Pope Francis in America

Pope Francis Graffiti

Pope Francis will be giving a speech before Congress on September 24th. One can be forgiven for wondering why the pontiff is giving a speech to Congress. After all, the USA isn’t a Roman Catholic theocracy. So, his speech before Congress appears to be out of place.

In the movie Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Prince John asks Robin Hood …

Americans would not be out of place to ask Francis the same thing. It is understandable that he would want to give speeches to members of the Roman Catholic Church living in America, since he is the international leader of that organization. However, he isn’t the earthly leader of all Christians, let alone the leader of all nations. So, what is the point of him addressing a joint session of Congress?

Before continuing on this topic, something needs to said emphatically: Pope Francis is not a Communist, despite the claims of hate-filled pundits who have redefined Communism in order to satisfy their desire to vilify the pontiff. The claim that Francis is a Communist is so ludicrous that not even Dark Helmet would call for it.

Anyway, Pope Francis might ruffle more than a few Republican feathers whenever he gives his speech to Congress. University of Michigan history professor Brian Porter-Szücs writes, “Catholic conservatives like Francis want to conserve harmonious social relations and a Christian understanding of economic justice, just as they want to conserve what the church takes to be traditional family values. Free market capitalism, in contrast, is all about change: the change that comes when massive retail chains undermine family shops, when agribusinesses destroy small farms, when financial consultants “downsize” a corporation and wipe out a community’s economic foundation.

If Dr. Porter-Szücs is describing the pontiff’s ideology correctly, then Republicans have just cause to disagree with it. The alleged “Christian understanding of economic justice” that Dr. Porter-Szücs mentions isn’t a “Christian” understanding, but rather, it is a “Roman Catholic” understanding, one that plenty of Christians don’t agree with.

Also, free-market capitalism isn’t about change. Instead, it is about people risking their personal capital for the purpose of reaping a profit, which is never guaranteed. In his above-quoted statement, Dr. Porter-Szücs is misidentifying what capitalism does.

For example, massive retail chains succeed because they give customers what they want. If family shops can’t give customers what they want, then those shops go out of business. So, instead of blaming capitalism for the closure of family shops, blame the law of supply and demand.

Likewise, agribusinesses don’t destroy small farms. Instead, the former are more successful at agricultural production than the latter. Small farms are at a higher risk of failure because of environmental issues. Agribusinesses are able to mitigate such risk because of their larger sizes.

Furthermore, if the downsizing of just one corporation wipes out a community’s economic foundation, then the community erred by having all of its economic eggs in one basket. Besides, downsizing is also a result of the law of supply and demand. A business grows when demand grows and shrinks when demand shrinks.

If the pontiff’s understanding of free-market capitalism is indeed the way that Dr. Porter-Szücs describes, then the pontiff is wrong, and the pontiff isn’t promoting any biblical teaching. Honest acquisition of wealth isn’t condemned in the Bible. What is condemned in the Bible is a failure to use one’s wealth to aid people trapped in poverty. Without free-market capitalism, some people might not even have the wealth to use to aid those trapped in poverty.

Now, to be fair to the pontiff, it should be noted that what he will say to Congress is unknown until he actually says it. He might not say anything that Republicans would reject.

Even if his speech before Congress appears to be out of place, that in itself doesn’t mean the speech shouldn’t take place. The pontiff’s beliefs don’t have to be 100% correct before he can share them with America’s political leaders, and he might give them positive food for thought.

No, there isn’t any reason why non-Catholic Christians and non-Christians should listen to Pope Francis. However, a wholesale rejection by them of his trip to the USA isn’t necessary, either.

Granted, Francis will still be condemned on the Internet by people who continue to make the false claim that he is a Communist. When that happens, the pontiff can be consoled by the Waco Kid.

“Tired of the pope.”
Weekend Caption Contest™ Winners September 18, 2015