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Poor little rich Catholics

Eduardo Penalver has already flagged my favorite holiday report on the Francis effect (published just in time to influence year-end charitable giving). And as we ring in the New Year, let's spare a thought for the persecuted rich. It's bad enough Francis keeps talking about the poor all the time, but now he's suggesting that someone other than those same poor people may be responsible for their poverty -- and worse, that Catholics are called on to work for a more just distribution of the world's goods. He wants us to change the system, but has he given any thought to how that might affect the people who currently benefit most from that system? CNBC is on it:

[Home Depot founder Ken] Langone said he's raised the issue more than once with Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, most recently at a breakfast in early December at which he updated him on fundraising progress."I've told the cardinal, 'Your Eminence, this is one more hurdle I hope we don't have to deal with. You want to be careful about generalities. Rich people in one country don't act the same as rich people in another country,' " he said.

One of the things that makes this story so jaw-dropping is the presumption -- on the part of Langone, and as ever on the part of CNBC -- that those who see or read it will sympathize with the petulant wealthy. Do you really want to make things harder for people who are so much wealthier and more successful than you? CNBC constantly asks its viewers. Do you think we can afford to let them get upset?

I do feel for Cardinal Dolan, caught between the demands of fundraising in a wealthy city and the clear teaching of a very popular pope. I wouldn't want to be explaining Evangelii Gaudium to any prospective donors over breakfast. Still, I'd like to think that, if pressed, I could do a little bit better than "The pope loves poor people. He also loves rich people. He loves people, alright? He's not into the condemning game."

I do not think CNBC's reporting on this story was motivated by a desire to get people thinking about how relying on the goodwill of wealthy donors compromises the integrity of the church. But that's where this story left me. What might it mean if bishops like Dolan had to square off with a few sulking multimillionaires and tell them, Look, here's the social teaching of the church, and here's a chart demonstrating how income inequality has increased, and if all that makes you feel less generous then I'll just have to ask someone else? Historians of the church in New York often point out that its many beautiful parishes -- which some now consider an embarrassment of riches -- were built by immigrants giving from what little they had. And hey, maybe that wasn't such a bad system. The widow's mite doesn't go quite as far, but at least it doesn't carry with it the obligation of downplaying the spiritual risks of wealth and soft-pedaling the cry of the poor. The widow, unlike her seven-figure-donor coreligionists, would probably like what the pope has to say.

There are, of course, great minds working hard to make sure it doesn't come to that.

Langone said he is also on a campaign to explain "the vast difference between the pope's experience in Argentina and how we are in America."...

Arthur Brooks, head of the American Enterprise Institute, a think tank that promotes free markets, said he agrees that the pope's beliefs are likely informed by his Argentine heritage.

"In places like Argentina, what they call free enterprise is a combination of socialism and crony capitalism," he said.

Brooks, also a practicing Catholic who has read the pope's exhortation in its original Spanish, said that "taken as a whole, the exhortation is good and right and beautiful. But it's limited in its understanding of economics from the American context." He noted that Francis "is not an economist and not an American."

See, when the pope says,

we have to say 'thou shalt not' to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion.

...he is obviously talking about less developed parts of the world, because as you know, here in the United States the problems of the homeless are recognized as an urgent priority by everyone (and every news outlet), while it is the rare news organization that bothers to cover the stock market's ups and downs. And when he directly criticizes proponents of "trickle-down theories of economic growth" -- well, if you read that in the original Spanish it doesn't sound anything like what AEI argues in its policy papers.

And when the pope says this:

While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation.

You'll have to excuse the crudeness of his worldview -- remember, he's not an American. As Robert Christian writes at Millenial:

The pope couldn’t possibly be reiterating over 120 years of Catholic social teaching. No, he lived in Argentina, the North Korea of South America, where there is no information on the outside world.

Someone looking to make trouble might point out that what Francis is saying about inequality and the trouble with capitalism and globalization is not fundamentally all that different from what Benedict said. And yet somehow Pope Francis is harder to ignore. (Benedict, for one thing, was more "careful about generalizations.") As a result, his fellow bishops are being asked to smooth some ruffled feathers. Maybe it would be better to wait and see what happens if those feathers stay ruffled a little bit longer?



Commenting Guidelines

John Ryan --

All I know about what is going on in the New Orleans schools these days is what I read in the papers.  According to the local papers, there has been a lot of federal money given to the schools since Katrina, most for school buildings, If I remember correctly.  But there has also been a huge amount of money contributed from private donors (God bless the generous American people) plus a great deal of help from young, very competent teachers from the top schools (e.g., Harvard, Stanford) who could afford to live here and while making less money than they would somewhere else.  

My point is that any equivalent effort in other parts of the country will probably not have the same effect unless there is a lot of money and semi-volunteer help invested in those systems.  And where would that money come from?

I should add that another reason that the new, largely voucher system seems to be working is that most of the old teachers had to compete for the jobs that became available in the new system, and a huge number of them couldn't qualify for the new standards.  Since many of the old schools went out of existence, those poor teachers were left without jobs, but the schools improved because of it.  Sad, and very unfair for them (they had "tenure" and no doubt good intentions), but the kids have profitted.  

I should also add that these reforms started before Katrina, but accelerated afterwards.  There was an extremely able  State Superintendent of Education who was willing to shake thinkgs up.

Again, complexity, complexity.

Oops -- I shouldn't have said "voucher school system", it's a charter school system.   


Thanks for that update on New Orleans.  

I would expect there would be differentiation across states that embraced a system of parental choice versus a system entailing underlying standardization.  

Schools competing for students and the federal dollars that go with them necessarily means teachers are competing for their jobs and unfortunately some wind up out of a job.   But also as you say, the students, espicially the impoverished among them, are the winners. 

New Orleans, and I believe wherever a system of parental choice is embraced, offers empirical evidence of what can be done.  It is not a matter of theory or ideology.  It involves a range of stakeholders, including the children, who in these cases are viewed as the first priority. 

And as you mentioned it takes leadership "willing to shake things up."


Ann -- I agree with you.  Workers should flourish, not just get by.  That's why we need to abolish the whole wage system and give control over production to them. . .but that's an argument for another day.

But what exactly are the children being taught in those New Orleans charter schools since Gov. Jindal signed the law permitting the teaching of creationism?

Angela -

I don't know what is being taught about creationism, if any thing anywhere.  Since the schools are allowed to differ widely, I suspect that there might be some variation about it, though our kooky legislature might have required teaching both or neither.  At any rate I don't think it's much of an issue.

Actually, there are some philosophers who are respected by at least some of their peers who hold that there are forms of "intelligent design" which are not the same thing as creationism and that ID should also be taught as a scientific alternative to neo-Darwinism.  As I see it, the arguments re ID (given what I know of them) include only biological and *philosophical* premises and could be taught in the schools without violating the Constitution.  (Nagel becomes relevant here.) Creationism, on the other hand, is another kettle of fish -- it is based on theological premises and, therefore, should not be presented as science in any sense of the term.  But that's a whole different thread or 10.  

If  "by definition capitalists are thieves" that would make our federal government the "mother of all robber barons."

Do the capitalist hating crowd ever, even for a second, stop and think about where the goverment gets its money?

And fyi, no one has exploited the poor in this country more than the  power-elite democrates, with overwhelming proof that they feed the "always necessary to keep them in power" underclass.

Francis is showing the emperors they have no clothes.  In reading the comments I am struck by the consistent slavishness to intellectual discussions.  Those who believe there can be symmetry with Christian faith and rapacious capitalism are deluded.  Catholic Americans have been very good at compartmentalizing their religion from the way they make money.  Francis is just telling us what Jesus would--and the backlash shows the stunning hubris of those complaining.

The goal of becoming wealthy is misguided, off the track as far as Christianity is concerned.  Nothing wrong with being wealthy if one has done something worthwhile -- something for the common good and not destructive of the environment -- to obtain the wealth.  But pursuit of wealth per se is a way of missing life altogether, according to Joseph Campbell.  The OT and NT are both shot through with the message:  the love of money is the root of all evil.  The desert fathers and mothers did not include lust in the seven deadly sins; it was listed under greed, treating people possessively, as objects rather than persons.  In our current deregulated form of capitalism, employers are relatively free to treat workers as possessions, as a commodity, rather than as persons, the pope is reminding us.  

The whole story seems a little suspect to me. We are given no clues to the identity of the Mr. or Ms. Big who is supposedly balking at making a seven-figure donation.  We can only rely on what Ken Langone tells us about his anonymous source.

The concerns of the anonymous Mr./Ms. Big seem very much like those that Langone expressed in a 2011 interview, also with CNBC: "We need businessmen and fat cats to feel like they're doing something good." [

I can't help but wonder if this is a case of that classic dodge, "I have a very good friend who has a problem with ..." Yes, Mr. Langone. Tell us about your very good friend.

CNBC should have been more skeptical.




The seven practices of charity toward our neighbor, based on Christ’s prophecy of the Last Judgment (Matthew 25:35), that will determine each person’s, not presidents, politicians, nor government bureaucrats, final destiny was taught us from the Baltimore Catechism: 1. Feed the hungry 2. Give drink to the thirsty 3. Clothe the naked 4. Shelter the homeless 5. Visit the sick 6. Visit those in prison 7. Bury the dead For those who claim that Jesus was a big-government socialist provider with regard to helping those in need and reducing individuals personal responsibility to only “Love the Neighbor’ and replacing it with government programs is a misreading of His message. Jesus Christ made the point “to render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s” with no guidelines as to how the Romans were to spend the tax monies. “For you will have the poor always with you” Matthew 26.11 and nowhere in the New Testament does Jesus Christ lay the responsibility for caring for the poor, the sick the hungry or thirsty, the homeless or any oppressed people on any governmental body. He did not cite King Herod, the priests of the temple, the local politicians or the Roman powers as the source of Charity. He made it an individual responsibility time after time in His sermons, in His parables and in His own acts. The Good Samaritan was not an example of “Love thy neighbor” because he stopped at the inn to make a 911 call but because he acted, providing aid, comfort and financial assistance to his neighbor. Jesus Christ’s teachings cannot be used be used to support states becoming the major or only source of charitable acts. Eventually, hopefully sooner not later, Catholic Bishops and nuns will realize that the old adage “he who pays the piper calls the tune” is true.
Pope Francis's concern for the poor is admirable, however his criticism of capitalism is uncalled for as an economic system it has provided more opportunities for the individuals to rise from poverty than communism, socialism, fascism, monarchy and dictatorship combined. In the future the Pope needs to be more specific regarding his preferred economic system.

With progressive taxation and relatively high marginal tax rates, there is incentive to keep the money in the business, increase investment inside the business, and pay workers more. With flat taxation and low marginal rates, there is incentive to take money out of the business, increase expenditures outside the business, and pay workers less. With a strong labor union environment, there is a true trickle down effect, where labor gains in union shops trickle down generally throughout the labor market.

The root causes of wealth stagnation of the 90% and wealth growth of the ten percent and wealth explosion of the 2% are the neutering of progressive taxation and the collapse of the union movement.

The answer is not socialism, but rather a return to progressive taxation,a reinvigorated union movement, and strong environmental regulations.

Larry Weisenthal/Huntington Beach, CA

Fr. Theodore Hesburgh of Notre Dame invited Marxist professors the likes of Gene McCarraher into Catholic higher education in 1968 with his promotion of the Land-O-Lakes proclamaton. Since then, these Marxists hve not only lunched off the unsuspecting generosity of orthodox Catholic alumni (mostly wealthy - if bovine- capitalists) but they have hounded classical scholars out of the faculty so they can more easily poison the minds of their captive matriculants free from threat of competitive ideas. Now 200 of our 235 U.S. Catholic colleges are anti-Catholic bastions of Marxism.

Jim McC - thx for that link to the Robert Reich article.  It's an interesting subject, the things that qualify for charitable donations.

He may have a point re: why should donations to Ivy League schools with their already-gargantuan endowments be tax-privileged?  I think I may have mentioned here before that when one of my children was going through the college selection process, Princeton sent an email promising a full free ride for four years.  My kid is bright but not such a stellar scholar that anyone else offered anything comparable.  Nor has any other college we've talked to discerned that we qualify for any need-based help at all; the consistent message to us has been, feel free to take out as many loans as you'd like.

Regarding theaters, opera companies and museums: I disagree with him.  It's true that all of these institutions host cocktail receptions and such things for the high flyers, presumably where a lot of mutual backscratching take place.  But in the case of major museums, they really do cater to a broad cross-section of the populace, and their entrance fees are quite affordable (including some that offer a free day each week), something they're able to do because large donors are subsidizing their operations.  In the case of the opera and theater - they're less affordable, to be sure.  In fact, around here, even if one can afford opera tickets, it's not easy to get hold of them unless one subscribes, and most seasons our leading company is subscribed at something like 102% of capacity.  But I'd argue that in these instances there is another class of beneficiaries: the artists who act and sing, the musicians in the pit, the guys who string the lights and paint the scenery and so on.  Having rubbed elbows with a fair number of folks in the artistic class, I can attest that most of them weren't born with silver spoons or silver anything, and they're pretty much completely dependent on the generosity of wealthy donors for their livelihood (and they also are entitled to just wages, and we should give due credit to unions for helping to secure these for them).  

Perhaps it could be argued, as Reich may unwittingly be arguing, that actors and musicians don't have a moral claim on the generosity of wealthy donors, not when other people are hungry and homeless.  Conservative ideologues certainly argue that such artistic ventures aren't entitled to a penny of our tax dollars.  I happen to like the world better when we have theater, and even opera (of which I'm not much of a fan), and I feel confident that we should be able to have these things and feed the hungry, too.


To Mr. Mosman, Jesus preached exclusively to rural communities, where population density was very low and neighbor helping neighbor was a more effective approach to poverty than in 21st century urban environments.  With regard to the urban environments of the first century, the admonition to render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's was certainly made with full knowledge of the fact that Caesar had already instituted a robust welfare state:*/Frum...

- Larry Weisenthal/Huntington Beach CA

To Mr. Pauwels, To clarify, Princeton, Harvard, Yale and the like don't provide financial aid for any reason other than financial need, determined objectively (including submission of income tax returns).  The brightest students, most talented musicians, most gifted athletes qualify for financial aid on exactly the same basis as the least bright, least talented, least gifted member of the admitted class of students, that basis being entirely financial need.

You say:  "My kid is bright but not such a stellar scholar that anyone else offered anything comparable.  Nor has any other college we've talked to discerned that we qualify for any need-based help at all; the consistent message to us has been, feel free to take out as many loans as you'd like."

Consider the contribution of Ivy League attendees to the economy, science, and government. It's very disproportionate, and I think it's wonderful that these institutions have turned the admissions process into a true meritocracy, without burdening students and their families with decades of debt. 

"The root causes of wealth stagnation of the 90% and wealth growth of the ten percent and wealth explosion of the 2% are the neutering of progressive taxation and the collapse of the union movement.

The answer is not socialism, but rather a return to progressive taxation,a reinvigorated union movement, and strong environmental regulations."

Larry --


Dr. Weisenthal - thanks for those notes on Ivy League financial aid.  With Robert Reich, I am still not sure, though, that a gift to Harvard's endowment fund should be tax-privileged.


I think Pope Francis understands rich Americans (including Langone) very well.  He also understands the teachings of Jesus Christ as they pertain to the rich and the poor.  Sadly, some rich---even just well-to-do--- Catholics even hate the Pope because they equate Catholicism with capitalism.  


"Jesus preached exclusively to rural communities, where population density was very low and neighbor helping neighbor was a more effective approach to poverty"  No doubt Catholic and Christian theologians will be very interested to learn that Jesus Christ tailored His religious, moral and ethical teachings to his audience, one message for the rural population and another for the city dwellers. I could find no evidence that this was the case, perhaps you would cite examples.
Regarding Roman charity it consisted of Bread and Circuses, the Roman welfare system for Romans
Beginning with Augustus Caesar, the city of Rome provided bread, oil and wine to its urban population.

What this meant, is that almost 250,000 inhabitants of Rome consumed about 6 million sacks of grain per year, free.Rome provided citizens with food-- it also provided them with entertainment.

Of the poor, the poet Juvenal could write:"with no vote to sell, their motto is "couldn't care less,"there was a time when the plebieans elected generals, heads of state,commanders of legions: but now they've pulled in their horns, there's only two things than concern them: BREAD and CIRCUSES."

To Mr. Mosman, The point, as I stated, is that the teachings of Jesus, including parables, were addressed exclusively to rural people and were about rural people. The specific challenges pertaining to mass urban poverty were not addressed by the admonitions of Christ as presented to his audiences of the time. 

You are the one trying to interpret these teachings in a literal (and limited) fashion, to wit, that they only apply to the actions of individuals and should not be applied to society as a whole and to the ways that government policies should be formulated.  Very well, in this context it's legitimate to note that, In the preachings of Christ which relate to the relationship between government and citizens, the citizens have an obligation to pay taxes to a government which supports a robust welfare system then in existence.  This welfare system, in supplying the necessities of life to poor people, is consistent with the teachings of Christ.  Yes, these taxes also supported armies (as do the taxes of all governments) and they also supported "circuses" (analogous to the National Endowment of the Arts, one muses).  These latter aren't relevant to the issue of the responsibilities of society at large to its disadvantaged.  In the New Testament epistles, there is also the admonition to respect and obey government in a more general sense.  - Larry Weisenthal/Huntington Beach CA

P.S. I csn't believe that I didn't consider a more relevant analogy to the actions of present day government in supporting "circuses" -- public money to support the Olympic Games and similar events, as well as public money to support the contruction of stadia and sports arenas.  As scripture notes, there is nothing new under the sun.

Are there good and bad rich people? Well of course there are, but I think most people are missing the Popes message. Rich people who have built their riches on companies that treat their employees well, who give to charity and actually produce goods and services are not what he is talking about. He is talking about those that got rich from playing the market, cheating their customers and employees. These people are not an asset to our culture. They are parasites. They do nothing productive and take from those less fortunate. They are morally bankrupt and rationalize away their immorality. They purchase our governments so they can practice their malfeasance with impunity. These are the ones creating the great inequality not the companies that actually produce goods and services and pay their employees a livable or better wage. 


The Pope is asking us to truly believe in Jesus, not to just say so. It lends to what is belief. If you really believe in Jesus is it just going to mass and reciting the Creed or is it listening to what he said. It is not just hearing his words but following them, living by them. It is following his example of love and compassion. 


You are not following Jesus if your life is consumed with making money. You are not following Jesus if you cheat your employees or your customers. You are not following Jesus if you pay off government officials so you can do these things and not be punished. You are not loving and compassionate if you take your employees labor and do not pay them appropriately for it. Neither are you following Jesus if you cheat your customers and investors. 


I believe this is what the Pope is talking about when he scolds the rich. So those rich folks who are loving, compassionate, productive, giving, and fair to their employees and customers should not take offense at his words. They know they are following Jesus. The others won't listen anyway and take no offense because they believe they are righteous in their blasphemy..

Michael Hiltzik at the L.A. Times has a good take on this today, and he picks up on the note of "I have this friend..." that Paul Moses mentions in his comment above. Also like Paul, he makes the connection with Langone's past activism on the part of his fellow thin-skinned fat cats (as in a PAC-sponsored open letter castigating President Obama for his "divisive" campaign rhetoric "aimed at successful people in the business sector").

He concludes,

Cardinal Dolan told CNBC that he'll strive to mollify his reluctant donor by assuring him that the pope didn't mean to be nasty. "The pope loves poor people, he also loves rich people--he loves people, all right?" If these honeyed words get that donor and others to unbelt for St. Patrick's, fine. But do they really need honeyed words so much? After all, they already have almost all the money.

This is a case where perfect freedom for everybody seems like a good answer. Let the Pope be free to preach the Gospel as the Spirit moves him and he himself sees fit, mindful that not everyone will agree with what he says but in no way tailoring his words to avoid giving offense to too tender sensibilities, and in that way imitating Christ.

And let donors to worthwhile causes be equally free to speak their minds and open or keep closed their purses as they see fit. Restoring the cathedral should be the work of joyful hearts, as I am told the original building of it was. As with any work of charity, there is no room for grumbling or grudges.

And if the restoration is delayed or even canceled because irritated donors withdraw their pledges or never make them, yes, even if the building falls down in ruin, Catholics will still find time and place to worship God, and perhaps renewed occasion to meditate on Paul's words to the Athenians:

For the God who made the world and all that is in it, the Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in sanctuaries made by human hands; nor does he receive man's service as if he were in need of it.

There have certainly been some interesting comments!  Despite the MSM (and Rush Limbaugh), clearly not understanding Catholic social teaching to properly understand Evangelii  Gaudium, few if any would disagree that Pope Francis isn’t coming from an authentic place of love of Christ, a love so transforming that it can only be the result of a devout prayer life and love of God.


And that most likely explains why the left and right are never going to agree.  In a nutshell, both want different things.  The right, which includes of course Pope Francis, is God /Gospel centered.  T he left is “equality/feeling” centered.  In fairness to the left, most believe (even probably President Obama) that they “have it right,” despite facts pointing otherwise. 


The never ending fight on the left is “equality.”  One would have to be living under a rock to not recognize that fact.  Consequently, in addition to being “feeling based” and not “God centered,” the root of every left issue is based upon feelings and equality.  Again, many are most likely good (albeit wrong) intentioned.  As noted in one wise comment in this thread, “the poor will always be among us.” 


And that comment alone from Jesus should make us all pause and consider what Jesus also said/taught about how the “wise and the strong” will be made fools by the weak.   Intelligence is worth little without the wisdom of God, which is why many on the non religious left are clueless as to why big government, money, high taxes, or even same sex “marriage” can never be the answer.  The reality is, the utopia dream has not only been tried and failed many times over, it also never ends well.  Look no further than Obamacare, which will not only destroy the best health care in the world, but leave more in this country with less or no health care and at a staggering price tag.


There are countless facts to support it, but sadly, liberals don’t like facts.   For those who do, look simply at education, the big ticket item every liberal thinks “big money” will fix.  Well, between state lotteries, five times more per student, and declining test scores in the US, in addition to the well known Sausalito and Kansas “big money” actual trials, we already know how much it doesn’t work, while the big elephant in the room, the family, gets “reinvented” from welfare rewarded fatherless to include everything from the loveless spouse of “Julia” to same sex parents, one parent, or soon to come, 3 parents. 


Getting back to Catholic social teaching, what Pope Francis clearly understands, and what the Catholic Social teaching has always taught, is the importance of the family (the number one  teacher of faith and morality in society), subsidiary, and solidarity, all opposite of what “big gov” can and does offer.  The more we tax, the more money is taken away from the charity of the human person, the one on one, and handed over to the state. 


Nothing has lifted more out of poverty than capitalism and a strong two-parent family of faith/or good values, and morals.  Yet, since the genesis of welfare, and even more so under Obama, poverty, especially of Latinos and blacks, has increased, yet is ignored, save for increasing more welfare.   At the same time, babies out of wedlock are not only socially acceptable, but financially rewarded and celebrated (at the same time increasing black genocide is ignored).  Even Obamacare gives more tax credits to the “unmarried” than to the married, creating more incentive to the demise of the America Family, the core building block of society.


It’s about time even the feeling based left come to realize that what this country needs most is what the government can never give, even if we were all taxed at 95%, love!  And no, not the “touchy feely love without consequences”, but the kind that Christ taught, and what Catholic Social Teaching, including Evangelii Gaudium, is still, and will until the end of time, continue to teach.


It’s about real love, not “capitalism.”  Everything always comes down to real love, the “Christ kind of love,” only available through the grace of God.






Sent the last post from my iphone, consequenly didn't attach the links at the bottom of the post

The word on fire link/F Barron video on Time Magazine very well explains much of my point.

The cato link gives reference to the failure "lots of money" on education.



When the young rich man asked Jesus what he must do, Jesus did not tell him to give his fortune to the Romans, to theTemple, to Herod or to any public entity. He told him to give his money to the poor. When you provide chapter and verse of Jesus requiring individuals to support public entities providing charity to the poor we can continue this discussion. Regarding the Romans I worked and lived in Rome for seven years and studied the Roman perods rather throughly, including a four week course at Christ Church,Oxford, on the "Roman Period of British History". At no time were the rulers of Rome and their territories deeply concerned about the poor, only enough to keep them pacified.

Mr Mosman, regarding chapter and verse, one could take the same position regarding gay marriage, abortion, or any of a thousand other issues and situations which Jesus did not address. Additionally, you comment about the motives of Caesar in providing generous welfare benefits is a peripheral straw man argument. I stand by my own prior arguments, which were directly on point.

To Pat, your interpretation of 100 years of papal encyclicals regarding Catholic social justice policies was breathtakingly creative.  One would think that the Popes were critical of the economic policies of modern liberal democracies, with regard to government health care and strong safety nets. And Pope Francis is really an economic conservative, endorsing Paul Ryan's interpretation of "subsidiarity!"

Other economic conservatives have already progressed to the anger phase; Pat appears to still be mired in denial.

larry weisenthal/Huntington Beach CA



It's a common response of free market defenders to free market detractors: They don't understand economics.  It's true, economics is a science--and its object, more or less,  is the study of how people behave in their own interest or perceived interest.  The point is the Gospel tells us this is fundamentally the wrong way to behave: Love your neighbor as yourself; it is better to give than receive; you cannot serve God and Mammon; etc.  It's not about the Pope not getting economics--he understands it for exactly what it is, it's about a lot of people not understanding the Gospel in in its most basic implications.

Patricia, the thing is, there's no love in capitalism, unless you count self-love and perhaps the natural extension of that to family and close friends.  "Liberals," btw are just people who think that government is not necessarily an evil thing and has great potential as a tool for promoting the common good.

So, according to some rich Catholics, we shouldn't listen to Pope Francis because he isn't an economist and he isn't an American?  Amazing!  The real question is:  Is the Pope a Christian---is he being true to the teachings of Jesus Christ?  I think he is.  Christianity is not capitalism and capitalism is not Christianity...they are not the same, period.  

In reading the Gospels, Jesus did not gently hold back in criticizing the Pharisees and the Saducees.  He was not worried about hurting their feelings.  In the same way Pope Francis, the vicar of Christ, is living and preaching the teachings of Jesus who we claim to follow.  Unfortunately, these Catholic multimillionaires have shown they do not understand the Gospel values, Catholic social teaching and certainly not the reality of the majority of the people of our country.  Instead of the American Bishops trying to placate these people, they should admonish them and stand up for what is truth and right  just as they do when it comes to abortion.  Perhaps Cardinal Dolan can find people that can write a document on the preferential option of the poor as he did with "Our More Cherished Liberty" and require preaching from the  pulpit on that topic as well.