In recent remarks that were stunning and profound, Pope Francis harshly criticized what he called "the cult of money" and condemned what he called the "dictatorship" of economies that are socially unjust and morally unfair.
These remarks, reported in The Daily Telegraph and highlighted on the Drudge Report (but not in major American media) suggest a papacy with the potential to transform the global economic and financial debate.
Most recent popes, including Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict, raised the same issues that Francis dramatized this week. What makes the Holy Father different today is that he views economic and social injustice as a defining, and possibly THE defining, theme of his papacy.
This is extraordinary, powerful and profound. There are profound differences between the policies of President Obama and Democrats versus the policies proposed by the atheist Ayn Rand and conservative voices such as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Rep. Paul Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Republican leaders in Congress.
Francis suggests there should be far more economic and social justice regarding the wealthy and everyone else within the leading industrial nations, and between the leading industrial nations and poorer nations throughout the world.
There is a debate raging in Washington, across Europe and throughout the world pitting the right, which favors cruel austerity at a time of slow growth and high joblessness, versus progressives and moderates who believe harsh austerity today is economically disastrous and morally repellant.
The pope specifically calls on world leaders to address the great economic and financial injustices, and I agree with him completely. The pope uses words like "cult" and "dictatorship" to describe the champions of financial justice and the conditions their policies create, and I fully agree with him about this, as well.
Francis has also put his money where his mouth is. The Vatican Bank has already announced new openness and reforms at his direction, which should interest opponents of financial reform in America, Britain and elsewhere. Paul Ryan is a fervent disciple of Ayn Rand, who was the atheist champion of the culture of greed.
Ryan famously tried to employ Catholic theology on behalf of his budget austerity against the poor, and was quickly forced to retreat as the absurdity of this view became obvious. Various rightist and Republican voices have championed aspects of the cult of money, including Cruz, Ryan, Rand Paul, Ron Paul, Republican leaders in Congress and Mitt Romney, who famously ridiculed and demeaned much of the nation on video, championing the cult of money to a room of Republican donors whose money he sought.
It is ironic that these profound and important views of the Holy Father have so far received more attention from the Drudge Report than the leading newspapers of America, the network television news, or cable networks with so much airtime to put to work.
The BBC, Al-Jazeera, The Daily Telegraph and other international media have respected and reported the profound thoughts from Francis, which deserve far more attention here, which is why I write these words today.
Let us advance this great discussion to the center of politics and media throughout America and across the world. For those who disagree with my views, or for whatever reason continue to champion the cult of money and greed, I command to their attention the recent comments from Francis and the timeless words of the Sermon on the Mount.
Friday, 17 May 2013