Fallibility — Peter Robinson

 

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As a friend, who is, like me, a convert to Catholicism, put it in an email: What is a Catholic to do when the Supreme Pontiff makes statements that are, on the very face of them, preposterous?

(If you disagree with the premise–that is, if you can see some way of constructing the statement such that it isn’t, actually, preposterous–please do say so. I’d be hugely relieved.)

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  1. user_1938 Inactive
    user_1938
    @AaronMiller

    Joseph Stanko: Christian tradition has never upheld this right as absolute and untouchable. On the contrary, it has always understood this right within the broader context of the right common to all to use the goods of the whole of creation: the right to private property is subordinated to the right to common use, to the fact that goods are meant for everyone.

    That is from Saint John Paul II’s Laborem Exercens.

    I’ll have to read that in full when I have time. But I wonder if it distinguishes between what should be and what law enforces.

    There’s no question that we should always be charitable toward our fellow man by means of our possessions, our skills, our attentions, and otherwise. The pivotal question is to what extent individuals and corporations are free to fail in this regard, even at great expense to others. It’s one thing to condemn a man for being stingy and self-centered. It’s quite another to seize his possessions when he fails to share.

    The possession of land is somewhat different. From what I understand, European laws are more tolerant of strangers passing through a person’s land or even camping there. This is a bit similar to “public” lands in America (or should be, rather) in that land not in use may be enjoyed by all in ways other than building upon it.

    Ultimately, property laws should be consistent with laws regarding the failure of bystanders to assist persons in need of critical medical care. Immoral and illegal should not be identical standards.

    • #61
  2. user_96427 Contributor
    user_96427
    @tommeyer

    Joseph Stanko: Why do people keep mentioning “economic illiteracy” when it’s not even a statement about economics?

    Because comments like Francis’s are premised on the idea that becoming wealthy is only possible by exploiting or harming others, usually the poor.  This is factually incorrect.

    • #62
  3. user_96427 Contributor
    user_96427
    @tommeyer

    Joseph Stanko:

    Evangelii Gaudium:

    The need to resolve the structural causes of poverty cannot be delayed, not only for the pragmatic reason of its urgency for the good order of society, but because society needs to be cured of a sickness which is weakening and frustrating it, and which can only lead to new crises.

    Yet another example of Francis’s confusion on these matters: poverty is the factory default for humanity.  It’s through work and prudence — individual, familial, and civilizational — that we climb out of it.

    • #63
  4. user_385039 Inactive
    user_385039
    @donaldtodd

    Son of Spengler: #39 “But this tweet goes well beyond a “mistake”. It reveals a belief in an anti-property rights collectivism that is at best fatuous, and at worst evil. I would have hoped the leader of a major world religion could tell the difference between right and wrong.”

    The tweet read: Inequality is the root of social evil.

    Noting that the Church stood up for property rights, and that Francis’ tweet says nothing about property rights, I would suggest that you have read into his statement something that is not there.  Such thinking is fatuous at best.

    • #64
  5. Look Away Inactive
    Look Away
    @LookAway

    Mendel, my situation mirrors yours exactly. Last year my last Brother-in-Law succumbed and now I am also, alone.  Next week I face another dinner with my Wife and her Priest, a truly wonderful man,  to discuss my immortal soul. If I thought about conversion this Pope has brought me back to reality, primarily for the reasons that you outlined.

    • #65
  6. Son of Spengler Contributor
    Son of Spengler
    @SonofSpengler

    Donald Todd:

    Son of Spengler: #39 “But this tweet … reveals a belief in an anti-property rights collectivism that is at best fatuous, and at worst evil. …

    The tweet read: Inequality is the root of social evil.

    Noting that the Church stood up for property rights, and that Francis’ tweet says nothing about property rights, I would suggest that you have read into his statement something that is not there. Such thinking is fatuous at best.

    This tweet does not come in isolation. Taken with Francis’s other statements, it reinforces a pattern of collectivist thinking.

    But even on its own, the tweet is objectionable. If inequality causes social evil, then it is evil for someone to possess more than anyone else. As a society, should we look away from this evil, or try to remedy it? Should we stand by as people (evilly) hoard their wealth? If our laws allow this evil to persist (by protecting property), doesn’t that make the laws evil too? Unless a person is entitled to do evil things and benefit from evil, calling inequality evil means that their property rights are limited to owning only as much as the next person.

    • #66
  7. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    George Savage:

    …The equality realized by the Derg remains largely undisturbed nearly a quarter-century after communism’s evanescence as a global force for hope and change.

    I doubt that Pope Francis realizes that Ethiopia’s forty-year obsession with equality has united Addis Ababa residents in squalor; uniformly denying millions adequate shelter, sanitary facilities, clean water, basic healthcare or paying jobs.

    This assessment becomes even stronger when you move from an economist’s metrics to the ones Francis uses. Recall Francis’ regular definition, examples he has given in multiple speeches, in Evangelii Gaudium, and on Twitter, of an economy of exclusion and inequality as one that includes financial news but not the obituaries of homeless people, and as one in which people do not throw away food.
    Say what you like about the Derg, but no one can deny that instances of Ethiopians throwing away food were minimized under the government, and active steps were taken to prevent the accurate reporting of the financial news. It is possible that no society on earth has ever has a strong a balance in favor of reporting the lives and deaths of poor people against the movement of markets as Ethiopia enjoyed.

    • #67
  8. user_86050 Inactive
    user_86050
    @KCMulville

    Tom Meyer:

    Because comments like Francis’s are premised on the idea that becoming wealthy is only possible by exploiting or harming others, usually the poor. This is factually incorrect.

     Where do you get this premise from? Who said that Francis assumes that becoming wealthy only happens by exploiting someone else?

    BTW – if there is an undeniable quote where he says that, I’ll listen. But that isn’t Catholic teaching, and if Francis said it, he’s wrong. I’m assuming he’s simply repeating standard Catholic teaching.

    • #68
  9. user_86050 Inactive
    user_86050
    @KCMulville

    Son of Spengler: If inequality causes social evil, then it is evil for someone to possess more than anyone else. 

    That’s what I mean. This was a tweet, devoid of nuance. So, precisely because it’s devoid of nuance, you can’t treat it in the absolute. When Francis says “inequality,” you can’t present that as if Francis means an absolutely level amount of money, and then proceed from that unrealistic assumption. 

    The tweet itself isn’t an economic critique of capitalism. Critics are immediately jumping to the conclusion that he’s making a drive-by comment on the Piketty economic treatise. It’s become obvious that the term “inequality” has been programmed to trigger a reference to economic theory, and having been triggered, the critics all start from there. 

    But don’t take my word for it … look at the  tweet! 

    Before we even get to the economics of it, the statement is a standard definition of injustice. Injustice is treating people differently. Unfairly. You favor one group or individual, and deny it to others. We can’t begin to discuss the justice of economies unless we start from the same understanding of justice.

    • #69
  10. Severely Ltd. Inactive
    Severely Ltd.
    @SeverelyLtd

    KC Mulville:..I’m assuming he’s simply repeating standard Catholic teaching.


    The tweet is standard Catholic teaching?

    • #70
  11. douglaswatt25@yahoo.com Moderator
    douglaswatt25@yahoo.com
    @DougWatt

    Two problems with the tweet. The first is that as in any statement or conversation before the argument or debate begins terms have to be defined. The question becomes what do you mean by social injustice? For example are you referring to the caste system in India, the treatment of Christians in Syria?,…etc. The second problem is that the reader of the tweet responds to a statement by supplying their own definition and by doing so engages in an argument of their own making. Social injustice has now become economic injustice, conclusion the Pope is a Marxist.
    My personal preference would be that the Pope does not use twitter but alas for me the Church has been in existence for 2000 years without asking for my advice.
    As far as the criticisms of  Pope Francis being a Marxist are concerned the Argentines themselves are divided. Some claim he supported the right others the left.
    There is a statement attributed to St. Thomas Aquinas; Very few men are swayed by a logical argument, far fewer men can construct one.

    • #71
  12. Son of Spengler Contributor
    Son of Spengler
    @SonofSpengler

    KC Mulville: This was a tweet, devoid of nuance. So, precisely because it’s devoid of nuance, you can’t treat it in the absolute. When Francis says “inequality,” you can’t present that as if Francis means an absolutely level amount of money, and then proceed from that unrealistic assumption.

     Sorry, but words mean things. And if you’re a religious teacher, people pay attention to your words. He’s under no obligation to tweet, and under no obligation to use those particular words. Should we take his words seriously, or not?

    • #72
  13. user_333118 Inactive
    user_333118
    @BarbaraKidder

    In response to Aaron #61:
    The right to private property is the underpinning of a free society.  It cannot be ‘pruned’ to make compromise with the state without encroaching on that freedom and causing harm.
    Consider Zimbabwe, (formerly prosperous Rhodesia) where property rights are no more;  farms and land have been “taken from the haves and given to the have-nots” and the result has been:  inflation, famine, chaos, crime and terror.
    The government controls the land and the major means of production;  the standard of living has sunk and the people for whom this ‘social justice’ campaign was supposedly waged are certainly not better off.

    • #73
  14. Son of Spengler Contributor
    Son of Spengler
    @SonofSpengler

    KC Mulville: But don’t take my word for it … look at the tweet! Before we even get to the economics of it, the statement is a standard definition of injustice. Injustice is treating people differently. Unfairly. You favor one group or individual, and deny it to others. We can’t begin to discuss the justice of economies unless we start from the same understanding of justice.

     The tweet used the phrase “social evil”. The use of the word “social” sets up a contrast to “social justice”. Taking the tweet as face value, Francis is not talking about standard injustice, but rather “social” injustice, which is an economic phenomenon — the widow, the orphan, et al. who is not a victim of any particular injustice, but whose circumstances (through no fault of their own) put him or her in poverty.

    • #74
  15. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    Joseph Stanko:

    Hartmann von Aue: It’s a fatuous statement betraying profound economic illiteracy.

    Why do people keep mentioning “economic illiteracy” when it’s not even a statement about economics?

     Because the statement was not made in a vacuum and the current discussion of “inequality” in the Western World ™ revolves around “economic inequality.” It is there fore an inference to best conclusion that economic inequality is the inequality of which he is speaking. He would have to clarify it as meaning inequality power dynamics in some other sense if that’s what he meant. 

    • #75
  16. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Doug Watt:As far as the criticisms of Pope Francis being a Marxist are concerned the Argentines themselves are divided. Some claim he supported the right others the left.

     I think that there’s a reasonable degree of consensus on this. Francis is not a Marxist, although he’s friends with Marxists, looks up to Marxists, and takes insights from Marxists. In Argentine politics, he was not a strong partisan, siding with the Marxist authoritarian leftists on some issues and with the fascist/ Peronist authoritarian leftists on other issues.

    The problem comes when Americans with no understanding of Marx conflate the ideas of leftism and Marxism, and the left right spectrum in America with the left right spectrum elsewhere. From any civilized perspective, there was no “right” in Argentina. Both parties were “workers parties”, and revolutionary parties, in the same way as both Republicans and Democrats are, by global standards, capitalist, gun loving, military supporting, overtly religious Christian parties, or the “left” and the “right” in Soviet politics were both Communist.

    There are disagreements about where, precisely, in the middle of Argentine politics Francis lay, but those disagreements are over relatively trivial details.

    • #76
  17. Pseudodionysius Inactive
    Pseudodionysius
    @Pseudodionysius

    Step 1: I doubt Pope Francis writes his English twitter messages. He doesn’t compose in English. That doesn’t mean I agree with the message, but trying to harmonize multiple vernacular translations is a recipe for a headache.

    Step 2: Read the Latin twitter feed: Iniquitas radix malorum

    Step 3: Read Peter Kwiasniewski’s brilliant article 

    Self-Love and the Sin of Avarice
    PETER A. KWASNIEWSKI

    If you remember being taught in grammar school that pride is the root of all sins, or if you are fortunate enough to have studied St. Thomas Aquinas who shows why sins concerning material things are intrinsically less grave, less corruptive, than spiritual sins like envy and sloth, you may want to pull back the reins and exclaim

    “Why does St. Paul go so far as to say that avarice or love of money is the root of all evil?”

    • #77
  18. Pseudodionysius Inactive
    Pseudodionysius
    @Pseudodionysius

    Pope St John XXIII has your back:

    The practical and disciplinary section of Veterum Sapientia is as crystal clear as its doctrine…It decrees that the ecclesiastical ratio studiorum should regain its own distinctive character, deriving from the specific nature of a homo clericus; that substance should thus be put back into the teaching of the traditional disciplines, principally Latin and Greek; and that in order to achieve this, secular subjects which had come in or been expanded through the tendency to copy the secular syllabus, should be dropped or abridged. It lays down that in seminaries, the fundamental subjects such as dogmatic and moral theology should be taught in Latin from Latin textbooks, and that if there were any teachers who were unable or unwilling to use Latin, they should be replaced within a reasonable period. As the coping stone of this Apostolic Constitution intended to foster a general revival of Latin in the Church, the Pope decreed the establishment of a Higher Latin Institute, designed to train Latinists for the Catholic world at large, and to bring out a dictionary of modern Latin.

    • #78
  19. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Hartmann von Aue:

    Joseph Stanko:

    Hartmann von Aue: It’s a fatuous statement betraying profound economic illiteracy.

    Why do people keep mentioning “economic illiteracy” when it’s not even a statement about economics?

    Because the statement was not made in a vacuum and the current discussion of “inequality” in the Western World ™ revolves around “economic inequality.” It is there fore an inference to best conclusion that economic inequality is the inequality of which he is speaking. He would have to clarify it as meaning inequality power dynamics in some other sense if that’s what he meant.

     As Joseph Stanko noted in comment 45, this is a quote from Evangelii Gaudium. He has clarified what he meant by inequality.  Start at paragraph 52 and you will find him talking about rich and poor, but also about social inequality, such that the deaths of poor people receive little attention in the media. It also goes into his food issues and such. At paragraph 76 he switches topic to some Christian stuff, but then he returns to his views on inequality from 186, with the final paragraph about Christian demands regarding the “distribution of wealth” coming in 218. Do read it all.

    • #79
  20. user_86050 Inactive
    user_86050
    @KCMulville

    Son of Spengler:

    Sorry, but words mean things. 

    Yes, they do. But they don’t mean whatever the listener wants to make them mean.

    The standard definition of injustice is not treating people equally. If you give a job to the English guy but refuse to consider the Irish guy, you’re not treating them equally. That’s what the word means. (h/t Mark Wilson)

    The tweet – as the words said – was that inequality is the root of social evil. If instead the words were : “Injustice is what causes social evil,” no one would have batted an eye. And yet, used in this way, injustice and inequality are interchangeable. 

    This is just the first step in a larger argument. But please – wait until he says the next assertion before condemning the argument as a whole. We’ve only gotten to the first premise. This premise (inequality = injustice) is, if anything, banal. 

    If pattern holds, Francis’ next assertion is that under capitalism (not in theory, of course, but in current practice) … the poor not only have less of an opportunity … they effectively have no opportunity, unlike their wealthy fellow citizens. That’s when we’ll have more to battle over.

    • #80
  21. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Pseudodionysius: Step 2: Read the Latin twitter feed: Iniquitas radix malorum

    That’s even worse!!!!   That translates as “Inequality is the root of all evil”.  At least the English Tweet tried to hedge it’s bets with the addition of “social”.

    Also, once again, doesn’t that directly contradict cupiditas radix malorum?

    After all, how can two different things be the root of all evil simultaneously?

    • #81
  22. Pseudodionysius Inactive
    Pseudodionysius
    @Pseudodionysius

    This is a revealing interview with one of the best prelates in Rome today. Note Cardinal Burke’s tangible discomfort in discussing certain topics, the kind of discomfort exhibited by men who are reluctantly constrained by their own honesty. The most important statement of the interview is that Evangelii Gaudium is not, in his opinion, intended to be “a part of the papal magisterium”, which he repeats emphatically, as if to reassure the Catholic world. The interview begins at around 9:00 minutes.

    • #82
  23. user_96427 Contributor
    user_96427
    @tommeyer

    KC Mulville:  Where do you get this premise from? Who said that Francis assumes that becoming wealthy only happens by exploiting someone else?

    I do not have a direct quote and am taking it as an assumption.  It’s utterly consistent with everything economic I’ve ever heard Francis, which always seems to confirm my impression that he’s a sort of soft, European/Latin American socialist on economic matters.  The portions of Evangelii Gaudium — some of which Joseph quoted above — were key in forming that impression.

    Whether or not his statements are official church teaching is of less interest to me than the fact that a popular public figure with enormous moral authority is spouting economic nonsense on a regular basis that (I believe) will cause more people to languish in poverty.

    • #83
  24. user_51254 Member
    user_51254
    @BereketKelile

    This is precisely why I have pity on my Roman friends. I just don’t know how you guys do it.

    • #84
  25. Pseudodionysius Inactive
    Pseudodionysius
    @Pseudodionysius

    That’s even worse!!!!

    Iniquitas does not equal inequality which even a cursory review of the Latin Vulgate of the Bible and its reliable English translations would show. That was the reason that I highlighted the Latin phrase, then dovetailed into Dr. Kwasniewski’s article.

    And for those who ask: No, I don’t pay any attention to the Papal twitter feeds.

    • #85
  26. user_86050 Inactive
    user_86050
    @KCMulville

    Tom Meyer:

    I do not have a direct quote and am taking it as an assumption. It’s utterly consistent with everything economic I’ve ever heard Francis, which always seems to confirm my impression …

    Well, you can anticipate my objection here. You have applied your assumption, then used it as evidence to “confirm” that assumption. You’re assuming what you’re trying to prove, and that’s a logical fallacy. It has become an assumption that feeds itself.

    • #86
  27. Pseudodionysius Inactive
    Pseudodionysius
    @Pseudodionysius

    A much more productive use of Peter’s time would be spent on:

    Why Did Vatican II Ignore Communism?

    Various sources have since confirmed that an agreement was reached, instructing the Council not to make any direct attack on Communism. The Orthodox then agreed to accept the Vatican’s invitation to send a number of observers to the Council.

    Being a secret, verbal agreement, concrete evidence has proven elusive, but De Mattei says he found “a handwritten note” from Paul VI in the Vatican’s Secret Archives confirming the existence of this agreement. Madiran also backs De Mattei’s claim, saying that in the memo, Paul VI stated he would explicitly mention “the commitments of the Council,” including that of “not talking about Communism (1962).” Madiran stresses that the date in parentheses is significant, as it refers directly to the Metz agreement between Tisserant and Nikodim.

    • #87
  28. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Pseudodionysius: Iniquitas does not equal inequality which even a cursory review of the Latin Vulgate of the Bible and its reliable English translations would show. That was the reason that I highlighted the Latin phrase, then dovetailed into Dr. Kwasniewski’s article.

    a) The translations I get online for iniquitas vary, but include: unequal, unjust, unfair, violence, partiality.

    b) The translation used by the Vatican’s own English Tweet was “inequality”.

    • #88
  29. user_86050 Inactive
    user_86050
    @KCMulville

    Misthiocracy:

    After all, how can two different things be the root of all evil simultaneously?

    Or three …
    obamapelosireid

    • #89
  30. Severely Ltd. Inactive
    Severely Ltd.
    @SeverelyLtd

    Tom Meyer:

    Whether or not his statements are official church teaching is of less interest to me than the fact that a popular public figure with enormous moral authority is spouting economic nonsense on a regular basis that (I believe) will cause more people to languish in poverty.

    This is the bigger point and mirrors my concern. The damage this guy does to Catholic teaching only concerns me when it impacts the wider world, as it certainly will. Leftists are gleeful about this you can be sure.

    • #90
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