Pope Francis, the brand new Pontiff of the billion plus worldwide congregation of the Catholic Church, said last week in an urgent call for reform that politicians need to be bold in tackling the root causes of the current economic crisis.
He declared that the root causes of the economic crisis lay in acceptance of money's power over society, decrying what he deems as unbridled capitalism and the "cult of money" while calling for ethical reform of the financial system to create a more humane society.
"We have created new idols," he insisted during a speech in the Vatican. "The worship of the golden calf of old has found a new and heartless image in the cult of money and the dictatorship of an economy which is faceless and lacking any truly humane goal."
Unchecked capitalism, said the Pope, has lead to the growing inequality in society and is caused by "ideologies which uphold the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation, and thus deny the right of control to States, which are themselves charged with providing for the common good… A new, invisible and at times virtual, tyranny is established; one which unilaterally and irremediably imposes its own laws and rules."
Ethics are too often dismissed as a nuisance, he continued: "There is a need for financial reform along ethical lines that would produce in its turn an economic reform to benefit everyone… Money has to serve, not to rule."
Now, from what I’ve seen and read about Pope Frances, it appears that he is a very nice and generous man, a good priest and a devoted leader of his Church. The humble Cardinal from Buenos Aires Argentina has made the rejection of riches and luxury a major focus of his priesthood and now his two-month long pontificate.
In keeping with that mission, he has recently spoken of his desire for a "poor church." Of course, right now his Church is awash in money and riches and has been for centuries. If he wants to give it all away, more power to him. He has every right to say and do whatever he wants about his religion and his economic philosophy. After all, he is the Pope.
But when he starts calling upon politicians and secular governments to bring about the reform of the entire global economic system in accordance with that philosophy – rejecting free markets, capitalism and the power of money – he is entering the forbidden realm of politics, at least as it is practiced here in the United States of America, where the First Amendment Establishment Clause of the Constitution prohibits the merging between Church and State.
When he declares that the creation of wealth should be entirely under control of the State he is no longer just a humble priest shepherding his flock. He’s become a politician using his high religious status and pontifical office seeking to influence the secular business of government.
Perhaps then it is time that the Catholic Church in America started paying its fair share of taxes now that its leader has become a political force and desires to meddle into the affairs of our secular government. That’s how churches and religious organizations should be dealt with in America when they cross that forbidden boundary line between Church and State.
He should be tending to the souls of his congregation and their spiritual needs; preparing them for the promised afterlife; and getting them ready to meet their maker, which, of course, was the mission of Jesus Christ – not interfering with economic matters in the real world of the here and now. His vocation is to fulfill the former, not to dabble into the latter. Jesus didn’t mess with politics.
With all due respect to Pope Francis, his philosophy regarding money sounds like a typical socialist/communist rant demanding a worldwide redistribution of wealth from the have’s to the have not’s; the producers to the takers; the hard working to the lazy; and the ambitious to the complacent.
It doesn’t work and history has demonstrated again and again that it doesn’t work. He simply doesn’t know squat about free markets, money or how wealth is created. Why should he? He’s a priest; a man of God; a wealth taker; not a producer of wealth.
Without money, free markets and capitalism, there would be no wealth in this world. Human beings would have to live like the rest of the animals, digging around in the dirt for roots and tubers, while enduring similar nasty and brutish lives. It is money, individual liberty and free markets which has civilized men. But few priests would understand that because they are not in the business of creating wealth, but only taking it.
So his “heartless cult of money and worship of golden calves” nonsense is just a bag of socialist rubbish. He should separate his religious office from secular politics before he finds himself in the wrong place and does something to his Church that he will later regret.
My advice to Pope Francis: Pope and State: Separate!