The Pope Comes to America

Like so many other Americans, I too have been swamped by the news media’s coverage of the Pope’s visit to the USA. Unfortunately, I did not know how to express my mixture of disgust and admiration for the man. So I left the subject alone.

Fortunately, I came upon this post.

Freedom Through Empowerment

Pope Francis

So Pope Francis is touring the country this week and as usual the media is tripping all over themselves to find something, anything, sensational to talk about. The big kerfuffle of the moment is that the Pope is being “political” because he mentions things like immigration and climate change in his statements.

Well color me astonished that a world-renowned figure got a little political while visiting our nation’s Capital, a place where people literally eat, breath and sleep politics. Big whoop.

The Pope is not running for office, nor is he setting policy so why should I care what his politics are? Sure, that he seems not to understand the difference between free markets and crony capitalism is annoying and his refusal to mention abortion while touching on every other hot button issue during his speech to Congress left me a bit puzzled.

I am not a Catholic however and…

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60 thoughts on “The Pope Comes to America

    1. Gotta love auto spell check. I meant “vicar,” not “victor.” I wish there was a way to edit comments. Possible? It would be better to edit than post again, again, etc.


      1. As far as I know, WordPress does not permit editing a comment after it is submitted. Keith has a website where that is possible.

        Understandably, Keith occasionally finds commenting on my blog annoying.

        As the administrator of this web site, I do have some special privileges. I can edit comments, but I don’t do so unless the writer asks. Would be asking for trouble.

        Anyway, we all make goofy mistakes. When that happens, we can be thankful if we have spread a little joy with unintended humor.


  1. The best way to muddle through the news about the Pope is to realize that he really has no political agenda. For the Pope and the Church, politics is a subordinate science to theology. Theology is meant to inform everything we do. Thus, when speaking about theology, politics is fair game. To say you can’t mixed politics and theology to the Church and the Pope is basically saying Christ isn’t allowed in this aspect of my life. Understanding that he has no political objectives, one realizes the depth of what he saying. The “slaps int he face” like the fools at Breitbart claim or HuffPo’s quiery into which candidate was most helped by the Pope’s visit. I can tell you, his attitude to American politics, to any politics is much like Qoheleth’s. Divorced from the American media/political spin, the Pope’s message has been straight out of the Gospel. Look out for my post on the subject. I feel like I have to write one now.


    1. @mastersamwise, who wrote:

      To say you can’t mixed politics and theology to the Church and the Pope is basically saying Christ isn’t allowed in this aspect of my life.

      It would be fairer to say that Christ isn’t allowed into this aspect of the left-leaning Pope’s life, or his pontifications.

      Christian theologians had figured out that the free market was by far the most positive force for economic good, and explicitly advocated for free market principles, hundreds of years ago. They were following the lead of Thomas Aquinas, and the work of the Late Scholastics as they’re called long predates Adam Smith.

      It is only recently that some Marxist-leaning Popes have decided to push collective misery under the guise of “equality.” And Francis, who hails from communism-dominated Latin America, is openly welcoming to Marxist ideas. This is despite the fact that those ideas have caused the deaths of more than a hundred million in peacetime and the ongoing misery of a billion-plus people, and has been the most deadly ideology yet devised by man.

      The assertion that Pope Francis “has no political agenda” does not withstand a review of his encyclicals, speeches, and actions, which are decidedly leftist in American political terms. Even in his Washington speech, he was exhorting the Republican-led Congress to go along with Obama’s agenda, telling Republicans that “your own responsibility is to enable this country, by your legislative activity, to grow as a nation.”

      It could be argued that inactivity would be a better spur to growth; in the US, the business community is holding back, having no idea what the envy-stoking Obama is likely to do to them in the rest of his term. It is not a time to undertake risks, as they cannot be calculated in the face of Obama’s class-hatred campaign and “equality of outcome” agenda.

      ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle


      1. That was an ad hominum.

        Which Christian theologian was that then? A handful of Second Scholastics that don’t include the most famous of the school, namely Bellermine and Suarez. Even more incredible is that the book ignores the fact that they focusing on only one theological school. Sure, Jesuits were nice, but what were the Augustinians, Franciscans, Dominicans, Benedictines, and Basilians saying at the time? Very much a tract of confirmation biases rather than an accurate picture of late Renaissance theology.

        I would ask you to produce one instance where the Pope mentioned capitalism. Indeed, he was asked why he criticized capitalism to which he replied that he never mentioned it and had no intention of critiquing economic systems. What he HAS said is that economies that unjustly exclude people from benefiting from them are immoral. This is consistent with Aquinas’s concepts of just wages and prices.

        “…does not withstand a review of his encyclicals, speeches, and actions, which are decidedly leftist in American political terms…” As I argue in my new post, looking at the Pope’s speeches and encyclicals in American political terms is, frankly speaking, idiotic. It is a special kind of arrogant reductionism to reduce everything he has said into terms of left and right.

        Readers of Laudato Si who don’t care to read Benedict’s or John Paul’s remarks about the duty to take care of the environment clearly don’t understand how the Magisterium works or how snugly in line with his predecessors–one of whom was talking about stewardship of the earth before the liberals thought it was a good idea– he really does fit. John L. Allen Jr., a well known and very excellent Vatican insider, actually listed all of the ways that Francis is just Benedict 2.0 on the environment. Funny, the only people calling Benedict names were liberals who wanted to say he was a Nazi.

        The legislative body’s duty is to legislate. To say it has any other function is to deny the very words of the Constitution. True, prudence must dictate WHAT they legislate, but Congress MUST legislate because that is what it is for.

        In closing, it seems you, like so many in this country, have decided to write the Pope off as some sort of Marxist because the pundits told you to. Rather than engage ideas that might challenge some common notions, he is written off as an irreconcilable enemy that stands for everything you disagree with even when he doesn’t.


        1. @mastersamwise

          Frankly, I have no desire to engage in a political debate. Your response to Keith explains why. Was Keith engaging in ad hominum? I seriously doubt he thought so. Given that politics is a blood sport and all that Keith did is characterize the Pope’s political views, he was hardly libeling the man.

          Remember the controversy over JFK, the first Catholic in the White House? Kennedy argued that electing him was not the same as putting the Pope in the White House. I see no more point in discussing the Pope as a political figure than Kennedy did. It will just piss off Catholics and for no good purpose.

          Does the Pope have any special expertise that he can apply to environmental issues, appropriate immigration policies, economics, or …. Is theology relevant? Yes, but only to the extent it applies to the moral dimension. What does the Bible say about Global Warming? Doesn’t that depend upon whether we think Global Warming is a fraud. What does the Bible say about immigration policies? Doesn’t the Bible recognize the right of sovereign nations to control their borders and maintain cultural integrity? The only way we can help ILLEGAL immigrants is to let them stay? What does the Bible say about the welfare state? Doesn’t the Bible have something to say about stealing? Isn’t charity a personal responsibility?

          When the Pope makes a pronouncement, would you say that is all settled? The Pope knows best about everything? Don’t be silly. You know better than that.

          Anyway, I am perfectly willing to respect the moral integrity of the Pope, but I see no point in offending Catholics and arguing about the Pope’s political opinions. I think it suffices to say I think he has kindly offered us some free advice. However, I don’t think the Vatican can set the example and implement his environmental policies, his immigration polices, his economic policies, or….


          1. An ad hominum is not always a negative argument. To judge that “Christ isn’t allowed into this aspect of the left-leaning Pope’s life, or his pontifications” is a judgement of character when not back up by actual fact. It presumes that one has knowledge of not only of the Pope’s personal life but also the theology he preaches. Since only the latter is properly demonstrable, and the demonstration of the latter was lacking. Ergo, the first sentence as cited is an ad hominum whether it is intentional or not. I make falicious arguments all the time; I wish people were less charitable when doing so as it might deflate my rapidly growing ego.

            As for Kennedy, here is a doctrinal note from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from 2002 that might frame the Pope’s comments to Congress and his general views on politics a little better.

            I would say that the moral dimension is that dimension that includes humanity. For example, his encyclical does not discuss what else causes climate change because he is not overly concerned about the natural phenomenon but what man is doing. I am extremely skeptical of man made climate change–mostly out of my assertion that deductive reasoning is superior to inductive–but I will not deny the possibility. For full disclosure, I dislike many of the things that theoretically cause climate change independently from their supposed environmental impact. Oil is a finite resource and developing nations need it to develop as they are without the technology for sustainable energy. In an ideal world, I think, we would practically give our oil, coal, natural gas away because we have developed sources of energy that are renewable and sustainable indefinitely. I look at the gas shortages of the 70’s and say never again. That will take time, but no rational person–which includes the Pope–is saying it should happen overnight. Rather, he asks we consider how our consumption affects the environment, but that environment includes man.

            “So you, too, must show love to foreigners, for you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt.” Deuteronomy 10:19. We must show love to the immigrant for we were once immigrants. The Pope does not reveal the whole teaching of the Church in his speech on this subject, but I think he said what is at the heart of it, namely that we need to view these immigrants as people, not problems. Too often I see arguments against the immigrants that mirror those for abortion too much. In any case, the USCCB has a rather fair plan regarding immigration based on two principles: the rights of the immigrant and the rights of the nation. The immigrant has the right to find safety and work if his home country does not provide it. Work is necessary for life thus fair work for fair pay is part of a person’s right to life. Rights, however, come with responsibilities. The responsibility of the immigrant is to obey the law of the nation and pay for the trespass of that law. The responsibility of the nation is to provide whatever assistance possible to make migration a choice, not a necessity. The media likes to talk about the horrible conditions these people escape, but what do they do about it?

            It depends on the pronouncement the Pope makes. A speech to Congress has dubious authority. An encyclical is binding upon the intellect and will since it is teaching on what is already contained in the Deposit of Faith. An Apostolic Constitution is infallible and a Pope has only done that maybe three times–depends on who you ask–in the 2000 years of the Church. The Bible and Sacred Tradition are inerrant.

            The Vatican is in a unique position. The Vatican bank is undergoing reforms which independent observers say it will be more transparent than the Fed. Pope Benedict, for practical and moral reasons, installed solar panels in the Vatican making it essentially off the Italian power grid. I think they are getting to the point where they could sell energy. The Vatican’s immigration policy is, unfortunately, dictated by the Italian state under the Lateran treaties. Under those treaties, the Vatican cannot extend citizenship to anyone who does not work for the Curia. Only about 400 people in the world have Vatican citizenship and it is automatically revoked once they lose their post. The theory behind this is two fold. Italy surrounds the Vatican and doesn’t want a bunch of migrants using their facilities while sleeping at the Vatican. They also, in the back of their minds, still fear the resurgence of the Papal States. Italy is a tenuous relationship of disagreeing people that has nearly collapsed several times. An influx of Vatican citizens would be worrisome to an Italian state struggling for legitimacy.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. @mastersamwise

            An ad hominem attack is not always a negative argument. That’s an interesting observation and something I had not considered.

            Whether or not Keith is right or wrong about the facts of the matter is something I will keep to myself. On some things I agree with the Pope. On others I don’t. Where I agree, I am perfectly happy to work with Catholics who “revere” the Pope. Where I don’t, I see little to gain by either praising or attacking the politics of the Pope.

            Consider the hypocrisy of the Left. The Pope is wonderful except when he is not. I am not going there.

            Without humanity, as far as I understand it, no problem has a moral dimension.

            Anyway, I think we agree for the most part. There are details where we part. Here is an example.

            In any case, the USCCB has a rather fair plan regarding immigration based on two principles: the rights of the immigrant and the rights of the nation. The immigrant has the right to find safety and work if his home country does not provide it.

            I am uncertain what is meant by that statement. I just know that the Left is already ignoring this nation’s immigration laws, and they justify it with ambiguous statements like that.

            We act like what is going on in the Middle East is some big surprise. It is not. Wars and conflicts always result in floods of refugees. When Obama pulled out of Iraq, he left a power vacuum. Then he added to the problem by encouraging the so-called Arab Spring, even to the point of using military force to overthrow the tyrant in Libya. These moves were so utterly stupid I wonder if Obama actually intended to produce the mess he has created.

            Anyway, as far as I am concerned until they become citizens, immigrants have no rights. We have obligations. When people flee persecutors, we have no business returning those people to their persecutors. On the other hand, we also have no obligation to jeopardize the security and stability of our nation by accepting people who don’t understand our culture. Our government has no long term obligation to feed them.

            Am I against immigration? Am I altogether against accepting refugees. No and no, but it is crazy to give immigrants welfare, to discourage them from getting a job and learning our language and culture. It is insane to hang out a sign that says: “Your country is in turmoil? No problem. You don’t have to do anything to fix it. Just come here and collect welfare.”

            Generally, the people immigrating to western nations would have been better off staying where they came from. The enticements of welfare and a free education for their kids sounds great, but our government has no business giving away anything. Instead, private charities from the United States should be helping these people where they live.

            What is the Pope’s position on that? Frankly, I don’t know, and I have decided I don’t want to know. We can debate such topics on the merits, without citing the Pope and making it a Catholic versus Protestant debate. Wouldn’t the Liberal news media love that?

            Liked by 1 person

          3. See, I don’t think we necessarily disagree on the immigration point. It bases itself on justice being giving to each person what they are due according to proper proportion.

            ” An earned legalization program would allow foreign nationals of good moral character who are living in the United States to apply to adjust their status to obtain lawful permanent residence. Such a program would create an eventual path to citizenship, requiring applicants to complete and pass background checks, pay a fine, and establish eligibility for resident status to participate in the program. Such a program would help stabilize the workforce, promote family unity, and bring a large population “out of the shadows,” as members of their communities.” The bishops make the point that we want people with good moral character, are not threats to our security, pay any outstanding debts, and are ready to integrate into the society they try to join. We shouldn’t let criminals here and we shouldn’t let people who just want to live off our benefits. The Catholic Church, as I can personally attest, has rather stringent criteria for good moral character.

            The bishops also recognize the nation’s right to self-defense and right to secure their boarders. ” The U.S. Catholic Bishops accept the legitimate role of the U.S. government in intercepting unauthorized migrants who attempt to travel to the United States. The Bishops also believe that by increasing lawful means for migrants to enter, live, and work in the United States, law enforcement will be better able to focus upon those who truly threaten public safety: drug and human traffickers, smugglers, and would‐be terrorists. Any enforcement measures must be targeted, proportional, and humane.” People overstaying visas–a program we seriously need to reform NOW–trying to keep their cushy American jobs are, I think, less dangerous than people coming here to escape the Mexican authorities and sell drugs while reaping federal benefits through the children they have here.

            So if we look at what the Pope has said and what the bishops have said, and really the massive body of work that is the fearful specter of “Catholic Social Teaching” is quite rational. It doesn’t really take a side, especially in legalizing immigrants. It isn’t blanket amnesty and it isn’t mass deportation. It is giving to those who desire the good for themselves–work, security, a better life–and the good of the nation–participation in the community, payment of owed and future taxes, contributing to the economy–while still telling them that they have a debt for breaking the law.

            As for refugees, I am getting involved with the refugee relocation services that my diocese offers and the people I have dealt with aren’t coming here for benefits but freedom. Those sob stories on NPR are unfortunately true in most of the cases I have encountered. One woman fled Syria while studying her Masters in Education. She fled because ISIS would not have allowed her to continue her education, let alone teach. She wanted to come to America because in America, she said, we don’t keep people from learning anything, even if they are critical of politicians or government or religion. We can snigger saying she has no idea how PC our country is but I admit it filled me with pride knowing that she knew she needed to come HERE to have the freedom to teach anything. I still think we need a better screening process for refugees though. Not out of horror stories, but because I think we should take every precaution while taking in as many people as we are able.

            This idea of justice also applies to the Pope’s view on climate change, but I’ll leave that there.

            The Pope, through his own speeches and from the Vatican observers in the UN, stands firmly on the side of eliminating extremism as a fundamental responsibility of all nations of good will. In my opinion, ISIS is America’s sin and it is exceedingly shameful how little we have done.


          4. @mastersamwise

            Unless I can specifically point to a reliable reference which emphatically supports my contention and the need is great, I generally try to avoid offending people. So if Catholics want to say the Pope is the Apostle Peter’s divine successor, I just shrug my shoulders. I don’t believe it, but some good Bible scholars do, and some good Bible scholars don’t.

            Are Catholics any less saved than other Christians? There are some Christians who would argue that Catholic beliefs undermines the salvation of Catholics, but I think that decision belongs to God. Similarly, when Catholics argue that for the sake of their salvation other Christians should become Catholics I just shrug my shoulders.

            Nevertheless, because I think politics cannot be separated from religion, I mix religion into my politics and argue for Christian beliefs. As a result I cite the Bible, and I say things Muslims, Atheists, Buddhists, and so forth most likely find offensive. In particular, I expect I offend Christians who either say the Bible says things it clearly does not say or deny what the Bible clearly does say. That is about as offensive as I want to get.

            Each Christian sect exists primarily because we lack the capacity to understand God and His Word perfectly. Without a perfect understanding of the Bible, we cannot altogether agree. So we believe different things. Therefore, I try to stick to what is blatantly obvious, and I don’t condemn others for believing differently. I just demand they give everyone else the same privilege..

            Politics presents a similar issue. Because of our imperfections, we cannot agree what we should do. If we were each as obedient to God as we should be, we would not even need a government. As it is? It is what it is.

            Therefore, when you cite the Pope and the bishops of the Catholic church as an authority, I don’t mind, but the source is irrelevant. What I care about is what the Bible says. If the interpretation makes sense and is unambiguously supported, then I must go with the Bible. Otherwise, we are stuck with trying to do the best we can. That includes a cost/benefit analysis.

            When it comes to immigration, I put a lot of weight on cost/benefit analyses, especially with respect to what is best for the United States. If we flood our nation with assimilated immigrants, people who don’t speak English and don’t respect our nation’s traditions, then the United States must cease to be a force for good.

            As it is, even if we set aside the effect of immigration, much of our nation has already turned its back on our nation’s Christian traditions. What unfettered immigration is doing is sealing our doom. Even if many of those people who have turned their backs on Christianity reconsider, a flood of welfare-seeking immigrants will still carry the day for tyranny.

            As a nation, the United States is no longer that shining city on a hill. Therefore, as Christians, we must work together to be salt and light for country and the world.

            With respect to politics, that means we must advocate Christian policies. Christian polices don’t involve throwing our own nation under the bus for the sake of immigrants, but that is what is coming out of Washington. Our leaders are using supposedly good intentions as an excuse to flood our nation with cheap labor and malleable voters. For the sake of our children, we must stop their treacherous policies.


          5. Please believe I do not want the arguments of the Reformation exploding here. I merely wish to dispel the myths that persons of less scruples seem to passing around either through ignorance, fear, or even stupidity. The Pope–ESPECIALLY because he appeals to liberals–could be a huge ally for American conservatives if they actually took the time to know what he is saying.

            This is why I cite the Pope and the bishops. When someone claims the Pope is wrong about politics they either don’t understand his common notions and his argument or they philosophically disagree with him. My experience is that most conservatives fall into the former category.

            In short, you, the Pope, the bishops, and I all pretty much agree on immigration. We can’t let people come here unregulated, but we can’t ignore the people who want to come here and are here. I guess this has been a super prevarication around the statement I have been poorly making this entire time: we agree.


          6. You and the Pope are hardly allies of conservatives. Yes, I philosophically disagree with Pope Francis, and with Karl Marx for similar reasons. Marx despised religion, despite originally planning to have that as his career. Pope Francis has made religion his career, but you’ve spun a whole lot of words here to disguise his attacks on the free market, including your misleading statement that he did not mention the word “capitalism.”

            The promotion of totalitarianism under the guise of “humanism,” with noble masterminds dictating what one can or cannot do and what property must be given over to his “social mortgage,” should be rightfully opposed by anyone who understands liberty and economics. The free market really is the “magic fairy that dispenses wonderful things if you let it.” It is voluntary transactions in which both sides perceive they have benefited. That simple concept has lifted billions out of poverty.

            The Laudato Sí is talking about redistribution of wealth. Marxism, quite simply. You make it sound as if the Pope’s only mention of distribution is of resources. He explicitly calls for “a better distribution of wealth.”

            An important concept to understand is that in the free market, there is no “distribution of wealth” that needs to be “re-distributed,” with the “re-” implying that it had already been distributed once. Voluntary, uncoerced transactions make both sides better off. It is not a system that takes wealth from some and gives it to others; that is what Pope Francis is proposing. The Pope is advocating coercion, and suggesting a “new” system of control over people’s lives (though statism is hardly new).

            And the science he bases this urgency on is utterly wrong. It is surprising that he has assembled a group of fraudulent advisors, including fierce opponents of religion, to provide wisdom to him. Presumably, when he was told what they thought of global warming and believed it, he did not also believe what they thought about the stupidity of people who have faith in God, and the evil of organized religion.

            Pope Francis — and you — talk about a people losing trust in the market (in capitalism, in other words). But the reality is that Laudato Sí is filled to the brim with the Pope’s distrust of people. He can no longer allow individuals to decide their own fate, claiming that they must be ruled, and their property subjugated, for the good of “our Sister, Mother Earth.” He proposes “profound changes in lifestyles, models of production and consumption, and the established structures of power which today govern societies.”

            Every part of this is wrong.

            He is no ally of liberty. And he recognizes this, asserting that his advocated global state control over people’s lives is necessary because “the natural environment has been gravely damaged by our irresponsible behaviour.” Proposing to eradicate the free market that has helped so many billions, and replace it with his “profound changes,” is irresponsible behavior indeed.

            ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle


          7. “spun a whole lot of words here to disguise his attacks on the free market, including your misleading statement that he did not mention the word “capitalism.”
            That’s because he couldn’t care less about capitalism. Its like you glossed over everything just to make the same baseless assertion to satisfy your own interpretation. But also, if the glove fits, then all that is happening is that you are complaining about the Pope being right. It may have escaped your notice, but his comments on the economy could equally be applied to socialism. Any system that places wealth at the center–socialism does this with other people’s wealth–is under fire here. If the shoe fits, you gotta wear it.

            “The promotion of totalitarianism under the guise of “humanism,” with noble masterminds dictating what one can or cannot do and what property must be given over..” Wow, there is a non sequetor if ever I saw one.

            “The Laudato Sí is talking about redistribution of wealth. Marxism, quite simply. You make it sound as if the Pope’s only mention of distribution is of resources.” Actually, in Latin, the word distributio is entirely different from the word redistributio. So it is a non sequetor that melior distributio could be translated as redistribution. It is not only logically fallacious but grammatically impossible.

            ” It is not a system that takes wealth from some and gives it to others; that is what Pope Francis is proposing.” Again, where is this? Since we established “better distribution” cannot equal “redistribution” then your previous recourse is illogical.

            “The Pope is advocating coercion, and suggesting a “new” system of control over people’s lives…” Again, you make tyrants out of toddlers. How is appealing nations to cooperate through free association and agreements–with the respect to their sovereignty by the way–suddenly end in coercion and control?

            “But the reality is that Laudato Sí is filled to the brim with the Pope’s distrust of people.” No humanist has blind trust in humanity to do the right thing on his own. In fact, Christian Humanism starts with the common notion that man is naturally ambitious, rapacious, and vindictive. It is actually a Marxist principle–though Marx restricts it to the Proletarians only–that man is some sort of noble creature that naturally does what is right. Christian humanism differs from its secular cousin in that it recognizes man for what he is: a broken creature seeking the Good.

            The Good is what the Pope is talking about. The Good is what I am talking about. If you want to hold onto misconceived notions that mankind will somehow just happen to the right thing, then you are more naive than Marx.

            I see where you ACTUALLY disagree with the Pope. It is not that you think he is a Marxist. I don’t think you really know the meaning of the word just like you don’t know the meaning of “profound changes.” You have not demonstrated a knowledge of Marx or his philosophy, only the erroneous conceptions of Marxism common to talk radio heads like Mark Levin. If you told an actual Marxist that they wanted to create a utopia where the state controls everything, they’d laugh in your face. Anyone who has read JUST the manifesto knows state control of the means of production is a temporary stage before the Worker’s Paradise. It also isn’t something that they will just create but is the necessary end of history. Both themes, ESSENTIAL to Marxism, is absent from my speech and the Pope’s.

            No, your real beef with the Pope is that you believe liberty is the ability to do as you please. To hell with thinking it is actually for something besides the mediocrity of self gratification.


          8. So in your view, I don’t understand Marx, but you think that socialism is a “system that places wealth at the center–socialism does this with other people’s wealth.”

            And that the Pope cannot possibly be talking about taking money and property from individuals because he used the Latin for “distribution” of wealth rather than “redistribution.”

            And that a new global regime to control individuals is acceptable because it respects the sovereignty of current countries.

            You also, like the Pope, do not believe that the free market works.

            You need to work on your rhetoric, mastersamwise. Word count is not sufficient.

            ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle


          9. No, we believe it works. The difference between you and the Pope and I is that you believe it can do no wrong.


          10. Keith likes a good debate. So I guess you should be flattered a little. You are giving him enough food for thought to keep him interested.

            That’s because he couldn’t care less about capitalism. Its like you glossed over everything just to make the same baseless assertion to satisfy your own interpretation. But also, if the glove fits, then all that is happening is that you are complaining about the Pope being right. It may have escaped your notice, but his comments on the economy could equally be applied to socialism. Any system that places wealth at the center–socialism does this with other people’s wealth–is under fire here. If the shoe fits, you gotta wear it.

            Here is an observation that has nothing do with whatever the Pope thinks. I don’t want to be dragged into that.

            Economic systems exist to produce wealth. The difference between capitalism and socialism is a moral decision.

            Under a capitalist system, charity is a personal responsibility. Under capitalism we try to let basic economics decide who owns what.

            Under socialism, we make the decision that all property belongs to the state. That effectively deprives us of all rights. Dependent upon the government, we all become wards of the state.

            What the Bible says is that we should not steal. What the Bible says is that we should give generously. Socialists take everything, and they leave us nothing to give.

            Would you say there is a middle ground? Would you argue that just a little bit of stealing is okay? Is that what the Pope stands for? I hope not. Since we accepted the notion that just a little bit of socialism is okay, we have given in to more and more and more. It seems that moderated stealing only works in theory.


          11. The word economy comes from the Greek, οἰκονομία which means management of household. It literally breaks down and is translated as “house law.” So economic systems exist now to create wealth, but from the beginning, this was not so.

            Now, I would propose two common notions. The first is that the family is the smallest unit of society. No man is an island. No man begets himself. Thus, all men are born, not from themselves into themselves, but into a society that is the family. Second, i would propose that the state that is most conducive to the family will be most beneficial for the whole. For if society at large is merely the sum of all families living in it, then what is commonly the good for families in general would simply be the good of the larger society .

            So what is the good common to all families? What, in their management, does a family seek or should seek most of all? From what I have read from the Pope and what I understand his philosophy to be, the crux of all his economic policy revolves around the answer to this question. The dichotomy of capitalist/socialist, in reality, doesn’t have much meaning for him. It has little meaning for me for that matter. I really don’t know why everyone is so obsessed with it.


          12. I think I see your confusion. People make a similar argument against rugged individualism. The misunderstanding comes from confusion about the source of our strength.

            In a republic, good moral character must seep up to the top, not from the top down. In a healthy society, rugged individuals, who learn from their families to fear God, take responsibility for their own choices. When they succeed, they give God the glory. They don’t pat themselves on the back.

            What is the role of government? Government protects our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Government protects the right of good parents to raise God-fearing children. Good government doesn’t get in the way, and it doesn’t let anyone else interfere with the choices of parents.

            We don’t have a good government. We have a welfare state.


          13. In Plato’s Republic, Socrates creates a state that some “rugged individuals” find intolerable. The rule of philosophers over the auxilleries and the plebians is thought, by some, to be a statist utopia. What these detractors miss is the allegorical nature of the imagined Republic. The philosophers represent Reason–strictly taught, guarded from all excesses, regulated to the highest degree from anything corrupting–as the autocrat of the human person. The auxiliaries represent the will, or the power and impetus of the human person. The plebeians represent the passions. These last receive every indulgence because every indulgence is for the passions, not reason or the will. If reason and the will were to indulge in such things, the person would be dissolute. Yet the passions only receive what indulgences reason directs and the will procures so that they do not attain dominance of human affairs.

            In that sense, the Republic is a sort of political philosophy. Government of the soul and government of the body politic share the common end of ensuring Reason rules as the supreme autocrat. Words such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are meaningless if they are not strictly defined and controlled by reason. One may say this would limit human freedom. On the contrary, I answer that no person is free if they do not act according to right reason. They become enslaved, and by extension the state also, by their dissolute will or overindulged passions.

            A government that protects the right of every individual–a terribly dehumanizing word since it defines a person as being merely the smallest part of something else and does not allow, except artificially, for him to be inherently identified in himself–to create their own definitions for anything whatsoever protects its own destruction.


          14. Plato’s Republic is to demonstrate, using a subtle wit that would be used later in “A Modest Proposal,” how bad and inappropriate such a statist mastermind Utopia would be.

            Your assertion that “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is meaningless” unless controlled by masterminds of the state is exactly the sort of odious justification for totalitarianism that I fiercely oppose. You state that individuals need to be controlled by the state, and imply that you or other mastermind planners know what is best for people so that they won’t be “enslaved” by acting on their own rights. And you literally come out and say that a government should not and must not protect those rights.

            This thinking of yours has been obliquely teased at for some time, but this is your clearest statement yet of your totalitarian inclinations, and your denigration of individuals in favor of the collective good.

            No thanks. And you would not like the world you hope for, as every time it has been brought about, it has resulted in horrific human misery. Of course, all that suffering was by “individuals” — with hundreds of millions dying from the masterminds’ plans — but if you had been one of those individuals, perhaps the point would be clearer.

            Plato’s (Socrates’) Republic is not a metaphor demonstrating that individuals must be controlled. It is a thought experiment exposing the flaws in the idea that society can be ruled by supposed benign philosophers, and showing how such a system will inevitably fail. Others can learn from history, but you are evidently picking from it only what supports your romantic notions of Utopian statism.

            ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

            Liked by 1 person

          15. Wow, it isn’t about the soul? Man, there goes over 2000 years of scholarship, various philosophical schools to include Platonism, Neo-Platonism, Aristoteleanism, and Scholasticism, and great thinkers such as Aristotle, Philo, Justin Martyr, Bonaventure, Aquinas, Kirk, and MacIntyre. Clearly all these must be wrong because Keith DeHavelle, without textual support to back up his thesis, has reiterated almost verbatim what Mark Levin erroneously wrote in a tragic attempt at the Humanities. Next you’ll say the discussion really didn’t have anything to do with Justice.

            I’d stick to American punditry. Misunderstanding classics don’t become you.


          16. @mastersamwise

            You comment isn’t what I expected, but I tend to agree with Keith’s reply.

            I also think it obvious that what I call a republic is what James Madison envisioned, not Plato.

            Where Plato messed up is where you are messing up. You have the notion that mere men can somehow save other men. What the Bible makes clear is that only Jesus is fit to rule.

            1 Samuel 8 condemns the rule of Kings chosen by men. We are suppose to let God rule over our hearts, but we can choose to do that as individuals. Then as individuals we can share our fellowship in Christ with our families and other Christians.

            Consider. When you choose to follow the lead of the Pope, that is your individual decision. I don’t condemn you for making that choice; I just prefer to accept the guidance of another pastor, one whose claim of authority I find less strained.


          17. Plato’s allegory of the Cave is quite possibly the closest a pagan got to the mission of evangelization. Everyone sees the shadows on the wall, the mere appearance of how things truly are, distorted by the lack of light. When a person turns around and sees the things for what they are, he looks to see where the light come from. He then goes out of the cave and sees the sunshine. For Justin Marytr, a well known Platonist and Christian apologist of the 2nd century, this sun was the Logos, the Word that was made flesh. For Plato, the man who sees the sun attempts to go back and show those still watching the shadows to see the light. If this is not the mission of all Christians, then I never was one.

            If St. Paul is correct and we are to be not ourselves but Christ in us, then man is the conduit through which other men are saved. The Apostles themselves are a testament to the truth that Christ intended for men to bring men to salvation.

            Christian humanism is based on the concept that, through Christ, man is able to accomplish the good. It praises the human person as an integral part of society, not the individual. God created Adam, not as that part of a group that can no longer be divided further, but as a person full of the dignity and uniqueness inherent in the tripartite nature of man. An individual is not defined by who he is personally, but what he is divided from. He has no identity outside of a group. We say “individual Americans,” “individual conservatives,” and so on. The word comes from the Latin meaning “the indivible thing.” From its very root, the word means nothing more than that which can’t be divided anymore. It is a divisive word. It seeks to divide those things which are insoluble and indivisuble into groups, and camps, and little islands. It is also grossly wrong about human nature.

            Man is political animal. From Genesis we know that man is not meant to be alone. So God created woman. From the beginning, man was meant to live in community, not by himself. Man was never meant to be divided so that one man could be separated from his fellows. In Exodus, we see that as a punishment, not an ideal. From the beginning, God established the family, not the individual, as the basic unit of human society. Man, by his very nature, is meant to live with his fellow man. To what end? The pagans such as Plato called it virtue, but that is merely looking at things; it does not get out into the cave yet for virtue comes from the Logos and it is toward the Logos that all human society is meant to be directed.

            Since all things much be ordered toward the Logos or the Divine Reason of God, then it follows that this same Reason or right reason would inform every aspect of society, including our concepts of life, liberty, and happiness.

            Where the Enlightenment thinkers such as Locke, Kant, and Madison messed up was believing that nature, independent of any hard definitions, would be sufficient to inform law and society for years to come. You talk of Plato trusting too much in man’s power to save his fellow man, but Washington in his farewell address admitted that everything would go downhill without religious and morally upstanding people around. With each man orthodox unto himself, it isn’t likely that objective principles will survive the next generation. Sure enough, they didn’t.

            So long as a man is able to believe that the shadow of Life is really life, the shadow of Liberty is really Liberty, the shadow of happiness is really happiness, then this republic is irrevocably doomed, there is nothing you can do to stop it, and Washington totally called it. If we do not see things for what they truly are, if we do not let right reason rule the soul in every action including political ones, and if we do not move others to accept the same rule for the good of society, then we can expect nothing short of slavery.


          18. @mastersamwise

            That is a very good reply. When I read what you wrote, I thought of this passage.

            John 14:7-15 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
            Oneness with the Father

            7 If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.”

            8 Philip *said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus *said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves. 12 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

            15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.

            Consider the last line in that passage. When we let Jesus work through us, why do we do it? Don’t we do it because we love Him? Can anyone twist our arm and make us love Him? Don’t we love Him because He loved us first?

            He gave us our existence, and He gave us His life to save us from our own sins. He gave us the power to love, to bind ourselves to other individuals in families, communities, churches,….

            Love is not something the world can give. Countries do not love. Even churches and families cannot love. Only individuals in families, in churches, in countries, and in this world can show us Christ because only as individuals can we choose to keep His commandments. Only individuals can love.

            Is love infectious? Yes. Can we catch love from someone who loves us? Yes. Is that not what God does for us? When He loves us, He shows us how to love — why we should love each other.

            Love is why Christians protect individual rights. We keep His commandments because we love Him. We love each other because we love Him. Without life, without liberty, without the right to pursue happiness (which is really the right to pursue Christ), we risk losing the right to truly learn of Christ and to learn to love Him.

            Remember what Christ told His apostles to do. Did He tell them to rule in His name? No. We are not fit for that. Jesus did not task us to create the kingdom of heaven upon this earth. He told the apostles to spread the Gospel, to baptize and make disciples in His name, and for us that is difficult enough.


          19. Tell me: does man have the liberty to define life as beginning at the point when a fetus can survive outside the womb? Does man have the liberty to define marriage as being between a man and a man? Does man have the right to pursue happiness through frequent intercourse with various partners? Does man have the right to purse happiness through amassing his own wealth with no care for those less fortunate?

            It does not take revelation to realize that man does not have the right to do any of these things. Yet, with America’s current philosophy, it is perfectly normal. It is almost just that these things happen. Roe and Obergefell were just the culmination, the reaping so to speak, of our philosophical foundations.


          20. @mastersamwise

            Good questions.

            I believe the answers to your questions are all “yes.” God allows us to choose wrongly. Neither you nor I, nor any other man has the power to change that. Only Jesus has the power to create heaven on earth.

            Think about Genesis 3. God gave Adam and Eve only one rule. He allowed them disobey. The consequences followed. Since then we speak of fallen man. We speak of the spirit being willing, but the flesh being weak.

            Government does not have the power to reverse Adam’s choice. We cannot save ourselves. All we can try to do is protect each other from the depredations of wrongdoers.

            Whenever we try to use government to create a Utopian state, we just make government itself a greater predator.

            Fortunately, Jesus Christ paid the cost of Adam’s sin (and all our sins). To reverse Adam’s choice — to accept the gift Jesus offers us — we must choose to love Him and each other. If we do choose to love Him and each other, He will strengthen our flesh. We will then only engage in sex when lawfully wedded with someone of the opposite sex. We will then strive to raise our children to love God and their neighbors. We will then understand that we can only achieve true happiness when we are obedient to our Father in heaven.

            Yet love is an individual choice. We cannot make someone love either God or their neighbors. With force we can only force people to pretend. With force we can only force people to lie. Even in ancient Israel, when they stoned people for breaking the law, some still murdered, some still engage in unnatural sex, and some still committed adultery.

            So what is in our power? What can we do to help each other find salvation? We can set an example.

            Contemplate these words.

            John 13:31-35 New King James Version (NKJV)

            The New Commandment

            31 So, when he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in Him. 32 If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and glorify Him immediately. 33 Little children, I shall be with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come,’ so now I say to you. 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

            The church the apostles created thrived in spite of government, not because of it. It succeeded because those Christians believed in a God who loved them, and so they loved each other, and they conquered the pagans around them with the power of their example.

            Liked by 1 person

          21. @mastersamwise, who wrote a sequence of questions, which I will address one at a time. But first, you began each of these with “Does man….” Of course, “man” takes no actions and makes no decisions except as the effect of individual actions (whether compelled or not) and individual decisions.

            I know you prefer to think of collective terms, and disdain the concept of individualism and individual liberty as you’ve said. But individual liberty and individual rights are the key elements in play here, and thus I will answer your questions in that context. So:

            Tell me: does [a] man have the liberty to define life as beginning at the point when a fetus can survive outside the womb?

            Yes. I did, just a moment ago … and then decided to reject this notion, as there is too much contradictory evidence. I can think my own thoughts, and there is no regulatory body that can prevent me from doing so.

            Now, do I have the liberty to force others in my community or nation to agree with me? No. In an ideal grouping of people, such things would be best done under a careful study of texts and natural law, and then convincing of others (and against an appropriate Constitutional framework such as we originally had), and even so must not infringe upon nor force changes upon others’ practice of their own beliefs, so long as such beliefs do not infringe upon the rights of still others.

            And there is no question in the minds of most people that a human baby, minutes before birth, is a human being. I have proposed a working definition that mirrors the current legal approach of considering brain death the end of life. I propose that “brain life” — the point at which enough differentiated and organized neurons have formed a brain capable of perceiving pain — be legally fixed as a point at which the developing human inherits legal rights including the right to life. There are still agonizing decisions to be made in cases of the life of the mother, somewhat similar to the difficult process associated with rare cases of Siamese twins requiring separation where only one twin can survive. But we do make such decisions, and such a definition — as a compromise, and sensitive to freedom of religion — may act as a reasonable guide to lawmaking.

            ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle


          22. @Keith

            I accept the fact that there is a certain logic to using “brain life” as a definition of when life begins and end. Nevertheless, I wonder about the accuracy of the definition. I think we have a certain obligation to play it safe. Conception as the definition of the beginning of life is playing it safe. We know that at conception we have the beginning of a unique human life. What does “brain life” indicate? I wonder, but I do know that the mischievous have used the ambiguity of our definitions with devastating effect. 10’s of million of little corpses thrown in garbage cans.

            I see no reason to expect such people to be reasonable, careful about the harm they do to others, or honorable in their conduct. I just expect them to connive to get whatever it is they want for themselves. Therefore, I want the abortions to stop, all of them.


          23. So life itself, though the right to it, is dependent on discursive rationalizations? In this way, life is no longer inalienable. You need only control the definition of what life is and then you can take away what was previously inalienable. Consider the plight of American slave. He was not considered to have life equal to that of a white man. The definition of human life did not include him. What is to stop anyone from merely changing those definition to declare a new group as subhuman? You may object and say this is not possible in such an enlightened age as now, but is this not the same argument made about the unborn? You make my case when you talk of brain activity. You have declared that a thing’s very humanity depends upon inductive notions of brain activity. Would you say this is “settled science?” How like the climate changers you have become! Out of one mouth you decry over-reliance on faulty science to promote public policy, and out of another you extol science as the measure for something as important as life itself. Tell me, prior to brain activity, what is alien about the fetus? What makes it non-human? Is this some resurgence of the the maxim cogito ergo sum? What sort of life is it before it becomes human life?

            You seem to be under the apprehension that a person can believe a wrongheaded thing and no one can be harmed, provided they stay out of the legislature. If that were so, you really have no grounds to argue any point whatsoever regarding morals except that no one should express them in any way that is remotely public.


          24. @mastersamwise, who wrote:

            So life itself, though the right to it, is dependent on discursive rationalizations? In this way, life is no longer inalienable.

            You’ve tangled up whatever you were trying to say. Currently, human babies are being killed in the United States, even after being born, because they are “inconvenient.” I propose to improve upon this. You’re objecting.

            Consider the plight of American slave. He was not considered to have life equal to that of a white man. The definition of human life did not include him.

            You are simply wrong here. Africans were considered inferior humans by some, but certainly not all. This was true at the time of the Declaration of Independence and the framing of the Constitution, which Lincoln pointed out more than half a century later. It is true that slaves were considered by many not to have rights equal to that of free whites, but this something that the framers of the Constitution were seeking to end, hence its various anti-slavery provisions, and the resistance to inserting anything into the Constitution about race. The concept of “whites” and “blacks” is not mentioned at all in the Constitution. Indians are, but for reasons other than race; my father was a teenager before Indians were made citizens of the United States by law. He was part Indian, but a small-enough part that the new statute did not affect him.

            There was much political motivation behind the denial of rights to black persons. For example, Chief Justice Roger Taney, who wrote the infamous Dred Scott decision, had previously argued on behalf of recognizing the rights of black persons when he was a lawyer not yet appointed to the Supreme Court. When writing Dred Scott, he was a strong partisan supporter of the South.

            Contrary to your assertion, from the founding of the United States, blacks have always been considered persons, and humans. Even the three-fifths clause, intended to reduce the influence of slaveholders in Congress, counted free blacks as full persons for the purposes of representation. And slaves were persons, just “other persons” counted differently to hamstring the slaveholders’ sway in the House of Representatives.

            You make my case when you talk of brain activity. You have declared that a thing’s very humanity depends upon inductive notions of brain activity. Would you say this is “settled science?” How like the climate changers you have become! Out of one mouth you decry over-reliance on faulty science to promote public policy, and out of another you extol science as the measure for something as important as life itself.

            I have “declared” no such thing. I merely point out a current legal standard in use throughout the United States, and that this same end-of-life standard can be pressed into service at the beginning of human development to advance the cause of those who are pro-life (not to mention the unborn themselves). Once again, you object.Tell me, prior to brain activity, what is alien about the fetus? What makes it non-human?Nothing. Nor did I suggest any such notion. I was advocating for a position that, while obviously a compromise, would be a gain over current statutes — and is conceptually achievable. What you want is not, in the US. It would be in a theocracy, but that isn’t something that Citizen Tom nor I would like to see come about.

            Is this some resurgence of the the maxim cogito ergo sum? What sort of life is it before it becomes human life?

            The operating issue here is the legal definition of a human with rights to life. We have decided, and it is broadly accepted, that a heartbeat can be ended once brain activity has stopped. I am simply taking legal practice near the end of life and swapping it around to near the beginning. This would reduce the number of abortions, and importantly (to me) would reduce abortions where the developing fetus could experience the process.

            I am not religious at all, but I am as appalled as anyone at the notion of cutting up a living, thinking, conscious just-born infant for parts. And at any stage where some semblance of consciousness could be registered, such an act must be avoided (in my view) in every case possible. I would grant a “life of the mother” exception, but not a “convenience of the mother” exception as is now the case. You would tilt at a windmill until and unless you got everything you wanted, and allow hundreds of thousands of late term fetuses to continue to the slaughter. To me, that is utterly wrongheaded. Speaking of which:

            You seem to be under the apprehension that a person can believe a wrongheaded thing and no one can be harmed, provided they stay out of the legislature.

            More correctly, so long as they do not coerce others. They have that right, as much as your theocracy is annoyed by such individual liberties.

            ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle


          25. It only takes a two thirds majority in the senate or a simple majority in the court to determine a thing to be so. For the longest time, and at the beginning of America as well, black slaves were considered subhuman. This is why the anti-slavery bits were edited out of the Declaration.
            The point is that it took merely the legislation or adjudication of a few men to determine the fate of an entire race for more than 100 years. Your ‘compromise” is treating the cancer with aspirin. As Justice Scalia argued when the partial birth abortion ban came before the court, you are cutting around the corners while ignoring the issue. Conviently for me, you make my argument. If life is so inalienable, why are we compromising over it? If the law is not congruent with the reality of life, then why is it still law? Even if the majority believes that life begins at some other time, do they have the right to enact legislation hostile to the actual definition of life? For if the right to life is inalienable, its meaning must also be so for nothing that is immovable can be said in any sense to be moved. The definition of life, since 1973, has moved. The right is no longer a fixed point. It is capable to be changed and redefined at the whim of the people. So much for Jefferson. So much for natural law.

            You call this a theocracy yet I have not mentioned God. This idea that man has the liberty to religiously pursue the mediocrity of bad ideas is a new invention. For more than 2000 years, before the abandonment of reason in the 17th century for discursive and empirical flimflam, to have an incorrect notion was thought to be equally dangerous to the person as it was to society. Bad ideas have a way of latching on and seeming good for a long time. Hence why you speak like classical Liberal with all the originality of a potato. At the start of this discourse, I tried keeping count of all the Liberal cliches, but lost count at about 50. The fact that you accuse a humanist of theocraticism because I reject the idea that man is some sort of wonderful creature that can self-determine to the good without outside direction or coercion is laughable. I tend to have a more realistic outlook on man. Frankly, he can always be relied upon to screw up somehow, not because he is actively evil, but because he believes so many things are good when they are not.

            The right to life is a good, but it is defined wrong because it is perceived wrongly. If this union was truly formed to establish justice, then shouldn’t the law reflect what is truly just rather than what is thought to be just? Is it not justice to protect the unborn? If so, why compromise the Constitution’s dedication to the establishment of justice so that some individuals can continue in a wrong belief undisturbed?

            Ironically, you may want to consult Plato’s Republic for a definition of Justice.


          26. @mastersamwise:

            On to the next, on marriage:

            Does [a] man have the liberty to define marriage as being between a man and a man?

            The same logic applies. You may think this definition, but cannot force it upon others, and the society-level decisions should be arrived at as previously described.

            I do not have a religious objection against homosexuals marrying each other, per se. But they are acting as just one more phalanx in the army of leftists attacking the social fabric of America with the goal of making the country weak, impotent, and no longer prosperous, and they think they are backed by a perverse notion of “social justice” as they work to bring about the misery of hundreds of millions of people. As the effects continue to grow — and we already see some of them — these social justice warriors will blame others, remnants of “privilege,” “the system,” anything but themselves … until a collapse comes, at which point it will be too late. Bt same-sex marriage is merely a small part of the onslaught against America, and (were it not for the militant actions of advocates) not a particularly important part.

            ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

            Liked by 1 person

          27. Social fabric? What social fabric? The fabric of everyone believing whatever they like without anyone being able to tell them they are wrong except internet comboxers?

            As a matter of fact, scientific analysis and contemporary conceptions of natural law have decided that homosexual unions are not only normal, but good for society. Is this settled science like fetal brain activity or will you deny it like climate change. I need to know when you will actually trust contemporary science because you seem wildly inconsistent in that regard.


          28. Incidentally, I do not worship nor deny “science.” I follow the evidence where it leads, and have a lifelong appreciation for the scientific method as the best system yet devised to approach the true workings of nature. But I am also keenly aware that, at least for periods of time, scientists can be fooled, suborned, or corrupted, and there is much evidence of that going on now.

            The pedigrees of some of the Pope’s “science” advisors — including people who utterly despise Christianity — provide ample evidence of the corruption that concerns me. But I’ve been following the science of environmentalism with interest for more than four decades, and many of the sleight-of-hand tricks are easy to spot. Some require digging into the details, but they’ve become so blatant in recent times that they’re hardly trying to make the science look good anymore. Instead, they would outlaw what they consider “wrongheaded” thinking — exactly as you want to do.

            The recent flood of breathless doomsterism in support of the Paris meeting rehashes many long-debunked or easily debunked scares. Statistical manipulation — p fishing, for example — has become the new rage, piled on top of long-standing data manipulation. That don’t impress me much, as the song goes, and I am greatly saddened at the stain that catastrophists are leaving upon the practice of science. And, of course, the spread of this corruption was originally into science from politics, then religion, and is now spreading back out from there.

            ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle


          29. We may want to defer to one of the Pope’s chief philosophical influences in regards to his selection of scientists. “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” Simply put, you can learn a lot from crazy people who are experts. Indeed, much of Aristotle and Plato’s writings are showing why similar thinkers were wrong, almost right, or correct rather than just dismissing them outright because they held some crazy beliefs. For example, Thales of Miletus believed the principle of all matter was water. While this is not entirely correct, his notions about a spherical earth are still used today, albeit with certain qualifiers. Empedocles believed that fire, earth, water, and air were the basic atoms that made up everything. Little did he know that the four basic elements of life consist of carbon (earth), oxygen (air), hydrogen (water) and nitrogen (fire).

            You talk about a spread of corruption, but where does this begin if not with the false liberty to believe in and convince others of wrongheadedness?


          30. @mastersamwise:

            On to the next, on promiscuity:

            Does [a] man have the right to pursue happiness through frequent intercourse with various partners?

            Yes. You must convince him, and his partners, that this isn’t in his best interest. And you must do so without compulsion. But “an it harms no one” as the Pagan expression goes — in other words, so long as it does not infringe upon the rights of the partners — these people are within their human rights.

            We have legal guidelines in the US on such things including age restrictions, which would apply. Many of those guidelines make sense; some do not. And the actions of the promiscuous themselves arguably do not make sense, on grounds from societal to evolutionary to theological — but the right to do stupid things is an important, if not-much-talked-about, human right.

            ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

            Liked by 1 person

          31. Why would it not be in his best interest? He or she is capable of satisfying a basic animal necessity to have sex. Seems to me that it is entirely in their best interest to do so.

            The only way you could argue it is not in his best interest is from the perspective that it harms himself. Since you seem unwilling or unable to make that argument, you seem perfectly willing to allow people to destroy themselves if they wish. Such an attitude is what some have called the Culture of Death.


          32. @mastersamwise, who wrote:

            The only way you could argue it is not in his best interest is from the perspective that it harms himself. Since you seem unwilling or unable to make that argument, you seem perfectly willing to allow people to destroy themselves if they wish. Such an attitude is what some have called the Culture of Death.

            I do not advocate such behavior.

            But you! You would declare, in your inestimable wisdom, what is good for individuals and what harms them, and you would mandate or prohibit based upon what you and fellow soi-disant masterminds would decide. That culture, totalitarianism, is the one responsible for the deaths of about 200 million people killed in peacetime, mostly within my own lifespan. You have put forward all sorts of justifications for this, as has Pope Francis: A global government must constrain people to protect the environment, protect the poor, keep people from harming themselves, keep people from harming future generations, et cetera.

            Of course, you would do this with all the discerning skill that politicians always exhibit in such horse-trading, log-rolling porkfests — but this time on a global scale. And by constricting out of existence the free market that you and the Pope find so objectionable, you would spread misery once again across the entire globe.


            The Pope’s concern with the poor and the environment is commendable. His lack of understanding of the mechanisms, coupled with his position of great influence, makes him frankly (so to speak) one of the most dangerous men currently on the planet.

            ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle


          33. I hold that the good for any person is readily apparent to anyone who bothers to actually look for it. That culture is called Western Civilization. It was perfectly fine until you Liberal forefathers cam along and decided things out of nowhere like how the intellect was untrustworthy or that the good was something self-determined. All are exceedingly laughable proposition. In attempting to liberate man from the “oppression” of being most human in the practice of virtue, your Liberal friends ended up enslaving men to the plebiscite Jacobinism that we have to endure today, rebelling against anything for nothing.

            Now, it seems you do not understand the concept of subsidiarity that the Pope speaks from. Each issue has a categorical level of human society where it belongs and those issues that are proper to one level should not be addressed at higher or lower levels than the one it is justly assigned. Thus, issues of child rearing naturally fall to the family, being the smallest unit of human society to everyone except you Liberals. The local community then provides protections to the families, then the next level to communities, then so on until we get to the largest community: the global, human community.

            The Pope argues his postulates, not from the position of socialist to capitalist, but from humanist to Liberal. The very notion that there is a way to be most human that is objective, capable of being determined, and the necessary end of all human action at every level of interaction.

            This is why when you say “free market” and interpret it to mean a market that has the least restrictions, you call us pinko commie’s who claim that the market, in order to be truly free, needs rules to foster true freedom. In short, freedom is not doing what you want, but what you ought. It is not some petty idealism, it is discovering what it means to be most human, to be most ourselves. It is also not petty dogmatism, burdening people with rules in order to condition them into being a certain way. Again, it is seeing the human person for who he is and acting according to that being. We don’t ask for heavy taxation on the wealthy in order to fund social security. We believe and affirm that, in order to be most human, the vulnerable persons in society, such as the elderly, need to be supported. If this is spreading misery, then let the whole world wail with lamentation then.

            Humanism is irrevocably linked to teleology since the study of a thing will inevitably ask “why is it?” Thus, the end of man, the good for man, the object of human existence is the whole purpose of human interaction and what the Pope and I are actually concerned about. You can debate market shares all you want, but the fundamental truth remains that, unless market sharing has the good of man as its end, all the eras of prosperity will be meaningless.


          34. @mastersamwise:

            And finally, on wealth:

            Does [a] man have the right to purse happiness through amassing his own wealth with no care for those less fortunate?

            Yes. And in fact, you consistently miss the important fact that his pursuit of profit through the free market is a direct benefit to “those less fortunate.” Fortune — chance — has an impact. Some people are born with disadvantages and disabilities; I’ve acquired some only lately. But I retain certain advantages, at least for the moment, of which important ones are family support (an area that is the target of many leftists) and the ability to type.

            What I am allowed to type is now being considered by the FCC for regulation. A separate subject…

            We each have different talents and native abilities. But determination and inspiration are very significant as well, in determining whether one can be good at “amassing his own wealth” or accomplishing other goals in the world. And such pursuits absolutely are basic human rights. Moreover, where Pope Francis goes horribly wrong is assuming, as you have done, that the free market is harmful to others, or that accumulation of wealth — the code phrase is “income inequality,’ is inherently harmful, as though “wealth” were a fixed commodity and can only arise by being taken from others. This is simply untrue.

            So long as the market is free and operates without coercion, both sides benefit from the transaction, both come away from the exchange happier, and the man bent on “amassing his own wealth” in the free market must be constantly thinking of how to please his fellow human beings, by creating and improving products or services that his fellows will voluntarily exchange some of their own wealth for. This effect, not the Church, has reduced poverty for billions, and has a most impressive track record.

            It is not the same as large business entities who exchange favors with governments to obtain unfair advantages in trade for election support. Such crony capitalism is not at all a free market, and here you and I and Pope Francis would agree that this is an evil to be combated. But he proposes going about it in the entirely wrong way — understandable considering his anti-capitalist advisors and background.

            Crony capitalism comes about naturally when government regulates markets. In so doing, they are in a position of regulating in a particular way that can help one enterprise against its competitors, or even eliminate its competitors. (Historically, all monopolies have been government-created.) The differential regulation gives government members something to sell — and they prosper by corrupting the free market.

            To the extent that you reduce or eliminate government’s ability to interfere with business, you cut the incentives that lead to the corruption. With nothing to sell to such entities, politicians lose their “cronies” and the incentives are realigned with a free (and thus without coercion and automatically fair) market.

            Our founders understood this; they proposed to regulate only commerce between states, to have a federal court act as an arbiter when there were multiple state authorities involved in a dispute. That limited role has been long since abandoned, and I am strongly in favor of restoring it, limitations and all.

            ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

            Liked by 1 person

          35. It is telling that you had the most to say about money. The free market is full of men and, as Hamilton aptly wrote, man are inclined to be ambitious, rapacious, and vindictive. To believe that men can just get along when there are no rules is laughably naive. The founders saw a need for some regulation. Hence the commerce clause. So how should you regulate? You could regulate so that profit is maximized. Seeing as I have no desire to return the children to the factories, I will have to disagree with that notion. If the highest end of commerce is merely the attainment of wealth, then man is thrown to the wayside. Usury, cronyism, and other forms of injustice stem from regulating markets with the object being profit when all along, it should have been justice.

            What is a just wage? How can we improve our business practices so that they not only give the greatest chance to the greatest number, but actually provides opportunity for those who wouldn’t normally get a chance? How can we make the market oriented towards the building of man, rather than capital. If you say that man is built when he has capital, then you reduce man to a mere money relation. A man is measured by the sum of his bank account, not his inherent goodness. We combat inequality with equity, and injustice with justice. Not for hoarded gold, but for man.


          36. And finally, @mastersamwise, who wrote:

            It does not take revelation to realize that man does not have the right to do any of these things. Yet, with America’s current philosophy, it is perfectly normal. It is almost just that these things happen. Roe and Obergefell were just the culmination, the reaping so to speak, of our philosophical foundations.

            Your final assertion that “man does not have the right to do any of these things” is thus demonstrably incorrect, on grounds both theological and based in natural law. Moreover, what you would do in order to eliminate practices that you don’t consider me to have the right to do is profoundly disturbing.

            I am not in favor of abortion or same-sex marriage, though my objections are nuanced as noted. But I am strongly in favor of the free market — which you would eliminate by turning it into a global crony capitalism orgy — regulated by global “authorities” in the name of “the poor” and “the environment.”

            It has been done before. Tens of millions have died each time. That’s enough.

            ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

            Liked by 1 person

          37. Whose natural law? That is, the natural law according to whom? You? Kant? You make the appeal but offer no principles.

            Also, what theological grounds?


        2. @mastersamwise, who wrote:

          The best way to muddle through the news about the Pope is to realize that he really has no political agenda.

          This assertion would surprise many. A political agenda is not merely seeking election, but extends to desires and attempts to change the actions of a body of people through changes in governance of those people. This might be enacting or repealing a law, changing the priorities of those who govern the people, or changing the system of government entirely. It seems quite clear that Pope Francis desires that the people of the US, and elsewhere, change their priorities, and he espouses changes in governance to accomplish this. This is not itself problematic, and it is unclear what you gain by denying what seems obvious.

          Nevertheless, you undermine your own assertion in the next two sentences:

          For the Pope and the Church, politics is a subordinate science to theology. Theology is meant to inform everything we do. Thus, when speaking about theology, politics is fair game.

          I’d agree with this assessment, but if “politics is fair game” to the Pope, then it cannot also be said that he has no political agenda. Even in his meeting with the Kentucky clerk, he encouraged her not to change her religion- and Constitution-based political position, i.e., he chose a side in that political debate. (He literally told her to “stay strong,” if the reports from her and others are correct.)

          I have no problem with the Pope being involved in politics; I do believe that a number of his political choices are wrong. Popes in the past have been forces for good when operating politically, and example of this is the Vatican’s role in helping to bring about the end of the Soviet Union without a war being involved.

          My first comment on this was about your analogy of the situation, where you wrote:

          To say you can’t [mix] politics and theology to the Church and the Pope is basically saying Christ isn’t allowed in this aspect of my life.

          This struck me as a straw man argument. You are attacking an assertion that Citizen Tom did not make, nor was it made in the post he was quoting from. Neither of them denied that you or anyone could mix politics and theology. So, this statement struck me as unfair, specifically as a fallacious argument.

          I constructed a parallel structure and described it as “fairer”:

          It would be fairer to say that Christ isn’t allowed into this aspect of the left-leaning Pope’s life, or his pontifications.

          By “this aspect,” which was admittedly unclear without the context of our previous discussions, I was referring to his assertions about the free market and governance of it. He advocates in essence for a command economy, for governments to reduce or eliminate what he considers materialism and greed and the harm that capitalism causes the world’s poor and the environment. His teachings in these areas would produce, and always have produced, results exactly the opposite of what he ostensibly desires. And as Citizen Tom notes elsewhere, Pope Francis evidently has (at least in part) confused crony capitalism with the free market.

          My assertion was that my statement was fairer than yours. I still think this is true. That assertion does not say that my statement is completely accurate, but it is better-supported by evidence (his encyclical and related statements) than is the one you made. The advocacy of socialist government is decidedly un-Christ-like in my view, considering the consistent results of such governments. And yes, I am a non-theist, but I have read more than one version of the Bible with keen interest and generally take Thomas Jefferson’s approach to the topic. The assertion was not an ad hominem at all, since the point of my argument was about the man himself — thus a description of him is not a fallacious argument in that context.

          You objected to my statement — incidentally opening with a logical fallacy, complaining about my technique rather than the assertion itself. I am responding somewhat in kind, as you explicitly asked for logical fallacies to be pointed out. But it makes me wonder: Would you assert that Pope Francis is not “left-leaning,” to pick one of my descriptors?

          ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle


        3. @mastersamwise, who wrote:

          I would ask you to produce one instance where the Pope mentioned capitalism.

          I was given to understand that you were among a tiny and exalter few who read the Laudato Si in Latin. But your words are those of someone who has been exposed only to the comments about the document by political pundits.

          Pope Francis talks about capitalism constantly. Yes, he uses all sorts of euphemisms and circumlocutions. I do not know if this was intentional, so that foolish people can assert “He never mentioned capitalism!” It surprises me to see you include yourself in such ranks.

          Pope Francis hammers away on capitalism constantly, throughout the Encyclical. He usually uses the euphemism “the market” or “consumerism,” as when he asserted that :

          … we need to reject a magical conception of the market, which would suggest that problems can be solved simply by an increase in the profits of companies or individuals.

          It is clear that his writings reveal little understanding of the free market, but there is no doubt that he is attacking it. There are many dozens of similar references, from the first pages to the last.

          A key element of the free market is private property. Pope Francis is against this as well; he requires that any notion of private property must be subjugated to what he calls a “social mortgage” so that all property will be used for the good of all and the exclusion of no one. He complains that:

          []t]he Christian tradition has never recognized the right to private property as absolute or inviolable, and has stressed the social purpose of all forms of private property. Saint John Paul II forcefully reaffirmed this teaching, stating that “God gave the earth to the whole human race for the sustenance of all its members, without excluding or favouring anyone”.

          The emphasis is in the original. There are quite a few complaints about private property scattered throughout, mixed in with calls for a new political system of global governance with a real power to punish. He stresses this in a variety of ways, emphasizing a globally planned command economy instead of a free market which he calls guilty of “overproduction”:

          Interdependence obliges us to think of one world with a common plan. Yet the same ingenuity which has brought about enormous technological progress has so far proved incapable of finding effective ways of dealing with grave environmental and social problems worldwide. A global consensus is essential for confronting the deeper problems, which cannot be resolved by unilateral actions on the part of individual countries. Such a consensus could lead, for example, to planning a sustainable and diversified agriculture, developing renewable and less polluting forms of energy, encouraging a more efficient use of energy, promoting a better management of marine and forest resources, and ensuring universal access to drinking water.

          Despite his naive commentary here (and the emphasis on “common plan” is his), the free market has proven to be an amazingly powerful force confronting and overcoming the “deeper problems” of poverty and environment.

          If you ignore the current catastrophist meme of calling carbon dioxide a “pollutant” (as the Pope does repeatedly), an objective analysis has shown that the free market has elevated people to the point where they can and do address environmental concerns, and poverty is all but obliterated. It is countries without free markets that are the big polluters and have the world’s remaining masses of people living in abject poverty.

          Of course, the Pope takes the required leftist shots for “better distribution of wealth” and elimination of “inequality” — silly notions that have traditionally only produced equal poverty and misery for all but an elite ruling class, throughout history. And he wants to punish the United States by making it pay for its sins — in cash — to the underdeveloped nations of the southern hemisphere.

          Pope Francis is fixated on mid-nineteenth century Marxist ideals, and is evidently unwilling to consider other notions. He even cheers for Marxist critique of the famous list of sins, aspects that he calls “myths”:

          individualism, unlimited progress, competition, consumerism, the unregulated market.

          To sum up: “Free market? The Pope’s against it.”

          He refers frequently to “freedom,” but he considers this to be the freedom to reduce our own standard of living to subjugate ourselves to the environment (which really translates to subjugating ourselves to the global government, who would decide what our standard of living should be in order to be “fair” and “just”). That’s the only moral freedom in his eyes, it seems.

          But he doesn’t write the literal word “capitalism” anywhere in the 180 pages, enabling you to launch the attack you did, evidently hoping I’d never actually read it.

          ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle


          1. @Citizen Tom,

            Well, I’m happy to see this comment — I hadn’t saved it, and it simply disappeared when I posted it. You indicated that I am sometimes annoyed posting here because of the inability to edit comments. (In this instance, I’d change “exalter” to “exalted” for example.) I’m usually just disappointed. But last night, when this large comment seemed to evaporate without a trace, I was indeed annoyed.

            ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle


          2. I am sorry. I have no idea why the spam filter discarded that comment.

            Most days I have only a small window of time to blog so I did not notice the your comment had been filtered.

            Sometimes I wonder about WordPress. I am tempted to transfer my blog to a small company run by Conservatives. Do you know of one?


          3. Not offhand. And WordPress is popular enough, supported enough, and a rich enough environment to be worth keeping, I think.

            It would be interesting to see what tripped the spam filter. Usually it’s links, but the comment in question was mostly quotes.

            Another oddity, not related: I am set up to receive your posts and all comments. But your posts arrive many hours delayed; I usually am first informed by someone else commenting on a new post.

            ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle


          4. Well, I am certainly flattered to know that. Wish it worked better.

            I guess you have observed what I do at the bottom of my blog. I keep track of the folks whose blogs I enjoy. I just wish I had time to read them all. I do make it a point to get around to your posts. Always something interesting.


          5. I’ve not posted much recently, but did today.

            Today’s post was on the grim business in Oregon. The utter loss of humanity in our culture directly led to today’s killings. The shooter is absolutely responsible, but the depraved environment that he immersed himself in, with so many others, is one that actively encourages such acts. When he posted, nine hours before the attack, what he planned to do, his fellows immediately cheered him on. You might call this a Godless society; to me, it is rapidly becoming a goodless one. One does not have to be a Christian to recognize the utter depravity that we are allowing/fostering/encouraging/teaching among our young people today. And they are very active on social media, spreading this insidious social plague.

            ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

            Liked by 1 person

          6. Godless. Goodless. Depending upon what we choose to call god or good, sometimes it can be much the same as evil. Some don’t seem to have the wisdom to tell the difference.

            Tomorrow I will take the time to read your post. I am not in a hurry to learn about this latest atrocity. Tonight I would rather rest.


          7. Laudato si. It is from the Umbrian dialect of the Italian language from the 13th century. It roughly means, “be praised.” Indeed, it came from the hymn Laudes Creaturarum by St, Francis of Assisi, a saint I know very well but historically and hagiographically. Laudato si, mi Signore cum tucte le Tue creature. Be praised my Lord through all your creatures. See, Pope’s take care in choosing their titles. It is is typically taken from the first word or two from the document, but those words set the tone for the whole document. To understand the document Laudato si, you must understand the hymn as well. The two are so irrevocably intertwined, it would be foolish not to.

            The idea that God is praised through his creation is a given. Everyone knows and accepts that fact. Yet, God is praised, it must be deduced, from his whole creation. Not just man and not just the rest of nature. To deny that man has an affect on nature is to deny that man have the will to act upon the physical world. For if man could not affect nature–see the river polluted by the EPA and the Bikini Atoll–then man would be diminished in his agency on nature which would mean that his will is not entirely free. This would also contradict the very clear passage in Genesis where God gives Adam dominion over all creation.

            So since we know that man has a God given dominion over nature, it is rational to conflate the dominion of God over us with our dominion over nature. God desires to be integrated into our lives, not controlling an army of mind slaves. So also we must look at nature, caring for it with the same care God has for us. Nature serves us like we serves God, but it is not a relationship of tyrant and slave.

            The Pope makes it clear that a) we have exploited the planet, b) we have a duty to fix it and c) that the change begins on the personal level. Whereas a socialist would be calling on whole societies to bring about change, the Pope reintroduces something–for us philosophy nerds in the room–that is pratically the antithesis–and I think the antidote–of socialism: humanism. Not the secular humanism of the Enlightenment, but the modern Christian humanism of Pope St. John Paul II. You know, the inspiration of the Polish Solidarity movement that ultimately led to the destruction of the Soviet Union.

            Indeed, to take any treatise on face value risks overlooking the real point of the work. Marx would then be reasonable and Sartre would make sense. For example, you talk about his attack on the inequitable distribution of goods in the world. Paragraph 50 is where he actually discussions the notion of unequal distribution.
            ” Yet “while it is true that an unequal distribution of the population and of available resources creates obstacles to development and a sustainable use of the environment, it must nonetheless be recognized that demographic growth is fully compatible with an integral and shared development”.[28] To blame population growth instead of extreme and selective consumerism on the part of some, is one way of refusing to face the issues. It is an attempt to legitimize the present model of distribution, where a minority believes that it has the right to consume in a way which can never be universalized, since the planet could not even contain the waste products of such consumption. Besides, we know that approximately a third of all food produced is discarded, and “whenever food is thrown out it is as if it were stolen from the table of the poor”.[29] Still, attention needs to be paid to imbalances in population density, on both national and global levels, since a rise in consumption would lead to complex regional situations, as a result of the interplay between problems linked to environmental pollution, transport, waste treatment, loss of resources and quality of life.”

            So what is being discussed here is the consumption of goods to the expense of others. It is based on the humanistic idea that markets are the interactions of people, not blind forces like the tides. Economic activity is the activity of people and people need to act morally. This lack of faith in the seemingly inviolable Zeitgeist is not new to the Church, nor the topics of Pope’s.

            “In a climate of mutual trust, the market is the economic institution that permits encounter between persons, inasmuch as they are economic subjects who make use of contracts to regulate their relations as they exchange goods and services of equivalent value between them, in order to satisfy their needs and desires. The market is subject to the principles of so-called commutative justice, which regulates the relations of giving and receiving between parties to a transaction. But the social doctrine of the Church has unceasingly highlighted the importance of distributive justice and social justice for the market economy, not only because it belongs within a broader social and political context, but also because of the wider network of relations within which it operates. In fact, if the market is governed solely by the principle of the equivalence in value of exchanged goods, it cannot produce the social cohesion that it requires in order to function well. Without internal forms of solidarity and mutual trust, the market cannot completely fulfill its proper economic function. And today it is this trust which has ceased to exist, and the loss of trust is a grave loss. It was timely when Paul VI in Populorum Progressio insisted that the economic system itself would benefit from the wide-ranging practice of justice, inasmuch as the first to gain from the development of poor countries would be rich ones[90]. According to the Pope, it was not just a matter of correcting dysfunctions through assistance. The poor are not to be considered a “burden”[91], but a resource, even from the purely economic point of view. It is nevertheless erroneous to hold that the market economy has an inbuilt need for a quota of poverty and underdevelopment in order to function at its best. It is in the interests of the market to promote emancipation, but in order to do so effectively, it cannot rely only on itself, because it is not able to produce by itself something that lies outside its competence. It must draw its moral energies from other subjects that are capable of generating them.

            Economic activity cannot solve all social problems through the simple application of commercial logic. This needs to be directed towards the pursuit of the common good, for which the political community in particular must also take responsibility. Therefore, it must be borne in mind that grave imbalances are produced when economic action, conceived merely as an engine for wealth creation, is detached from political action, conceived as a means for pursuing justice through redistribution.”

            That is Pope Benedict’s Caritas in Veritate. You can see the humanism. The market, for both Pope’s, is not some magic fairy that dispenses wonderful things if you let it. It is the result of human interaction. When trust fails, humans are greedy, and there is a lack of concern for others when people act in the market, then there is a moral problem. He, like Benedict, is attacking this idea that the market and an increase of money will somehow solve our problems when the problems lie not in market control, but the degradation of human relation. In fact, the Chronicle of Philanthropy shows that the ratio of income to charitable giving decreases the higher the income bracket is. That includes state imposed charity. The fact that the poorer among us are giving more of their income after taxes than the richest does not bear out the truth you allege that less market control will somehow magically make everyone more generous. True, a rich man giving 2.9% is going to be greater than the poor man giving 6%. But the ratio is what is important here. Why is the poor man giving more of his income than the rich man? This is the moral consequence of placing your trust not only in princes, but Mammon himself.

            It is interesting that you attack the Pope on private property as evidence of his socialism when that exact passage references yet another Pope. Unfortunately for your argument, that Pope was the same Pope that Time magazine in the 80’s was thought to be in a new Holy League against communism. So what does the “universal destination of goods” really mean?

            “The above principle, as it was then stated and as it is still taught by the Church, diverges radically from the programme of collectivism as proclaimed by Marxism and put into pratice in various countries in the decades following the time of Leo XIII’s Encyclical. At the same time it differs from the programme of capitalism practised by liberalism and by the political systems inspired by it. In the latter case, the difference consists in the way the right to ownership or property is understood. Christian tradition has never upheld this right as absolute and untouchable. On the contrary, it has always understood this right within the broader context of the right common to all to use the goods of the whole of creation: the right to private property is subordinated to the right to common use, to the fact that goods are meant for everyone.

            Furthermore, in the Church’s teaching, ownership has never been understood in a way that could constitute grounds for social conflict in labour. As mentioned above, property is acquired first of all through work in order that it may serve work. This concerns in a special way ownership of the means of production. Isolating these means as a separate property in order to set it up in the form of “capital” in opposition to “labour”-and even to practise exploitation of labour-is contrary to the very nature of these means and their possession. They cannot be possessed against labour, they cannot even be possessed for possession’s sake, because the only legitimate title to their possession- whether in the form of private ownerhip or in the form of public or collective ownership-is that they should serve labour, and thus, by serving labour, that they should make possible the achievement of the first principle of this order, namely, the universal destination of goods and the right to common use of them. From this point of view, therefore, in consideration of human labour and of common access to the goods meant for man, one cannot exclude the socialization, in suitable conditions, of certain means of production. In the course of the decades since the publication of the Encyclical Rerum Novarum, the Church’s teaching has always recalled all these principles, going back to the arguments formulated in a much older tradition, for example, the well-known arguments of the Summa Theologiae of Saint Thomas Aquinas.”

            So again we have very anti-Marxist principles of justice here. Also, just so we don’t have you accusing John Paul and Aquinas of communism, here is an except of the Summa that JPII references.

            “I answer that, Two things are competent to man in respect of exterior things. One is the power to procure and dispense them, and in this regard it is lawful for man to possess property. Moreover this is necessary to human life for three reasons. First because every man is more careful to procure what is for himself alone than that which is common to many or to all: since each one would shirk the labor and leave to another that which concerns the community, as happens where there is a great number of servants. Secondly, because human affairs are conducted in more orderly fashion if each man is charged with taking care of some particular thing himself, whereas there would be confusion if everyone had to look after any one thing indeterminately. Thirdly, because a more peaceful state is ensured to man if each one is contented with his own. Hence it is to be observed that quarrels arise more frequently where there is no division of the things possessed.

            The second thing that is competent to man with regard to external things is their use. On this respect man ought to possess external things, not as his own, but as common, so that, to wit, he is ready to communicate them to others in their need. Hence the Apostle says (1 Timothy 6:17-18): “Charge the rich of this world . . . to give easily, to communicate to others,” etc.

            Community of goods is ascribed to the natural law, not that the natural law dictates that all things should be possessed in common and that nothing should be possessed as one’s own: but because the division of possessions is not according to the natural law, but rather arose from human agreement which belongs to positive law, as stated above (57, 2,3). Hence the ownership of possessions is not contrary to the natural law, but an addition thereto devised by human reason.”

            So the Pope and the Church in her Social Doctrine support private property so long as the maintenance of private property does not violate the natural law which establishes that creation as a whole is meant for man as a whole so that preventing someone from enjoying the fruits of creation out of the desire to maintain property for the sake of property is commonly called the sin of avarice.

            Your comments on globalization do not reflect the totality of the Pope’s view. He criticizes the technocratic paradigm that claims to solve the ecological crisis by systems and technology. It argues that if we set up the right system and use the right type of car, we will combat climate change. So initiatives are started to get people to recylce, push population control, cap and trade programs, carbon credit systems but the Pope says this is not enough.

            “Ecological culture cannot be reduced to a series of urgent and partial responses to the immediate problems of pollution, environmental decay and the depletion of natural resources. There needs to be a distinctive way of looking at things, a way of thinking, policies, an educational programme, a lifestyle and a spirituality which together generate resistance to the assault of the technocratic paradigm. Otherwise, even the best ecological initiatives can find themselves caught up in the same globalized logic. To seek only a technical remedy to each environmental problem which comes up is to separate what is in reality interconnected and to mask the true and deepest problems of the global system.”

            So the Pope recognizes that these half-hearted measures that rely on technology to somehow change things is misguided. So much for the Green Peace plan.

            Also, your charge that Pope calls for a global authority is only half true. The specific instance is a quote from Pope Benedict again in Charitas in Veritate.

            “In the face of the unrelenting growth of global interdependence, there is a strongly felt need, even in the midst of a global recession, for a reform of the United Nations Organization, and likewise of economic institutions and international finance, so that the concept of the family of nations can acquire real teeth. One also senses the urgent need to find innovative ways of implementing the principle of the responsibility to protect[146] and of giving poorer nations an effective voice in shared decision-making. This seems necessary in order to arrive at a political, juridical and economic order which can increase and give direction to international cooperation for the development of all peoples in solidarity. To manage the global economy; to revive economies hit by the crisis; to avoid any deterioration of the present crisis and the greater imbalances that would result; to bring about integral and timely disarmament, food security and peace; to guarantee the protection of the environment and to regulate migration: for all this, there is urgent need of a true world political authority, as my predecessor Blessed John XXIII indicated some years ago. Such an authority would need to be regulated by law, to observe consistently the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity, to seek to establish the common good[147], and to make a commitment to securing authentic integral human development inspired by the values of charity in truth. Furthermore, such an authority would need to be universally recognized and to be vested with the effective power to ensure security for all, regard for justice, and respect for rights[148]. Obviously it would have to have the authority to ensure compliance with its decisions from all parties, and also with the coordinated measures adopted in various international forums. Without this, despite the great progress accomplished in various sectors, international law would risk being conditioned by the balance of power among the strongest nations. The integral development of peoples and international cooperation require the establishment of a greater degree of international ordering, marked by subsidiarity, for the management of globalization[149]. They also require the construction of a social order that at last conforms to the moral order, to the interconnection between moral and social spheres, and to the link between politics and the economic and civil spheres, as envisaged by the Charter of the United Nations.”

            Pope Francis said the following on global cooperation.

            “Enforceable international agreements are urgently needed, since local authorities are not always capable of effective intervention. Relations between states must be respectful of each other’s sovereignty, but must also lay down mutually agreed means of averting regional disasters which would eventually affect everyone.”

            It would seem your beef is not with the Pope, but with the Catholic philosophical tradition of humanism and the common notions we have about man and his place in society. Individualism is a myth. From Genesis we know that man was not meant to be alone and it is a fact confirmed by reason. Our freedom is found in excellence, not in the ability to do as you please. An unregulated market is an unregulated man, which we know from reason will lead to abuse and sin. Unlimited progress is a fancy term for “let us do what we want no matter the consequences.” If you want unlimited “progress” then Obergefell must be a big win for you. Movement needs direction, so progress needs limits. Yes, the Church reject utlitarianism and all its works and all its empty promises. Because that is what he was talking about. Here’s the full quote.

            “Whereas in the beginning it was mainly centred on scientific information, consciousness-raising and the prevention of environmental risks, it tends now to include a critique of the “myths” of a modernity grounded in a utilitarian mindset (individualism, unlimited progress, competition, consumerism, the unregulated market). It seeks also to restore the various levels of ecological equilibrium, establishing harmony within ourselves, with others, with nature and other living creatures, and with God. Environmental education should facilitate making the leap towards the transcendent which gives ecological ethics its deepest meaning. It needs educators capable of developing an ethics of ecology, and helping people, through effective pedagogy, to grow in solidarity, responsibility and compassionate care.” Huh, not really Marxist. Nothing about the importance of history. Even says that the end of environmental education should end in the material–a fundamental principle of Marxism as I am sure you are aware–but in the transcendent.

            In fact, it is laughable, seriously laughable to say this is anything close to Marxism. The title alone and the hymn it is based on is about how the material relates to the immaterial. That is basically poison to Marxism which bases itself ENTIRELY on the material. The material is the end of Marxism, yet the Pope talks about the care of the environment as having its end not in itself but in God. Either you didn’t read the document as closely as you should have, or you don’t really know what Marxism is other than the specter that hangs over the minds of conservatives. In your entire piece, you did not show how what the Pope said related to Marx or even socialism except by way of cherry picking the passages out of both the text and the philosophy behind it.


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