Perverse Papal Pronouncements

TIME magazine spent many pages extolling the virtues of Pope Francis in designating him as “person of the year.” He deserved the recognition, along with a host of others, who made huge splashes on the national/global scene. Notwithstanding all the reasons TIME gave for its choice, the actual reasons were the Pope's offhand remark concerning homosexuals, to wit, that it wasn't his job to judge, and his stated remarks against capitalism as a financial societal system.

Whereas Pope Francis used words—absolutely no tangible changes—to earn his spot, someone like Russia's Vladimir Putin, for instance, actually DID something, stepping into the Syrian conflict to primarily keep President Obama from doing something disastrous like intervening militarily (as in Libya) or furnishing weapons that could blow the place away. Assad's WMD (toxic gases) remains in Syria and in any case cannot be safely moved or destroyed absent $billions needed for the ability to do so. Witness the enormous amounts being spent in the U.S. just to build the facilities for this work, such as at Bluegrass Army Depot outside Richmond. Ky.

Though Protestants and evangelicals disagree, Catholics consider the Popes to be the direct descendents of Peter the apostle and designated as such by Christ to maintain the foundation of the church. In this role, Pope Francis doesn't just speak for the church but is the church. However, he is constrained by the issue of infallibility that applies to the Pope—all Popes.

The definition of infallible: “not capable of being wrong or making mistakes: not fallible.” This means that a pope can hardly change anything a preceding pope has done all the way back to whenever. Actually, while there's a genealogy for Christ in the Bible, there's none for the descendents of Peter, eventuating in the Pope. Too, at one time priests were allowed to marry, so apparently Popes have made changes, sort of disrupting the infallibility facet.

As Pope, Francis IS the one, according to Catholic doctrine, to judge the behavior and relationships of homosexuals and announce his judgments to the church. Atheists and agnostics (and TIME) jumped on his statement with glee because it destroyed his credibility and that of the church, something dear to the hearts of the “anything goes” crowd and establishing secularism/hedonism as predominant over spiritualism. If the Pope can't judge on the basis of scripture, tradition and previous Papal promulgations, who can?

The quick answer—embraced by most Protestants and evangelicals—is that only God can judge but Catholics have been taught to trust the Pope for their answers. Heading a church of 1.2 billion members worldwide, Pope Francis is the acknowledged world leader in religious matters. His offhanded statement was terribly unfortunate since he's also supposed to use scripture—which profoundly condemns perverted behavior—as his authority.

Pope Francis's condemnation of capitalism (a “new tyranny,” his words) was also unfortunate since capitalist philosophy has produced the financial resources the church uses to do its work. Ensconced in palatial surroundings (whether he uses them or not) built upon the backs of entrepreneurs and workers employed by them, he seems not to understand that there's no such thing as a free lunch. He has total control of at least $34 million in the Vatican and Holy See besides all the finances in parishes throughout the world since they are directly accountable to him—money given through entrepreneurship, since the church produces nothing of financial significance.

In his important proclamation for World Peace Day, Pope Francis condemned the “increasing inequality between the rich and poor,” a constant drumbeat of President Obama, who has seen that inequality gap mushroom in his 5-year presidential tenure in the U.S. as he's worked hard and successfully to discourage capitalism. Neither man understands economics, though Obama has become a multimillionaire in a capitalistic society and the Pope seems not to understand that church offerings are tax-deductible and therefore shouldn't be subject to discouragement by Papal pronouncements.

The Pope speaks globally. The president speaks provincially but the issue is the same for both. Robbing Peter to pay Paul (no pun intended) has never worked because mankind is imperfect, the result being that whoever has the most resources, whether abstract or tangible, will gain the ascendancy. Encouraging charity is the way to go but discouraging financing it is counterproductive—just plain common sense.

And so it goes.
Jim Clark