BY DOMINIC WIGHTMAN
In a recent interview with Italian journalist Eugenio Scalfari (after past indiscretions Scalfari’s reporting is generally not to be trusted), Pope Francis was said to have uttered the following words:
“It has been said many times and my response has always been that, if anything, it is the Communists who think like Christians.”
Whether the Pope said these words or not, his Marxist leanings have been well-documented in the past. Neither has Francis been scared to comment on politics as Pope. Most recently his statements on the Syrian refugee crisis and Donald Trump’s proposed Mexican border wall caused big waves in the political pool and he’s paid for his comments in the backwash of invective which has somewhat inundated him since.
Nor has Pope Francis been shy to embrace some of the world’s most ardently Communist leaders. He publicly received a Communist crucifix from Bolivian president Evo Morales (above) and – a shock to starving, oppressed Venezuelans – recently warmly greeted the brutal Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro (below).
I do not wish to insult the Pope and I appreciate that his role is an almost impossible one. However, Francis’ words about Communism – if he uttered them at all – are way off the mark and fuel the fire of the brain-dead “Jesus was a Progressive” brigade in the US, who openly and often claim Jesus advocated income redistribution to assist the poor.
So, let’s bury this canard once and for all, shall we?
Jesus wasn’t a progressive (reluctantly I give the word progressive its stolen socialist definition). Nor did Jesus ever espouse Communism or income redistribution.
Jesus receives a redistribution request in Luke 12:13-15 – “Master, speak to my brother and make him divide the inheritance with me.” Jesus replies, “Man, who made me a judge or divider over you?” The Good Samaritan does not involve state social services but personal empathy and generosity. In Jesus’s Parable of the Talents, it is the man who invests and generates the largest return who is praised and rewarded not the man who takes his money and buries it. In the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard the workers who had worked all day complain to the landowner because recently hired workers who have worked less of the day get the same money as they receive for a day’s work – in his parable-telling Jesus does not mince words: Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go! In Matthew 19:18 – “Love your neighbour as yourself” – note the lack of “unless he has more money than you”.
Jesus in Matthew 19:23 says, “Truly I tell you, it will be hard for a rich person to get into the kingdom of heaven.” This urges people to demonstrate good character and philanthropy – it is not a demand for income redistribution. Nor even once does Jesus sponsor the use of force to take from some and give it to others. Jesus famously said, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” but he also openly backed Mosaic law; notably the 10 Commandments: including the 8th, do not steal and the 10th, do not covet. In other words, it’s not yours so keep your grubby mitts off of it, you greedy and over-encompassing state.
While Jesus regularly cautioned against greed in his words, they are words of wisdom which back up the principles of contract, profit, supply-and-demand as well as private property. Jesus championed the poor but never once rejected the policies of wealth creation necessary to assist them.
Instead Jesus warned people against envy and theft – the principles upon which socialism and communism have demonstrated themselves to be most based. Free will and certainly not coercion were regular themes in Jesus’ teachings. Jesus talked of generosity, kindness, personal responsibility and voluntary association. He urged choice and charity. All these very same things that are incompatible with forced economic redistribution schemes built upon progressive lines.
At heart, charismatic Argentinian Pope Francis is clearly a good man. However, his advisers would do well to get their boss to study in detail those politically astute early years of Pope John Paul II. Francis might learn when it’s best to not get involved in politics and when it’s worth dipping a Papal toe. Moreover, whichever adviser let Scalfari anywhere near their boss should be promptly sacked.