Mt. Vernon Register-News

Z_CNHI News Service

December 6, 2013

Liberals listening to Pope Francis - selectively

Editor's Note: If you're not a weekly subscriber to Taylor Armerding's column, you can publish this one if you notify him at t.armerding@verizon.net.

- See more at: http://www.cnhinews.com/cnhins_opinion/x633307300/Tis-the-season-to-beware#sthash.xbk6VysY.dpuf

Editor's note: CNHI newspapers that are not weekly subscribers to Taylor Armerding's column may publish this one if they notify him at t.armerding@verizon.net.

Pope Francis, at least for 15 minutes or so, has become a darling of the left.

It likely won’t last. If he has the temerity to reassert the church’s position on “social issues,” he will once again become the religious extremist, bigoted leader of an outdated institution deserving only scorn and ridicule.

But, for the moment, he is way cool. The pope’s recent encyclical is seen as an attack on capitalism, especially as it is practiced in the United States. He’s blaming America first! How awesome is that?

And, indeed, the pope does decry what he calls “the idolatry of money.” He declares the alleged benefits of “trickle-down” economics “have never been confirmed by the facts,” and that our “throw-away culture” throws away the poor.

This had the Los Angeles Times salivating, figuring it would likely “cause Wisconsin GOP Rep. Paul D. Ryan some distress.”

No word from the paper on any possible distress for Democratic millionaires in Congress whose charitable giving is slim to none, and for whom “compassion” consists of spending other people’s money.

But it is strange that the left suddenly thinks the pope’s words should have any influence on government policy in the United States.

If he or any Catholic leader affirms the church’s position on abortion, gay marriage or female clergy, they are immediately told to stop imposing their morality on the rest of us  or trying to violate the separation of church and state.

If the pope is allowed no standing in those areas, why is he welcome in others? Could it be because those on the left perceive him to be attacking their enemy – capitalism? How convenient.

Actually, if they bother to read the whole document, their ardor for the pontiff may cool. The alleged attack on capitalism takes all of about four of 84 pages. The majority of it is about evangelism – proclaiming the Gospel to nonbelievers in an effort to convert them to Catholicism.

That, even through persuasion rather than force, is anathema to the left.

And even the part they are applauding deserves some examination. It turns out I have some common ground with the far left: I don’t believe the Pope is infallible. He himself says numerous times in his encyclical that context is important.

For example, his denunciation of unfettered capitalism is welcome. But capitalism in the United States is the opposite of unfettered. It is drowning in regulation – enough to discourage entrepreneurs, many of them minorities.

The pope is obviously correct that there is inequality in the United States, as is the case everywhere. The more important point is that this nation remains the destination for millions from other countries.

If, as self-appointed scold Noam Chomsky declares, America hates its poor, why do we provide them with billions of dollars worth of food stamps and other benefits? Why are they not fleeing our borders for Mexico, instead of the other way around?

Yes, the pope is correct that there is greed in the United States. But all we hear is about corporate greed. What should we call it when public employee unions – particularly those in public safety – demand work schedules that the rest of us could only dream about, make double or even more what the average taxpayer they “serve” makes, and get benefits grossly out of proportion with those in the private sector?

Does the fact that they are “only” making tens of thousands more than average taxpayers, instead of hundreds of thousands, mean they get a pass? Is greed only a matter of degree?

The pope lumps “exclusion” and “inequality” together as factors that create an economy that “kills.” That is only half right.

Yes, the ideal should be to banish exclusion; equal opportunity is one of America’s sacred goals. But equal opportunity does not guarantee equal results. To demand that is as absurd as me demanding that I make the NBA because I tried as hard as Kobe Bryant.

The anti-capitalists are especially excited at the pope’s smackdown of the “trickle-down” economic theory, which he contends has never brought about “greater justice and inclusiveness in the world … (and) expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power ….”

That point deserves a substantive response from conservatives. But, again, context is important. The pope should say how “trickle-down” theory, or capitalism in general, compares with socialism in the former Soviet Union or totalitarian communism practiced in China.

Text Only
Z_CNHI News Service
  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Is this a commercial for batting gloves or a baseball game?

    Major league baseball desperately needs to speed up the action. Here's a place to start: Nix the mind-numbing ritual of hitters who first adjust the right batting glove, then the left one, after every single pitch.
     

    August 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Does Twitter need a censor?

    Twitter decided last year to make images more prominent on its site. Now, the social network is finding itself caught between being an open forum and patrolling for inappropriate content.

    August 21, 2014

  • sleepchart.jpg America’s sleep-deprived cities

    Americans might run on sleep, but those living in the country's largest cities don't appear to run on much.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Another stumble begs questions about Notre Dame

    Notre Dame's vaunted reputation for formidable athletics and serious academics is again sullied by a cheating scandal. Maybe the high standards of the Fighting Irish are just too good to be true.

    August 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Five myths about presidential vacations

    In the nuclear age, presidents may have only minutes to make a decision that could affect the entire world. They don't so much leave the White House as they take a miniature version of it with them wherever they go.

    August 15, 2014

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Debate filled with 'hate' gives Hamas a pass

    Political invective is dialed to the max, and everyone who disagrees is a "hater." But the hate police, who are so eager to cast labels, are ignoring the real wells of contempt in the Middle East.

    August 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg OU player's suspension shows pitfalls of addressing sexual assault on campus

    The University of Oklahoma's leading tackler is suspended for the season - or maybe not. Frank Shannon is still practicing with the Sooners amid a court battle over whether OU can discipline him after a sexual assault investigation. The tough issue of addressing assault on campus isn't just OU's problem.

    August 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • weightloss.jpg The scales of injustice: Weight loss differs between men, women

    You're not imagining it: There really are differences between the way men and women diet, lose weight and respond to exercise.

    August 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Drug dealers going corporate

    A top federal official on Tuesday said that 105 banks and credit unions are doing business with legal marijuana sellers, suggesting that federal rules giving financial institutions the go-ahead to provide services to dealers are starting to work.

    August 13, 2014

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg College sports upended by NCAA vote, judge's ruling

    Big-name conferences have leave to write their own rules, and a federal judge is forcing colleges to share television and marketing royalties with players. The guise of amateurism is gone from college athletics. What's next is anyone's guess.

    August 12, 2014 1 Photo

Twitter Updates
Facebook
Stocks