Columnist: Pope's words rooted in Christ, not Marx [CNA]


Washington D.C., Dec 10, 2013 / 02:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Columnist Kathleen Parker has said free market-supporting conservatives are wrong to attack Pope Francis as a Marxist, saying his comments on economics are a call to remember the excluded.

“What is the successor to St. Peter supposed to do when he sees so much suffering even in free-market societies? Quote Ayn Rand?” Parker wrote, citing the 20th century atheist writer who defended capitalism claiming that selfishness is a virtue.

Parker’s Dec. 6 USA Today column said that every commentator “seems to have his own special version of Pope Francis,” with liberals seeing him as “a crusader for social justice,” while conservatives “fear he just might be a commie.”

She focused her remarks on several conservative commentators who reacted to the Pope’s comments on economics.

Radio host Rush Limbaugh contended that the Pope’s words about greed and inequality in his recent document “Evangelii Gaudium” were “pure Marxism” and “dramatically, embarrassingly, puzzlingly wrong.”

Parker countered that communist thinker Karl Marx and Pope Francis were coming from very different perspectives.

“Christianity is based on Christ, while Marxism advocates abolition of religion and acceptance of atheism. One receives grace and performs acts of charity; the other abjures grace and systematizes penury.”

The columnist also criticized Adam Shaw, a Catholic and news editor for who compared the Pope to President Obama, contending that both men “pander to enemies.”

Shaw said Catholics “should be suspicious when bastions of anti-Catholicism in the left-wing media are in love with him.” He claimed that the Pope “likes to apologize for the Catholic Church, thinking that the Church is at its best when it is passive and not offending anyone’s sensibilities.”

Parker questioned whether Pope Francis’ actions show passivity.

“The man is an activist, a street-worker, a foot-washer and an evangelizer. There’s nothing passive or pandering about him. And it would appear that Francis is quite willing to offend sensibilities.”

She said that the Pope’s criticism of “trickle-down” economics and its “absolute faith” that markets will be “humane and fair.”

While conservatives are correct that capitalism helps reduce poverty and oppose wealth redistribution, she said, Pope Francis is “challenging our idolatry of money and obsession with things ... a cultural fascination that distracts us from the needy.”

Parker said Pope Francis’ opposition to “a throwaway culture” that easily ignores or discards the unborn or the elderly also warns the financial world about the “collateral human damage” of unregulated markets.

“This is by-the-book Christianity, hardly the moorings of heresy. Yet these Christian sentiments have sent some conservatives reeling to the fainting couch.”
Parker said that Francis is “the Pope, not the president,” and is urging people to follow their conscience.

“No one, Christian or otherwise, can escape the mirror he holds up, his eyes doubtless twinkling in anticipation of his next moonlight adventure, searching for souls in need.”

She said that the Pope “never proposes changing Church teachings, but merely suggests that the Church should be open to all.”

Parker cited his words that the Church is “a place for everyone, with all their problems.”

Full article…


Although this discusses a commentary, there seems to be interest in this topic so I will leave this thread open as long as the discussion follows CAF rules.


Thanks Robert. This columnist’s dispassionate analysis of Pope Francis’ words are real food for thought. It can be hard to retain balance when we are too close to the issues the pope is asking us to think about, but I think that is essential. The Church most often tends to take a more nuanced view of issues, as opposed to a more fundamentalist approach (to right/wrong or good/evil) and I get the sense that this fundamentalist approach is what is feeding the more heated reactions among some non-Catholic brethren.

Sometimes I think we are being too influenced by non-Catholic perspectives - not that they are not entitled to their beliefs - but this sort of approach can be problematic for Catholics because our theology (and consequently, the message from our popes) isn’t like that. “God said it, I believe it, that settles it” doesn’t work for Catholics because for us as Church-official, what God said is not a matter of private interpretation.

I cannot count the number of people I’ve discussed this matter with, who cannot get past this view: “communism = evil, capitalism = good, so why is the pope slamming the good thing and not the evil one?” It’s almost like the two systems are joined at the hip and can never be analyzed separately. I think I see genuine shock and bewilderment in those reactions. Nevertheless, I also think the Pope, like any good father, is duty bound to take his flock (all of us without exception) beyond our comfort zones to a higher point from which we might have a better view of this place in which we stand.


Forgot to add that I think prevalent attitudes to issues of poverty and wealth also seem to be influenced by the “prosperity gospel”, again incompatible with Catholic teaching. Temporal/financial prosperity has, in some contemporary Christian teaching, been linked with a sense that to be right be God is to be prosperous. By extension, to not be prosperous implies a lack of morality/faith - which is why a friend just recently reacted to an example of real poverty in working America by asking: “what are they doing wrong in their lives, to be that poor?” (I’m paraphrasing here).

Small wonder then that Pope Francis’ championing of the poor might seem like ‘sitting down with sinners and tax collectors’…but then again, WWJD?


The article should say SOME conservatives are wrong to attack Pope Francis as a Marxist. And it’s mainly the Protestant conservatives.


I agree with most of this, but I would say it is actually “communism = evil capitalism = neutral.”

One is inherently evil regardless of the intentions of those partaking, and the other can be a means for good or bad depending on the humans involved. It is often said that no system has allowed more poor to raise up out of poverty than capitalism, and that is likely true. It doesn’t mean that it cannot be abused if we make profit our ultimate focus instead of making the betterment of people our focus.


I think it is absolutely stupid that some conservatives have compared Pope Francis’ statements to Marxism. It really disgusts and outrages me! He is the Pope! How on earth could he be for Marxism when the Church has vehemently condemned it?? Pope Francis is most definitely not a Marxist! He is a 100% orthodox Catholic who believes everything that the Church teaches and that is that!

I’m sorry, its just that it really irritates me that some people who are conservative would attack Pope Francis like this. I feel as though I must defend him.


I do not expect protestants to know anything about the social teachings of the Church, though I think it’s a shame they don’t. Unfortunately, too few Catholic do as well.

Other than use of the term “trickle down” in the English language version, which I truly think is a translator’s witting or unwitting mistranslation, (it’s not the same in other languages) I have seen nothing in anything the Pope has said that’s contrary to Church teaching or supportive of Marxism, either one. If one reads the Social Encyclicals, one realizes there’s really no difference between what he has said and what the Popes have said for a long time.

Undue regard for money truly is worship of the “golden calf”, as is any undue fixation on any creature. But the Church has never taught that money is evil or that nobody should ever acquire wealth. On the contrary, the Social Encyclicals all promote the concept of individual and family acquisition of productive, inheritable assets. It has always taught charity as well. It’s a very balanced approach. The Encyclicals (and Pope Francis) do not promote a statist view.

Maybe this will incite at least some people to actually study what the Church teaches.


I feel exactly the same. :thumbsup:


The liberals don’t like him. Their nice treatment of him is on the condition that he will do for them what they want (approve of abortion, divorce, so-called same-sex “marriage”, euthanasia, etc.) which he won’t do. On a different Christian website forum which is dominated mainly by liberal Catholics, I asked them who among them was willing to pledge their unconditional loyalty to Pope Francis. Although I offered my unconditional pledge, not a single one of the liberal Catholics on that website was willing to do this because they are still waiting to see if he will do what they want him to do.

Time Magazine has recently named Pope Francis their “Person of the Year”, but I believe this is their attempt to woo him with flattery hoping that he will become their puppet, and in exchange, they will give him popularity. It’s like how Satan tried to tempt Jesus by offering him all the kingdoms of the world if Jesus would bow down and worship him. They were nice to Pope John Paul II when he was newly elected and tried the same tactic on him until they realized that it wasn’t going to work. Then they turned on him. I expect it will play out the same way.


Exactly. :thumbsup:

The media is treating Pope Francis this way in the (vain) hope that he, like some secular leaders, will bend to their agenda. Unfortunately, the Papacy doesn’t work that way.

Time Magazine has recently named Pope Francis their “Person of the Year”, but I believe this is their attempt to woo him with flattery hoping that he will become their puppet, and in exchange, they will give him popularity. It’s like how Satan tried to tempt Jesus by offering him all the kingdoms of the world if Jesus would bow down and worship him. They were nice to Pope John Paul II when he was newly elected and tried the same tactic on him until they realized that it wasn’t going to work. Then they turned on him. I expect it will play out the same way.

You, Sir, are a prophet. :thumbsup:


The Church condemns adultery and sexual relations outside of marriage and yet we have had Popes with mistresses and children. To assume these men are without flaws isn’t rooted in our teachings or historical reality.

The Pope could be anything he wants to be; his worldview is quite different than North America’s and even Europe’s. I don’t find anything he said particularly egregious either way, and one can find it rooted in our teachings in the Catechism.


There have definitely been popes who had mistresses and children before becoming Pope. There are accusations about others having them while Pope, but there’s no really solid proof of it. It’s an easy accusation for an enemy to make, and some of the popes had a lot of enemies.


Jesse Jackson on Pope Francis:

**Pope Francis raises a profound call for justice and compassion **

Pope Francis is displaying an extraordinary style and passion that demands our attention. He addresses the needs of the poor, embraces outcasts, and loves those on the margins of society. In this recent “apostolic exhortation,” The Joy of the Gospel, the pope raises a moral challenge to both his church and the world.

Like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Pope Francis calls upon people of faith to “go forth” to preach and practice their faith. “I prefer a church,” he writes, “which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a church which is unhealthy for being confined and from clinging to its own security.”

Pope Francis raises a profound moral voice against “trickle-down theories,” which put a “crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power.” We have created “new idols,” he warns, in the worship of money and markets. The result is that “human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded.” We have witnessed “a globalization of indifference,” in which the poor are dehumanized and ignored, he writes.

Read more:,0,3047902.story#ixzz2oDutPT64


“What has happened in the church, and how can it be that a 77-year-old, retirement-bound archbishop from Buenos Aires has captivated the world?”

good question…


We don’t actually know what, exactly, was intended with the use of the term “trickle down”. That term was coined by the political left in order to put an ugly spin on Reagan’s tax cut policies, then later George Bush’s. The term in other languages is different in meaning, and, as an American political idiom used only by one faction, it probably didn’t belong in any pronouncement by the Pope. A lot of the English translations in the liturgy have been spun wrong, but later corrected, so perhaps this will be as well.

It’s wrong, actually, for anyone on the right or the left to assume that the Pope condemns wealth or even income disparities. The problem we have right now is not so much income disparity as such, as it is that a lot of peoples’ income is not keeping up with the cost of living (U.S.) or even with survival (third world). If one is able to provide for his family, his charities and his retirement, he does not, by and large, care or bother to find out what the rich man has.

Much of the third world’s situation is political, even military, and one may reasonably question whether some of those situations can be fixed at all without political change, even by force of arms.

In the U.S., it’s fundamentally a matter of employment. Our labor participation rate keeps going down, even as wall street profits (subsidized by the Fed) go up. As the demand for labor slackens, so do wage improvements. But it also has to be recognized that transfer payments come totally out of labor income; not income from capital. And so, a government that (as now) concentrates transfer payment mostly on people who really don’t need them but who vote, (middle class welfare) and which simultaneously suppresses business expansion through wild and unpredictable policies, is impoverishing labor in two ways.

Other than the unfortunate translation mentioned above, I have yet to see anyone show that Pope Francis’ beliefs or utterances depart in any way from what the Church has long taught.

And there is no political movement on the horizon, and certainly not the current leftism, that does a thing for the truly poor; those who cannot help themselves. In point of fact, the last five years have shown governmental impositions on the truly poor, like “Cash for Clunkers” and the “crowding out” of people who totally rely on Medicaid by adding some 17 million (almost certainly more) to the Medicaid rolls.

We really are in a terrible era in which those holding power are increasingly using that power to buy votes and contributions almost exclusively. I don’t know if Pope Francis will ever address that, but one can hope he will.


I think it is pretty obvious when you watch the Pope in action to understand what he meant. Seems to me that he meant that people need to help the poor. You know, really, really get off their duffs and help the poor. Help the poor even if it is a little painful. Not just make a lot of money with the misguided philosophy that somehow you making a lot of money and being successful helps the poor.

Sorry the church of Rush Limbaugh isn’t what the Pope belongs to.


I very much doubt Limbaugh understood the Pope. There are idiomatic expressions in American politics, and one or more of them drew Limbaugh’s reaction. It’s too bad, but then, it’s very doubtful Limbaugh understands much, if anything, about the Church’s teachings on this subject.

Not many Catholics do, either.

In American politics, expressions like “trickle down” mean opposition to tax relief and an appeal to class animosity. “Income inequality” suggests middle class welfare. “Helping the poor”, to almost everybody, means expanding the distribution of welfare to the able, not better treatment of the unable.

Had Limbaugh known, one can now only wonder what he would have said.


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