There’s been a lot of commentary about Pope Francis being a commie, mostly from Official Conservatism, which now holds a puerile understanding of both communism and capitalism. Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), is a 2013 apostolic exhortation by Pope Francis that criticizes neoliberal global capitalism, among other topics. American “conservatives” took this mild critique to mean the Pope opposes the new religion of Globalism, so he must be a Marxist, because Marxists are bad.
The thing is, Catholicism has always been opposed, to some degree, to capitalism, particularly certain aspects of what we now call capitalism. The most obvious example is the opposition to usury. Every lecture on the evils of antisemitism contains some reference to the Church forbidding usury. Less well known is the Catholic Church’s embrace of localist economics and politics, in opposition to the internationalism of Soviet communism. The point being, the Church has never been a fan of global capitalism.
The criticism of the Pope on economic grounds says more about the bottomless ignorance of modern conservatism than it does the Pope or the Church. For the Church, any church for that matter, economics are downstream from theology. In fact, economic positions should only matter in so far as how they advance the particular theological points of the faith. Catholicism long attachment to the sovereign authority of the people, naturally leads it to embrace national economics over global economics.
That bit is sure to get some spergy responses from Catholics and Christians, but we’ll deal with that in the comments. The point to take away is that it is perfectly plausible for the Pope to be within Catholic doctrine and oppose the current fads in global economics and not be a communist. The fact that secular defenders of globalism are more hive minded than the clerical critics, suggests globalism has become more of an all-consuming religion than Catholicism. It is international fascism.
Whether or not the Pope is a globalist is unimportant. What matters is whether or not he is a Catholic. Look at the response from Francis when Trump announced that he was withdrawing the US from the Paris climate deal. The Pope had heavily lobbied Trump in person on the mysteries of climate. He gave him a book pushing the apocalyptic claims of the most unhinged climate fanatics. It’s not unfair to say that the Pope bet a big chunk of the Church’s prestige on this, so naturally he was very angry at the result.
Now, the Pope had a joint presser with Trump on his home turf. Trump has been divorced a few times, has children from a variety of women. He is, by his own admission, a serial adulterer. The Church, at its core, opposes the way in which Trump has lived his life. At their meeting in Rome, the Pope could have taken the time to admonish Trump on these basic theological issues. At the minimum, he could have made the most powerful man in the world blush a bit about his lifestyle, even if he was not willing to be Thomas More.
Of course, the Pope is more than a theologian and spiritual leader. He is a politicians so it is understandable if maybe he would avoid the personal. He could have, however, weighed in on the oppression of Christians and Catholics in the US. That health care bill everyone says is a mess has provisions that compel Catholics to act in a way that contradicts their faith. That should be pretty damned high on the Pope’s list of concerns to be broached with the American President.
It’s not just a question about the Pope being Catholic, or at least prioritizing Catholic theology over his personal theology. The question is whether the Catholic Church is still Catholic. It used to be that the Church was at the forefront of social issues like abortion and homosexual marriage. Today, it is rare to hear anything from the Church on social issues. Instead, in the US at least, the Church is more concerned with maintaining their refugee rackets and defending Gaia from your lawnmower.
We are in a post-Christian world so perhaps it is inevitable that the Catholic Church would be looking around for a way to remain relevant. Attendance at Christian services continues to drop and the median age of self-identified Christians keeps going up. On the other hand, it is not unreasonable to think that maybe what hurts the Catholic Church is that it has stopped being Catholic. There are a million places to hear sermons on Gaia, diversity and other Progressive fads. The Pope is just another voice in the choir.