In the wake of America’s week-long, Pope Francis bacchanalia, a few column titles suggest themselves:
“Benedict, What Have You Wrought?”
“The Global Village Idiot.”
“Lady Di of The Papacy.”
The last hints at the trendy, pop-philosophies that animate Pope Francis’ Lady Di-like belief system. The intellectual equivalent of these papal shopworn shibboleths you’ll find in a Chinese, fortune-cookie wrapper.
Ultimately, the editor will decide which of these unflattering headings best describes the man whom one devout Catholic—libertarian jurist Andrew Napolitano—called a false prophet for overturning Catholic canon law without consulting his Bishops. Yet another reason Pope Francis is drawn to an authoritarian president who rules by presidential veto.
Intellectually, Pope Francis is no match for his predecessors.
With his 1998 encyclical, the Polish pope—how the Polish people suffered under the communists whose creed Pope Francis is inadvertently dignifying—sounded a lone voice for both “Faith and Reason” in the postmodern religious wilderness.
Who other than Pope John Paul spoke with such unhectoring clarity about the errors of relativism in modern thought? Certainly not Jorge Bergolio, who is too simple to consider such abstractions.
The anti-intellectualism evinced in the Holy See’s 2015 environmental encyclical made this pope’s “close advisers,” in all their “ill-tempered diction,” the butt of ridicule over the pages of the Catholic Crisis magazine:
From the empirical side, to prevent the disdain of more informed scientists generations from now, papal teaching must be safeguarded from attempts to exploit it as an endorsement of one hypothesis over another concerning anthropogenic causes of climate change. It is not incumbent upon a Catholic to believe, like Rex Mottram in “Brideshead Revisited,” that a pope can perfectly predict the weather. …
In the same badly written potboiler, the pope took a swipe at the richest nations, blaming them for despoiling the earth. In truth, however, the developed world has advanced the technologies (and attendant ethics) that are helping to clean up the atmosphere, the waterways, the oceans and many a landmass. It is the developing and underdeveloped nations—China and India, for one—that despoil the earth and devastate its creatures. So polluted are the waterways in former communist countries that rivers are known to catch fire. Watch.
Not in the US, Canada or Germany does the earth look like an “immense pile of filth,” to use his Holiness’s hyperbole. Although this is indeed the case on land tracts upon which angry, entitled migrants tread. Familiarize yourself with “The Impact of Immigration Policy on Wild Life and on the Arizona Borderlands,” Mr. Pope.
Indeed, why not advocate the Golden Rule imperative where it’s most needed?
“Let us remember the Golden Rule,” preached the pope: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Mt 7:12).”
The young, aggressive, Arab males currently flooding many of Europe’s bucolic communities do not appear to apply Pope Francis’ Golden Rule to their benevolent hosts. Look at these images from the Hungarian-Austrian front deluged by the people the pontiff has deified.
Conspicuously missing from Pope Francis’ sermon to the joint session of Congress was the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ. Instead, the pope elected to tout war president Abraham Lincoln. Remarked Lincoln scholar Thomas DiLorenzo: “Honest” Abe “waged total war for four years on his own countrymen, causing as many as 850,000 deaths.” Yet to Pope Francis, Lincoln was “the guardian of liberty.”
Pope Benedict XVI was—still is—a great intellect. The Times Literary Supplement wrote this about Joseph Ratzinger’s “unflagging [intellectual] energy.”
For a man in his eighties to write a serious multi-volume work on Jesus (he promises a third installment on the infancy narrative) is remarkable enough. When the author happens to be the chief pastor of over a billion Catholics, it is truly extraordinary.
Befitting a scholar, Pope Emeritus Benedict had closely examined the possibility of Islamic reformation. After decades of primary source exegesis, Benedict concluded the following:
In Christian and Jewish texts, “God has worked through His creatures.” Consequently, these texts are not just the word of God, but the words of men inspired by Him. Isaiah, Mark and others of the “divinely appointed” are fully authorized and adequately inspired to interpret and revise the scriptures.
Not so in Islam. According to Father Fessio’s rendition of Benedict’s scholarly, spiritual inquiry, “The problem with Islam is far more fundamental. As the Islamic tradition has it, the Koran is not Mohammed’s words; it is God’s eternal word, seen as sent from Heaven, never to be adapted or altered.”
For warning the West that Islam may be “a closed and irrational system,” impervious to reform, Benedict was forced to apologize, in 2006, because Muslims threatened their version of the Golden Rule: riots.
With his brilliant mind and beatific smile, Pope Benedict XVI was the whole holy package. Now his successor, Pope Bumping, is dismissing Benedict’s finding about the theological imprimatur behind Muslim violence, and telling the faithful that “no religion is immune from forms of individual delusion or ideological extremism.”
In a word, be on the lookout for radical Christians and Jews.
As did the simpleton pope preach about the necessity to “harness the spirit of enterprise” for “the creation and distribution of wealth,” through legislators, whom the pope likened, mindlessly, to Moses, in their direct access to God:
You are the face of its people, their representatives. You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, for this is the chief aim of all politics. …
Allow a Jew (albeit a bit of a closet Catholic) to quote from the encyclical written by Corinne and Robert Sauer (chosen people both, in my book) of the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies:
The Hebrew word for charity—Tzedakah—comes from the word justice: Tzedek. To comply with both, a Jew must give ten percent of his income to help the poor. Charity, however, “is a moral principle, not a legal one.” There is nothing in this injunction that implies “a need for a public policy of involuntary taxation and … monetary handouts for the unemployed.” Voluntary charity, moreover, “should not be confused with income redistribution. Income redistribution aims at reducing income inequalities because income disparities are seen as unfair or immoral. … This is not the Jewish view. … The poor have no legal right to the rich’s property—distribution, and eradication of income disparities is impossible and not the goal in Judaism.”
More egregious, the pontiff (much like America’s representatives) knows nothing about the American constitutional scheme. America’s elected representatives are sworn not to “satisfy common needs,” as this pig-ignorant pope put it, but to uphold a limited set of negative, individual rights—those to life, liberty and property.
Even President Barack Obama, a socialist leveler if ever there was one, has recognized that “the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties.” Obama once confessed, in frustration, that the obstacles the Constitution poses to “redistributive justice” have compelled community organizers like him to pursue extra-constitutional change.
Clearly, this pope has confused Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s general will with the American Founders’ philosophy of individualism, republicanism and dispersed, limited authority.
Rousseau’s work was recited by Robespierre, leader of the Reign of Terror, during the French Revolution, as he beheaded innocents—17,000 of them—in the name of the nebulous common good the Jacobin pope is touting.
The Idea of America was not to centrally control man’s work and his fellow-feeling.
The statism preached by the scold from the Vatican is anathema to the philosophy of our Founders, who rejected a state-directed common good.
“By pursuing his own interest,” wrote moral philosopher Adam Smith in “The Wealth of Nations” imbibed by the framers—”[man] frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good.”
Take that back to Rome, Pope Francis.