Sunday, October 13, 2013

Pope Francis, communism, and taking back the streets

Paul Kengor gives his take on Pope Francis', and communism, and advocacy for the poor:

After decades of slandering, attacking, denigrating, and even trying to kill various popes in the Roman Catholic Church — from Pope Pius XII to Pope John Paul II — communists are suddenly embracing a pope. It is Pope Francis. Imagine my shock, as a Catholic convert drawn to the Church initially in large part because of its stalwart anti-communism across centuries, when I did my regular perusal of People’s World and found not one but two pieces exalting the Bishop of Rome. 
The first, published September 27, 2013, was tellingly titled, “Welcome Pope Francis, campaigner against corporate greed!” It began excitedly: “The campaign against corporate criminals and their gluttonous greed just added a new speaker with a very loud voice, Pope Francis I.”...

In short, it’s no exaggeration to say that communists, like secular progressives, are excited about this new pope, and not because they’re suddenly thinking about becoming Catholic. No, they believe he’s more like them. They like him because they think he agrees withthem. They like him because they think he agrees with them not just on “social justice” and economics and the environment, but because they like what they perceive is his de-emphasis on crucial aspects of the Catholic faith that they heartily reject.

I know that some readers (faithful Catholics especially) will not like what I’m reporting here. They’ll insist that this pope is doing a good thing; he’s reaching out to and impacting secularists, agnostics, atheists, progressives, liberals, and even communists. He is indeed doing just that. I appreciate it. In the spirit of Saint Francis, he’s bringing the Gospel to the unconverted in a rapidly secularizing world. I understand. I get it.

In fact, there’s no question that Pope Francis is doing some really good things. His leadership on Syria was superb, and genuinely produced much fruit. He’s preaching forgiveness, mercy, humility, redemption, helping the poor, the Gospel. He is unquestionably pro-life and has made some solid pro-life moves. He evenexcommunicated a dissident liberal priest who supported gay marriage and female ordination. I’m on his side. We’re on the same team.

But, in all due respect and deference, this man needs to be extremely careful about what he’s saying and how he’s saying it, because every imprecise statement is ripe for severe misinterpretation, exploitation, and abuse by enthusiasts and activists on the left.

His statement on abortion, contraception, and gay marriage was utterly butchered and completely misrepresented, most notably by the predictably awful but extremely influential New York Times. Other troubling statements, however, have not been misrepresented at all. A recent one, highlighted at The American Spectator by George Neumayr, was this remark, made to a prominent Italian atheist interviewer: “Each of us has a vision of good and of evil. We have to encourage people to move towards what they think is Good.” Interrupted by the amazed interviewer, Francis doubled down: “And I repeat it here. Everyone has his own idea of good and evil and must choose to follow the good and fight evil as he conceives them. That would be enough to make the world a better place.”

That statement is a jaw-dropper. I’m saddened and sorry to say that I cannot, by any stretch, defend that statement. As a Catholic convert regularly called upon to defend my faith and various papal statements, that’s one I will not be able to explain away. Let’s be honest: That remark is a disaster. I’m stunned to hear it from a pope. It is a major, major problem. All I can do is plea for a clarification or correction, which I’ve yet to hear.

Again, this man needs to be extremely careful about what he’s saying and how it will be received.

And so, back to my original point:

One manifestation of that is this: Communists, of all people, finally believe they have a pope who agrees with them, that they like, that they can embrace, that they can encourage. I knew that Francis’ controversial interview on abortion, contraception, and gay marriage had thrilled liberals, liberal Catholics, dissident Catholics, secular progressives, agnostics, atheists, and socialists. You can read their websites. They love this guy. But communists?

It seems to me that this is not the kind of praise that the pope should want. Unless he takes steps to clarify and be clearer, much of the confusion will be his own fault.

No, no, no, and no.

Francis is the communists' worst nightmare, although some commies may not get it yet. If I were a commie, I'd put Pope Francis' picture on my dart board and spend each waking hour trying to stop him. He is a mortal threat to leftism-- the greatest threat since Blessed (soon Saint!) John Paul II, who took European communism apart like a cheap toy.

Francis is collecting the toy parts, and grinding them to dust.

'How?', you ask.

First, there is no reason to suspect Francis of any personal communist sympathies: he is a fiercely loyal son of communism's worst enemy. No institution on earth has fought communism and various strains of leftism with the tenacity the Church has shown. From Revolutionary France to post-war Poland to communist China in the 21st century, the Church as worked with unmatched fervor and diligence to lay low this murderous atheist heresy.

In Argentina, Archbishop Bergoglio was an incessant thorn in the side of the leftist government. They despised him, not the least for his expropriation of the leftist solicitude for the poor. Presidents Kirchner (husband and wife) treated Bergoglio with transparent contempt:

In 2006, Bergoglio publicly opposed an attempt by the Argentine government to legalize some cases of abortion. In 2007, after the government intervened to allow an abortion for a mentally handicapped woman who had been raped, Bergoglio said that "in Argentina we have the death penalty. A child conceived by the rape of a mentally ill or retarded woman can be condemned to death." Kirchner said in response that "the diagnosis of the Church in relation to social problems in Argentina is correct, but to mix that with abortion and euthanasia is at least a clear example of ideological malfeasance."

Lefties who actually know Bergolio hate the guy. Argentine leftists understand, correctly, that Bergoglio's  very  public message-- that there is an intimate link between protection of the poor and oppressed and protection of the unborn and vulnerable-- is a catastrophe for leftism.

Leftism and communism thrives rhetorically when it has a monopoly on the high ground-- when it is perceived as the only hope for the oppressed and the poor. It is a jealous lie. It is of course a lie-- nothing has cursed and murdered the poor more than the hammer and sickle in power and the leftist abattoirs of the abortion clinics. Ask the Ukrainians and the Cambodians and 50 million American children.

The Holy Father understands that. The real hope for the poor and the oppressed is God and His Church. Pope Francis is proclaiming that truth, and the communists are fools to think that he works to the same ends as they do. He is telling the truth about communism. It is a sick and paltry heresy. He intends to push it aside, and replace the lie with the truth, which is the Lord. 

And he tells the truth about capitalism. There is much evil in capitalism, because capitalism is, basically, the unfettered economics of the human heart. Capitalism is less evil than communism-- much less evil-- but evil, in may ways. That is not to say that the evil in capitalism should be eradicated by the empowerment of the state, and the Church has always taught the principle of subsidiarity, which Bergoglio has long embraced. Social assistance for our brothers must take place on as personal and local scale as prudence permits. The leviathan state is an implacable enemy of the Church. There are situations where stronger laws and state action is needed, but there are many places where the state is the problem and needs to shrink, and what is always needed-- the primary need-- is a change of heart, and a move toward God.

That is what Francis is up to. He's taking back the streets from the left. It is a communist's worst nightmare. 


  1. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyOctober 13, 2013 at 8:07 AM

    Egnor, you have it exactly right.

    Kengor's remarks surprise me, frankly. Yes, El Papa said

    Each of us has a vision of good and of evil.

    What part of that does Kengor disagree with? Is Kengor also "saddened" by the remarks of St Paul, who wrote this to the Romans:

    [Gentiles] show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

    It shouldn't take too long to "explain it away". In fact, it should not be "explained away", but strengthened, reinforced by paragraph 1954 of the Catechism: i.e., natural law “expresses the original moral sense which enables man to discern by reason the good and the evil, the truth and the lie.”

    So yes, if every man and woman chose to follow their conscience and to "follow the good and fight evil as he conceives them", viz. the dictates of the natural law, then the world would be a better place. Not the Kingdom of God, surely, but a better place.

    I guess that's why Francis is Pope, and Kengor is not. :-)


    1. Adm:

      I like Kengor a lot, but I think he's misguided on this. As you have pointed out, what Pope Francis is saying is from the Magesterium, and is often explicitly in the Catechism.

      Liberals have caused enormous problems for the Church, but conservatives can cause mischief too.

      Sort of like the younger and older son in Luke 15.

  2. I am not so sure he's the Communists worst nightmare. I believe he is about the move the church into the "modern era" and make significant changes to the Mass to be more "inclusive" of other faiths and beliefs. I think these changes will make the Mass almost unrecognizeable to traditionalists. It will be said that this is necessary and what God wants. Beware these changes if they happen.

    1. @PT:

      I would be mortified if that were to happen. But there's no suggestion of it in Bergoglio's tenure as archbishop in Argentina.