Michael Coren on Popes who condemn “unfettered” capitalism

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Michael Coren, the author of the recent title The Future of Catholicism, has a comment about a Pope who condemned “unfettered” capitalism.

Keep in mind that “unfettered” capitalism is nowhere to be found.

With that…  from Coren on Mercatornet:

I hadn’t realized that Pope Francis was a Marxist until two weeks ago. This was when he issued his lyrical, compelling [poor translated] Gospel of Joy and was immediately described as a fellow travelling socialist by left as well as right; the former with delight, the latter with horror.

The truth, of course, is that all the Holy Father did was to bring Pope Leo’s 1891 encyclical Rerum Novarum into the 21st century and condemn state socialism as well as “unfettered capitalism.” But the mingling of ignorance, malice, and absurd wishful thinking from media circles epitomized the way the man and his opinions have been misinterpreted since he was elected pontiff.

It was particularly noticeable, and exasperating, in the larger, left-leaning newspapers and media outlets throughout the English-speaking world. The BBC in Britain, the New York Times in the United States, and a host of others suddenly became interested in the Pope. It was trendy to be Catholic-friendly, at least for a few moments and in a certain way. The often hysterical but nevertheless relatively influential Bronwen Clune proved all this in The Guardian, the liberal conscience in Britain.

“I never thought I’d see the day when non-Catholic people (never mind socialists and atheists) would voice their approval of a Pope. But that is just what happened when Pope Francis, in his apostolic exhortation delivered last week, talked about unfettered capitalism as a new tyranny, attacked the idolatry of money, called on rich people to share their wealth, and laid out a vision for a decentralised church. Overnight, he became the left’s new pin-up.”

But just in case liberal Catholics out there think all is red and right about the world, the new comrade was quick to put matters right.

“There was a glimmer of hope in my ex-Catholic soul. Not so much that it changes anything for me now, [See my comments on The Francis Effect™.] or even realistically for many Catholics in the near future (it will take more than one man to break down 1,300 years of institutionalisation) but there is something appealing in realising that my faith, even though long lost, was not entirely rotten.”

Well, that’s nice of her.

The condescending and suburban nature of the piece aside, it demonstrates rather well the colossal ignorance amongst so many journalists concerning what the Church says and is. [Do I hear an “Amen!”?] Pope Benedict was just as critical of unbridled capitalism and consumerism as his successor, and said so for a longer period of time. And consider for a moment Clune’s statement that she assumed Catholicism to be “entirely rotten”. A sweeping generalization so clumsy that no teacher, let alone an editor, should have let it pass. Good Lord, even mass murderers are not entirely rotten! [Nope.  That category is only reserved for the Church.]

It’s this sort of nonsense that led Random House to ask me to write The Future of Catholicism (Signal Books), published earlier this month. My previous two books, particularly Why Catholics Are Right, had sold surprisingly well and even enormous secular publishing houses know a good thing when they see it.


You can read the rest over there.

Coren is good.  If you haven’t read him, I recommend him.

Don’t forget HERESY: Ten Lies They Spread About Christianity.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. samwise says:

    From “Centesimus Annus” of JPII:
    “Vast multitudes are still living in conditions of great material and moral poverty. The collapse of the Communist system in so many countries certainly removes an obstacle to facing these problems in an appropriate and realistic way, but it is not enough to bring about their solution. Indeed, there is a risk that a radical capitalistic ideology could spread which refuses even to consider these problems, in the a priori belief that any attempt to solve them is doomed to failure, and which blindly entrusts their solution to the free development of market forces” (paragraph # 42)

  2. McCall1981 says:

    I think Coren is right. It’s frustrating though, because it seems like Francis could clear up all this craziness if he took just two minutes to say what Coren says here. Same with all of the other “misinterpretations” floating around out there. But of course, he won’t.

  3. Legisperitus says:

    “1,300 years of institutionalisation”? What exactly is supposed to have started this process in approximately 713?

  4. ChrisRawlings says:

    Michael Coren is wonderful. What is so amazing to me is that the Pope’s message is so countercultural, as was that of his predecessors, as it smashes to pieces the idols of the age. But people right and left are totally missing it because they are locked in the little ideological boxes that they use to preserve themselves from the life-changing toughness of the Gospel. I have really struggled wth this personally.

    The Pope’s message is as dangerous as the Gospel because it is the Gospel, and all who praise the man must acknowledge the contretemps he is proposing amidst the nihilism of our libertarian age. To take his words as merely some shoddy Keynsian policy prescription is to utterly miss the normative context of the exhortation, and worse, to miss the Gospel.

    The danger is that liberals embrace him without taking to heart his Gospel proclamation and that conservatives write him off without really listening to his call for conversion and purification of our lives, including our politics. Neither is a very apostolic response. The media is right that he is keeping everyone on their toes. But they are wrong to insinuate that his predecessors did not do this.

  5. mamajen says:

    I read the first sentence and was prepared to be furious, then I kept reading and found it very good. Amen, indeed!

  6. mamajen says:

    Well said, ChrisRawlings.

  7. Robertus Pittsburghensis says:

    Yes, well said, Mr Coren and ChrisRawlings.

  8. benedetta says:

    Right. Only fools and the American msm believe that the phraseology “unfettered capitalism” (if that is what it reads) equals “Obamacare is awesome!”

    Just as the just critiques of Communism from JPII or Pope Benedict equals “Expand the market share for Planned Parenthood to yield a billion plus abortions in two short years!”

    First the msm and the dissenting ‘catholyc’ crowd needs to refamiliarize with authentic Catholicism. It may take awhile.

  9. AvantiBev says:

    I haven’t commented on this before but really…everyone Left, Right and Libertarian has their undies in a bundle for naught. Pope Francis is a great man and is entrusted with a great office but he is a human and a humble man who probably knows what he doesn’t know. In my day-to-day life I go to my priest for the Sacraments and spiritual matters but I don’t bring him my banking statements, investment portfolio or tax problems. I also don’t expect the Pope or any priest to fix my car’s fuel injector or set my broken arm. Each is called to his/her own vocation in life.

    The Church has been making pronouncements on business, capital investments, currencies and such for hundreds of years. St. Bernardine of Siena was against interest earned on money loaned. I wouldn’t confuse the weight of “thou shalt not commit adultery” with advice on my 401K.

    Now I have to get back to my office work as we have undertaken a merger recently and I am up to my sweet Italian culo in the FETTERS of pages and pages of rules and regulations state, federal and municipal.

  10. Agathon says:

    “Keep in mind that ‘unfettered’ capitalism is nowhere to be found.”

    I agree with you, Father, but can we doubt that Francis disagrees with that assessment? In Evangelii Gaudium the pope attributes worldwide crises to the triumph of this view. That means he has in mind not just theory or an abstract ideal, but what actually happens in practice. Perhaps specifically he means the United States, which is typically considered to be the bastion of free market principles of the world, but he almost certainly is also thinking of countries with rather interventionist economies, like his own Argentina. I don’t recall a single place in the document where Francis criticizes intervention or blames it for economic misery, but he readily does the same for “trickle down” ideology. For Francis, unfettered capitalism isn’t just a potentially dangerous idea but a political reality that has dominated the Western world, to the detriment of the poor.

    Again, I do not share this view whatsoever, and it leaves me in a difficult place as a Catholic who wants to show due deference to Church teaching and the Holy Father. But I do not like the typical conservative move of saying “I of course agree with Francis that unfettered capitalism is bad — though of course unfettered capitalism does not exist in today’s world.” Are we really agreeing on our terms at that point? There seems to me to be a disconnect, but I am not sure how to resolve it aside from throwing my hands up in the air.

  11. tcreek says:

    Legisperitus, I am surprised that you and others didn’t know that the “1,300 years of institutionalization” referred to in Bronwen Clune’s Guardian article is the age when the Catholic Church came into existence. This institution began the corruption of authentic Christian teaching when Charlemagne reunited most of Western Europe and was crowned empower by Pope Leo III on Christmas day in 800. Learned scholars as Ms. Clune, in her “ex-Catholic soul”, are really smart about this historical church stuff, don’t you know.

  12. Therese says:

    Coren is very, very good. (Amen!)

  13. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Actually, there’s a fair amount of talk by Francis about “rampant corruption,” about evil ideologies, about pitiful excuses for an “education” that are really about tranquilizing the kids and turning them into nice obedient workers. And so on. There’s a fair amount of criticism of Evil State, in fact, but it seems to be more or less muted by a fear of crime-ocracy and crazy anarchy. I pretty much read it all as “I lived in Argentina all my life, and boy, did the Lord pick a stinky time to make me live there.”

    Francis does seem to believe very strongly in letting people “develop” their own customs and inculturations, and not bulldozing every little thing into conformity, as people do who don’t trust the Holy Spirit “welling up” or the instincts of Christian people to do Christian stuff. (I read that part as a reaction to Christian and even Catholic Christian people who treat South American Catholic customs as pagan. There’s probably a side order of “Our Lady, Looser of Knots, is not an occult devotion, and I promulgated it myself so I know!”)

    Sigh. It’s really sad that such an interesting document got mutilated in translation, and that so many good bits are being ignored because of it.

  14. AnimatedCatholic says:

    my opinion is exactly the same as ChrisRawlings.

  15. AnimatedCatholic says:

    Also, I would like to apologize to you father. for my behavior a week ago. I was over reacting to the whole rush Limbaugh episode.

  16. Priam1184 says:

    If the world had listened to Leo XIII in 1891 the 20th century would have been a lot nicer…

  17. Saint1106 says:

    Most are missing the point. Pope Francis is a Peronist. There are two strands, one a left-wing Marxist one, which he is not. The other is a populist one, based on Peron-type policies of big government, taxing the rich, but respecting private property, and very respectful of the Catholic Church and its moral/social teaching. Our Pope’s favorite book is La Comunidad Organizada, by Peron himself, but likely by ex-Jesuit Benitez, who was Eva Person’s spiritual director and ghost writer.
    To understand a person’s ideas, one has to understand the context of that person’s formation. He grew up in the hey day of the Peronist years. When FDR-type policies really did deliver and change the standard of living for much of Argentina. Commentators here are trying to put in into the left/right spectrum of U.S. politics. This is a not the way to understand his ideas.
    I am also put out on his latest ideas on hunger. He has missed all the work by A.K Sen of Harvard, Poverty and Famine People suffering malnutrition in most countries do so, not because of the lack of availability of food (called the Food Availability Doctrine for FAD), but because of their lack of entitlements, called the entitlement doctrine. People are malnourished because they are poor, because they do not have the purchasing power to buy the food that is there in the country.
    Fasting, here in the US, avoiding waste, are good virtues to be sure, but the issue of global hunger and malnutrition has more to do with poverty and transfer of purchasing power to those in need.

  18. SKAY says:

    Pope Francis has been named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year.
    Edward Snowden(NSA leaker) was runner up.

  19. MB says:

    Doesn’t it say in Thessalonians,

    “aspire to live a tranquil life, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your [own] hands, as we instructed you, that you may conduct yourselves properly toward outsiders and not depend on anyone.”

    But we don’t do that…we insist on constructing huge organizations to “provide” for the people. Peronism, Communism, Socialism…call it whatever you like. And when those structures, which were often built with good intentions, inevitably become corrupt everyone suffers. Rerum Novarum was all about defending a man’s natural (and good!) inclination to make a better life for himself. Then he is free to be charitable with his own money to the extent that He is called by God to do. The pilgrims were good Christians, but they starved in their communist experiment all the same. Make no mistake we are adopting Socialism here in the US piece by piece, and our economy is crumbling. Not to mention that Socialism always seeks to eradicate the Church, and yet the USCCB stands by and applauds. I’m not saying that the Pope’s intentions are not good, but good intentions or not I feel as if I’m being thrown to the wolves. And frankly I would lay the same concern at the feet of Pope Benedict, and Pope John Paul II as well. No one is currently being threatened by the takeover of a Free Market. Many many people however are being starved by forms of Collectivism which are being controlled by thinly veiled dictators. And, yet the Pope says nothing about this… I don’t understand it at all.

  20. I have searched the word “capitalism” at the Vatican website and have compiled some key passages with comments from important magisterials texts since Rerum Novarum. I think Pope Francis is using his personal style, but in terms of substance, he’s in line with his predecessors.


  21. Although the changes made to the text of Evangelii Gaudium on the Vatican site appear to have all been rather minor, I have updated the ebook versions available here: http://sperolaus.com/2013/11/download-evangelii-gaudium-ereaders-etc-mobi-epub-pdf-docx/

    And, for those who think there is something wrong with Church members distributing copies of Church documents to Church members, I’ve made it easy for you to generate an .epub version: http://sperolaus.com/2013/12/joy-gospel-epub-generator/

    Read away. Share copies. I get nothing out of this, but the satisfaction of knowing that over 2500 people have already acquired copies of Pope Francis’ exhortation from me–people who may have otherwise not bothered to read it.

  22. Ganganelli says:

    Unions have been decimated and wealth inequality is higher than at any time since right before the great depression. I think this Pope knows exactly what he is talking about. And he has as much a right to teach on the evils of poverty wages as he does on the evils of abortion.

  23. Suburbanbanshee says:

    75 — “…. because Jesus wants to “trickle down” life in abundance onto the cities.”

    “….porque Jesús quiere derramar en las ciudades vida en abundancia (cf. Jn 10,10).”

  24. Suburbanbanshee says:

    The official English translation says, “for Jesus desires to pour out an abundance of life upon our cities” — which is dodging the obvious reference set up by the Holy Father, to the ultimate Rich Guy.

  25. Suburbanbanshee says:

    There are quite a few other references to derramado, derramado, derrama, etc. I apologize to everybody for not running a word search right away for this kind of thing! It’s a nice bit of wordplay between the market economy and the economy of grace.

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