Catholic Capitalist Replies to the Pope

John Ransom
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Posted: Dec 20, 2013 12:01 AM
Catholic Capitalist Replies to the Pope

Dear Holy Father,

I say to you Peace Be with You and Merry Christmas. May God continue to bless your work in spreading the Good News. I ask especially for your prayers for me.

I congratulate you on your recent selection as TIME Magazine’s man of the year. USA Today reports that you edged out Miley Cyrus.

“Time's other 10 finalists were a mixed crew,” says USAToday, “President Obama, NSA leaker Edward Snowden, Syria President Bashar Assad, Iran President Hassan Rouhani, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, gay rights activist Edith Windsor and Miley Cyrus -- the pop singer who made ‘twerking,’ a lascivious, grinding dance move, a household word.”

Of course some in this country would look at this honor as a sideways accolade. And given recent debate regarding your wording of the EVANGELII GAUDIUM, I see their point. On the other hand, the Miley Cyrus reference in USA Today tends to highlight your point.

While there is much to be praised in your exhortation to evangelize, you have many who are confused by what seems deliberate wording that chastises some of the most ardent, church-going Catholics in the United States.

Many are aggrieved by your contention that “some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.”

I am among the ones a little offended.

I’m offended by the inclusion of the words “trickle down theories” as it relates to free markets. It seems deliberately provocative.

Perhaps you meant it so

Of all the economic systems that the world has known, it is only free markets that have encouraged, not by government but through individual liberty, greater justice and inclusiveness in the world.

You might call that “trickle down theories,” but here in America, we call that "history".

To the contrary, I think that it is a little naïve for you, or anyone else, to trust the goodness of those wielding political power and economic power -- as you seem to imply would happen in some alternate system of economics besides capitalism.

In fact, while so-called "trickle down theories" may not have been proven to liberate individuals economically, socialist theories, as some would attempt to paint your alternative, have "never been confirmed by the facts," and have never succeeded "in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world." They have, in fact, proven to enslave, politically, economically, and individually.

As a Catholic in America, I can tell you with certainty that as economic power has been concentrated into the hands of the government, the Church has been a big loser. This is true especially of American Catholics who are under fire both institutionally and individually.

The advantage we see, as Catholics, in a free market system is that no one holds true economic power. At least not for long.

Hence, those in economic control have had little power to prosecute, hinder or mind the Church.

That is changing in the United States and it is not to the advantage of those who believe in Christ.

I am concerned that your words, deliberately aimed at those of us who do support the church both corporately and individually, will be used—as they must be—by those who seek to degrade and nullify the Church in America and replace it with government-inspired, government pasteurized, religion-free charity organization that supports charity for some at the expense of others-- all in a bid for crass power and not for Christ.

Supporting higher taxes, after all, on those who make more than you-- and this is what opponents of free markets wish for-- is not the same as a rich man feeding and clothing the poor. Or even a widow donating out of her want.

Charity, like salvation, is left, I think, to individuals. Some of those individuals are capitalists, perhaps even many of them are. Some of them are socialist as well, but not automatically.

Institutions of government and economics are not moral or immoral. Rather, they are amoral. It is only individuals who are moral or immoral.

And it is only through free markets, encouraged by liberty of the individual that the salvation and liberation you speak of is possible through Jesus Christ.

I’m an admirer—as are most Catholics—of John Paul II, who, like you, also took exception to materialism and the outsized capitalism of the modern world, especially in America.

The enemy here is a system of thought—materialism—as opposed to a system of economics.

The alternative – a socialism in which the Church is replaced by the state as the bearer of alms— is just as material and even less attractive than the worst features of capitalism.

The materialism of the socialist state is threatening the Church here in America and the individuals who make up the church.

The materialism of capitalism will admit of God. The materialism of socialism has no god or admit no power but that of Mammon.

We ask for your help and prayers in restoring the Church to us and helping protect freedom of religion, and opposing freedom from religion posing as charity and social justice.