Pope Francis is a Marxist and should not comment on matters of money. This seems to be the overall tenor of the response of the political right to the Holy Father’s comments regarding global capitalism.
In an 84-page official document issued by The Holy See, known as an apostolic exhortation, Pope Francis attacks what he refers to as the “idolatry of money” and the “tyranny of unfettered capitalism.”
The document is a clear indication of the direction that the Pope would like to see the Church, and the world for that matter, with its “Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say, ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills,” Pope Francis wrote in his exhortation.
His argument is predicated in the gospels, not in economic theory or politics, which makes it difficult to countermand him. This, of course, has not stopped those on the right from setting their sites on the Bishop of Rome.
“This is pure Marxism,” said Rush Limbaugh, conservative talk show host and all around right-wing supervillian, regarding Pope Francis’ comments. Limbaugh goes on to say that the Pope is “ripping America” and that “Obama is having an orgasm.” Rush Limbaugh has publicly stated that he is not himself a Catholic.
Catholic groups have wasted no time in demanding an apology from the conservative talker. A group called Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good issued a statement saying that Limbaugh’s attack on the Pope was “disturbing, mean-spirited and naïve.” They have called for an apology from the acerbic media personality.
Is it possible for this man and his cohorts to sink any lower? Limbaugh is not alone in his attacks on the man who holds the Seat of Peter. Many self-proclaimed Christians are choosing their pocketbook over their prayer book in responding to the Pope’s remarks. Luckily, only Catholics are required to subscribe to the belief in papal infallibility, the doctrine that the Pope, as the Vicar of Christ, has the power to speak with divine authority.
Still, it is ironic that the Pope would catch people, especially Christians, by surprise when he reiterates messages derived directly from the Bible. Even a casual perusal of the text reveals copious evidence of the opinion of Jesus Christ towards the accumulation of wealth.
In the Gospel of Luke, Christ says “When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. Jesus looked at him and said, ‘How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.'”
In the Gospel of Mark, he says, “‘You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.”
Clearly this is a man with a strong opinion on gross income inequality. Pope Francis seems to be returning to a time when the church sought to use its influence with its followers to actually affect the world for the better. Since the Pope is not an elected political position, and the church does not need political contributions to survive, ‘Big Business’ and their conservative allies might find him an implacable foe indeed.
By Mark Clarke