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Fox News' Adam Shaw Gets Pope Francis Wrong

AFP Gabriel Bouys

Daniel Schwindt - published on 01/25/14

For example, one of Shaw’s main grievances seems to be the notion of “redistribution.” I only say this because of his repeated and violent condemnations of Francis’s “crude and naïve trust in the goodness of politicians to redistribute wealth.” I don’t really know that Francis in any way promotes any sort of inherent goodness in politicians; but if he did use the word “redistribution,” he would only be echoing his predecessor, Benedict XVI, who said in Caritas in Veritate:

“Economic activity cannot solve all social problems through the simple application of commercial logic. This needs to be directed towards the pursuit of the common good, for which the political community in particular must also take responsibility. Therefore, it must be borne in mind that grave imbalances are produced when economic action, conceived merely as an engine for wealth creation, is detached from political action, conceived as a means for pursuing justice through redistribution.”

Benedict, in fact, uses the term “redistribution” no less than eight times, just in this one encyclical. But perhaps Shaw forgot that, or missed it in his readings.

But then, surely he would know that, redistribution aside, Francis’s other remarks were only echoing John Paul II, who said in Centesimus Annus that justice “demands that the market be appropriately controlled by the forces of society and by the State, so as to guarantee that the basic needs of the whole of society are satisfied.” And John Paul II was only echoing Pius XII’s Quadragesimo Anno: “Free competition, however, though justified and quite useful within certain limits, cannot be an adequate controlling principle in economic affairs.”

Pope Francis doesn’t hate the market—he hates market ideology, and the two are very different things. If you miss that, you’ll misinterpret everything he says and does, and in doing that you’ll lose a valuable and loving pope. Don’t let the media noise rob you of that gift.

G.K. Chesterton said that “The Catholic Church is the only thing that frees a man from the degrading slavery of being a child of his age.” That’s all the Pope is doing. That’s all every pope seeks to do.

Daniel Schwindt is an independent scholar who works and lives as a contemporary peasant in central Kansas. He is the author of The Pursuit of Sanity.

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EconomyPope Francis
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