God Bless Cardinal Pell. (And Margaret Thatcher. And, for that Matter, Capitalism.)

 

From an article in the London Spectator describing the changes Pope Francis is making in the curia:

154078-cardinal-george-pellThe Pope has begun his attack on the Curia by placing its scandal-ridden financial structures under the control of a new department with unprecedented powers: the Secretariat for the Economy. Its first prefect is Cardinal George Pell, the conservative former Archbishop of Sydney.

Further

The blunt-spoken Pell is a close friend of Tony Abbott and, like the Australian prime minister, a climate change sceptic. In an interview with the Catholic News Service earlier this month, he said: ‘I remember Margaret Thatcher’s comment, that the Good Samaritan, if he hadn’t been a little bit of a capitalist and had his own store of money, couldn’t have helped. We can do more if we generate more.’ (One can only imagine how this went down with the bishops of England and Wales, whose politics and financial acumen are those of the 1980s public sector.)

Not that the pontiff has inquired into my state of mind, but if he’s going to continue spouting left-wing nonsense on the economy, and his trip to Korea last week indicates that he’s going to do just that, then the appointment of Cardinal Pell, who understands the virtues of economic liberty, makes me feel a lot more at ease.

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  1. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Yes, well, Pell sounds like a much-needed balm — and then you read on and find out he’s reporting “up” to Maradiaga, the head of Francis’s C9 advisers. Oof.

    Maradiaga spouted all manner of left-wing economic hoo-ha at the recent conference on Libertarianism, to which Kevin Williamson responded with a brilliant and powerful rebuke at NRO. I hope you read it, Peter.

    I was also unaware that Francis not only doesn’t speak English, he’s never been to the US. That explains a lot, although his reliance on left-wing priests to spread the Gospel in South American ghettos is of-a-piece, and not all that encouraging.

    Fr. Sirico and Kevin Williamson should be sent on a mission — to Pope Francis.

    • #1
  2. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    Peter Robinson:

    ‘I remember Margaret Thatcher’s comment, that the Good Samaritan, if he hadn’t been a little bit of a capitalist and had his own store of money, couldn’t have helped. We can do more if we generate more.’

    Somebody give me an “Amen!”

    • #2
  3. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    Western Chauvinist:

    Fr. Sirico and Kevin Williamson should be sent on a mission — to Pope Francis.

     Absolutely.  If Paul Ryan is available, he he join them.

    • #3
  4. douglaswatt25@yahoo.com Moderator
    douglaswatt25@yahoo.com
    @DougWatt

    All hope is not lost with the appointment of Cardinal Pell and what would be even be better now would be if he sought Archbishop Chaput’s advice on Church and State, especially if Pope Francis decides to visit the U.S.

    • #4
  5. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    I wouldn’t get my hopes up.  He’s being investigated as part of a Church cover-up of abuse going back decades and the general feeling is that he’s been promoted sideways out of the country to get him out of the media eye.

    • #5
  6. AIG Member
    AIG
    @AIG

    Pope Francis, like every good communist, likes to have a capitalist run his finances. It’s other people’s finances he feels liberal about.

    • #6
  7. user_3444 Coolidge
    user_3444
    @JosephStanko

    Western Chauvinist: and then you read on and find out he’s reporting “up” to Maradiaga, the head of Francis’s C9 advisers.

    Not exactly.  Pell is a member of the C9, and Maradiaga chairs the group.  A chairman has some power to set the agenda and steer a committee, but I’d presume they still make decisions by majority vote. 

    • #7
  8. katievs Member
    katievs
    @katievs

    I’m telling you, those who have interpreted this Pope through the “social justice” lens have misunderstood him all along.  The (true) Catholic notion of social justice is not the leftist notion.
    The long post I wrote  on the subject a year ago seems have been lost in the transition to the new Ricochet, but anyone interested can read it here.

    Here is number 5 in a list of 12 essential differences I point to:

    For the left, “social justice” is first and last about the political order. It is achieved through the application of state power, i.e. by coercion. For the Church, social justice is primarily about the moral order, which is to say, it can only be achieved through freedom. An individual doesn’t become generous by having his money confiscated; a society doesn’t become just through force.

    • #8
  9. katievs Member
    katievs
    @katievs

    Zafar:

    I wouldn’t get my hopes up. He’s being investigated as part of a Church cover-up of abuse going back decades and the general feeling is that he’s been promoted sideways out of the country to get him out of the media eye.

     The general feeling among cynics, you mean.

    • #9
  10. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Hi Katie, yes, that’s probably true.

    • #10
  11. Davematheny3000@yahoo.com Member
    Davematheny3000@yahoo.com
    @PainterJean

    The (true) Catholic notion of social justice is not the leftist notion.

    Katie, I agree with you — unfortunately, a generation or more of poorly catechized Catholics led by far too many priests and bishops desiring the approval of the culture has led to massive ignorance of Church teaching, on “social justice” as well as other important issues. Also unfortunately, I don’t expect Pope Francis to be the one to provide clarity…

    On a brighter note, I think we have more solidly orthodox priests and bishops coming up.

    • #11
  12. user_581526 Member
    user_581526
    @BrianSkinn

    No idea as to the plausibility of this thought, but: what if Pope Francis is more sympathetic to freedom than it appears, but is making a cunning political ploy? That is, making papal speeches with favorable noises toward the prevailing liberal “”justice”” notions (double-double-quotes to indicate word used as liberals use it, instead of the common understanding of it) to increase the favorables of the Catholic Church, while quietly making more freedom-oriented choices in the nuts-and-bolts matters.

    If there’s anything like this going on, we could stand to learn from their example.

    • #12
  13. katievs Member
    katievs
    @katievs

    Painter Jean:

    The (true) Catholic notion of social justice is not the leftist notion.

    Katie, I agree with you — unfortunately, a generation or more of poorly catechized Catholics led by far too many priests and bishops desiring the approval of the culture has led to massive ignorance of Church teaching, on ”social justice” as well as other important issues. Also unfortunately, I don’t expect Pope Francis to be the one to provide clarity…

    On a brighter note, I think we have more solidly orthodox priests and bishops coming up.

     The lack of good formation is bad.  So, it seems to me that what those who have have it should be doing is explaining what the Pope is talking about, not piling on with the ill-informed critics.

    • #13
  14. Davematheny3000@yahoo.com Member
    Davematheny3000@yahoo.com
    @PainterJean

    So, it seems to me that what those who have it should be doing is explaining what the Pope is talking about, not piling on with the ill-informed critics.

    Agreed, but not all of the criticism is ill-informed. I don’t think, for example, that Pope Francis speaks with the clarity and precision of his predecessor. Nothing in what Pope Benedict wrote or said could be interpreted as condoning homosexual behavior, but this Pope’s words have been loose enough to earn him The Advocate magazine’s “Person of the Year” title. And, bless him, I still don’t know what planet he’s on when he said that the Church was “obsessed” with gays, abortion, and contraception. I’ve only known two priests in my life who had the courage to talk about those items. Perhaps his words are true for Argentina, but even if that was the case he ought to speak to the experience of the whole Church, which I suspect is far more like that of the typical American parish: Church teaching on those matters is seldom if ever explained. (Abortion being the one most likely to be mentioned. Contraception? Not likely!)

    • #14
  15. AIG Member
    AIG
    @AIG

    katievs: For the Church, social justice is primarily about the moral order, which is to say, it can only be achieved through freedom. An individual doesn’t become generous by having his money confiscated; a society doesn’t become just through force.

     So why is the Pope calling for a greater role in government in enforcing “freedom to achieve social justice”? 

    Even if what you’re saying is true (there is of course a distinction between how Pope Francis interpret things, and what Catholic “social justice” teaching may be according to you), isn’t the end result the same? They both oppose capitalism. 

    I’ve known plenty of Catholics whose understanding of “social justice” doesn’t go beyond opposing capitalism and calling for more government intervention and redistribution.

    • #15
  16. katievs Member
    katievs
    @katievs

    AIG:

    Even if what you’re saying is true (there is of course a distinction between how Pope Francis interpret things, and what Catholic “social justice” teaching may be according to you), isn’t the end result the same? They both oppose capitalism.

    I’ve known plenty of Catholics whose understanding of “social justice” doesn’t go beyond opposing capitalism and calling for more government intervention and redistribution.

     Catholic social teaching does not oppose capitalism.  It only opposes dehumanizing tendencies within capitalism, or, to put it another way, capitalism dismoored from the good of persons.  Marxism it opposes absolutely. 

    Plenty of Catholics misunderstand the Church’s teaching on social justice.  That’s why I took the trouble to try to explain it my article.

    • #16
  17. katievs Member
    katievs
    @katievs

    Painter Jean:

    Agreed, but not all of the criticism is ill-informed. I don’t think, for example, that Pope Francis speaks with the clarity and precision of his predecessor.

    I never for a second thought he was changing Church teaching on those issues. Catholic teaching on essential moral questions doesn’t change.

     All the more reason we should be taking care to explain what the Church does and doesn’t teach to people who might be confused. 

    But personally, I don’t find the Pope’s words “loose” at all. They’re not scholarly, but they’re clear and pointed. I think what a lot of conservatives don’t like and don’t get is that they’re sometimes pointed at us.

    His words about “not obsessing” on pro-life and marriage issues have changed my heart and my mode of approach with non-Catholic friends. I take them as a gentle rebuke against a too-politicized way of being Catholics in the public square.

    • #17
  18. AIG Member
    AIG
    @AIG

    katievs: Catholic social teaching does not oppose capitalism.  It only opposes dehumanizing tendencies within capitalism, or, to put it another way, capitalism dismoored from the good of persons.

     But that implies that “Catholic social teaching” simply doesn’t understand capitalism. This is demonstrated in how much the Catholic church, and this Pope, talk about “greed” as the main mechanism through which capitalism works. 

    You can’t turn on Catholic radio or watch any Catholic programming without being told every 10 minutes how “greed” runs everything in our society. Not sure where they’re getting that idea from, since capitalism is the opposite of greed. 

    Capitalism works despite greed, not because of it. 

    They misrepresent what capitalism is, and oppose their misrepresentation. 

    The end result is the same: they want more government running things, and less capitalism.

    • #18
  19. Davematheny3000@yahoo.com Member
    Davematheny3000@yahoo.com
    @PainterJean

    Catholic teaching on essential moral questions doesn’t change.

    Yes, which unfortunately is not always understood by those wishing for the Church to get in step with the surrounding culture of our times. I like G. K. Chesterton’s saying that the Catholic Church “is the only thing that saves a man from the degrading slavery of being a child of his age.”   

    We’ll have to agree to disagree regarding Pope Francis’ clarity. I also think that his statement calling for  “the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the state” is simply not one that a conservative like myself is going to agree with, and for good reason: The redistribution of wealth requires a very powerful and intrusive government, one as likely (as we have seen so much lately) to restrict my freedom of religion as well as take my money. Charity is voluntary, taxes are not. I could wish the Pope was calling on Catholics worldwide to be generous and open their hearts and pocketbooks, not calling on governments to rob Peter to pay Paul.


    • #19
  20. katievs Member
    katievs
    @katievs

    AIG:

    katievs: Catholic social teaching does not oppose capitalism. It only opposes dehumanizing tendencies within capitalism, or, to put it another way, capitalism dismoored from the good of persons.

    But that implies that “Catholic social teaching” simply doesn’t understand capitalism. This is demonstrated in how much the Catholic church, and this Pope, talk about “greed” as the main mechanism through which capitalism works.

    Capitalism works despite greed, not because of it.

    They misrepresent what capitalism is, and oppose their misrepresentation.

    The end result is the same: they want more government running things, and less capitalism.

     It sounds to me like you don’t understand Catholic Social Teaching.  Let me ask: Have you studied it at all?
    If no, I know where you can find a handy primer.

    • #20
  21. katievs Member
    katievs
    @katievs

    Painter Jean:

    I also think that his statement calling for ”the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the state” is simply not one that a conservative like myself is going to agree with…. I could wish the Pope was calling on Catholics worldwide to be generous and open their hearts and pocketbooks, not calling on governments to rob Peter to pay Paul.

    The word “legitimate” is key there, though the Pope’s critics typically overlook it. They misunderstand him because they interpret him through a political and economic lens. For instance, as Cardinal he spoke against an immature, paternalistic mode of government with centralized state power. He also opposes (as should all Catholics) a radical libertarianism that rejects any and all government intervention in economics.

    His personal policy preference may go further than American conservatives (like myself) would like. But no one who reads him carefully (against the backdrop of CST) can fairly judge him a statist.

    It would be wrong to think that CST is only concerned with charity. It’s central concern is  justice.

    • #21
  22. Davematheny3000@yahoo.com Member
    Davematheny3000@yahoo.com
    @PainterJean

    The word “legitimate” is key there, though the Pope’s critics typically overlook it.

    I agree the word is key, but it’s also not expanded upon. What does Pope Francis regard as “legitimate” redistribution of economic benefits by the state? This is the sort of looseness that I was referring to earlier — it’s open to wide interpretation, much like the so-called “spirit” of Vatican II (and look at the chaos that brought…). Since we don’t know what he thinks is legitimate and what is not, the statement as it is would be well-received by Occupy Wallstreet and others of that ilk, who will find in it, without even needing to distort his words, support for their agenda. You might well say that the Pope’s words need to be balanced by other statements of his throughout the years which might paint a more accurate picture of his views, but the general public isn’t going to do that. Statements like this are what they hear. So clarity and precision are required — and I don’t see as much of those as I would like.

    • #22
  23. katievs Member
    katievs
    @katievs

    Painter Jean:

    What does Pope Francis regard as “legitimate” redistribution of economic benefits by the state? This is the sort of looseness that I was referring to earlier — it’s open to wide interpretation, much like the so-called “spirit” of Vatican II…. Since we don’t know what he thinks is legitimate and what is not, the statement as it is would be well-received by Occupy Wallstreet and others of that ilk.

    It’s deliberately “loose” in the sense that he’s not calling for particular policy, he’s providing a broad moral framework. It’s supposed to be open to wide interpretation and application. The economic circumstances in the varying regions and countries of the world differ dramatically.

    But in all times and places, to be properly humane, economics must be concerned with the common good and with the dignity of the person. Hence, radical libertarianism is out. Economic absolutism is out.

    Forget “spirit of Vatican II.” that’s a red herring that Pope Emeritus Benedict put decisively to rest. 

    And who cares if his remarks are well received by Occupy Wallstreeter types? If anything, we should be glad they’re paying attention to the Pope.

    • #23
  24. AIG Member
    AIG
    @AIG

    katievs: It sounds to me like you don’t understand Catholic Social Teaching.  Let me ask: Have you studied it at all? If no, I know where you can find a handy primer.

     That doesn’t address anything I said, now does it. 

    It’s deliberately “loose” in the sense that he’s not calling for particular policy, he’s providing a broad moral framework. It’s supposed to be open to wide interpretation and application.

    Right. He is deliberately leaving it broad and meaningless enough so that it can mean whatever anyone wants it to mean. 

    What he really means, however, doesn’t take a whole lot of thinking to figure out. Just read his 600 different speeches to date on the evils of capitalism and “greed”. 

    A “broad moral framework” based on denouncing those who create wealth, and on “legitimate” government redistribution to take away from the “greedy”.

    He doesn’t need to provide any policies. He’s in the business of providing “moral guidance”, after all.

    • #24
  25. AIG Member
    AIG
    @AIG

    katievs: But in all times and places, to be properly humane, economics must be concerned with the common good and with the dignity of the person. Hence, radical libertarianism is out. 

     Which, again, demonstrates a deep lack of understanding of economics, capitalism or this thing you call “libertarianism”. Libertarianism isn’t an economic methodology. It’s nothing but a strawman argument. 

    If you want to juxtapose with something, do so with economics. 

    Words like “common good”, “dignity”, “humane”…have no meaning. Of course, neither do the words “social justice”, or “legitimate”. 

    These are all empty words which can mean whatever they want to mean to whomever. 

    Down to earth, however, what economics says is that you can only make money by providing a service to people who want or need that service. Hence, by providing well being for other people, is how you provide well being for yourself. 

    John Calvin got a lot closer to understanding this concept. The catholic church has not gotten there yet.

    Which is why the Protestant West flourished in freedom and riches, while the Catholic world languished in statism and stagnation. This 1 single distinction on the role of the “capitalist”, may have been it.

    • #25
  26. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    AIG:

    katievs: But in all times and places, to be properly humane, economics must be concerned with the common good and with the dignity of the person. Hence, radical libertarianism is out.

    Which, again, demonstrates a deep lack of understanding of economics, capitalism or this thing you call “libertarianism”. Libertarianism isn’t an economic methodology. It’s nothing but a strawman argument.

    If you want to juxtapose with something, do so with economics.

    John Calvin got a lot closer to understanding this concept. The catholic church has not gotten there yet.

    Which is why the Protestant West flourished in freedom and riches, while the Catholic world languished in statism and stagnation. This 1 single distinction on the role of the “capitalist”, may have been it.

    I can’t possibly like this comment enough.
    And this: Capitalism works despite greed, not because of it.

    • #26
  27. Davematheny3000@yahoo.com Member
    Davematheny3000@yahoo.com
    @PainterJean

    It’s deliberately “loose” in the sense that he’s not calling for particular policy, he’s providing a broad moral framework. It’s supposed to be open to wide interpretation and application.

    It is true that Catholic social teaching is meant to provide a broad moral framework or guidelines rather than particular social prescriptions. But that doesn’t explain his statement whatsoever — he is advancing a particular policy, namely, that states should redistribute wealth (“economic benefits”). And the use of the word “legitimate” suggests that there are specific methods to be applied to the enforcing of that policy that are good, which implies that some methods of redistributing wealth are not good.

    • #27
  28. katievs Member
    katievs
    @katievs

     AIG:

    That doesn’t address anything I said, now does it.

    Not a particular thing, but a general thing. It appears, from your comments, that you haven’t studied CST at all. You are dealing not with the real thing, but with a caricature. You are denouncing what you haven’t taken the trouble to understand.

    He is deliberately leaving it broad and meaningless enough so that it can mean whatever anyone wants it to mean.

     “Broad” is not meaningless. A rejection of radical libertarianism and economic absolutism is not meaningless. A reminder that economic policy has to be framed within moral limits and with an eye to the common good is not meaningless.

    He denounces greed, as he should. (Don’t you? I do.) 

    • #28
  29. katievs Member
    katievs
    @katievs

    Painter Jean:

    It’s deliberately “loose” in the sense that he’s not calling for particular policy, he’s providing a broad moral framework. It’s supposed to be open to wide interpretation and application.

     — he is advancing a particular policy, namely, that states should redistribute wealth (“economic benefits”). And the use of the word “legitimate” suggests that there are specific methods to be applied to the enforcing of that policy that are good, which implies that some methods of redistributing wealth are not good.

     I think you are reading more into an out of context quote than is justified, considering the  body of CST which alone provides its just interpretation. He doesn’t say states should redistribute wealth. He has in places explicitly rejected centralized, coercive government.
    A key principle of CST is “subsidiarity”, remember.
    And, you’re right, some methods of redistributing wealth are not good. Some are. CST affirms that free markets are generally the best way of distributing wealth.
    The state has a vital role to play in protecting free markets, in restraining crony capitalism and other bad actors, in providing for the helpless (for instance through tax policy), etc.

    • #29
  30. Davematheny3000@yahoo.com Member
    Davematheny3000@yahoo.com
    @PainterJean

    Forget “spirit of Vatican II.” that’s a red herring that Pope Emeritus Benedict put decisively to rest. 

    Oh, would that that were true! No, the “spirit of Vatican II” is alive and well and kicking. The diocese of St. Paul/Mpls. has plenty of ongoing liturgical nightmares (think big puppets) and massive dissent. Frankly, it doesn’t help when the Holy Father himself chooses to disregard the instructions in the GIRM by washing the feet of women on Holy Thursday, thus giving the green light to Father Happy Clown Face to bring in even more fun stuff to make Mass really fun and entertaining.

    • #30

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