Marilyn MacGruder Barnewall
December 1, 2013
On November 26, 2013, two days before America’s celebratory day of Thanksgiving for the freedoms our Founding Fathers gave this Great Nation, Pope Francis I issued from the Vatican a 50,000 word “apostolic exhortation” (an 84 page Papal opinion). His opposition to capitalism and support for liberation theology was made quite clear. You can download the Pope’s commentary here.
Liberation theology was called a “Marxist myth” by the new Pope’s predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. Conspiracy theorists can have a good night’s entertainment putting together a case for a forced retirement for Pope Benedict so a new Pope, Francis I who is more friendly to communist philosophies, could take control of the Catholic Church to help the communist-based New World Order move into high gear.
I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but the comments of Pope Francis certainly raised the hair on the back of my neck. I realize he is from South America where Liberation theology has a strong foothold, and I realize that His Holiness is far more qualified than I in the Catechism of the Holy Mother Church. But based on Pope Francis I’s comments about capitalism, I also realize that I am more qualified than he to define the values and downfalls of the system of economics known as capitalism.
Before providing comments of Pope Francis I, some definitional clarity of specific terms Pope Francis used is required. Anyone who reads my articles knows that I strongly believe that defining one’s words is the only means by which truth can be identified. According to an ancient Chinese philosopher, wisdom begins with the understanding of the meaning of the words we use. I agree with that thought.
Capitalism is defined by some as an economic system in which trade, industry and the means of production are controlled by private owners with the goal of making profits in a market economy.
That’s a simplistic definition dealing only with the application of capitalism within a free marketplace – dealing only with the subject as it applies to economics. Since we have not had a free marketplace for many years, we have not had capitalism for many years either. Pope Francis seems unaware of that sad fact in his apostolic exhortation.
Those of us in what is called “Western Civilization” have lived under a system run not by a free market, but by the Rothschild central banks of the world for a very long time. The War of 1812 was funded by the central bank of England because America, after winning the Revolutionary War, refused to establish a central bank. America, the newly-born nation, had a central bank right after the Revolutionary war – it had a 20-year contract which was not renewed when the contract ended because the theft of American wealth ran so rampant. Some things, it seems, never change..
So let’s expand the definition a bit.
Capitalism is also a social system. That system is based on principles of individual rights – and individual responsibilities. As I recall, the message of Jesus Christ is about individual responsibilities. I mention that only because Liberation theology, favored by Pope Francis I, places the concept of “we are our brother’s keeper” above the individual responsibility that goes with that statement. Capitalists manage the risk inherent in the system; socialists look to government to remove risk from their lives.
Socialists view risk as something one takes, not something one manages. They have yet to learn that security is something one finds within one’s self (perhaps one’s soul?), not in government. The best person you can rely on to do anything for you is YOU. Most Americans believe self reliance is strengthened by a loving God who, in response to their prayers, aids them in their personal endeavors.
Socialists and communists believe government is their strength – and the rejection of God in favor of government strengthens their endeavors. Perhaps that is why having the Catholic Pope favor a Marxist economic system (which can only be managed by a Marxist government) over a system supportive of individual rights and responsibilities surprised me so much.
We can also expand the definition of capitalism to say it is a spiritual system. Just as the socialist and communist systems are based on the philosophy that all things (including human rights) flow from government, capitalism is a system that makes possible the recognition that human rights flow from the hand of God. That is why our Founding Fathers told us they had given us a Republic – if we could keep it. They told us that capitalism could not succeed in other than a moral nation. Some went so far as to say morality had to be based on Christianity. It was our Founders who declared us “a Christian nation.” The last time I looked, Catholicism was a Christian religion… but perhaps not under this Pope.
So, capitalism (which is currently not practiced anywhere in the world) is not just an economic philosophy. It is not just a social philosophy. It is not just a spiritual philosophy. It is all three. It is the only political system with morality built into it because properly practiced it is dedicated to the protection of the rights which are necessary to all people to survive in the physical AND the spiritual world.
Without a political system that supports freedom, no one is free to worship as they choose. Those who gain power over people – whether it be a government or a church – are very possessive of it and do nothing to teach the populace how to regain power once people allow it to be taken. How can you know what is factual, what is truthful, if your government creates a system of education that withholds facts and truth from students?
I know what is coming in the aftermath of this article: Letters from socialist progressives (some call themselves liberals; some liberals are not socialist progressives) who are firmly convinced of their moral high ground because they want to equalize everything for everyone… to redistribute wealth, to provide for those unable to provide for themselves. I say to liberal progressives to get over your arrogance and vaunted sense of self importance. If you hadn’t lied (under the guise that “the end justifies the means), we wouldn’t have lost our moral concept of capitalism in the first place! Millions of people wouldn’t be without health insurance today if not for you and your need to think you know what’s better for the world than those who live in it!
Liberal progressives seek a non-existent Utopia. Everywhere socialism/communism has been tried, it has failed. Russia killed 40 million of its people when implementing a socialist/communist form of government. China killed almost twice that many. The Soviet Union imploded under its lies and corruption; to survive its communist philosophies, China has had to become a largely capitalist nation – and regardless of what you read, China’s economy is in trouble today.
I will also get letters from the opposite end of the spectrum, the libertarians who are firmly convinced that there is no need for social or monetary order other than that provided by sovereign individuals handling their own lives responsibly. Since much of my own political philosophy leans to the libertarian side, I understand how difficult it is for people who believe in individual sovereignty to realize that the moment you mix your individual sovereignty with that of others – when you enter the marketplace – you have group sovereignty and when you have group sovereignty you have chaos (or survival of the fittest) unless you have a system of organization that holds everyone to the same standards of behavior. When those values involve currency or money, you need a system of banking and a system of economics within which banks function to establish social and economic order.
So much for an explanation of capitalism. Now we need to define Liberation theology. Why? Because Pope Francis I references it in his remarks – and analyzing his comments is the purpose of this article..
Liberation theology is a political movement within the Roman Catholic Church which chooses to interpret the teachings of Jesus Christ to mean that an unjust economic, political and social system causes poverty and keeps the poor struggling to escape the suffering that goes with that status.
Liberation theology (much like liberal progressives) views poverty through the eyes of the poor… and they do not. The Catholic Church is one of the wealthiest entities in the world. It has a $170 billion budget in America and owns a massive amount of real estate in Manhattan, one of the costliest places to live in the world. Priests, regardless of their behavior, will never have to face living on the street or starving. Like progressives, they think they can imagine the insecurities of poverty. Having been there at one time in my life, I promise them they cannot.
Detractors (within the Church) have called Liberation theology Christianized Marxism.
Liberation theology began in Latin America in the 1950s and 1960s (though the Pope’s parents were born in Italy, he was born in Argentina). It became an issue because of honest concern – a moral reaction, if you will – to poverty caused by social injustice in Latin America. Liberation theology calls for the redistribution of wealth – a very Marxist solution to solving the suffering of the poor. Has it worked anywhere in the world? No. And it will not.
Pope Francis I says “My people are poor and I am one of them.” He lives in an apartment and cooks his own supper. He wants priests to show mercy – to show courage by keeping their doors open to everyone 24/7. He wants the Church to avoid being self-centered… but spiritual worldliness is found in the eye of the beholder. I believe Pope Francis is totally sympathetic to the miseries of poverty. But no one with alternatives to poverty – like a Priest has, or like the warm homes liberal progressives have when they go spend a night or two on the street to sample the misery of poverty – can really understand the burdens of the poor. Why? Because they have alternatives should they choose to exercise them.
In the past, Pope Francis has said when speaking of social justice that Catholics should rediscover the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes. He tells Catholics to study the Catholic Catechism. “Trampling on a person’s dignity is a serious sin,” he said.
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I agree with the Pope and have often commented on the need for the Catholic Church to abide by its Catechism… especially that portion of it that states that when Catholics move to a new country they have a moral obligation to obey the laws of that new nation. I have pointed out to many Catholic priests who tell parishioners week after week how important it is for Americans to welcome illegals from Mexico into our nation, legal or not, that the Church’s Catechism tells Catholics to obey the laws of their new land. I have pointed out that it is impossible for illegals to obey the Catechism when the first thing they do by entering America illegally is to violate the new nation’s laws.
As for “trampling on a person’s dignity” being a serious sin, I agree. Where the Pope and I would disagree is his evident opinion that only the poor have their dignity abused in their world. For such a statement to have meaning it must encompass the entire flock, not just a portion of it favored by this prelate or that. Trampling on the dignity of achievers is just as much a sin as is trampling on the dignity of the poor.
With all of that said, Part II of this article provides some of the comments made by Pope Francis I and a capitalist’s interpretation of them. For part two click below.
� 2013 Marilyn M. Barnewall - All Rights Reserved
Marilyn MacGruder Barnewall began her career in 1956 as a journalist with the Wyoming Eagle in Cheyenne. During her 20 years (plus) as a banker and bank consultant, she wrote extensively for The American Banker, Bank Marketing Magazine, Trust Marketing Magazine, was U.S. Consulting Editor for Private Banker International (London/Dublin), and other major banking industry publications. She has written seven non-fiction books about banking and taught private banking at Colorado University for the American Bankers Association. She has authored seven banking books, one dog book, and two works of fiction (about banking, of course). She has served on numerous Boards in her community.
Barnewall is the former editor of The National Peace Officer Magazine and as a journalist has written guest editorials for the Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News and Newsweek, among others. On the Internet, she has written for News With Views, World Net Daily, Canada Free Press, Christian Business Daily, Business Reform, and others. She has been quoted in Time, Forbes, Wall Street Journal and other national and international publications. She can be found in Who's Who in America, Who's Who of American Women, Who's Who in Finance and Business, and Who's Who in the World.
Web site: http://marilynwrites.blogspot.com