Saturday, April 23, 2005

Is the Pope Catholic? Why Expect Anything Else?

Some people seem surprised and/or annoyed that the Catholic church picked a new Pope who is true to Catholic tenets of faith. I don't know what these people want in a Pope. Maybe an Austin Powers sort of fellow or a Jo Lo type . . . somebody to overturn traditional church teachings in a variety of areas, I suppose. Is Howard Stern available? :>) I wonder if those who champion this new breed of Pope have given much thought to Papal economics. If they have, they might be trying to figure out whether the Pope is a Democrat or Republican at heart. I would suspect he's an independent, but that's just a guess mind you.

Now, be aware that I am not Catholic, but what I think I know is that the Catholic church has strong beliefs about capitalism, the economy, and economics in general--beliefs that can be summed up in two words: economic justice. I haven't been able to find any specific pronouncements by Pope Benedict XVI on economics, but John Paul II weighed in on economic issues early in his reign with the Papal Encyclical "On Human Work", and followed up a decade later with Centesimus Annus. I haven't studied these documents, but my take on them is that John Paul II saw the disincentives of socialism deliver a hard blow to the economy of his native Poland, observed the prosperity of the West, and thus endorsed the free market. As a religious leader, though, he knew he had an obligation to go further, so he did. He common sensically called for participants in the free market economy to practice Biblical morality in their dealings with each other. No surprise there, at least to me.

Some Catholics would like to take the Pope's teachings and go them one better, emphasizing the redistribution of wealth--the idea of distributism. I presume that the mechanism for redistribution is to be the government. I don't know whether John Paul II agreed with distributism or not, nor whether Benedict XVI will weigh in on these issues. I hope he does, for the sake of clarification, if nothing else.

If Adam Smith were around today I wonder if he would repeat his description of the Catholic church of the Middle Ages: "the most formidable combination that ever was formed against the...liberty, reason, and happiness of mankind...." (The Wealth of Nations, bk. 5, chap. 1, pt. 3, art. 3). Judging from the crowds I saw waiting anxiously for that white puff of smoke to appear, the color of smoke that announces that a new pope has been selected, I doubt it.


At 5:59 PM, Blogger phlezk said...

Wealth of Nations was a good book, I'm so glad I read it before entering college.

'papal economics' stunned me when I read it. I guess you can make everything relavent to economics, can't you? Almost, anyway.

Sorry I don't have a more on-topic worthy reply, I'm not that smart, you see.

But I do remember seeing in the Yahoo! News Forums shortly after Ratzinger was announced Pope, people were claiming he was the 'antichrist' and all this. I also found a funny connection. Ever seen Star Wars? Remember the Emperor? (black hood, white skin, evil dude) Well, Ratzinger (Benedict) looks very similar to him.

Here's an image I made to emphasize how very evil I believe he looks. I'm not religion bashing here either, a devout Catholic agreed with me.

click here



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