I’m a Protestant. I’m a Protestant for a lot of really good theological reasons.
I’ve got nothing against Catholicism; parts of my family are Catholic, as are a strong plurality of my friends. Like a lot of Protestants, I admired John Paul 2, not leastly because he seemed to not only recognized that all Christians were on the Jesus Team, but that Protestant beliefs were also a path to salvation.
But I’ve wondered sometimes; if the colonies had been majority-Catholic, would there have been an American Revolution?
I ask it when I read things like this; one of the Pope’s top advisors rips on “liberartarian” beliefs and the free market.
The pope, [Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez] Maradiaga said, grew up in Argentina and “has a profound knowledge of the life of the poor.” That is why, he said, Francis continues to insist that “the elimination of the structural causes for poverty is a matter of urgency that can no longer be postponed.”
“The hungry or sick child of the poor cannot wait,” the cardinal said.
So far, so good.
“Solidarity is more than a few sporadic acts of generosity,” he said.
Instead, he said, solidarity with the poor, as envisioned by Catholic social teaching, calls for “dealing with the structural causes of poverty and injustice.”
And when people talk “structure”, they’re talking “political solutions”.
And when you talk “political solutions” to economic “injustice”, you’re inevitably talking top-down, government solutions.
A charismatic churchman who speaks fluent English, Maradiaga was animated in his criticism of the effects of today’s free market capitalism and he peppered his remarks with digs at economic conservatives.
Trickle-down economics, he said, is “a deception,” and he declared that the “invisible hand” of the free market — the famous theory advanced by the 18th-century philosopher Adam Smith — was instead being used as a cruel trick to exploit the poor.
The world is full of cruel tricks, when you’re poor.
But the free market has virtually eliminated widespread starvation (in parts of the world that have a free market), government, thetop-down solution to “infrastructure problems” inevitably makes things worse for the poor, while enriching the administrative class with the graft that always, always follows political solutions to social issues.
Although my Catholic friends my bristle when I say this, I am exceedingly unimpresssed with Pope Francis’ reign, at least in secular and political terms, so far.