CREEDE HINSHAW: Pope Francis draws criticism for remarks about capitalism

This article was written by a retired Methodist reverend. I found him to be quite refreshing.

**Welcome to the club, Pope Francis! I’m sure it’s not the first time this servant of Christ has caught flak for preaching about money. But having been elected to the most prestigious pulpit of any religion on earth brings the burden of sharper, more powerful critics, many of whom he stirred up after incisively connecting the dots between wealth, economic systems and poverty. A Georgia columnist even stated that nobody except radical Muslims were advocating what this humble man of God suggested.

Those who preach about money are like those aerialists who seed the clouds with silver nitrate — they might produce rain, but they’re never sure whether it will be a drizzle or a violent thunderstorm. Church members who borrow megabucks to buy houses and who sign multi-year contracts for their smart phone get amazingly crabby, cautious and defensive when invited to pledge to the building fund or support the annual budget. Though pastors speaking about money may appear quite calm in the pulpit, first they’ve probably taken ten deep breaths to nerve them Or maybe something stronger.**

Touching on money matters is usually touchy with congregations

Followed the link. Read the article. It’s good. Thanks for posting.

This is a very good article. It’s easy to miss the point that the author is making, because we live in an increasingly polarized world, where “right” and “left” have retreated into their bastions and keep firing in the general direction of each other without truly making an impact on those of us caught in the middle. And it’s good that Pope Francis, like his illustrious predecessors (Leo XII, Pius XI, Bl. John XXIII, Bl. John Paul II, and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI) is reminding us of what must be this age’s most inconvenient truth. :slight_smile:

Great article. Right on the money! Thank you! :thumbsup:

A good read.

The problem I see with all of this is that there seems to be a cloud around this suggesting that capitalists deny or don’t care about poverty.

In the USA, conservatives who are predominantly capitalist give to charity 4 times as much as their liberal counterparts despite making less money, which in turns means that most liberals also benefit from capitalism and their own labours.

The idea that capitalists are these greedy, scrooge-like persons who wear black sitting on piles of money while thumbing their noses at the poor is out of date and just a talking point for far-left progressives.

The fact is a lot of companies and corporations are very keen on the responsibility they have towards issues of justice, and those claim otherwise haven’t done much research on the subject.

It’s important because on the whole, capitalism is best for the poor and the environment compared to other systems.

What the article talked about is more along the lines of personal, individual generosity, which is what the message of the Gospels was about. So some folks would be wise to stop worrying about how much money others have in terms of politics of envy in the West and look to what they can do to be generous instead of trying to be part of some great historical event of “changing the world”. :rolleyes:

Like we haven’t heard that one before.

Before the “render unto Caeser’s” quote is used, no capitalist I know has ever argued about paying nothing in taxes, which is a whole different issue and involves the same kind of corruption that Pope Francis is trying to end in Vatican City.

Where do people get the idea that the popes are pointing the finger at capitalism itself?

No pope has ever done that. Popes have been very clear to be very specific. Observe.

“unrestrained capitalism”


culture of indifference

These are not attacks or condemnations on Capitalism. I believe that people hear a sermon on greed and immediately put up their defenses rather than pay attention to the message. The popes are pointing the finger at greed and at governments that allow greedy people to do harm to their economies. Such actions are immoral and have macro consequences. The Church has the right to call on the carpet those governments who turn their backs on greed that destroys beyond the individual who is greedy.

The Church is really saying this. “If you want to pig out and eat until you can eat no more, that’s wrong. But if you eat so much that you leave no food for others, that’s grave and someone needs to stop you. Others have a right to eat.”

Yeah, I often have to wonder about folks who try to assert that His Holiness is some kind of socialist or something just because he points out that unrestrained capitalism (which we should realize always leads to injustices towards workers) and “Consumerism has accustomed us to waste. But throwing food away is like stealing it from the poor and hungry.”*@pontifex, 7 June 2013

He has made me take a closer look at the way I live.

By the way CM

“unrestrained capitalism” is not a term that Pope Francis used. It was used by Pope Benedict in Caritas in Veritate.

Pope Francis spoke about consumerism. What people fail to notice is that the first people who called on the carpet was not the governments of the world or the laity.

It happened in this order.

  1. He told the cardinals that they were part of a leprosy in the Church, because of the boot licking to advance upward.

  2. He put the Vatican Bank under the microscope.

  3. He told us (religious and priests) that we are not to have iPhones, SmartPhones, iPads, fancy computers, fancy cars or anything else that is not necessary for ministry, health or education. We have to examine ourselves, is my laptop for me or for my work?

  4. He took away the bonus that is given the the Vatican staff upon the election of a pope and gave it to the poor.

  5. OH yeah, I forgot, he lives in a studio apt in a boarding house.

  6. He drives a car that is 20 years old and another that 10 years old.

  7. He suspended a bishop who spent ridiculous amounts of money on restoring a house.

But no one said a word against this when the pope was doing it all. But as soon as he touches the laity, then there is an outcry.

One almost gets the impression that the pope’s authority stops at the end of St. Peter’s Square.

Chief among those trying to assert that the pope is an anti-capitalist socialists are anti-capitalist socialists.:wink:

I don’t know of anyone who is for unrestrained capitalism.

Given the Church’s teaching on socialism and communism, I don’t see how anyone could be wholly anti-capitalist and in-line with Church teaching.

I see charity as something that we do for the good of our own soul. Charity is not a good solution to poverty itself though.

For the betterment of the poor, some form of capitalist free enterprise is the most rational answer to their material well-being—and to their spiritual well-being too! There is nothing more liberating than being able to care for yourself and your family rather than being dependent on the charity of others for survival.


  1. Behind this attitude lurks a rejection of ethics and a rejection of God. Ethics has come to be viewed with a certain scornful derision. It is seen as counterproductive, too human, because it makes money and power relative. It is felt to be a threat, since it condemns the manipulation and debasement of the person. In effect, ethics leads to a God who calls for a committed response which is outside the categories of the marketplace. When these latter are absolutized, God can only be seen as uncontrollable, unmanageable, even dangerous, since he calls human beings to their full realization and to freedom from all forms of enslavement. Ethics – a non-ideological ethics – would make it possible to bring about balance and a more humane social order. With this in mind, I encourage financial experts and political leaders to ponder the words of one of the sages of antiquity: “Not to share one’s wealth with the poor is to steal from them and to take away their livelihood. It is not our own goods which we hold, but theirs”.[55]

  2. A financial reform open to such ethical considerations would require a vigorous change of approach on the part of political leaders. I urge them to face this challenge with determination and an eye to the future, while not ignoring, of course, the specifics of each case. ***Money must serve, not rule! ***The Pope loves everyone, rich and poor alike, but he is obliged in the name of Christ to remind all that the rich must help, respect and promote the poor. I exhort you to generous solidarity and to the return of economics and finance to an ethical approach which favours human beings.


How do you think capitalism needs to be restrained?

I usually make the case first and foremost for tort and criminal law for those who make money and hurt others in the process, either unintentionally or unscrupulously.

I also like to make the case for enhancing Catholic/Christian values and culture. Capitalism is the hammer with which we can build the better building, but it is our religious heritage that reminds us what we are building that building for in the first place. It should not be a matter of whoever gets the most toys being the winner.

Pope Francis is really putting the mirror up to people to look themselves in the eye and ask if they are being lead away from the way of Christ in these times of Western greed and obsession with possessions…

I had never thought of putting it that way, but it works. :thumbsup:

There have to be restraints. This means that there have to be laws and serious consequences for those who get rich at the expense of others. This should be worldwide, not just Europe and the USA. It is one thing to work hard and accumulate wealth that way. It is another to believe that wealth is meant to be hoarded.

I recently came across a couple who were having a difference of opinion while I sat and watched. I just happened to be visiting.

Basically, it was simple. One of the spouses wanted to reduce their annual contribution to their parish, because the physical trainer had raised his or her fees. The line of logic was, “God understands that we also have needs, not just the parish.”

This is unrestrained capitalism. There is a lack of conscience here. When there is a lack of conscience, there is also a lack of restraint.

At another parish where I help there was a mother who said to me, “I’m just flying up to X City with the kids for the weekend.” I asked if there was a special occasion. She said, “No, no special occasion. The kids are bored of doing the same thing every weekend. So I thought I’d fly them up to see grandma’.”

I would have swallowed my tonsils, if they had not been removed when I was a kid. To spend almost $2,000.00 to kill boredom is unrestrained capitalism.

A while back, my brother did something even sillier. My niece took her driving test, at age 16. My sister-in-law called my brother to say that my niece had passed. My brother came home with a new car as a surprise present. This is a family that needs an additional car payment, an additional car insurance and an additional car like I need a third leg.

When my brother told me, as if he had just done the best thing in the world, I couldn’t help myself but tell him the truth. “I hope, for your soul, that you have put aside an equal amount of money for the local soup kitchen.” I didn’t mean a small donation. I literally demanded an equal amount of money. Such things are obscene.

I felt very badly for my niece. I’m the oldest of five. I remember that my first car was my mother’s old station wagon. I had to work hard to save enough money to buy a brand new car. Also, I didn’t get my mother’s old car until I was going to college. I was 18, not 16. I had to earn the car by getting my butt into college. No college = no car.

When my niece goes to the mall and puts hundreds on the credit card and I challenge her, she always says the same thing. “Oh don’t worry. Dad makes enough money to cover me.” She is very generous with gifts and more. It’s her dad’s money, not her own.

What is the message that we’re sending our kids?

These are the things that concern the Church when she speaks about money, justice, the poor and a culture of indifference.

Great post…:slight_smile:

Tell that to my brother who will tell you the following.

“Having a brother who’s a brother and a superior is a real pain in the butt.” :shrug:

The saying is the old yuppie credo from the 80’s
Your examples are not anecdotes of unrestrained capitalism, I don;t think but of conspicuous consumption and priorities that are moving away from Christian values.
As such, the problems here are not lack of laws, but are a moral problem, and a problem of a conscience less and less informed by Christ.

As such laws and serious consequences for these types of behaviors would not apply.
Instead, laws and consequences are for when the harm done to others is direct and discernible. “I clear a mountain of trees. The villagers below get swept away into the ocean in the next monsoon”.
That is an instant where tort and criminal law applies.

As well, vows of poverty, like vows of chastity, are very good for those in the religious orders. I am not sure though that the fullness of the Catholic message is that the whole of society ought to be under such vows.

And money that is circulating through an economy is not money being horded under a mattress either.

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