|Pope Francis greets Ban Ki-Moon|
Well, Pope Francis may not be after the nuns, but he sure keeps himself busy stirring up hornets’ nests. Last week he received the Secretary General of the United Nations, Doctor Ban Ki-moon along with the executive officers of the U.N.’s programs, agencies, and funds who were meeting in Rome and paid a courtesy call on the Holy Father. It is customary for the Pope to give a little exhortation on such an occasion and Pope Francis did so. It was all rather pro-forma and the Pope really didn’t break any new ground. “Father Z,” the Wizard of the Krazy Katholic’s Emerald City, said that for the most part it was simply (and I love this, I really do): “warmed up John Paul II and Benedict XVI.” But Rush Limbaugh, old pill-popper that he is (or, hopefully by the goodness of God’s grace and 12 steps, was), went thermal and called the Pope a Marxist (again.) And the Katholic Krazies on the blogosphere picked up his rant and formed a virtual reality mob of pitch-fork-carrying, torch-brandishing, lunatics howling that the Pope wanted to reach into their pockets and take their hard earned money and give it to the undeserving poor of the world. My old friend Janet over at Restore DC Catholicism http://restore-dc-catholicism.blogspot.com) implied that Francis is “naïve,” “simplistic,” and even “moronic” for advocating socialism. (Janet also refers to Judas as “the patron saint of Social Justice”—so you know where she is coming from.) The only problem is that the Holy Father is not advocating socialism—much less Marxism. The talk, as Father Z said, is consistent with the Catholic Social teaching of the previous two popes—and, for that matter, with the magisterium stretching back through Progressio Popolorum, Gaudium et Spes, Mater et Magistra, Quadragesimo Anno, and Rerum Novarum. Ol’ Janet can’t figure out why the Holy Father speaks about “legitimate redistribution of wealth.” Duh. Maybe to differentiate what he is calling for from the sort of illegitimate redistribution of wealth represented by the confiscation of private property such as happened in Marxist societies. The Pope is not calling for individuals to be deprived of the fruits of their labor, but for new economic and social systems that will “promote generous, effective, and practical openness to the needs of others.” He is calling for nothing more that what was the major theme of John Paul II’s papacy—“solidarity,” the consciousness among people that we are responsible for and to one another to insure that each of God’s children has the proper share of this world’s resources that our Father in heaven wishes them to have. Nowhere does Pope Francis say that the pie should be cut up in equal shares, or that Peter should be robbed so that Paul won’t starve. He is just saying that you and I and Peter all need to be deeply aware that we are responsible for Paul’s welfare, material as well as spiritual, and that we need to work for a world in which not a few are wealthy to excess while many lack the basic necessities of life. The question will come down to this for the Janets and Rushes of this world: where is your treasure? I am not surprised that Rush walks away from Jesus like the rich young man in the gospels, but I would have expected more from Janet and her kindred.