Let The Pope Bashing Commence
If it hasn’t happened already, then it probably will before sunset, namely the bashing of Pope Francis because of the contents of his speech to Congress.
This writer expects the pontiff’s critics to read into his comments things that are not there.
This writer expects the pontiff’s supporters to also read into his comments things that are not there.
For example, in his remarks about people immigrating to the USA, the pontiff states, “We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation. To respond in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal.”
Nowhere in his speech does the pontiff call for open borders. Nowhere does he say that illegal immigrants in the USA shouldn’t be penalized for being in the USA illegally. Nowhere does he say that illegal immigrants in the USA should be given amnesty. Instead, the pontiff simply calls for humane and just treatment of immigrants.
Likewise, in his comments about the environment, the pontiff states, “In Laudato Si’, I call for a courageous and responsible effort to “redirect our steps” (ibid., 61), and to avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity. I am convinced that we can make a difference and I have no doubt that the United States – and this Congress – have an important role to play.”
In that statement, the pontiff says environmental deterioration, not climate change. The difference between the two is significant, because there have been cases in which Mankind has contributed to environmental deterioration without climate change being involved. Indeed, the Environmental Protection Agency was created in response to the man-made environmental deterioration taking place in the USA. Nowhere in his statement does the pontiff call for the USA to join the political consensus of the IPCC.
Regarding capitalism, the pontiff says this:
The fight against poverty and hunger must be fought constantly and on many fronts, especially in its causes. I know that many Americans today, as in the past, are working to deal with this problem. It goes without saying that part of this great effort is the creation and distribution of wealth. The right use of natural resources, the proper application of technology and the harnessing of the spirit of enterprise are essential elements of an economy which seeks to be modern, inclusive and sustainable. “Business is a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving the world. It can be a fruitful source of prosperity for the area in which it operates, especially if it sees the creation of jobs as an essential part of its service to the common good” (Laudato Si’, 129).
In his above-quoted remarks, the pontiff does not attack the free-market economy. In no way does he come close to promoting Communism.
Granted, some critics might balk at his use of the expression wealth distribution, but that expression can have more than one meaning. After all, recipients of SSI and SSDI payments are at the receiving end of wealth distribution. Being in favor of capitalism and self-reliance doesn’t imply that one is opposed to all government support of people who lack the physical means to support themselves. [Disclosure: This writer is a SSDI recipient.]
Over all, the pontiff’s speech is rather benign, lacking the controversial content that the pontiff’s critics were expecting. Yet, hate-filled people who want to vilify the pontiff will find some excuse to attack him for what he said to Congress.
Granted, Pope Francis isn’t infallible (in any setting or situation), and he has said things in the past that aren’t necessarily correct. Still, he isn’t the evil person (or Communist) that some rabid extremists make him out to be.