Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Pope Francis and Socialism
I would recommend any to read this encyclical, not excluding Pope Francis himself, as it may prove enlightening. It is known as the encyclical against socialism and rightly points out that these advocates of egalitarianism (which Pope Leo at least did not consider a beneficial thing) cloak their maliciousness behind the guise of a charitable impulse to help the poor and he could also see, even in 1878, that these were the enemies of the traditional family unit as well as the obvious truth, then as now, that they were also the enemy of the legitimate monarchs of the world. Pope Leo XIII also listed the past Roman Pontiffs who had condemned these same miscreants, or their ideological forefathers, and their reprehensible ideology which is so ruinous to mankind. Nor would he be the last. Faced with appalling examples of socialism in action in places from Mexico to Spain to Russia, Pope Pius XI similarly condemned it on numerous occasions such as in his 1937 encyclical “Divini Redemptoris” “On Atheistic Communism” in which he denounced the entire collectivist mentality that would make of the individual no more than a cog in the wheel of the great, collectivist machine devoted solely to materialism. He also stated famously in “Quadragesimo Anno” that, “No one can be at the same time a sincere Catholic and a true socialist”.
Part of the trouble with the enforced redistribution of wealth to help the poor, is that it destroys positive feelings on the part of both parties involved. This is totally different from charity which gives the party making the donation a sense of happiness for being benevolent and makes the receiver grateful that someone would freely choose to help them. It is a gift and is appreciated as such. Wealth redistribution by the state, on the other hand, generates no feeling of happiness because it is done by force. Being forced to do something, even to do good, is not charitable and one can take no satisfaction in it. In fact, it builds resentment among the providers that what they earned was forced from them to be given to someone who did not earn it. Likewise, the one receiving is also poisoned by it. Rather than feeling gratitude at receiving a gift, they expect it as something they are entitled to and when it is ever lessened or stopped altogether they feel themselves “robbed” of something which they never earned in the first place because they were taught to feel themselves entitled to the fruits of another’s labor. The only ones who benefit are the state bureaucrats who handle the transaction, always keeping a tidy sum for themselves in the process, a sort of ‘handling fee’ for the government.
*Additional note: Some authors, devout Catholics among them, have warned that this new attitude by Pope Francis could open the Catholic Church up to accusations of hypocrisy since they do not pay taxes, at least in the United States where there is probably the most to be gained if the Church did start having to pay taxes. I would have to say, asking the Pope to practice what he preaches would not be an unreasonable position and would add, just for some context, that when Pope Leo XIII made his remarks, he was the first Pontiff in a very long time who did not have subjects to tax in order to sustain himself. He was living entirely off of charity and still never found the need to give up any of the pomp and ceremony of the papal office (of course, he wasn’t constantly traveling all over the world either, somehow the Church survived quite a few decades without the Pope ever leaving Vatican City). I would not be surprised to hear someone suggest that, because of his support for wealth redistribution by the state, Pope Francis might want to stop accepting the subsidy he receives from Italian taxpayers (which is rather ridiculous considering that the Church in Italy is now taxed, ever since the financial crisis) and let that portion designated for the Church to go to the Italian Republic instead to redistribute to the poor. Of course, I would try to be more helpful and suggest that the Church go back to the much smaller bureaucracy it had before the massive expansion of Vatican II or perhaps stop using the ridiculously named “Pope-mobile” and return to the sedan chair that used no fossil fuels and produced no harmful emissions (since we’re all so environmentally conscience these days). That should help save some money for the poor.