We agreed with the “God bless America” part.
Pope Francis has his politics, and they are, broadly speaking, not our politics. This isn’t to say that we disagree with his principles or his goals, which are, in the main, shared by all people of good will: less poverty and better care for the poor, more opportunity, good stewardship of the environment, peace that is more than the mere absence of war. But that isn’t really politics; politics is the fight over how we get from here to there.
‘No one would remember the Good Samaritan if he’d only had good intentions,’ Margaret Thatcher wryly observed. ‘He had money as well.’
And it doesn’t just happen. Rather, there are necessary preconditions without which prosperity cannot emerge: the rule of law, physical security, property rights, the freedom to engage in commerce and trade. The pope is not the first man of his political stripe to implicitly argue that we can put to good use the fruits of capitalism while holding capitalism itself at arm’s length. The pope’s antipathy here is difficult to miss: In an act of sweeping equivocation, he spoke of the need to “combat violence perpetrated in the name of a religion, an ideology, or an economic system,” as though Google executives were posting Internet videos of Bing users being beheaded.
“No one would remember the Good Samaritan if he’d only had good intentions,” Margaret Thatcher wryly observed. “He had money as well.” The United States, the English-speaking countries, Western Europe, and Japan grew wealthy for particular reasons, just as Argentina stagnated for particular reasons. Our great complaint with the Holy Father is that he does not seem to be much interested in what those reasons are.
The pope praised, among others, Catholic Worker activist Dorothy Day, who once was described by a Jesuit writer as “an apostle of pious oversimplification.” There is more than a little of that in Pope Francis, too, on questions of political economy. One expects simplicity from a man who chose the name “Francis” for his papal ministry, but we have in mind the cautionary epigram attributed to Albert Einstein: “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”