Explaining the Pope

Gene M. Van Son explains why Francis is not the Left’s Pope.

In fact everything Pope Francis has said regarding marriage, family, divorce, contraception, homosexuality, women’s ordination — and economics — has been perfectly in line with traditional Catholic teaching. And while he is all for helping the poor and is against greed and crony capitalism, he does not support liberation theology, and he is not a socialist or a communist.

The issues have nuance and it is easy to suffer misperceptions if words are used in more of an ideologic manner without appropriate care. For instance:

Regarding economics, in a January interview in the Italian journal La Stampa, Francis — yet again — clarified his views on capitalism, saying, “When money, instead of man, is at the center of the system, when money becomes an idol, men and women are reduced to simple instruments of a social and economic system.” He added that “We need ethics in the economy, and we also need ethics in politics.”

The problem here is that capitalism, as Professor Walter Williams explains, is an economic system based on service to individuals. The very core of the economic system is that man, not money, is at the center of the system. Yes, capital is needed in order to provide the entrepreneur the resources to provide a service or product but, unless that service or product does not serve individuals who make choices one a a time, the capital will not yield any return. You can clarify views on capitalism all you want but unless you make it clear that fundamental basis of the system and its primary reason for its contributions to humanity is service to people and not money gamemanship, one will remain misunderstood.

A capitalist who makes money his idol looses focus on his market. When that happens, the capitalist looses his money as well as his market. He forgets that his business success in based on providing people with something they want or need and that wealth, both financial and otherwise, comes from that service to humans. Confusing the need for funds with the use of those funds is a propaganda tactic often used to malign capitalism. One needs to be careful with how one uses words and associates them with other concepts and it is this area that the Pope has created sufficient worry for articles trying to clarify his point of view.

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