Our View: ‘Revolutionary’?

Posted: December 3, 2013

The liberal left is nothing if not predictable. And so it hardly came as a surprise when that most reflexive of liberal pundits, Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post, seized upon these sentiments expressed by Pope Francis in his recently released papal “exhortation” Evangeli Gaudium(The Joy of the Gospel).

“Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power ... Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.”

Proof positive that Mr. Robinson sees in these sentences validation of the progressive ethos he ardently espouses could be seen in the lead sentence two paragraphs removed from the papal quote: “The full implementation of ObamaCare matters.” The thinly veiled implication: Even Pope Francis would agree.

Or maybe not. As author and noted Vatican observer George Weigel wrote in Friday’s Wall Street Journal, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, and his papacy, defies such simple (and knee-jerk) compartmentalization. Mr. Robinson might be interested to know that the pope, in a recent sermon at daily Mass, took to task dictatorial utopians, whom he categorized as professing an “adolescent progressivism.”

So conservatives and progressives will take what they will from Francis, oblivious to the fact that neither a statist nor a laissez faire economist is he. What he is, by his admission, is “a son of the church,” a man devoid of “political ideology.” He is a shepherd, and the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics are his flock. The pope’s goal, says Mr. Weigel, is to steer the Church away from static “institutional maintenance” and toward a new realization of its evangelical mission. In this sense, the writer states, the pontiff is a “revolutionary.”

That said, do we concur with that assessment of free-market capitalism quoted by Mr. Robinson? We most definitely do not and so, in rebuttal, we ask: If not capitalism, then what? What other system of wealth creation and distribution affords man a greater opportunity, or greater freedom, to succeed, to realize his own potential, economically as well as spiritually?

The free market need not be incompatible with Francis’ “New Evangelization,” or the salvation of souls.