American Republicans and Francis

I am curious as a Canadian how Catholics involved in the Republican Party and the Tea Party reconcile the American values around capitalism and the popes recent critisism of unfettered capitalism…


“Unfettered” is the key. I would think that no one is supporting “unfettered” capitalism, and that such capitalism, practically speaking, is no longer possible. I believe that both parties are opposing what they see as creeping imposition of collectivism, which the Church also opposes (CCC 1885).


I brought this to my husband’s attention last week because he’s a cradle Catholic and a very conservative Republican. HIs response was, he may not agree with the Pope’s politics and that’s ok, but he does believe in his infallibility when it comes to matters of the church. That makes sense to me. Before I started RCIA I always thought the whole Pope thing was weird anyway. How could a mere mortal be infallible? But that was before I understood Apostolic Succession, once that piece of the puzzle was solved lots of things started clicking into place.

Although I consider myself an independent rather than a Republican, I have tended to vote and support Republican candidates more in recent years - mostly due to the Democrats slavish support of abortion and same-sex marriage. That being said, I do not find any conflict in the goals of **most **Republicans and the recent words of Pope Francis.

Any politically driven course of action can be misused. Capitalism can certainly be used to exploit people and I think Pope Francis is wise to remind us of that. Progressivism as we have seen in the last few decades, can be used to strip individuals of their dignity and liberty. The Popes’ teachings have always been that the latter is also a grave evil.

In the US, when it comes to elections, we are pretty much a two party system. The Tea Party isn’t really a separate party, it’s an influence group that consists of Republicans and conservative libertarians. The two parties we have do not represent the ideals of most Americans and the Tea Party has come to the fore as a result of that disconnect.

I think your husband’s view is typical for many of us. We tend to compartmentalize, which makes it easier to pick and choose, or rationalize the aspects of Church teaching we find disagreeable. I do it too.

That said, I do not think it is wise to say, “Oh, the Holy Father is just being political here. I can ignore him where this is concerned,” or, “Clearly, the Holy Father is talking about some other nation and some other economy. He can’t be talking about the good old USA!” Many Catholics said the same thing about Pope Paul VI when Humanae Vitae was issued. “Stay out of our bedrooms, Holy Father. Stick to things you know about.”

When I do this (and I sometimes do), I see it is pride at work. I’m like a little kid again, “You can’t tell me what to do!” The Church, however, teaches that no aspect of our lives, even (or maybe especially) politics and the economy, can be excluded from our life of Faith.

I agree that “unfettered” is the key word. That was my sense as well. Canada also is involved in the market economy. It seems though that useful programs such as universal healthcare, immigration reform, etc. seem to be such sore points for Americans. It is difficult as a non-American to understand where the resistance is.

I know that it is partly 'no big government" but personally I don’t care whether government is large or small, but rather “effective” government…I fear that this polarizations between Democrats and Republicans are creating an implosive effect on the American Nation…anyways, off topic here… However, I agree with you extreme communisim (socialism) or extreme free enterprise are equally dangerous… it is about as much freedom as possible without the neglect of the greater good which I think government is supposed to be bout…


Exactly, I am not sure what is “political” about what the Pope is saying, he is simply following the scripture and church teaching…funny how we pick and choose and then justify those rationalizations. Jesus himself was political in the sense of affecting the balance of power in his time and his place. And really, you said it, Paul VI, JP II also made some pretty political statements… we have been taught about the Soviet Union and now we are being taught about the other great power and love for money and capitalism… balance, taking what we need and living a bit more a range that the earth can sustain…imagine…


I tend to more conservative than not and I didn’t have any issue with what the Pope said. I do think that we can lose sight of what is most important in life (Christ) and replace that with money or the pursuit of money.

I think that the reaction of some conservative talk show hosts to the Pope is a bit predictable because they don’t see him as a man of God but as a politician. That reflects the fact that politics IS their religion and they can’t separate the call of Christ from their political beliefs.

I do find it curious, though, how hard the media is working to make the Pope’s statements political. Liberals like to bring up things like the Pope’s comments about unfettered capitalism to throw in the face of conservatives while ignoring the Pope’s strong stance on things like abortion and same-sex “marriage”.

Many liberals have the same problem that some conservatives have in that they don’t have Christ as the center of their faith. They worship the god of choice (Planned Parenthood) and tolerance (same-sex “marriage”).



As a general rule, US conservatives see ‘big government’ as highly ineffective.

Let me give you an example. Recently in Colorado we’ve had a string of subzero temperatures and many impoverished people don’t have adequate coats. So to help there are a couple routes. First have the government tax people to provide for the less fortunate, individuals could donate money to charities, or people could donate coats to be distributed.

Given the way US government works if they took $1000 in taxes to buy coats they would end up with $500 worth of coats that likely are not right for the needs and would be delivered in July. Going through charity likely 90% of the $1000 would make it to those in need and the coats might be available in a week or so. Finally a capitalist might leverage their buying power to purchase lots of coats at a discount and end up with $1300 worth of coats if bought at retail. In that case the coats might be available within a day or two.

I think one thing that is often over looked is that conservatives tend to give more to charity then progressives or liberals. One group believes that we should help people directly where others think that the government is the best intermediary.

I would agree that capitalism that seeks to make people subservient is not good, but turning everything over to government control and supervision is even worse. Government for national defense or infrastructure is fine, but everything else should be done as close to the local level as possible. If you look at US history you will see that it is often capitalist that built schools, hospitals and funded many social institutions so the concept that capitalist equates to greed and lack of concern for our brothers and sisters is just not in keeping with reality.

A week ago, I was talking with an Irish priest. He is from a missionary order and has spent the last 30+ years working in Central and South America and, prior to that, he grew up in Ireland.

His take on the Exhortation was that the economic section is mostly directed at Latin America.

Fr said that, in most of Central and South America, corporations are generally free to do what they like, with the government’s role being simply to collect taxes, and\or bribes. There are little to no environmental controls, no inspections (other to collect bribes) and little to no worker safety laws.

He had a specific quote " Only a fool would think America have no regulations. American companies are as heavily regulated as any I have seen in Europe"

US Capitalism might seem ‘unfettered’ to some in Europe or Canada, but it is not, it’s not even close. And I have not seen any US Republican or Tea Party member advocate a move to ‘unfettered’ Capitalism.

That’s a good point. I remember thinking something similar when we had the big dust up about Pope Francis saying we shouldn’t “obsess” about abortion. He pointed out that we have to also care for the mothers and the children. I know many people who work tirelessly in the pro-life movement bristled at that since we DO spend countless dollars and hours caring for mothers and babies, not just fighting abortion. But that’s not the case everywhere in the world and the Pope’s words were for the world, not just for the U.S.

I’m still trying to figure out where the whole perceived opposition to “unfettered capitalism” is found in the document (although I have no doubts that Pope Francis is opposed to it). I haven’t finished reading the document yet, but I have done a word search on it, and neither “unfettered” nor “capitalism” are in it.

And I agree with Brendan’s priest friend – anyone who thinks that American capitalism is “unfettered” is suffering from a severe disconnect from reality.

As you see they rely on denial.

I think they just ignore it or rationalize it away.

What about that Irish priest that I mentioned, was he in denial as well?

He’s got no 'horse in the race" so to speak, but rather is a European who has spent a large portion of his life in the Pope’s homeland.

If the US is ‘unfettered’ Capitalism with it’s EPA and OSHA and corporate reporting requirements, what is the term that best describes the level of restrictions on corporations in the Latin American countries?

Many social justice issues apply mainly to 3rd world nations, where there is a hungry populace that is very easy to exploit. Yet, we must balance their hunger and exploitation, as it is not better for them to have no work at all and remain hungry. This is an opportunity for the Church hierarchy to be actively involved with government and business on a moral level so as to minimize the abuses.

As much as Canada and the US are similar, at least as much are they different. It is the crown versus the rejection of the crown. In the US, hatred of the crown (and by extension, any big government) is in the nation’s DNA. Conversely, the Church opposes all forms of collectivism, which always favor the state as supreme and tends to oppress the individual.

We see from the rationing, ‘death panels’ and massive government control, that the panacea health care law we are rushing headlong into is far from ideal, and far from what was promised. Personally, I see an ulterior motive, as many of the law’s proponents were radical progressives. As well, if any private healthcare organization demonstrated the absolute ineptitude of this government system’s launch, no one would remain in it. Competition would arise. We now have no choice.

No one minds the benefits of health care - the question is how and who pays for it, and who has control. To relinquish control of one’s health care from the self to the government will rarely if ever bring good results.

These threads always degenerate into a liberal versus conservative waste of time. As to the OP, I wait to see a government that has improved anything after asserting control over it.

Trickster: the Tea Party rose to prominence in response to Republican overspending under George W Bush. It was/is primarily a movement that is opposed to excessive government spending and deficits that would saddle future generations with huge amounts of debt. Thus you seem to be speaking from ignorance when you conflate the “tea party” with “unfettered capitalism.” I will take your comments at face value and assume (for now) that you are genuinely interested in the truth and not interested in merely smearing the Tea Party.

So its: “ho hum, we were taught that the Soviet Union was evil and now we’re being taught that the US is evil too, like the Soviet Union.” :confused: Your statement is simplistic and inane - devoid of any real analysis of the reality of the history of the Soviet Union and its system (or the US, for that matter). Oh, and for the record, I don’t think Capitalism is perfect, nor do I think the US is perfect either.


Corki, I’ve noticed that the American left - in the media - have taken the Pope’s words and twisted them to make them seem like he is endorsing leftism. And unfortunately, liberal catholics have wasted no time in participating in the twisting and gloating as if to say, “see, the Pope is a liberal just like us.” Then they complain that everything is politicized.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit