In other words, “Christian communism” is not a meaningless moniker.
That the Pope has refused to unabashedly, unequivocally repudiate communism (and/or socialism) is doubtless one big reason that some have viewed him as a communist sympathizer. Yet there is another: His Holiness has adamantly repudiated that system commonly called “capitalism.”
Now, Francis’ supporters have leapt to his defense on this score. For example, the Catholic writer Selwyn Duke has observed that Francis has never critiqued “capitalism” by name, but instead has simply called for “a God-centered ethics.” Daniel Doherty writes that while the Pope is critical of “unfettered capitalism and capitalism generally,” his remarks on these matters “hardly” constitute “a clarion call for Marxist revolution [.]”
What Duke and Doherty say of the Pope can be said just as easily of any Democratic politician in the United States. Democrats, especially among election time when they are busy courting the Christian vote, spare no occasion to put a Gospel dress on their socialism—all the while refraining from criticizing “capitalism” by name. They are all in favor of “a God-centered ethic” then.
There is more. This Pope has made comments regarding our economic system that can and have been made quite frequently by socialists of various stripes.
For one, he has blasted “trickle-down economics” for its “crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.” Of course, in the real world, “trickle-down economics” hasn’t a single defender. The only people who speak as if the term had a referent are the socialist-minded.
Francis has also referred to ours as “an economy of exclusion and inequality.” “Today,” he explains, “everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence,” Francis concludes, “masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.”
Where have we heard this lingo before?
In fact, Francis has spoken out more forcefully than Obama or any other Democrat against our economy when he charged it with violating the commandment against killing. “Such an economy,” Francis insists, “kills” (emphasis added).
Though painful for people to admit it, the truth is that Pope Francis is no friend to the liberty that some of us Americans still treasure.
Jack Kerwick received his doctoral degree in philosophy from Temple University. His area of specialization is ethics and political philosophy. He is a professor of philosophy at several colleges and universities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Jack blogs at Beliefnet.com: At the Intersection of Faith & Culture. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or friend him on facebook. You can also follow him on twitter.