to raise and educate your children. If you and other Catholics are allowed to operate freely, then I’ve no doubt that with enough effort you can freely convert more people to living Catholic lives and respecting Catholic morality without government imposition, of their own free wills. This is therefore much better.

  90. Phil_NL says:


    Frankly, apart from a condemnation as a theory that aims to replace God with the advancement of man, and just perhaps a condemnation insofar a complete denial of the right to own property contrary to natural law is concerned (though that would be strictly speaking communism or marxism), I’m not so sure there is a real condemnation by the Church of socialism. There seems to be virtually no limit – apart from the two just described – to socialist measures that have been supported by bishops, and add those all together and you do have socialism, minus the replacement of God – one would hope. Moreover, the texts on economics are so broad that it allows a very wide range of interpretation indeed.

    [Luckily, as far as I’m concerned, also in the other direction. It’s almost all a matter of degree. Which reinforces my take that it’s an area of prudential judgement the episcopate best steers clear of]

  91. Johnno says:

    Elizabeth D –

    Youth Unemployment is a consequence not a chief cause. The reasons for unemployment are varied and complicated. A lot of its chief reasons are a result of moral consequences.

    Abortion & contraception – leads to population decline – fewer customers, lower demand. Creates a discrepancy between the aged and the young, dangerously threatening pension systems etc. It’s a serpent eating its own tail.

    Redefinition and reduction of the value of marriage – Men are punished and made more insignificant. Women encouraged to be independent and empowered to leave their husbands and still obtain large sums of money from them under threat of coercion. No guarantee of being the rightful father of your own children. Leads to financial problems, instability, children grow up no longer seeing the value of such relationships that are easily disposable, leads to more of problem #1.

    I could go on, but Pope Francis is utterly wrong when he emphasizes the consequence and not the chief cause – SEXUAL IMMORALITY, and the Destruction of the Family.

    What are the youth of today even interested in spending their money on? Are they getting married? Are they raising families with children? Are they looking after their parents? Most likely they just can’t afford upgrading their iPad every year and living the single lifestyle that liberals celebrate so much. If that’s the case, then boo hoo… And I say this being one of those youth that Pope Francis is concerned about. Yes, it’s a problem. Yes, it deserves addressing. But it’s certainly not the chief problem that the Catholic Church should be concerned about. And if the Church paid attention to all those other moral issues it should be concerned with, then the problem will largely take care of itself.

  92. Johnno says:

    dcs –

    The Pope and the Church condemn Socialism because it trespasses on moral territory, which is its domain. The Church has existed long enough to see the evil that such systems bring about and have wisely exposed the corrupt and dangerous ideologies upon which such systems are built. And it should be discerned that there is a difference between supporting some social services that citizens may freely agree to, and supporting an entirely socialist government and its ideologies for its own ends. Socialist governments have historically sought to destroy the Church which it sees as an opponent, and set themselves up in place of God and destroy the natural rights of men to serve its system. This is why the Church can and has condemned Socialist States and Socialist ideologies. It makes no blanket condemnation however of social policies carried out under subsidiarity and upon those that do not trespass into moral territory. For example: a government post office entirely paid for by taxes. You can freely debate whether it’s good or bad economically, but the postman and what he does is not a moral issue, nor is it arguably imposing a heavy burden on people’s finances, and if everyone’s content and freely agreeing to use it then no problem.

    Likewise, there could be room for socialized medicine and healthcare. It is not a moral problem UNLESS it begins to insist that immoral procedures and things be covered. And if it imposes undue burden and can be seen to coercively demand citizens be penalized for not buying into it, then that’s a problem. Thus such services should be operated under subsidiarity. Best by private insurers, without coercion. And arguably it is also economically more sound. And for those poor and downtrodden who cannot access such things, Catholics are obliged for love of Christ to freely give what they are able, and many Catholic Hospitals and doctors and good people certainly do charitably help them and have done so since 30 AD. Something that Obamacare sadly threatens to put an end to.

  93. slainewe says:

    Luke 3:10-14:
    And the crowds asked [John the Baptist], “What then should we do?” In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, “Teacher, what should we do?” He said to them, “Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.” Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what should we do?” He said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.”

    John the Baptist covered all we need to know in 44 words:

    As INDIVIDUALS we share our gifts with those who have less.

    As GOVERNMENT we collect (and I would add spend) only what the people have assigned us.

    As WORKERS we do not strike, but remain satisfied with our wages.

  94. slainewe says:

    @Elizabeth D

    I agree that “there are so many things coercing and twisting the young against…God’s plan for them of marriage and parenthood.”

    But I would argue that it is our own ignorance on how to raise boys to be men and girls to be women.

    In a discussion of such issues with a man who was age 13 in 1945, he related how his dad sat him down and gave him the “you are a man now speech” and asked him what he would like to do for the summer. The son had heard about a resort a 100 miles away that was hiring dishwashers and told dad he wanted to go there and work for the summer. Dad agreed (over the anguished cries of mom) and he jumped a ride to the resort and worked 10 hours a day in a hot kitchen and then flopped in the provided housing.

    How many of us are raising sons to be that mature at 13? Or even 18? I really have a hard time manufacturing sympathy for an able-bodied 18 year old man who is free to travel anywhere in the country (or outside it) for great paying work. He can easily stash away enough money to buy a house outright for his bride before marriage, if he lives as cheaply as possible and works all the hours he can. He can also take classes at night to prepare for a stable job suitable for raising a family. Not a job he may desire, but a job that is marketable.

    Marriage and parenthood deserve this kind of dedicated planning more than any individual preference of career. After all, a man works primarily for his family. The days of expensive colleges for vanity degrees is over. Catholic men should step up to the challenge of providing for their families in these more austere times.

  95. Peggy R says:

    Priam1184: We have “capitalism” because of the need to raise large amounts of “capital” to fund the construction of plant and distribution facilities that businesses will use to produce and sell items to the public. Capitalism is a consequence of technology that makes centralized production and direction very cost efficient. The key difference that capitalism has from mercantilism or old-fashioned markets where families sold their wares or goods from their fields is that the “capitalist” goods are made in many steps by many people using modern machinery and distributed by trucks or trains. Yes, capitalism is a much less personalized economy. But people still have free will in this system. Capitalism doesn’t require immoral activity. We all have souls to consult in our business and personal dealings.

    If we are to have modern products and conveniences, these PCs, this Internet, phones, central air and heating, stoves, freezers, etc., we are going to need a system in which capital is raised by the producers and sellers to make these products available to the public. I don’t think the guy down the street could make fridges very cost effectively or very well in his work shop out back. But he could probably fix your plumbing, wire your house, or repair your car without issuing stock to strangers via a financial market.

    It is technology that has given rise to centralized business and government activities and control over the people. If the larger businesses are able to flex their muscle to obtain benefits from government, particularly if smaller competitors are left out, then that is “crony capitalism” and is not what any advocate of “capitalism” or “market economies” would endorse. That is not the market causing the smaller guy to lose. It is unjust government intervention to favor one competitor over another. I think that is the kind of “capitalism” that Francis is accustomed to in S America and it has not been our general experience in the US. (Not to say it never happens. It happens on small scales mostly and not usually blatant.)

  96. robtbrown says:

    dcs says:
    If the Pope has no competence to speak on economic matters, if his authority is limited to “faith and morals,” and economic matters do not fall under that very broad category, on what grounds then can we say that the Pope, or the Church, condemns socialism?

    In so far as Socialism would concern an economic system that does not produce wealth, the Church does not condemn it.

    In so far as Socialism violates a Christian concept of man (moral, spiritual), the Church can condemn it.

    1. The Socialist concept of man is materialistic.

    2. If Socialism denies someone the right to start or own a business, then it also denies the right to private property. The same is true if it implicitly denies the right by monopoly.

  97. MikeM says:

    I think that Napolitano is kind of clueless with his comments on youth unemployment. He seems to be comparing the biggest problems of the third world to the unemployment of American youth from middle class families. When you travel to poorer countries and see the young adults there struggling to find any source of hope that they can find a way to be productive, even if just enough to take care of a sick mother, the gravity of the situation is striking.

  98. smittyjr63 says:

    We need Judge Napolitano to run for President. Seriously.
    He’s a smart guy, and what he said is true. Now we know why Obama likes Pope Francis…it makes perfect sense.

  99. Elizabeth D says:

    “He can easily stash away enough money to buy a house outright for his bride before marriage
    Suppose an 18 year old is able to find a good paying $20k a year job, or maybe (but not likely) a $30k a year job if he is responsible and has a degree in some lucrative field. If there are 18 year olds anywhere who make more than that without being a pop star or having founded a successful internet startup, I am unaware. His expenses are going to be about $800 a month if he does not have a car, and more if he does. Let’s say he is able to live for $1000 a month. He would also have to pay tax, so on the $20k he would take home, I am not sure anymore, $18k? Less $12k he is spending on his basic expenses he might save $6000 a year (though this number is highly unlikely). This is assuming he does not have student loans or other debt, which it seems like most do. In a couple years or more likely a few years he might have the downpayment for a home. I don’t think there is any likelihood a typical able young person could make enough to “buy a home outright” in less than a decade or two. This is how it seems to me.

  100. Unwilling says:

    Elizabeth D, I believe you are right — at least to question the “easily”. The budget and implications you draw are very realistic, even optimistic. Adding to your points, consider that an 18 year old has not begun education beyond high school. Unless they avoid full-time work, they are almost inevitably going to require social support their whole lives through, no permanent house, etc. While I think it would be an over statement to say “youth unemployment” (as we middle-class North Americans would understand it) is the greatest problem we face, it is clear that an imponderable risk to our socio-economic system lurks in the growing phenomenon of “idle youth”.

  101. dcs says:

    1. The Socialist concept of man is materialistic.

    The capitalist concept of man is not?

    2. If Socialism denies someone the right to start or own a business, then it also denies the right to private property. The same is true if it implicitly denies the right by monopoly.

    So if capitalism leads to monopolies in which people are effectively denied the right to start a business or to own the means of production, capitalism can also be condemned.

  102. dcs says:

    The Pope and the Church condemn Socialism because it trespasses on moral territory, which is its domain.

    So insofar as capitalism trespasses on moral territory, it too can be condemned. Obviously the Pope feels that there are moral aspects to capitalism or he would not feel the need to discuss it. And Pope Francis is not the first Pope to discuss it (Bl. John Paul II, Bl. John XXIII, Pius XI, and Leo XIII all come to mind).

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