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Is Catholicism compatible with libertarianism?

It's hard to believe that question is still being debated, isn't it? For over 100 years, the definitive answer is No. Pope after pope after pope, right up to Benedict XVI, has explained this in the most magisterial ways.

But perhaps it has taken Pope Francis's singular history, style, and gift for communication to break through the noise of American-style capitalism. Or perhaps the underbelly of globalization has finally come to light, through a combination of the explosion of financial capital, the worldwide recession, and the opportunities afforded by the Information Age for learning about the distant effects of almost-unregulated markets.

Whatever the reason, Pope Francis is getting through. He is obviously not a Marxist or socialist. But he is leveling strong critiques of the current state of global capitalism -- as it is actually being employed.  And to my mind, one of the best interpreters of his message (especially for those reading from the right-wing) has been Michael Gerson.

Those on the economic left-wing already have their favorite opinion-makers, and perhaps E. J. Dionne is chief among them for Commonweal readers. But his right-of-center colleague at the Washington Post carries clout with a different audience, and he too is using his platform to great effect. He already impressed with his column on the America interview.

Now listen to how the architect of "compassionate conservatism" relays Francis's exhortation:

In “The Joy of the Gospel,” Francis returns to the defining theme of his papacy: the priority of the person. Human beings have an essential value and nature. They can’t be reduced to economic objects or to the sum of their desires. “We do not live better,” he says, “when we flee, hide, refuse to share, stop giving and lock ourselves up in our own comforts. Such a life is nothing less than slow suicide.”

The pope contends that individualism can dull us to the requirements of justice, and that prosperity can be a prison. In making this case, Francis is demonstrating that Christian faith is not an ideology; it stands in judgment of all ideologies, including the ones we justify in the name of freedom.

On the one hand, one might be concerned that Gerson is over-spiritualizing the concrete message of Francis about justice. Is he going to make this into an individualized version that focuses on charity only? To the contrary, he writes:

But in the absence of certain social conditions — the rule of law, equal opportunity, effective public administration — capitalism can result in caste-like inequality.

As my colleague E.J. Dionne Jr. points out, the first pope from the Southern Hemisphere naturally has a more skeptical take on globalization. He empathizes with the marginalized: exploited migrants, bonded laborers, people in sexual slavery. This is the dark side of markets — the sale of life and dignity. And Francis vividly warns against the “globalization of indifference.”

Here Gerson emphasizes the "dark side of markets" and the necessary "social conditions" for capitalism to work virtuously. Most importantly, he goes on to tell the truth about the Catholic position on these matters:

Those surprised that Catholic social thought is incompatible with libertarianism haven’t been paying attention — for decades. Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI said the same. And all warned of the danger when a mode of economic exchange becomes a mind-set. Absent a moral commitment to human dignity, justice and compassion, capitalism is conducive to materialism, individualism and selfishness. It is a system that depends on virtues it does not create.

These exhortations can't be repeated often enough in countries such as ours, so ideologically saturated in the mind-set of market exchange. For capitalism to yield human flourishing, it requires social conditions and cultural virtues that must be nurtured from elsewhere. Families, communities, and yes, even federal governments, all must work to create these conditions, to rear the proper virtues, and in many cases to tune up the system while it's running.

Catholics really shouldn't need any more debate about this. We shouldn't need to go on Bloomberg TV to debate it, like Fordham's Christiana Peppard did. NCR's Michael Sean Winters shouldn't need to talk with Fr. Sirico of the Acton Institute any longer. The Church has spoken virtually in unison, and Pope Francis finally might be getting new ears to hear.

 

(For more of Gerson's recent commentary, see this video.)

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Francis gets the hearing of the message because the perception is that he is living what he preaches. He strays from feting on the rich and like Jesus he "has compassion on the multitude." Further while others have been content to theorize Francis makes it clear that the poor is the first option. But if Francis want to continue being credible he will have to deal with the riches of the church and its preocupation with catering to the wealthy. Can Dasani be seen at the Alfred E Smith dinner? Basilicas have to rescind and a plan for the poor and the captives has to be in place in every parish. The devil will be in the details. 

Something of a response to Bill Mazzella:

I take it tha Pope Francis  is no less serious about the responsibility that his fellow bishops have for proclaiming the Gospel than he is about his own commitment the needy. As a theological matter, he takes it that he has to work with and respect them as successors of the apostles. I take it that this constrains what he takes it as appropriate for him to do. This is part of the recognition of the propriety of "decentralizing" Church leadership. Crudely put, he is rejecting the "imperial" papacy that Bill regularly decries. An unavoidable consequence of Pope Francis' approach is a less than uniform set of practices, criteria for appointments, etc.

For my part, I think that the price to pay for this absence of rigorous uniformity is a price well worth paying, even when I myself want to gripe about paying it.

Capitalism may well depend upon virtues that it does not itself create.  But capitalism can also encourage virtuous behavior in ways that other institutions do not.  I've worked in nonprofit and profit-oriented institutions.  Behavior in the latter compares quite favorably with that in the former, imho.  Here's a list of virtues that market behavior encourages:

Universality, enterprise and alertness, respect for the tastes of one's trading partners, trust and trustworthiness, acceptance of competition, self-help, non-rivalry, stoicism about rewards.

 

http://conversableeconomist.blogspot.com/2013/12/the-virtues-of-market-b...

 

Those trying to "fetter" capitalism are not necessarily virtuous or all-wise. They can easily hamstring the development of virtuous behavior in markets and they can do so all the more easily with a good conscience because of their narrow views about virtue.

The problems with libertarianism are threefold: 1) it makes markets/capitalism ends in themselves rather than means to improve the condition of humanity, 2) it is often associated with the belief that we are sole owners of what we produce and posess rather than stewards of God's creation, and 3) it is often associated with the belief that many of the poor are undeserving of their help.

Ryan - you are right on, especially with regard to your #3.

Patrick,

I suggest you read Gerson’s column (it is linked above, or: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/michael-gerson-pope-francis-and-the-argument-for-compassionate-capitalism/2013/12/09/0779698c-60fd-11e3-8beb-3f9a9942850f_story.html)

Libertarian’s are not the only people who consider that there is a place for capitalism in today’s world.  I read Gerson as saying that the manner in which capitalism is implemented in the world does not require that it be “fettered” by outside forces in order to be fair, even just.  Unless, of course, one takes literally the notion that the “Invisble Hand” of markets is what actually controls the world.  A position that I would have thought any Christian rejects.

Mark L.

"As a theological matter, he takes it that he has to work with and respect them as successors of the apostles. I take it that this constrains what he takes it as appropriate for him to do. This is part of the recognition of the propriety of "decentralizing" Church leadership."

Abe, a rule of thumb in theology and the New Testament is if something is not universal in scripture and theology then it should be discarded. The opposite is true. There is no compromising the central issue of Jesus: "Freeing the captives and bringing the gospel to the poor." Decentralizing can never omit this issue. What Francis demands of the world he must doubly demand of the bishops. 

Further, Apostolic Succession is more of a blundgeon against those who disagree. It has nothing to do with the Gospel. But one true mark of apostolic succession is washing the feet of our sisters. That is the true mark of an apostle. 

               For an especially informed critique of Pope Francis’ comments in Evangelii Gaudium on the “prevailing” free market “economic system” (Par. 54), see “Agreeing with Pope Francis” by Michael Novak in National Review, 12/7/13,  http://nationalreview.com/article/365720/agreeing-pope-francis-michael-novak. An excerpt:

Anyone commenting on the economic themes of Evangelii Gaudium should note at the outset that the pope insists this document is not a full expression of his views on political economy but only an expression of his pastoral heart. In paragraph 51 Francis writes:

“‘It is not the task of the Pope to offer a detailed and complete analysis of contemporary reality, but I do exhort all the communities to an “ever watchful scrutiny of the signs of the times.” . . . In this Exhortation I claim only to consider briefly, and from a pastoral perspective, certain factors which can restrain or weaken the impulse of missionary renewal in the Church, either because they threaten the life and dignity of God’s people or because they affect those who are directly involved in the Church’s institutions and in her work of evangelization.’

But about six of his swipes are so highly partisan and biased that they seem outside this pope’s normal tranquillity and generosity of spirit. Exactly these partisan phrases were naturally leapt upon by media outlets such as Reuters and the Guardian. Among these are ‘trickle-down theories,’ ‘invisible hand,’ ‘idolatry of money,’ ‘inequality,’ and trust in the state ‘charged with vigilance for the common good.’

Why is it then, asks Mary Anastasia O’Grady, one of the shrewdest observers of Latin America today, ‘that most of today’s desperate poor are concentrated in places where the state has gained an outsize role in the economy specifically on just such grounds’? Ever since Max Weber, Catholic social thought has been blamed for much of the poverty in many Catholic nations. Pope Francis inadvertently adds evidence for Weber’s thesis.

          See also: “Pope Francis and Poverty” by Samuel Gregg, NRO, 11/27/13,  http://m.nationalreview.com/node/365004/print ,“Pope Francis and the Economists” by Alejandro Chafuen, Forbes, 12/4/13, http://www.forbes.com/sites/alejandrochafuen/2013/12/04/pope-francis-and-the-economists-2/ , and “The Pope, the State, and Venezuela” by Mary Anastasia O'Grady, 12/1/13, http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303562904579228233172719594

My problem with framing libertarianism as opposed to Catholicism is the same problem I have with framing socialism as opposed to Catholicism. The terms have such a variety of meaning that applying them universally is problematic. The words become a bludgeon against opponent. For example, some conservatives like to refer to Obama as a socialist. If that is their definition of a socialist, then they need to get out much more!

The core issue, it seems to me, is the common good. If a Catholic were to argue that there was no such thing as a "common good", then that would be a problem. I think that it is a charicature to say that Catholic libertarians do not believe in a common good. Most, but not all, do admit a common good but don't see government as promoting it or if they do see a role for government it is very limited to just providing security.

I don't see how their program or solutions are effective and so far they have just been reactionary (against Obamacare, opposed to the war, against some drug policies, lower taxes, etc.). They have not carved out a coherent platform or sets of principles.

I think it is better to engage people in rational and reasonable dialogue over time than in excommunications, slogans, and so on. I regularly read and listen to conservative program and while I do not always agree, there are some good points that are made. But for the most part, with few exceptions, the radio and television programs seem to be very polarizing.

Whatever your position on economics all might agree that there is a problem when the church embraces the rich makes them its focal point. Everyone agrees that a major change happened in the fourth century with the embrace of christianity by the emperor. The churches received a lot of wealth from the state. The rich who became Christian placed rich trimmings in the churches so that much wealth lay in its structures. Yet there was always the tension of serving the poor and it is seen everywhere in that pivotal century. It is telling how church officials assuaged their consciences by stressing that money and riches were to be given to the churches so they could take care of the poor. Since the religion of the former empire had gilded edifices and wealthy priests, it was a no brainer that Christian churches would follow suit. But there was always the nagging question of serving the poor. So it was declared by building great basilicas the poor were being served because they had great places to worship in. Many who professed giving all their w ealth to the poor, managed to retain it noting that they were no longer using their wealth for their own use but using it for the welfare of the poor. So donations were not to be given to the poor but to church officials. Thus Paulinus of Nola who built great basilicas retained control of his wealth and land as it was considered  giving it all up since now the money was used for a different purpose. Those who criticized this attitude were ostracized. Nevertheless, this controversy still raged over those centuries. 

Thus continued the great farce in church history where churches controlled enormous wealth under the guise of using it for the p oor. It was fine as long as one was not "attached" to it. So when Cardinal Dolan transferred millions of dollars into another diocesan fund few within officialdom challenged it. 

Now and through the centuries clergy and the religious orders lived more comfortable lives than the majority of the population. The message of the gospel was lost. Before we rant on too much about the abuses of Capitalism we have to center our criticism on a church  which has lost its way on this most important gospel mandate. 

 

Michael J. Kelly: In theory, Pope Francis is in charge of the Vatican.

In theory, he may have been consulted about the English translation of the passages that Michael Novak discusses in connection with the Spanish version of the document.

The Michael Novak piece linked to by Michael J Kelly above is outstanding.  A couple of pertinent quotes:

This is Novak on unfettered capitalism (which I take to be an important aspect of what is meant by "libertarianism" in this post): 

It takes a lot more than economic growth to make a system “equitable.” It takes the rule of law, the protection of natural rights, and the Jewish/Christian concern for the widow, the orphan, the hungry, the sick, the imprisoned — in short, effective concern for all the vulnerable and needy.

Novak then expands on this contrast between 'naked' and 'clothed' economic growth by quoting John Paul II from Centesimus Annus, no. 42:

Can it perhaps be said that, after the failure of Communism, capitalism is the victorious social system, and that capitalism should be the goal of the countries now making efforts to rebuild their economy and society? Is this the model which ought to be proposed to the countries of the Third World which are searching for the path to true economic and civil progress?

To this John Paul II answered, in effect, “Yes and no.” He went on:

The answer is obviously complex. If by “capitalism” is meant an economic system which recognizes the fundamental and positive role of business, the market, private property and the resulting responsibility for the means of production, as well as free human creativity in the economic sector, then the answer is certainly in the affirmative, even though it would perhaps be more appropriate to speak of a “business economy,” “market economy” or simply “free economy.” But if by “capitalism” is meant a system in which freedom in the economic sector is not circumscribed within a strong juridical framework which places it at the service of human freedom in its totality, and which sees it as a particular aspect of that freedom, the core of which is ethical and religious, then the reply is certainly negative.

 

 

Libertarianism, I believe, is not a straight line to capitalism.  Surely, it can be argued that capitalism can be a byproduct of Libertarianism.

If wealth and ambition were redistributed to the point where everyone is equal than we would all be poor.  I am sure all of us know of people who are fully satisfied with their financial status in life.  As an example, I for one, know of a person who by any measure is considered "middle class" in economic terms.  Does he have the wherewithal to contribute thousands to his fellow brethren whom are poor?  Probably not, unless he himself would want to be a pauper as well.

I read somewhere that the U.S. is the most generous country in the world when it comes to donations to charities of all types.  The same country that has declining church goers.  The same country where capitalism is thought as somehow evil. 

Yes, I do agree, people with money can get greedy to the point of selfishness and ill intent towards their fellow man.  However, for every money sucking tyrant, there are thousands who contribute to the needy.  They volunteer at soup kitchens, donate to charities, volunteer at shelters, etc.

Capitalism is not evil; people who exploit it are.  A loaded gun doesn't shoot itself. 

By the way, I am a practicing Catholic.

 

Unfettered capitalism, like unfettered freedom or unfettered rheumatism, is incompatible with everything else on the face of it -- the face being the limitless adjective. Even I have to oppose unfettered bratwurst. It is pretty hard for libertarians to uphold a belief in unfettered capitalism even though it is part of the libertarian's creed. Many claim to believe it; few are convincing when they do.

Of course, as soon as you put a fetter on capitalism, you are heading toward socialism, or, as Novak might prefer to put it, you are on the road to serfdom. But if you don't put a fetter on capitalism, you have ... unfettered capitalism. So let's just drop the discussion of the jejune adjective and talk about what exists.  (BTW, if the Vatican is so careless about its translations, is it possible that Pope Francis's slam at abortion was a mistranslated approval? We may be on the verge of a new basis for moral evaluation here, the translator principle.)

Tom Blackburn: Why do you assume that the Vatican may be careless about its translations?

Why not assume that Pope Francis may have approved each of the translations as being consistent with his thought?

Thomas Farrell: Don't blame me. Michael Novak, the one fixed point in this changing age, posited the faulty translation that emerged form the Vatican uncaught. That his correction strengthens his and his friends' position has nothing to do with it, of course. But if you can posit it here, you can posit it there, and pretty soon abortion can become a gift of the Holy Spirit, opening all kinds of new publishing opportunities for moral theologians.

One quick comment: I spoke to a Political Science professor today who is an expert on Argentina (and fluent in Spanish). The term in question he said "definitely" refers to the same economic concept captured in English by "trickle-down."

 

Pope Francis also wrote in "Evangelii Gaudium"
“The commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life,” wrote the pope. “Today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills.”
His criticism of capitalism, referring to it as a killer, was enhanced by a call for "Governments to create more jobs..." which every experience, including the US government's  recent almost trillion dollar  "Jobs program', which was a dismal failure in creating jobs but the money, mostly borrowed, was spent, have failed. Governments do not create jobs, individual and corporate efforts under capitalism do.
Pope Francis lived under both dictatorial and socialist regimes in Argentina but unlike Pope John Paul II who lived under communism, Pope Francis failed to understand the economic failures were caused by the governments policies not by capitalism.
China's emergence as an economic power was the result of introducing capitalism into its economic policies which created millions of   jobs in a relative short time. 
 

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.

All 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" please take one step forward.

Theologians and spiritual writers have been concerned for centuries about helping the poor and the problem with the rich man entering heaven. The reason is Jesus clearly said that it is easier for a camel to enter the eye of the needle than for a rich man to enter heaven. The statement is quite clear. Jami Diamond, Michael Bloomberg etc will have quite a diffiuclt time. Specifically because of the riches. As a result some spiritual writers, theologians and bishops have tried to find a way out. Alms giving buys heaven. As long as one is not detached. Expiate one's sins by giving money to build cathedrals. Give it to bishops to buy heaven. Buy tables at the Alfred E Smith dinner. All of this logically sequed into buying indulgences. Too many Christians have lost it on this one. Dives and Lazarus is a clear story. To be ignored at one's peril. 

If we truly believe it is easier for the poor to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, why do we get all bent out of shape about "inequality"?

Why the  quote marks around equality? Has the basic meaning of numbers been repealed without anyone notifying me?

Matthew 20:1-16  The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard is a good example of
laissez-faire economics, no minimum wage, no government mandates on hours worked. The owner and workers agreed on a day's wage and the owner determined what he paid the workers for the hours worked. A real conundrum for central planners, should the owner be praised for paying those who worked the last hour a day's wage or condemned for not paying more to those who worked the whole day for the agreed wage. Jesus did not condemn the owner and in Matthew 7:1,  Jesus said "Judge not that ye be not judged."

 

Tom Blackburn: Michael Novak is NOT "the one fixed point in this changing age."

He changed from being a liberal to being a conservative. He himself acknowledges this change in the subtitle of his recent memoir.

Libertarianism is more than an economic philosophy, no? Libertarians have always been for less fettered capitalism AND fewer laws restricting personal behavior (birth control, abortion, divorce, homosexuality, drug use, gun ownership, etc.). 

The following was sent to President Obama and Cardinal George has predicted the result.
A quote
"If towns remain divided — if Catholics have their schools and buildings and Protestants have theirs, if we can't see ourselves in one another, and fear or resentment are allowed to harden — that too encourages division and discourages cooperation,"
That is probably one of the most Un-American statements ever to be uttered by a President of the United States.

I was taught by my parents, Sisters in grade school and Jesuit priests
and brothers in high school that one's duties were to God, Family, Country in that order.

It is Marxist non-theological doctrine to eliminate God and the
Family and leave only the State that one owed not only allegiance but
also his/her soul. Francis Cardinal George described it as, "Freedom
of worship was guaranteed in the constitution of the former Soviet
Union," Cardinal George wrote in a column in the Catholic New World.
"You could go to church, if you could find one. The church, however,
could do nothing except conduct religious rites in places of worship
— no schools, religious publications, health care institutions,
organized charity, ministry for justice and works of mercy that flow
naturally from a living faith. We fought a long Cold War to defeat
that vision of society."
 

Mark:

"If we truly believe it is easier for the poor to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, why do we get all bent out of shape about 'inequality'?"

Are you auditioning for Comedy Central?

Taking Obama out of context has replaced baseball as the national pastime.The quote to which Mr. Mosman and Cardinal George allude is from Obama's visit to northern Ireland, a place that has had two much division into Catholic and Perotestant schools, Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods, Catholic and Protestant pubs, even Catholic and Protestant Irish whiskey (although they can't seem to agree on which is which) aqnd Catholic and Protestant armed thugs. He was talking about a place far away from Chicago and now, hopefully, receding in time from what it was.

And if you read the quote, and don't simply blow your stack, he talks about seeing ourselves in one another, not seeing ourselves in the state. In the Catholic schools we are taught to see God in others.  "Ourselves in one another" is simply that teaching secularized for non-Christians. It is hardly the grand opening of the gulags.

 

Tom --

Obama's civility in the face of the unjustified insults he has suffered from the neo-cons amaze me.  But his patience is no doubt a major part of his diplomatic arsenal.  That he could get the ACA passed in spite of the deplorable obstructionism of the extreme conservatives and the leadership of the Republican party is a tribute to his patience.  He didn't swap insult with insult.  If his efforts with Iran succeed, then I suspect that the historians will see him as a great diplomat-president, compromising where compromise is appropriate.  (Though I freely grant that Hillary Clinton and Sen. Kerry have also been blessings for the nation as diplomats.)

E. Patrick,

I have never heard such a view of the workers in the vineyard. Where did you learn to spin like that? What a colossal misinterpretation. Not as bad. But the same goes for your Obama quote. Amazing.

Mr. Blackburn—

No, the basic meaning of numbers was not repealed while you slept.   However, I do not feel a human being can be reduced to a mere number.    I do not measure a man’s worth by his net worth.   I do not equate small bank accounts with small minds.  If the far left truly cared about the poor, they’d care about their souls, not their pocketbooks.

Inequality for the left is always about mammon, nothing more.   That’s why I put it in quotes.

 

Helen—No, though it can’t be denied I have latent comedic talent to spare.

Mr Blackburn,

"Taking Obama out of context" What exactly does that mean? Are Obama's public statements to be judged only by the place and audience and are not applicable elsewhere? In the case of his Northern Ireland remarks about religious schools  "encourages division and discourages cooperation," does he mean that they teach "hate your neighbor " or hold classes on " how to build a bomb" or "best bogs for burying the body." ? What is his solution "government run schools"?
No doubt he considers Catholic schools in America "encourages division and discourages cooperation," since they teach the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, abortion is a sinful  act of murder of the unborn child and other moral and ethical issues which oppose his agenda.

 

Mr Mazella,

The economic analysis of the Parable of the Vineyard is as  valid as those who proclaim that a rich man will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven based on the "eye of the needle" parable. 

Mr. Mosman -- President Obama sends his children to Sidwell Friends School. I take that as a sign that he is not opposed to private schools. You will take it as an example of his hypocrisy because you are convinced he has to be opposed to private schools. That is an example, sort of, of being out of context.

Anyone in Washington who can afford it has his kids in Sidwell because it is good. More public schools should be like Sidwell, but they never will be because people who can't afford Sidwell anyway scream bloody murder that they don't want their money stolen from them to educate other people's kids. They are not their brothers' keepers, by golly.

Prof. Farrell -- Well do I recall when Michael Novak sported love beads and a three-piece suit at the same time. That was more than 40 years ago. Some of us thought he was going for the Grand Allliance. But he gave up the beads and went where the money is. He has not budged an inch since.

 

Mr. Blackburn,

Private schools were not mentioned by Obama in his Northern Ireland address or my comment, both referred to religious schools as a part of the religious "Troubles" there. Obviously you are trying to change the subject, the usual 'protect Obama' by his clean-up crew apologists.

 

E. Patrick: Obviously.

Thought so

E. Patrick,

The parable of the Vineyard has to do with the inscrutable judgment of God. For whom getting into his kingdom is as desirable whether one got in the first or the last day. Further, we cannot judge and have not the lnowledge of the quality of the persons whether they get in the first day or the last. Secondly, all is subject to the wonderful mercies of God which endure forever. 

However, there is concrete evidence in the early church concerning how difficult it is with wealth to get into the kingdom of God. The Vineyard has to do with God's mercy whereas riches has to do with wo/man's greed. Throughout the centuries believers have obsessed with the story of Dives and Lazarus. All except that it is difficult. The concept is not denied. Many Christians have found ways to get around it. Thus convincing the wealthy that almsgiving certifies their place in heaven. Thus the promise to the Crusaders and indulgences. Paltry, if any, are references to the parable of the Vineyard indicating laissez faire capitalism. 

Qui bene disntiguit, bene cognoscit!1

Mr Mazella,
You wrote :
The statement is quite clear. Jami Diamond, Michael Bloomberg etc will have quite a diffiuclt time."
How do you know? 
"The followers asked, “Who then can be saved?” in the next verse. If the wealthy among them, which included the super-spiritual Pharisees and scribes, were unworthy of heaven, what hope was there for a poor man?
Jesus’ answer is the basis of the gospel: "With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God" (Matthew 19:26). Men are saved through God’s gifts of grace, mercy, and faith (Ephesians 2:8-9)."

"Jesus reflects on how hard it often is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God. The riches are a distraction and hard to share if one is too attached to them. The disciples' incredulity is that if even the rich cannot be saved, who can? But the verdict is that even the rich, not only the rich, will find it impossible to save themselves – but with God all things are possible."

The decision of who enters the Kingdom of Heaven is not your's but only God's and as difficult as it might seem there maybe more than a few rich men in Heaven.
The economic interpretation of the parable of the  Owner of the Vineyard was mine alone to show how easy it is to misunderstand Jesus's intent.  

Here's the Pope's follow-up on the "trickle-down" section of the Exhortation:

“There is nothing in the Exhortation that cannot be found in the social Doctrine of the Church. I wasn’t speaking from a technical point of view, what I was trying to do was to give a picture of what is going on. The only specific quote I used was the one regarding the “trickle-down theories” which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and social inclusiveness in the world. The promise was that when the glass was full, it would overflow, benefitting the poor. But what happens instead, is that when the glass is full, it magically gets bigger nothing ever comes out for the poor. This was the only reference to a specific theory. I was not, I repeat, speaking from a technical point of view but according to the Church’s social doctrine. This does not mean being a Marxist.”

As we said, it's a critique of what is actually going on. The overflow isn't here. Dow Jones continues to break records. Executive compensation continues to break records. Wage-earners lose purchasing power or barely match inflation from the 1970's to the present.

 But what happens instead, is that when the glass is full, it magically gets bigger nothing ever comes out for the poor.

What a wonderful way to extend and maybe even put a little twist into the analogy.  If this was off-the-cuff ... I'd say he's a pretty original thinker and speaker.