ZOMG An Argentinian Jesuit Who Took a Vow of Poverty Doesn’t Understand Economics The Same Way as an American Tea Party Conservatarian.
As a Catholic and a firm believer that capitalism is the best of all possible economic systems, I still can’t deny that there exists within a capitalist system corruption, evil and cronyism. People are part of capitalism so obviously their fallen nature is part it as well. If your conservative Christian mindset can’t withstand that fact, there’s obviously something wrong.
I’m sensing a lot of conservatives actually don’t even want to acknowledge this, and it bothers me. It seems as though some think that to do so is to admit that their economic worldview is wrong and to concede that capitalism and greed are the same thing. They’re not the same, but to say that greed does not often corrupt capitalism and create injustices is just as much a pie in the sky fantasy as any form of left wing utopianism.
The pope wrote an exhortation about evangelism, in which he addressed some economic issues that may be stumbling blocks for people being evangelized. I don’t agree with some of his supporting opinions (nor am I required to as a Catholic) but I certainly agree that obsession with money to the exclusion of people can be an obstacle to accepting the gospel. And I certainly believe that such obsession exists. It’s not good for one’s spiritual health and frankly it’s not good for capitalism. It feeds the the phony notion that capitalists are all greedy and in bed with corporatist cronies.
Most of the pundits having a public freakout over Evangelii Gaudium have failed to even recognize (or at least state that they understand) the purpose for which the document was written. They have isolated one section with content they disagree with and have presented the document as if that section is the primary theme. If a small document’s purpose can be so distorted by one’s politics, how much easier is it to miss the point of the gospel when portions of it do not coincide with your personal opinions?
That an Argentinian bishop–a Jesuit who has taken a vow of poverty, no less– doesn’t have the same understanding of economics as an American Republican or Libertarian is hardly something about which to get so excited. Why do relatively few conservatives react with a reasoned statement disagreeing with some of Pope Francis’ characterizations but acknowledging that people can generally corrupt even the most benign things? Is our capitalist worldview so fragile that acknowledging that people often suck is enough to topple it? That’s not a strike against capitalism. It’s a strike against humanity.
I think all the overtly political reactions to a document of religious purpose actually prove just how easy it is to let mundane things cloud our vision about larger ideas. It’s okay to acknowledge that people can corrupt any system or institution. It doesn’t mean that the system or institution itself is to blame.