GUEST COLUMN
Is Pope Francis a Socialist?

October 2014By Steve Soukup

Steve Soukup is the Vice President and Publisher of The Political Forum, an “independent research provider” that delivers research and consulting services to the institutional investment community, with an emphasis on economic, social, political, and geopolitical events that are likely to have an impact on financial markets in the U.S. and abroad. This column originally appeared in somewhat different form at the website of the Culture of Life Foundation, www.cultureoflife.org, and is reprinted with permission.

Over the course of the thirty-five years prior to the election of Pope Francis, American conservatives grew accustomed to having their broader social and economic belief systems confirmed by supreme pontiffs. Both Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI were understood to be generally sympathetic to conservative views; John Paul in particular was revered as an anti-communist and thus an advocate of liberty and autonomy in the conduct of human affairs.

Needless to say, the former Jorge Mario Bergoglio has presented conservatives with some challenges. Like his predecessors, this Pope has insisted repeatedly that his pronouncements are not meant to be viewed as statements of policy but as declarations of human dignity and need. This, however, has not stopped conservatives from bristling at many of his statements, fretting openly over the first Jesuit Pope’s purportedly leftist leanings.

Consider, for example, Francis’s recent pronouncements on the “legitimate redistribution” of income. This May, at a meeting with the leaders of the United Nations, he spoke broadly about “equitable economic and social progress,” declaring that “a contribution to this equitable development will also be made both by international activity aimed at the integral human development of all the world’s peoples and by the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the State….”

Naturally, this set off American conservatives, leading many to shake their heads in disapproval, warning that this type of talk always and everywhere leads to trouble. The popular conservative syndicated columnist Cal Thomas responded in typical fashion, writing, “Charity and philanthropy are better than wealth redistribution because they create a bond between the giver and the receiver, unlike an anonymous government check. These donations also establish an expectation that the receiver has a moral responsibility to use the money or services wisely and be accountable to the giver…. Redistribution, or whatever name you give the practice, is socialism. Socialism often leads to mutually shared poverty.”


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Pope Francis comes from a continent and country that has regressed under the spell of Marxism. Argentina consistently has had a very weak currency, a lack of economic development and inculcated hostile views of viable long-term (and mainly Western-style) solutions. In his book on Cardinal Ratzinger, your associate editor Michael Rose noted that Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) wrote in 1984 that theologians who borrow in “an insufficiently critical manner” from Marxist ideology to effect social justice tend “invariably to betray the cause of the poor.” The result too often is violent class struggle and political amorality. The use of Marxist principles and terminology ultimately leads to the embrace of Marxist methods and goals, Ratzinger noted.

My opinion on Marxism is that is makes people poor, keeps people poor and then exploits those very same poor people. In the meanwhile, it also seems to starve, enslave and even kill its populace with impunity and without conscience. I don’t recall Jesus preaching such things. But such critiques – whether presented by the former pope, NOR or me – do not sit well in these times and may well be why Benedict resigned so unexpectedly in 2013, the first Holy See to do so in more than 600 years.

Pope Francis has been exceptionally eager to espouse socioeconomic views in line with his Jesuit humanistic training, as though a very mundane script has been laid out for him. Obviously, when activists who have made sport of clashing with Vatican authority suddenly lavish praise on a pontiff, something is amiss and likely by design. (Francis’s fans hailed from atheist, abortion and homosexual lobbies; the mainstream media and blogosphere, from The New York Times to The Huffington Post; and included such individuals as Jane Fonda and Jon [Levowitz] Stewart.)

Is the former Buenos Aires Archbishop now “[George] Soros’s pope”? I also found it interesting that he was the first pontiff to choose the name Francis, taken from one of the most popular saints even outside the circles of Catholicism. Could this have been just more good old scripting?
Posted by: j17ghs
October 13, 2014 07:30 PM EDT
There is no doubt that all of us are required to love one another. To me that means we are bound to perform spiritual and corporal acts of mercy. That certainly includes sharing our wealth with those in need. However, love of our neighbor, charity, is not shown in any way when we are required to surrender our wealth under force of punishment by a government. If that is what Pope Francis is implying then I believe he is in error. If that is not what he meant to say, then he should clarify his remarks so as to leave no confusion. If only he had given clarification on so many other comments he has made...! Posted by: farr.brad@gmail.com
November 04, 2014 06:38 PM EST
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