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Posted by on Sep 24, 2015 in Blog, Essays, Politics, What's Left | 0 comments

Is Pope Francis a Socialist?

 

Pope Francis gives his thumb up as he leaves at the end of his weekly general audience in St. Peter's square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013. (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)

 

Is Pope Francis a socialist?

His words and actions appear to indicate the answer is clearly — yes.

The Pope believes all kinds of radical ideas embraced by the Left.  He believes that protecting our natural environment is no longer a choice, but rather a moral duty.  He believes man-made climate change is very real and poses imminent endangerment to the planet and all its inhabitants.  He calls for economic and social justice based on sharing wealth and resources rather than hoarding them for the benefit of only a select few.  He has spoken out against our pervasive cultural obsession with of money, materialism, and celebrity going so far as to call capitalist economies “broken” and colonialism “evil.”  Sounds like a socialist, doesn’t he?

Here are just a few of Pope Francis’ most “scandalous” opinions on social and economic justice (sarcasm intended):

SCROLL DOWN FOR SEVERAL RECENT QUOTES BY POPE FRANCIS

 

Predictably, American conservatives are now going bonkers over the Pope’s first ever visit to the United States, which is taking place this week.  He’s been called a “Marxist.”  He’s been called the promoter of a “one world government.”  He’s been called “a danger to the world.”  Imagine that — all because a holy man speaks out against income inequality and seeks greater economic justice for all.  Have a listen for yourself, if you can stomach it:

 

 

Although I was raised a Catholic and once attended Catholic school, I don’t profess to know much about Christianity anymore, because I’m not going to waste my time dissecting a bunch of contradictory gibberish originating from the ancient Bronze Age that historically has caused a lot more misery than good.  But what I do know of The Holy Bible and its teachings doesn’t seem compatible with the vast accumulation of wealth at the expense of the working poor, tax cuts for the rich, an obsession with guns, grotesque profiting from health services, rampant militarism and foreign intervention, and evangelical preachers living on $10 million estates (CLICK HERE).  According to my experiences — most atheists, liberals, leftists, and socialists (and I know quite a few of those) would be far more in line with the teachings of Jesus than the self-professed Christian who votes solidly Republican.

That said, conservatives are indeed correct in at least one of their assertions about Pope Francis.  He is clearly the modern by-product of the “Liberation Theology” movement which swept throughout Central and South America during the 1960’s and 1970’s, which was the populist church-led backlash against dreaded military juntas which terrorized, imprisoned, tortured, and killed local populations to maintain control of government.  Virtually all these juntas were supported both economically and militarily by the United States.  Accordingly, many of those scars have not healed yet and perhaps never will, nor should they.  There’s some real guilt associated with these crimes against humanity, and never once has the U.S. acknowledged its ugly role in contributing to so much evil, whether the events took place in Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala, Bolivia, Paraguay, or the Pope’s native country of Argentina, which became victimized by a terrible period of state terror during “the Dirty War.”  (READ MORE HERE)

Critics charge that Pope Francis should stick to the gospel and not speak out on contemporary political issues, a view which seems to be echoed by most outspoken American conservatives (as the video demonstrates).  Yet these same voices that decry the current Pope’s “meddling” in politics once championed Pope John Paul a generation ago when he stood up against communism in Poland and professed his solidarity with unions and workers who ignited one of the first openly defiant movements behind the Iron Curtain.  Moreover, we remember with disgust the terrible shame the Catholic Church still carries for signing a Concordat with Nazi Germany, essentially paving the way for many of the worst crimes in history, while the Vatican remained largely silent.  Pope Francis will have none of that, and thankfully not.  The objective is to learn from history, not to repeat it.

Oddly enough, within atheist and agnostic circles, there’s near universal respect and even outright affection for this pontiff — something that might have seemed unthinkable just a few years ago.  We recognize there’s still a very long way for the Catholic Church to go on matters of women’s rights, birth control/population growth, and other critical issues which shape the lives of so many.  But we’re also pleased to see dialogue moving in a positive direction, almost entirely due to new leadership at the top within the Vatican.  We recognize that while we do not share the foundations of spiritual belief, we also recognize the powerful institution the church is and vital role plays in the lives if hundreds of millions of believers.  With such expansive global power comes the responsibility to try and do good.

As bad as things are in many parts of the world right now, in many countries (including the United States) we’ve turned the corner and might very well be entering a new dawn of political, economic, and social enlightenment.  Among the educated and most open minded, socialism no longer carries the taint of stigma and is no longer a dirty word.  We even have an openly avowed democratic socialist who’s running for president right now, and he’s winning over new converts with every campaign appearance just as this Pope stands to remind us all that religion encompasses far more socialistic principles than capitalist ones.  Perhaps it’s just because we’ve been bamboozled by the lies of trickle-down economics for way too long now, and seen first-hand the abuses of the free-market without government intervention — outrageous things like life-saving medicines being jacked up in price by 5,000 percent by some greedy hedge-fund manager (READ DETAILS HERE).

Pope Francis isn’t just a welcome change and a voice worth listening to on religious matters.  For more important to everyone, including those of us who are not believers at all — he’s now an international force of liberation and arguably the most important revolutionary figure of our time.

 

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Footnote 1:  I don’t entirely let the Catholic Church off the hook.  Read several criticisms HERE.

Footnote 2:  Some recent quotes from Pope Francis:

“Money has to serve, not to rule.”

“There is a need for financial reform along ethical lines that would produce in its turn an economic reform to benefit everyone.  This would nevertheless require a courageous change of attitude on the part of political leaders.”

“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?  We shouldn’t marginalize people for this.  They must be integrated into society.”

“Even today we raise our hand against our brother… We have perfected our weapons, our conscience has fallen asleep, and we have sharpened our ideas to justify ourselves as if it were normal we continue to sow destruction, pain, death.  Violence and war lead only to death.”

“This system is by now intolerable: farm workers find it intolerable, laborers find it intolerable, communities find it intolerable, peoples find it intolerable.  The earth itself – our sister, Mother Earth, as Saint Francis would say — also finds it intolerable.”

“The new colonialism takes on different faces.  At times it appears as the anonymous influence of mammon: corporations, loan agencies, certain ‘free trade’ treaties, and the imposition of measures of ‘austerity’ which always tighten the belt of workers and the poor.” 

“Let us not be afraid to say it — we want change, real change, structural change…(we oppose that which) has imposed the mentality of profit at any price, with no concern for social exclusion or the destruction of nature.”

Footnote 2:  Photo credit — AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca

 

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