"How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!"
Pope Francis during his recent visit in the United States blessed millions of Americans with awe-inspiring love and powerful spiritual nourishment. Even so, there remained a lurking underlying confusion about the Pope's teaching with regard to capitalism. Many U.S. commentators who understand the enormous benefits mankind has gained from capitalism have interpreted bits and pieces of Francis' messages to indicate this Pope is unequivocally anti-capitalist. Leftists who for ideological reasons wish to destroy capitalism attempt to claim the Pope as their ally. Many have even gone so far as to call Pope Francis a Marxist.
It seems the world would benefit from some good old-fashioned seeing-below-the-surface spiritual vision regarding Pope Francis and Capitalism.
First of all, Pope Francis truly believes he is not a Marxist. He has consistently spoke against being guided by political "ideologies." In Havana, two days before he flew to the United States, Pope Francis used his homily to differentiate true Christian service from the Cuban communist government's illusion of service:
"Service always looks to their faces, touches their flesh, senses their closeness and even, in some cases, 'suffers' in trying to help. Service is never ideological, for we do not serve ideas, we serve people."
Unfortunately, Pope Francis apparently also views capitalism as an "ideology." He has recently written that the capitalist "ideology" is to blame for income inequality and the encouragement of greed.
So confusion arises because normally only Marxists see capitalism as an ideology. Those who are not influenced by Marxist thought see capitalism not as an ideology, but as simply a condition of freedom economically, people freely making their economic choices without coercion by politicians and their political supporters. The alternative to capitalism is dictatorship in economic transactions. Such dictatorship doesn't have to be outright government control. It can be goverment preemptive attacks on business people who have harmed no one, usually called "regulations." Any form of economic dictatorship stifles incentive and economic progress.
When government dictates, the system which evolves is not capitalism but an aristocracy of political pull. In fact, it is the long-predominant atmosphere of politicians in cahoots with business people which provides fertile soil for greed and income inequality. When people do not enjoy freedom in their economic choices, it is politicians and those business people who learn to wield political influence who become unnaturally rich.
(To clearly understand the difference between capitalism and the polluted economic environment of political pull, do not hesitate to read Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged).
Pope Francis sincerely believes he is teaching as Jesus teaches. In Biblical accounts, Jesus never condemns riches. He merely counsels us that it is hard to sustain an experience of heaven if we value riches higher than valuing God. He simply reminds us of the true source of our good.
In his clarifying revelation for the 21st Century, A Course In Miracles, Jesus states:
In this world, you believe you are sustained by everything but God. Your faith is placed in the most trivial and insane symbols: pills, money, “protective” clothing, “influence,” “prestige,” being liked, knowing the “right” people, and an endless list of forms of nothingness which you endow with magical powers. Do not put your faith in the worthless. It will not sustain you. Put not your faith in illusions. They will fail you.
Jesus doesn't tell us to totally disregard protective clothing in a climate of possible weather extremes, or to altogether abandon money in a world where money is the most widely accepted tool of exchange. We are simply being told to reject the temptation to make these things into idols for worship (which includes saying "no" to the temptation to buy or peddle political influence).
Seeking the kingdom of political dictatorship is not the way to solve greed and income inequality. Jesus tells everyone ... those who are tempted to be political influence buyers or peddlers, those who think politically forced redistribution of wealth would be good for society, those who idolize political programs to reduce poverty ... everyone ... that the one and only solution is seeking the kingdom of heaven:
"Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well." (Matthew 6:31-33)
In his A Course In Miracles, Jesus explains the underlying depth of this spiritual teaching:
Lack implies that you would be better off in a state somehow different than the one you are in. A sense of separation from God is the only lack you really need correct. This sense of separation would never have arisen if you had not distorted your perception of truth, and had thus perceived yourself as lacking.
As for the illusion that political dictatorship in the form of government control or regulation of business could solve greed and income inequality, Jesus in A Course In Miracles states with great spiritual force:
Freedom cannot be learned by tyranny of ANY kind, and the perfect equality of all cannot be recognized through the dominion of one will over another.
Pope Francis understands this teaching of Jesus. He understands men and women must be free to choose for themselves, that righteousness economically cannot be created by dictatorship over producers and consumers, or dictatorship over job creators and employees. Despite the confusion of the Pope's surface statements, in the depths of his being Francis does not support political dictatorship in economic choices. In his holy spirit, deep inside, unrelated to surface confusion, Pope Francis supports economic freedom of choice for all ... freedom known as capitalism.
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"...nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you. (Luke 17:21)
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