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SPOTLIGHT
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Pope Francis is catching hell

Published on -1/17/2014, 10:08 AM

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Yes, the Argentinian newbie, Pope Francis -- on the job just since March of last year -- is catching hell from devout free-market capitalists.

Now I'm not a Roman Catholic, barely an Episcopalian, but I kinda like him. He once was a working-class guy. When he was younger, a night-club bouncer in Buenos Aries. Today, he's mostly traditional conservative, but advises judgmental j*******s (Better Half says don't use that word) to ramp it down a little on homosexuality and abortion. That's smart, I say. He hasn't said much about artificial birth control. But apparently he still thinks all those things are un-Christian, just better not to obsess about.

I've considered Francis might be mostly a smart politician, aware noisy judgmentalism on private parts issues might be hurting church attendance and making for lighter collection plates. Maybe not, but the case might be made.

Francis opposes women entering the RC priesthood. I guess he thinks they lack the tools ... and wouldn't use them correctly if they had 'em (not that male priests have a stellar record in that respect).

He's still big on chastity as a mark of spiritual superiority. Being a Sister or a Brother is OK if you agree not to graduate to an actual mother or a father -- or indulge in biological horseplay. Yes, you can aspire to capital letters as a spiritual Mother or a Father, but banned from making babies of your own.

But all that has zilch to do with why Francis is catching hell from some.

In the media, guys like Rush Limbaugh (who I'm told is a Methodist to some extent) said Francis is spewing "pure Marxism." In other words, he's a commie.

Others, like columnist/economist Walter E. Williams, use bigger words and more of them to say pretty much the same thing. Williams recently put Francis "squarely in company with a group of thugs" who dispute supply-side economic theory. That's when the wealthy guys make more and more money, they don't hog it but share more with us little guys. Treat us better, you know.

I can't discover what church Williams attends, but I'm guessing the Immaculate Heart of Ayn Rand. She's the self-proclaimed atheist saint of "unfettered" capitalism, where Williams takes regular communion.

If you hadn't heard, Rand surreptitiously was impregnated by the Roman God Pluto. Sometime in 1936, she gave birth near Bethlehem to baby Walter Edward. In attendance for the swaddling were three wise men, Rush Limbaugh and the Koch brothers. The whole deal was covered by Fox News's Sean Hannity and a bevy of busty blondes.

Well, enough about the busty blondes. I don't want to obsess.

St. Ayn -- mortally expired but spiritually ensconced at the left hand of Pluto -- preaches the real Jesus wants each of us to pursue our own interests to make more money. For Rand, the idea of collective societal responsibility, which includes doing unto others as we would have them do, etc., well, like Limbaugh says, all that is unfettered hooey. Communist. Individual generosity takes care of the whole problem. It always has, you know.

For Plutocratic religion, all that crap about child labor, filthy workplaces, scummy wages and benefits, uninspected food is fiction, sucking the Ogallala aquifer dry, pollution, global warming. Dumb. Besides, it cuts the bottom line.

Banker rip-offs? Taxpayer funded bailouts in the Great Recession of 2008? Off-shore tax havens? Hooey. Never happened. Plutocrats will take the best care of you and always have. Their generosity to Colorado coal miners and the bread-lines of the Dirty Thirties proved it. Ask the strike-breakers who bopped protesters in the head. Minimum wage? Quit complaining, pansies.

The Ayn Randy ones tell us, "Don't be talking about fettering-capitalism. Fettering is an old word for r-r-regulation. Can't have that. What's really Christian are profits, profits and more profits. Pooey on social and economic justice."

Well, yeah, capitalism does have its pluses. It also has its minuses. It needs some democratic fettering, otherwise the rich ultimately get ever richer by running rough-shod over the non-rich. (I recommend Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States" to those who think otherwise. Add Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle." Those books should be required reading.)

Well, friends, individual generosity sounds heavenly, but the promise always has exceeded the results. What's required to mediate and moderate capitalism is a collective, participatory strategy called government of, by, and for the people -- not an unfettered market system dominated by unfettered profiteering. Today, ordinary citizens are dangerously ignorant of the history of unfettering.

Pope Francis has conscience enough to know it -- and guts enough to say it. For that, I salute him.

Bob Hooper is a fourth-generation western Kansan who writes from his home in Bogue.

celtic@ruraltel.net

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