If you have not heard yet, those with left-leaning political views are rejoicing over a (wrong-headed interpretation of the) recent Apostolic Exhortation. Meanwhile, right-leaners seem to think the pope is Karl Marx. No middle ground, or nuance, per the usual modus operandi of the media and those who follow its direction.
I hesitate to comment on the release at all, as it is generally not at odds with anything many of us already know – everything we do cannot have a dollar price on it; greed is bad; public debt harms the poor; subsidiarity destroys the “rightness” of collectivism; politicians are predators when they pander for votes; the financial system is completely disgusting and despair-causing. These points are a great refresher on our call to give money to and support those who among us who have the least power, money, and ability. Even so, I do think that the Pope made some small error in his proclamation, when equating what we have with free markets. Of course, I will let those smarter than I speak first…
What did bother me was the response of those left-leaning Catholics (many of whom emailed me proclaiming a victory for their ideology) who believe that this is the opportunity to pitch leftism, socialism, or Marxism as the “acceptable” form of Catholic Social Teaching. These are the same types who maintain that the “hierarchy of the Church” is what is wrong with the Church today, now simultaneously praising a top-down authoritarian approach in society in nearly all other circumstances. How convenient the flop toward authority, when it suits their capricious “benevolence.”
And the Pope himself… What, I wonder, does Francis think about the studies showing that nearly a billion people have been lifted out of poverty in the last century due to economic growth? What does he think of the several encyclicals and many popes who have supported property ownership as “inviolable and sacred”? The freedom and dignity of property rights in general have deep roots in Catholic teaching, and where this document contrasts with it (if it does at all in the case it is properly translated), in short, it seems to be, well… just… incorrect.