His Holiness has unfortunately done it again, throwing the Roman Catholic Church behind socialism as a cure for human ills real and imagined. We know not how much this is the intention of the Pope and how much may be opportunism by the media reporting him, but the result is the same in either case. And the Vatican of all governments, is aware of these effects. So here, we take Pope Francis at his reported word.
His words specifically, were: “Inequality is the root of social evil.” There are on earth two governments famous for a grasp of history; one is in Beijing. The other is the Vatican. If the Pope, an educated and sophisticated man, is somehow ignorant of current political affairs, his advisers certainly are not. And what he said was widely reported and plays into the current anti-inequality campaign of the American Democrats. Coming from Rome, this was no accident. The Holy Father seems as his South American roots suggest, a Christian socialist.
Francis has denied the appellation. He said that it cannot apply to a believing Christian as socialism is atheistic. For this, he needs to see his confessor; socialism is a matter of holding the group over the individual, not a matter of religious faith. Atheists may be socialists certainly or they may be anti-socialists. His Holiness is publicly anti-capitalistic and anti-market on recent public statements and now, anti-individualistic too. He wears the panoply of a Christian socialist. What makes that so unfortunate is: Man is not created for socialism and cannot live in it but unhappily at gunpoint.
We note that there are nuances here; “Inequality” did not mean to an 18th century liberal such as the American Founders, what today’s American Democrats hold it to mean now. In the UnS. Declaration of Independence, the political equality addressed was an equality of human rights, not one of human living conditions. And back a while, that was the definition used by Catholic social teachers as well. But if Francis is using that older definition, his timing is doubly unfortunate since none of his present audience is likely to understand it that way. And he must know that.
His first problem is: If the Pope wants to reduce “Inequality” in present society, who will do that, and how? We have millennia of evidence that neither humans nor their governments have ever accomplished that. And all attempts have had to rely upon brute force. Even so, His Holiness has in recent words held it a task for government. When he can produce a government of living saints as opposed to recently dead Popes, perhaps it will be worth consideration. While our governors are Putins and Obamas there seems much less incentive.
With apologies to the Pope, the human condition remains one of different individuals in a universe of scarcity where as the Bible put it: “In the sweat of thy face, shall thou eat bread.” That remains unrefuted economics today. And some men are willing to sweat more than others, with differing results that are certainly not equal by today’s standard. And so it is, and will remain until human DNA is altered. We know that, you know that and certainly the Holy Father knows it. Nor does gathering a group of our species into a government, offer a means for changing it. So, while the goal pursued by the American Democrats is clear enough, we don’t understand what the Pope is pursuing.
And we fear that we do understand the harm likely to result from his present actions. His Master if we recall, preached charity by those who had more; we don’t recall His recommending government confiscation and redistribution. Probably, because He knew that for our species, they don’t work.