More of the same

by John Holbo on March 14, 2013

This is a follow-up to Corey’s post, I suppose.

Given that concerns about the character of the new Pope are immediately being raised regarding his conduct during the Dirty War and its aftermath, in Argentina, it says something that the National Review editors are attempting a bit of preemptive damage control on a different front. “His counting poverty as a social ill should not be misconstrued as …”

Really? The new Pope is against poverty? The editors looked at what this new Pope is known for; looked down the list of concerns and doubts people might have, upon skimming the first set of news stories, and this jumped out as the thing we need to be reassured isn’t as bad as it might look, because there’s two sides to the story? (It turns out to be ok because he’s not in favor of ‘statist solutions’ to the problem.)

I mean: I could understand if the editors decided to write a pure celebratory piece that didn’t mar the occasion by drawing attention to anything any critics are already saying. But that they decided to let a touch of concern show through, and this showed through – of all things.

And Republicans wonder why people think Republicans don’t care about the poor.

{ 107 comments }

1

rf 03.14.13 at 4:17 pm

The crowning of a new Pope always brings to mind the old Notorious BIG line:

Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis. When I was dead broke man I couldnt picture this

2

Harold 03.14.13 at 4:30 pm

When Catholics say “social justice” they mean giving money to the church so it not the state, can take care of the poor?

3

Uncle Kvetch 03.14.13 at 4:34 pm

He’ll feed the poor (which is good), but he won’t ask why they’re poor (which would be bad).

Seems pretty straightforward to me.

4

LFC 03.14.13 at 4:42 pm

For **** sake, it’s National Review. What do you expect?

I used to be annoyed/puzzled that Holbo read NR and its blog, but now I realize that if it weren’t for Holbo I would have no idea what the descendants of WmFBuckley are saying. I mean, I might be able to hazard a guess, but this way I can have the guesses confirmed.

5

eddie 03.14.13 at 4:52 pm

Does this mean you think the national review worthy of more serious consideration than it gets from satirist sites? SadlyNo!

6

Rich Puchalsky 03.14.13 at 4:59 pm

Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Have a death squad drop him out of a plane and you feed the fishes for a lifetime.

7

Substance McGravitas 03.14.13 at 5:01 pm

Blessed be the money-changers, for they shall inherit the earth.

8

phosphorious 03.14.13 at 5:08 pm

There needs to be a “Fill In The Blank” Contest here.

““His counting poverty as a social ill should not be misconstrued as . . . “

. . . a sign that he gives a crap about the poor?
. . . him being anything other than a mouthpiece for entrenched power?
. . . that womanly charity that liberals and Jesus are always going on about?

The possibilities are endless. And sickening.

9

Uncle Kvetch 03.14.13 at 5:11 pm

Only 8 comments in, and Rich Puchalsky wins the thread. Well played.

10

Barry 03.14.13 at 5:21 pm

I imagine that most of the staff of NR can’t really imagine cooperating with death squads as a problem. The rest probably figured that that sort of stuff will get a biiiiiiiiig cover up, with people who point it out being mocked, so why worry?

11

Jerry Vinokurov 03.14.13 at 5:27 pm

According to a tweet from Erick Erickson, having leftists killed by death squads is a feature, not a bug.

12

MPAVictoria 03.14.13 at 5:30 pm

“According to a tweet from Erick Erickson, having leftists killed by death squads is a feature, not a bug.”

I saw that tweet as well. Pretty ugly.

13

phosphorious 03.14.13 at 5:33 pm

And if you’re Erick Erickson of RedState, Bergoglio’s behavior during the 1970′s is a point in his favor.

14

rf 03.14.13 at 5:42 pm

Off topic a little but worth pointing out the research done by the Guardian which has shown US complicity working with death squads in Iraq

http://politicalviolenceataglance.org/2013/03/13/will-charges-and-a-trial-follow-international-humanitarian-law-and-the-wolf-brigade/

And the links to the death squads in Central America

15

NomadUK 03.14.13 at 7:35 pm

US complicity working with death squads in Iraq

And in other news, the Pope is Catholic.

16

rf 03.14.13 at 7:43 pm

Yeah but there’s a difference between ‘knowing it’, I guess, and being able to prove it..and voila, it’s proven!

17

Suzanne 03.14.13 at 7:43 pm

“He’ll feed the poor (which is good), but he won’t ask why they’re poor (which would be bad).”

And he’ll wash the feet of AIDS victims, but condoms are a no-no. I’ve even heard him described as a “compassionate conservative,” which means, I suppose, that when desperately ill women come to Catholic hospitals in need of therapeutic abortions, he’ll say no really nicely.

18

Bryan Rasmussen 03.14.13 at 8:15 pm

surely if poverty was the thing that jumped out at them it was not because they don’t care about poverty but because they care about poverty very much indeed.

Republicans hope to always have the poor.

19

phosphorious 03.14.13 at 8:21 pm

“I’ve even heard him described as a “compassionate conservative. . .”

Oh shit. Now we’re screwed.

20

Niall McAuley 03.14.13 at 8:27 pm

I have heard that he’s OK with condoms for disease prevention, or was at one time.

21

Main Street Muse 03.14.13 at 9:10 pm

“Really? The new Pope is against poverty?”

Yes – such a discovery for those at NR! I wonder what will happen when the NR folks discover that the pope preaches from a book that’s not too fond of excessive wealth…

22

Hector_St_Clare 03.14.13 at 9:17 pm

I doubt he’s ‘A-OK’ with condoms (I think condoms are somewhat morally problematic in general myself, but I would take more of the Orthodox ‘economia’ line in general- living a sinless life is impossible, the law can be dispensed with in some cases, etc.). I think it needs to be clarified exactly what the Roman Catholic teaching about condoms (and birth control) is and isn’t, though.

Catholic teaching since, well, the patristic age (if not earlier) is that sex with a condom would fall within the circle of ‘unnatural sex’, and is therefore immoral. The modern way of saying that, since the mid-20th century or so, is that it falsifies and denatures the sex act. So taking a valid, morally sex act (i.e. within marriage) and rendering it sterile through mechanical or biochemical means, is a sin. What Roman Catholic teaching *doesn’t* say is that using a condom within the context of a sex act which is already immoral, makes it any worse. There isn’t anything natural or true there to be denatured or falsified, and therefore you aren’t actually committing the *sin* associated with contraception.

So, using a condom for an act of premarital sex, gay sex, remarriage sex, or any other sort of sex that shouldn’t be happening anyway, doesn’t actually make it any worse, and at least you’re not adding the sin of risk-taking to the sin of unchastity. Condoms might, in those cases, be argued for or against on prudential grounds, but there isn’t anything *intrinsically* wrong about using them.

So in other words, if you’re considering having premarital sex, sex with a partner whom you might infect with something, gay sex, or any other ‘forbidden’ sex act, the church would say you have three options:

1. Don’t have sex.
2. Have sex with a condom.
3. have sex without a condom.

The Catholic Church says that the *only* morally acceptable option is 1). It’s not all that clear though (and certainly it isn’t clear from Humanae Vitae) whether 2) or 3) is always the less moral option. I think most people would say (Benedict certainly did) that it depends.

23

Hector_St_Clare 03.14.13 at 9:25 pm

There’s a bit of interesting discussion on the topic here (from a guy who is as theologically conservative as they come):

http://renegadetrad.blogspot.com/2010/02/yes-put-damn-condom-on-already.html

24

Tim Wilkinson 03.14.13 at 9:25 pm

There was fairly recently a pope who looked as if he might be concerned with helping the poor and weak in this world, rather than milking their plight for celestial brownie points and their pittances for the greater glory of the church. He even had the temerity to mention the dirtiness of the Dirty War to the President of Argentina. He also seems to have started showing signs of quietly challenging massive financial corruption in the Vatican. His name was Albino Luciani and his papacy lasted for a total of 33 days.

25

Matt 03.14.13 at 10:20 pm

Catholic doctrine is that salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ and the sacraments, right? The majority of the world population is not Catholic or even broadly Christian. Why does the Catholic church try to prescribe policies from religious tradition for the whole world instead of just the faithful? Using a condom is not going to inflict extra-double-damnation on the unsaved. And if you take away the religious component, the arguments against non-procreative sex are underwhelming.

26

ponce 03.14.13 at 11:14 pm

This is no surprise.

As an atheist I really enjoy watching religious wingnuts struggle to reconcile their hatred of the poor with the teachings of Jesus.

The best they can come up with is yada yada.

I am surprised at the naked hatred liberal wingnuts are directing at the Catholic Church.

27

rf 03.14.13 at 11:30 pm

And Goldberg converted to Catholicism, right? (Or is he Protestant?) I mean he had choices. He could have joined a church more in line with his politics. I assume his decision wasn’t the result of complex theological reasoning? I really can’t see how the average neo-con can reconcile their politics with their Catholicism. (Apart from on one or two social issues)

28

Jerry Vinokurov 03.14.13 at 11:33 pm

rf, if you read the comments to that NRO thread, you’ll find this gem: “I can reconcile the two things in my daily life: Market Capitalism, and an enduring Church of Faith, Hope and Charity.” It’s easy when you just declare things equivalent by fiat without bothering with such silly nonsense as “what words mean.”

29

Hector_St_Clare 03.14.13 at 11:40 pm

Re: And if you take away the religious component, the arguments against non-procreative sex are underwhelming.

Well, first of all, the arguments aren’t against non-procreative sex, they’re against sexual acts that are wilfully rendered nonprocreative. Taking advantage of the natural infertile window (i.e. through NFP) is perfectly A-OK. I don’t personally, think there’s a huge moral difference between NFP and the pill (condoms are a different situation), since they both take advantage of natural cycles in the body (the pill, by simulating the hormonal changes associated with pregnancy). Some people do, however. But there’s definitely no disapproval of having sex *at times that you know to be infertile*.
It’s also not a religious argument, it’s a philosophical one, and there are some non-Catholic Christians who agree with it.

30

Jerry Vinokurov 03.14.13 at 11:44 pm

It’s also not a religious argument, it’s a philosophical one, and there are some non-Catholic Christians who agree with it.

Still a religious argument, actually.

31

rf 03.14.13 at 11:48 pm

I seem to remember the NRO arguing in the run up to Iraq that JP2 could be excused for oppossing the war, as it’s in the job brief to (generally) adopt a thoughtful position on such things.

There’s this aswell from that dungeon of stupidity:

“I think you will find that when Pope Francis speaks of social justice, he is not using it as a code word for centralized control of the economy by the state, the way progressives use it.”

I’m pretty sure that is precisely what he means, more or less. This is Catholic social teaching 101 right? And since when has the Catholic Church been opposed to centralised control of anything?
It’s been a long time since I’ve taken a religious education class, but..

32

Salient 03.15.13 at 12:23 am

See, I was a lot more confu-amused by

Saint Francis’s famed humility was his method for acting on his zeal to reform the Church of his day.

Zealous humility? Humble zealotry? It’s like fervent passivity.

one of the tasks facing Pope Francis is to bring greater transparency to the Vatican Bank, long shrouded under a cloud of suspicion, and move it toward greater adherence to international banking standards

I… I don’t even know what to say.

33

rf 03.15.13 at 12:30 am

The technocratic wing of the Catholic Church have finally taken power!

34

rf 03.15.13 at 12:32 am

And there’s always going to be onebeating this dead horse:

“A Pope from Latin America will be a bulwark against the inroads Islam is attempting to make into that continent.”

35

between4walls 03.15.13 at 12:51 am

Salient @32

“Humble zealotry” would be someone who’s humble as an individual but zealous in their cause, I suppose. Not so contradictory.

And the Vatican Bank has been enmeshed in scandal for decades; it’s not just the National Review hoping for more transparency there.

36

between4walls 03.15.13 at 12:55 am

rf @ 27

Assuming that’s Jonah Goldberg, he’s neither Catholic nor a convert; he’s Episcopalian like his mother.

37

between4walls 03.15.13 at 12:59 am

Gotta love how the NR thinks “counting poverty as a social ill” (you know, like most of the planet) is something in need of clarification and caveats. Rather revealing.

I haven’t read NR since they brushed off the flotilla deaths with a cheap jibe about how more people died in a French heat wave.

38

DelRey 03.15.13 at 1:28 am

“What Roman Catholic teaching *doesn’t* say is that using a condom within the context of a sex act which is already immoral, makes it any worse.”

Phew, what a relief! Because, you know, so many people still take the Catholic Church’s sexual teachings seriously and care about such hair-splitting.

39

Hector_St_Clare 03.15.13 at 1:28 am

Re: “A Pope from Latin America will be a bulwark against the inroads Islam is attempting to make into that continent.”

More so Pentecostalism, actually. Secularism too, but to a less extent than in North America or Europe.

40

Kevin McDonough 03.15.13 at 1:44 am

I have to say, ‘celestial brownie points’ is my new favorite phrase of the millenium.

41

MPAVictoria 03.15.13 at 3:07 am

“OK. I don’t personally, think there’s a huge moral difference between NFP and the pill (condoms are a different situation)”

You are kidding right? Poe’s law must be in operation.

42

Hector_St_Clare 03.15.13 at 3:27 am

What’s Poe’s Law?

And no, I think there are legitimate distinctions between the pill and the condom, and I’m not really morally comfortable with the latter.

43

MPAVictoria 03.15.13 at 3:51 am

44

bad Jim 03.15.13 at 4:15 am

The pill and NFP are utterly ineffective against sexually transmitted diseases, of course.

45

Hector_St_Clare 03.15.13 at 4:53 am

MPA Victoria,

Ah, ok.

With me, you can generally assume sincere extremism.

46

eddie 03.15.13 at 5:59 am

Or the sort of insanity that leads to raping kids as a form of contraception?

47

Patrick S. O'Donnell 03.15.13 at 6:30 am

The National Review editors are concerned that we might be faced with the resurrection of liberation theology and praxis of the sort Ratzinger was instrumental in silencing in his former role as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Leonardo Boff having written a biography of St. Francis (1981, in English, 1982) in which the saint’s life and faith are linked to “leaving imperialism” and the “integral liberation of the oppressed.” Moreover, Boff reminds Catholics that “Poverty is not only a problem of moral conscience; it is fundamentally a political problem.” The editors can’t bear to be reminded that “Today’s dominant classes, successors to the slave owners as well as the slave traders (English, Portuguese, Dutch, and North American), have inherited a profound scorn for the poor. They consider them to be socially disqualified [think of the reaction of actual and aspiring neo-liberal elites to the Bolivarian revolution]; they avoid contact with them, going around them, insensitive to their misery.” The editors can’t bear to contemplate the fact that the poverty Francis is not only the “voluntary” sort motivated by vicarious identity and solidarity, but rather “the fruit of impoverishing and exploitative mechanisms. To accept poverty in solidarity with the poor implies opting for social justice, commiting oneself to the poor in the integral liberation of all for a more just and fraternal society.” The editors refuse to acknowledge that “we are living in a society of classes with antagonistic interests. Objectively, the poor are poor because the way society is organized, since they have the strength to work but not the capital, they are placed on the margin.” Boff explains to his readers the categorical need for the “structural change of society” [hard to imgine that without State direction or support or sans any 'determinate political program']. The Church must come out in full support of “movements that are born of the base–free unions, people’s associations” that defend those without power, including a defense of their culture and rights. The editors, insecure and fearful, are loath to admit that “Freedom is never freely granted; it must be attained in an arduous process of freedom.” As Boff writes, “Everything in Francis invites practice: exire de saeculo, leaving the imperial system in an alternative act that makes more real devotion toward others, more gentleness with the poor, and greater respect for nature.” The “spirit and way of life” of Francis of Assisi not a mere “formula, idea, or ideal,” but made manifest in practice, individually and collectively.

48

rea 03.15.13 at 1:13 pm

A a Jesuit, he probably means Francs Xavier, anyway.

49

Jesús Couto Fandiño 03.15.13 at 1:58 pm

#45 The official line is that is double bonus point, 2 Francis for the price of one.

Now, the guy is extremelly conservative (surprise, not), anti – all what the church is against (what a shock, no), took a bit of time to tell us non-believers that we are all preaching to the devil in his first speech (sudden betrayal, etc…)…

BUT if you are willing to look for the positives he is:

1 – On record saying that fighting poverty is important. Very. Very much. Which is… well, the guy was against Liberation Theology so it may very well be standard RCC “I preach nice and run a charity” approach, who knows.

2 – Is recognized for being austere and not liking the display of ostentation and riches that normally are hand in hand with all the upper echelon positions in the RCC.

So, if you want to force a bit of hope on the issue and given that the whole “he may have been a collaborator with the Junta” seems a murky issue that may, or not, be propaganda of the Kirchners, you can kinda sorta maybe probably just have a tiny little bit of hope that he is going to be an tiny little bit “better” than Ratzinger.

But you really have to go and wish hard for a very low return of interest on your hope investment, so to say.

50

reason 03.15.13 at 3:01 pm

@42 “sincere extremism” ??? You mean like Khomenei?

So long as you aren’t a fanatic:

http://stumblingandmumbling.typepad.com/stumbling_and_mumbling/2007/11/the-government-.html

(And so long as you never get any power!)

51

The Modesto Kid 03.15.13 at 4:41 pm

Best comment comes (as happens with moderate frequency) from Dave Bonta’s via negativa.

52

Manta 03.15.13 at 5:01 pm

The Catholic social teaching explicitly mentions the importance of unions, since more than a century
http://www.catholicsocialteaching.org.uk/themes/life-work/explanation/work/
and
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_social_teaching

Do the guys at NR know that?

53

Hector_St_Clare 03.15.13 at 5:23 pm

Re: it may very well be standard RCC “I preach nice and run a charity” approach, who knows.

Roman Catholic social teaching about economics is, you know, a bit more complex than that. (I’m not Roman Catholic, to make it clear).

54

Suzanne 03.15.13 at 7:13 pm

@45. No, he did mean Francis of Assisi.

55

Katherine 03.15.13 at 7:40 pm

– On record saying that fighting poverty is important. Very. Very much.

Bully for him. Bit difficult to be for helping poor people whilst simultaneously be against women having the ability to plan their families. Unless of course you don’t count women as members of the group ‘people’, subgroup ‘poor’. Which describes the Catholic stance quite well actually.

56

Random Lurker 03.15.13 at 11:34 pm

@Katherine 55

“Bit difficult to be for helping poor people whilst simultaneously be against women having the ability to plan their families.”

He will help them have lots of childs and thus fulfill at best their human nature as mothers, eh.

What are you, a neomalthusian? Poor people should have less kids?

Maybe you think that a woman is something more than a potential mother, but this is a different argument.

57

Patrick S. O'Donnell 03.16.13 at 12:42 am

While I’m no expert on the topic, I thought there’s long been ample evidence that economic and social development, i.e., a meaningful increase in individual and collective welfare and well-being, leads to (or tends to lead to) a decrease in fertility rates (Amartya Sen, for one, has long argued along these lines). Of course women (and men), may thereby proceed to engage in “family planning” of one kind or another, but I doubt focus on family planning in the first instance sans any socio-economic development will lead to reduced fertility rates (I suspect there’s empirical evidence on this), given the increase in social and economic “security” more children are believed to bring to poor households.

58

Patrick S. O'Donnell 03.16.13 at 12:50 am

As for one reference to the above comment, see William W. Murdoch’s classic study (from my undergraduate days many years ago), The Poverty of Nations: The Political Economy of Hunger and Population (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1980).

59

Random Lurler 03.16.13 at 1:02 am

Since my previous comment sounds very aggressive, I’ll rewrite it in a less snarky fashion :
I think that all women, poor or not, should have access to contraceptives, and that RC policy about this is very stupid.
But, I think that it is not fair to frame this as something against poverty.

60

Bruce Wilder 03.16.13 at 1:43 am

Neither compassion for the poor nor the voluntary poverty or communism of certain Catholic institutes ought to be confused with a commitment to change the distribution of income or wealth in secular society.

Whether fair or not, neither should any one should imagine that Catholicism is an entirely benign force.

61

LFC 03.16.13 at 2:07 am

P.S.O’Donnell:
… I thought there’s long been ample evidence that economic and social development, i.e., a meaningful increase in individual and collective welfare and well-being, leads to (or tends to lead to) a decrease in fertility rates…. I doubt focus on family planning in the first instance sans any socio-economic development will lead to reduced fertility rates (I suspect there’s empirical evidence on this), given the increase in social and economic “security” more children are believed to bring to poor households.

In general, I think that’s right (though like you I’m not an expert). Textbooks refer to “the demographic transition”: i.e. with economic/social development, rising incomes etc, death rates fall first while fertility rates remain high, then fertility rates eventually fall (at which point the ‘transition’ has occurred). That’s the general model, but I’m sure there are local variations and that other factors than generic ‘development’ definitely matter, notably for instance the education level of women and girls in poorer countries. It’s pretty well documented, I believe, that the more education women have, the smaller families they tend to have.

As a practical matter, I rather doubt the new Pope’s opposition to contraception, continuing the opposition of his predecessors, will matter that much, if at all, in terms of affecting demographic trends. Take Mexico: a very Catholic country and one in which, I believe, fertility rates have fallen quite drastically over the last 20/25 years or so. (At least that was the case last time I was aware of the figures, some several yrs ago.) Clearly economic and social development, broadly defined to include women’s access to education, is v. important in driving fertility. (That said, I believe everyone should be able to obtain contraception if they want it, even if v. poor families choose to have lots of children for the reasons P.O’Donnell states.)

62

LFC 03.16.13 at 2:31 am

To be clear, I’m not at all defending the RCC’s stance on birth control and other related issues (not being Catholic, it’s really not my direct concern one way or the other); it’s just that I don’t expect a Pope, whoever he is, to break with this. People call the new Pope a theological conservative — but are there any theological ‘moderates’ or ‘liberals’ among the Cardinals, and if so and if one of them had been elected, wouldn’t it be more of matter of changes on the margins? Is any Pope going to rescind (or whatever the word is) Humanae Vitae? (Speaking of encyclicals, the NatlReview people shd read Laborem Exercens or go back to Rerum Novarum.)

63

Hector_St_Clare 03.16.13 at 2:37 am

LFC,

I think it’s more education, and women’s education specifically, than ‘economic development’ more broadly. Every major region outside Africa and the more backward parts of the Muslim world are at, below, or rapidly approaching replacement fertility right now.

Mexico is at replacement level if not below, Latin America in general is right around replacement (plus or minus a bit depending on the country), and some countries are already below. East and Southeast Asia hit replacement quite awhile ago for the most part, and India is close to replacement level right now at 2.7 births per woman. (South India is below replacement, but the overall fertility rate is pulled up a bit by states like Bihar and UP in the north). Even the less backward (i.e. non-Gulf) Middle East countries have gone through the transition (Iran is below replacement level, for example).

Religion actually doesn’t seem to have that much of an effect, outside of small subcultures like Mormons and Hasidic Jews.

64

LFC 03.16.13 at 2:49 am

Hector @63
Thanks for the figures. I’m not at all surprised that there’s regional variation within India; probably also the case for various other countries.

65

LFC 03.16.13 at 2:59 am

P.s. “outside of small subcultures like Mormons and Hasidic Jews”

Actually, Orthodox Jews in general; Hasidic Jews are a subset of Orthodox. Sorry to split hairs.

Btw, anecdotal: I was in India briefly ~20 yrs ago as a tourist — one of the first questions I was often asked, e.g. by a rickshaw or taxi driver, was “do you have children?” and then the guy would proceed to tell me proudly how many children he had. (I wonder whether that wd still be the case today.)

66

LFC 03.16.13 at 3:02 am

A few more anecdotes like that and I could replace Tom Friedman. ;)

67

Substance McGravitas 03.16.13 at 3:08 am

I think it’s more education, and women’s education specifically, than ‘economic development’ more broadly.

The Philippines has 1600 higher education institutions, almost all of which have some bullshit Catholic family-planning course in their curricula.

68

rf 03.16.13 at 3:10 am

Here are global fertility rates for anyone interested

http://www.indexmundi.com/map/?t=0&v=31&r=xx&l=en

69

Jose IG 03.16.13 at 4:55 am

Argentine Atheist reporting in…

I seriously don’t have much hope in Francisco, not because of him but because the church is nearly impossible to reform and I doubt he will be able to. His austerity speech about being humble and against opulence might fly with Argentine catholics but in the Vatican? half the place is gold platted! you might as well give chastity rings at spring break.

Now the whole dirty war thing, well lets just say that its our “swift boat” case: Francisco here for better or worse was the only guy with the balls to criticize the Kirchners from the very beginning for their unabashed corruption and faux-progressive policies that did nothing to help the poor.

And he was right: right now Buenos Aires is full of homeless people, entire families, and you can blame previous administrations all you want but the kirchners have been in power for 10 years, and with the biggest commodities boom in 100 years.

But there’s poor people everywhere and the economy is going to shit while the gap between the poor and the super-rich is astronomical, which the Kirchners might agree with since their own fortune grew 900%, and mind you they were already very rich.

But if you mess with the Kirchners you mess with the entire state propaganda apparatus, which includes thousands of “ñoqui” paid to create fake accounts in social networks and run massive smear campaigns. The holes in the stories are evident: the old pictures are laughable, one actually shows a guy that looks a lot like Francisco…………except it was taken 30 years ago when the Pope was still in his 40s. The guy in the picture was much older and its been dead for a while.

On the other hand if Francisco had supported the Kirchners you would actually see them covering up any suggestions of past misdeeds. After all Barone a despicable character that makes Gleen Beck look good had quite a career during the Dirty War publishing pro-military propaganda and news while denying any coverage to families of state terror victims.

Now he (and many, many others like him) serve the kirchners, thus his past is “forgotten”

70

Manta 03.16.13 at 9:37 am

Jose @69:
“faux-progressive policies that did nothing to help the poor.”
The data I found do not seem to support your thesis
http://www.tradingeconomics.com/argentina/gini-index-wb-data.html

Maybe you can point to better ones?

(I am not Argentinian)

71

jb 03.16.13 at 10:25 am

From what I can tell, the main problem with the Kirchner’s’ policies is that they spent to get out of a depression, which is good policy, but then kept their foot on the gas pedal after the recovery, which is not. Much of that spending seems to gave been on areas of questionable value. Argentina also seems to be in the middle of a commodities boom, which means that the government cannot be entirely credited with improvements since 2002.

The government also seems to be nationalizing things right and left, and while I actually agree that some services should be nationalized, I am not convinced that they will be well run, as the Argentine government has a history of being incompetent and corrupt that long predates the Kirchner’s.

Inflation also seems to be a big problem there, and I remember hearing that the government actually banned economists from reporting the real inflation rate, which is much higher than the official one. This also illustrates that the Kirchner’s have an authoritarian streak, which seems to have become much more prominent in the last few years.

However, I am also not Argentinean, so I could be wrong as well.

72

jb 03.16.13 at 10:28 am

I know that strong inflation tends to hurt the poor, particularly those on fixed incomes, and I remember hearing that Argentina still has lots of poor and homeless people.

That could be what Jose ment.

73

jb 03.16.13 at 10:29 am

“meant”, sorry

74

LFC 03.16.13 at 11:47 am

Substance McG.:
The Philippines has 1600 higher education institutions, almost all of which have some bullshit Catholic family-planning course in their curricula.

The education-fertility link is a generalization and if it does not apply esp. well in one country or another, that does not necessarily show its invalidity as a general proposition. Moreover, the relevant point I think has more to do with basic education and literacy etc. than higher education.

75

Substance McGravitas 03.16.13 at 3:06 pm

At the primary and secondary education levels the Department of Education, in 2010, ran their controversial pilot sex-education program by the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines. That year the program was to be pilot-tested in almost 160 schools.

76

lupita 03.16.13 at 5:02 pm

Harold @ 2

When Catholics say “social justice” they mean giving money to the church so it not the state, can take care of the poor?

It means the right to work, redistribution of income, and solidarity. Social justice can also be seen as the opposite of exploitation and corruption. As to how to achieve it, the Church views labor unions as playing an essential role.

77

Patrick S. O'Donnell 03.16.13 at 5:15 pm

Indeed, lupita is correct, and those interested in Catholic social teachings generally should at the very least begin here: http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/catholic-social-teaching/seven-themes-of-catholic-social-teaching.cfm

As to the indispensable and urgent role of the State in helping the poor and vulnerable, the Church’s teachings are unequivocal: http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/catholic-social-teaching/option-for-the-poor-and-vulnerable.cfm

As it states above: “[W]hen there is question of defending the rights of individuals, the poor and badly off have a claim to especial consideration. The richer class have many ways of shielding themselves, and stand less in need of help from the State; whereas the mass of the poor have no resources of their own to fall back upon, and must chiefly depend upon the assistance of the State. [....] The obligation to provide justice for all means that the poor have the single most urgent economic claim on the conscience of the nation. [....] The needs of the poor take priority over the desires of the rich; the rights of workers over the maximization of profits; the preservation of the environment over uncontrolled industrial expansion; the production to meet social needs over production for military purposes.”

Finally, “Pope John Paul II in his encyclical on labor, Laborem Exercens (1981) asserted the fundamental principle of ‘the priority of labor over capital.’ While in actual fact capital has organized itself against labor in our society, John Paul II insists that capital exists to serve labor: ‘There is a need for ever new movements of solidarity of the workers and with the workers…The Church is firmly committed to this cause, for it considers it to be its mission, its service, a proof of its fidelity to Christ…’

[It should be irrelevant, but although I was raised a Catholic, I am no longer a member of the Church.]

78

lupita 03.16.13 at 5:30 pm

Matt @ 25

Why does the Catholic church try to prescribe policies from religious tradition for the whole world instead of just the faithful?

“To the Church belongs the right always and everywhere to announce moral principles, including those pertaining to the social order, and to make judgments on any human affairs to the extent that they are required by the fundamental rights of the human person or the salvation of souls”. Code of Canon Law, canon 747, § 2.

79

lupita 03.16.13 at 6:00 pm

Katherine@55

Unless of course you don’t count women as members of the group ‘people’, subgroup ‘poor’. Which describes the Catholic stance quite well actually.

The Church does count poor women and women in general as people. I understand that some people are passionate about contraception but I do not think it helps the cause to reinvent a reality in which Dilma Rousseff, Cristina Fernandez, and Nancy Pelosi are present in Rome for the installation of a man as the new head of a 1.2 billion church that considers half its members as animals.

80

Hector_St_Clare 03.16.13 at 8:06 pm

It’s worth pointing out that the Catholic Church isn’t against family planning per se, just against particular means of family planning. They fully endorse NFP/fertility awareness methods. (If anyone wants to get into a debate about the efficacy of NFP we can have that debate, but I assume Crooked Timber readers are informed enough not to simply state things like ‘natural family planning doesn’t work’, when the reality is a lot more complex).

It’s also worth pointing out that the fertility rate in the Philippines is about 3.2 children per woman, which while high by regional standards, and probably too high for a country as crowded as the Philippines, is also *way* below what it was in the past, and trending downwards.

81

Bill Murray 03.16.13 at 8:47 pm

Those are nice principles, but does the church actually do anything to back them up, or make them prominent. John Kerrey was threatened with being (or perhaps was) denied communion because he supported abortion rights. Has anyone been similarly threatened for supporting policies that increase poverty? Frankly, most of the Catholics I know, do not seem to support these policies as applied to poor people.

82

rf 03.16.13 at 8:56 pm

Historically and currently (depending where you are in the world) the Church does do a lot for the disenfranchised (living amongst them, educating them, organising them) John Kerry not getting communion doesn’t negate that

83

rf 03.16.13 at 9:00 pm

*certain* disenfranchised groups..the poor basically

84

Bruce Wilder 03.16.13 at 9:07 pm

rf: “organising them”?!?

I don’t think so. It’s tried sometimes — liberation theology and all that — but the Church hierarchy tends to take a dim view of anything that antagonizes the rich and powerful.

85

Bruce Wilder 03.16.13 at 9:09 pm

The Church’s stock-in-trade is not charity, but hypocrisy.

86

rf 03.16.13 at 9:15 pm

“It’s tried sometimes — liberation theology and all that — but the Church hierarchy tends to take a dim view of anything that antagonizes the rich and powerful.”

Depends on the context..Union hierarchies also tend to back away from antagonizng the rich and powerful…these are large, complex movements/institutions..that complexity and contingency should be acknowledged, I think

87

Bruce Wilder 03.16.13 at 10:42 pm

rf: complexity and contingency should be acknowledged

Agreed, very much agreed. But, much easier to intend, than to do. I certainly cannot do it, adequately to satisfy myself. I was brought up as a Catholic, and have seen it a bit from the inside, so to speak. There’s a whole parallel cultural universe of (conservative) Catholic thought and doctrine, fully supported by separate schools and universities and a long, sophisticated intellectual history of apologetics and agonistes, which doesn’t so much want to repeal the Enlightenment, as to deny that it took place as billed. From the (conservative) Catholic viewpoint, the Enlightenment philosophes usurped the Catholic moral magisterium, while libeling the Church unfairly as superstitious, prejudiced and cruel, when (in the Catholic view), the Church was the original champion of fundamental moral human equality, as well as Truth and rationalism over superstition, and humane mercy over arbitrary cruelty. Institutes of post-Protestant Reformation Catholic Reform (aka Counter-Reformation, which turned into a Counter-Enlightenment) — like the Jesuits — are especially dedicated to these mirror-image intellectual frameworks, mirror-images to the common assumptions and definitions of secular humanism and political liberalism and social democracy. Superficially, moral absolutes clothed in the rationalizations of natural law assume similar forms to the consequentialism of utilitarian calculation and social contract rights, but their logics are subtly different; you cannot count on similar-sounding intentions at the beginning of any statement, assenting at the end to the same ends. Its “concern for the poor” is not the same as either liberalism or social democracy might envision or espouse, just as its “conservatism” isn’t the same as the naked greed and self-congratulation of Romney’s Mormonism or some evangelical’s Prosperity Gospel. We should be as cautious about mistranslation, as we would be if Pope Francis was speaking an alien language, but using the same sounds and letters, because it might as well be a foreign language.

88

lupita 03.16.13 at 11:28 pm

Bill Murray@81: Has anyone been similarly threatened for supporting policies that increase poverty?

Bruce Wilder@84: the Church hierarchy tends to take a dim view of anything that antagonizes the rich and powerful

Apparently, the Argentinian bishops Jorge Novak, Jaime de Nevares, and Esteban Hessayne threatened the elite during the military dictatorship with their work for the poor and in defense human rights given how they were continually persecuted. Bishop Enrique Angelelli clearly antagonized the powerful to the point where he was assassinated and then we have the now famous Jesuit priests Francisco Jalics and Orlando Yorio who were kidnapped and tortured for working in poor neighborhoods.

Bruce Wilder@84: liberation theology and all that

Liberation theology, assassinated bishops, and tortured priests are very real to me while your summary of what Catholics argue about in the Anglosphere is absolutely alienating. Just and England and the US are two countries separated by a common language, I guess American and Latin American Catholics are separated by a common faith.

89

Patrick S. O'Donnell 03.16.13 at 11:50 pm

While it’s probably a fair generalization that Catholicism in North America is conservative, there are vigorous pockets of different and more radical forms of faith by those in the Catholic Worker tradition and others avowedly inspired by Liberation Theology (I’ve known and know individuals of both orientations), or what has been called the “Catholic peace tradition” in a book by Ronald Musto. Think too, for example, of the work of Father Boyle and Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles.* Some of my co-bloggers at Religious Left Law are of this type, while the Mirror of Justice blog represents the more conservative side of the spectrum (with a few exceptions). I have relatives outside of Chicago who are Catholics committed to the tenets of Liberation Theology and endeavor to embody those commitments in their daily lives and in the context of politics here in the states. For a nice introduction to the to main alternatives of Catholicism in the US, see Phillip Berryman’s Our Unfinished Business: The U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Letters on Peace and the Economy (Pantheon Books, 1989), as well as the writings of the late Penny Lernoux, especially her book, People of God: The Struggle for World Catholicism (Penguin, 1990), which puts the North American differences within the larger battle going on within Catholicism itself.

* See: http://www.religiousleftlaw.com/2012/04/cultivating-hope-compassion-at-homeboy-industries-.html

90

Hector_St_Clare 03.17.13 at 12:40 am

Re: Apparently, the Argentinian bishops Jorge Novak, Jaime de Nevares, and Esteban Hessayne threatened the elite during the military dictatorship with their work for the poor and in defense human rights given how they were continually persecuted.

I’m very much aware that Catholicism in Latin America has been a big source of inspiration for people fighting for social justice, and I’m also aware that a lot of left-wing politics in Argentina specifically was religiously inspired. There were a lot of laypeople and parish priests whose politics can be summed up as ‘Christian left’ or “Christian socialist’, all over the continent and including in Argentina. And of course, that’s also the school of thought I’d subscribe to, so of course I think it’s critically important. It would be idiotic to say that Christianity in general, particularly in Latin America, serves to oppress poor people. With those major caveats, I think it is a true statement that the *majority* of the *church hierarchy* in Argentina (which is distinct from the average Catholic layman or even parish priest) sided with the right rather than the left, and that the various right-wing military regimes (some of them, at least) *also* drew ideological support from counter-enlightenment Catholic thought which they perverted to justify the worst of their abuses. Not all of the hierarchy was at fault, but I think that the majority were.

91

Substance McGravitas 03.17.13 at 12:53 am

It’s also worth pointing out that the fertility rate in the Philippines is about 3.2 children per woman, which while high by regional standards, and probably too high for a country as crowded as the Philippines, is also *way* below what it was in the past, and trending downwards.

Yes, I believe birth control was recently legalized.

Philippine birth control law takes effect Posted at 01/17/2013 4:05 PM | Updated as of 01/17/2013 10:14 PM

MANILA – A controversial birth control law came into effect in the Philippines Thursday after more than a decade of bitter opposition from the influential Catholic church, with women saying the change came as a relief.

The government is still threshing out how to implement the law, which proponents say will help moderate the nation’s rapid population growth, reduce poverty and bring down high maternal mortality.

But Catholic groups have already shifted their battle to the courts, questioning the law’s constitutionality. The church, which counts 80 percent of Filipinos as followers, disallows the use of artificial contraceptives.

92

Bruce Wilder 03.17.13 at 2:14 am

lupita @ 88 We anglos have nothing like Opus Dei. (A Jesuit Pope, however conservative, is a direct rebuke to that menace.)

93

lupita 03.17.13 at 3:43 am

Hector_St_Clare@90

Not all of the hierarchy was at fault, but I think that the majority were.

The Latin American Episcopal Conference (CELAM) is certainly the majority of the Latin American hierarchy and it supported liberation theology in 1968. It was Pope Paul VI who sent Cardinal Antonio Samoré as head of a commission to Latin America to fight it.

Then Pope John Paul II commissioned Cardinal Ratzinger to continue the fight. Notwithstanding, in 1979, CELAM was able to incorporate the concept of a “preferential option for the poor”. It was also John Paul who would not listen to Archbishop Óscar Romero and condemn El Salvador’s regime for its support of death squads. It was John Paul who sent Cardinal Pio Laghi as envoy to Argentina to play tennis with one of the leaders of the junta and then to Washington where he placed the likes of Cardinal Bernard Law in key positions.

So no, it was not the majority of the Argentinean hierarchy or the Latin American hierarchy that supported repression in their countries. It was Pope Paul VI. It is Pope John Paul II. It was Pope Benedict XVI. It was Cardinal Samoré. It was Cardinal Laghi. And while they worked 40 year together with Washington to fight their common enemy the “Marxists”, they turned a blind eye to torture and assassination, to financial scandals and pedophiles.

94

LFC 03.17.13 at 4:46 am

B.Wilder @87:
From the (conservative) Catholic viewpoint, the Enlightenment philosophes usurped the Catholic moral magisterium, while libeling the Church unfairly as superstitious, prejudiced and cruel, when (in the Catholic view), the Church was the original champion of fundamental moral human equality, as well as Truth and rationalism over superstition, and humane mercy over arbitrary cruelty.

This may be a dumb question, but how could anyone deny that the Church for centuries did not, shall one say, scrupulously follow Christ’s teaching re “humane mercy over arbitrary cruelty.” The Albigensian Crusade, the other Crusades, the Inquisition… Wouldn’t it be more honest of contemporary conservative Catholics (as you describe them) to admit that the Enlightenment philosophes had a point about the Church’s historical cruelty toward ‘heretics’ of all kinds and then go on to argue that, for reasons X, Y and Z (I’m sure they could find some), Voltaire’s (for example) denunciation was still unjustified?

from the same comment:
Its [i.e. Catholic social teaching's] “concern for the poor” is not the same as either liberalism or social democracy might envision or espouse
You mean it’s not rooted in the same philosophical premises, but practically speaking, that often doesn’t matter, does it?

95

Suzanne 03.17.13 at 5:30 am

79: “The Church does count poor women and women in general as people.”

That’s good to know, but it’s still possible to wonder:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/08/world/europe/08vatican.html

“A senior Vatican cleric on Saturday defended the excommunication of the mother and doctors of a 9-year-old girl who had an abortion in Brazil after being raped. The child was pregnant with twins.”

96

Bruce Wilder 03.17.13 at 5:48 am

LFC: You mean it’s not rooted in the same philosophical premises, but practically speaking, that often doesn’t matter, does it?

I mean that Catholic social teaching is rooted in what may be deceptively similar (or parallel) premises, but these can have practical implications quite at odds with the naive expectations of modern, secular moralists. It can matter quite a lot.

Sexual morality is the area, where this conflict of deductive moral reasoning is best known. Even most Catholics do not regard birth control as immoral or taboo, but that is Catholic doctrine, a doctrine that frequently drives political interventions. A humanist and consequentialist, observing the facts and implications of overpopulation, or simply considering the personal consequences for the family, regards birth control as a moral imperative.

In a less widely appreciated way, Catholic doctrine regards human suffering as having a positive, spiritual value, for the sufferer, which a secular humanist with even a vaguely utilitarian outlook would find difficult to fathom. Somewhat famously, the horrors of Mother Theresa’s care for the sick and dying have been the focus of sometimes dramatic criticisms; these should give the naive pause.

I am not saying that the social democrat or the American liberal is superior, or inferior, in moral outlook or effective action. I am saying that the secular humanist is liable to misunderstand the inspiration and nature of Catholic commitments, and to make inferences, which are mistaken. Catholic doctrine is hostile to capitalism, because it is hostile to modernism; that can look similar to distaste for the commercial culture synthesized by corporate bureaucracies, but if you are looking for suspicion of authority in hierarchy, you are looking the wrong place.

97

Random Lurler 03.17.13 at 10:14 am

@Suzanne 95
Unless all the doctors were female I don’t see how this support your allegation that the church doesn’t threat women as people, only that they have an extreme stance against abortion.
In facts if the twins were female the implication is the opposite.

98

Random Lurler 03.17.13 at 11:42 am

I should add:
In the contest of the RCC worldview where all unborn fetuses are full human beings and being excommunicated is worse than being raped.
Those are dubious theories and I certainly disagree quorum the second and have strong doubts about the first, but are not in themselves “anti women “

99

Random Lurler 03.17.13 at 11:43 am

“Quorum” should be ” with “

100

Katherine 03.17.13 at 12:39 pm

I do not think it helps the cause to reinvent a reality in which Dilma Rousseff, Cristina Fernandez, and Nancy Pelosi are present in Rome for the installation of a man as the new head of a 1.2 billion church that considers half its members as animals.

The presence of women at the Pope’s installation says absolutely nothing about how the Catholic Church views women. All it shows is that the Pope is powerful and important.

There are a lot of institutions, laws and people that don’t regard women as quite fully deserving the rights and responsibilities of full human beings, not just the Catholic Church. They are just particularly obvious about it.

101

Hector_St_Clare 03.17.13 at 5:53 pm

Re: The Latin American Episcopal Conference (CELAM) is certainly the majority of the Latin American hierarchy and it supported liberation theology in 1968. It was Pope Paul VI who sent Cardinal Antonio Samoré as head of a commission to Latin America to fight it

I was talking more about the Argentine church specifically (which I believe was more conservative than the church establishment in, say, Brazil or Peru) than about the Latin American more generally. And of course, supporting liberation theology in the abstract is different than taking a concrete stand in favour or against a particular government. You may be right, however. Like i said, my ideological commitments are pretty much in a Christian-socialist direction, and I’d be delighted to learn that I was wrong, and that the Argentine church did the right thing in the 1970s. I just want to make sure we aren’t painting a more rosy picture than is justified by the facts. And I don’t think we disagree much on the broader question of whether Christianity can be a force for social justice.

102

lupita 03.17.13 at 8:48 pm

I’d be delighted to learn that I was wrong, and that the Argentine church did the right thing in the 1970s.

Bergoglio himself imposed penitence on the Argentine church for its sins during the dictatorship so, no, it did not do the right thing; it did not forcefully denounce abuse and use all its power to protect the vulnerable, meaning leftists. Neither did Bergoglio defrock Father Christian Von Wernich who is serving a life sentence for kidnapping, torture, and homicide during the Dirty War. He still officiates in jail.

I just want to make sure we aren’t painting a more rosy picture than is justified by the facts.

Perhaps we are. A clearly un-rosy turn of events was Pope Francisco’s denunciation of the “anti-clerical left” as the source of doubts about his role during the dictatorship. Why would he say that when there is no doubt, by his own admission, about the Argentine church’s sins of commission and omission during this period? Why denounce the anti-clerical left from the height of power and not the anti-human rights, anti-Marxist criminals who actually committed these atrocities?

103

lupita 03.17.13 at 8:59 pm

The presence of women at the Pope’s installation says absolutely nothing about how the Catholic Church views women.

I meant it the other way around: The presence of Rousseff and Fernandez says very much about how women and Latin Americans view the Church. If indeed you are interested in Latin American women having greater access to contraception and legalized abortion, then treating them as idiots who cannot tell when a person or institution treats them as inferior, but a Western woman easily can, will not serve your cause.

All it shows is that the Pope is powerful and important.

It shows that most Latin Americans are Catholic.

The US is powerful and important, has drones, and controls a global financial system that can crash, and has crashed, Latin American countries at a moment’s notice. And yet, Brazil masterminded the collapse of WTO talks, Argentina reneged on its debt, Latin America created a regional organization to counter US influence, and throughout the region leftist governments have been elected. Given the great progress towards independence and sovereignty in the region, the notion that Latin Americans just go with the flow with the powers that be, including those that view them as sub-human, is nothing more than wishful thinking.

Finally, perhaps the aspect of the Church’s teachings that most resonates in Latin America is its emphasis on the dignity of all human persons. This is why so many, including clergy, have risked their lives and livelihoods during four decades of repression at the service of an unholy alliance between the Vatican and Washington.

104

Katherine 03.17.13 at 10:12 pm

perhaps the aspect of the Church’s teachings that most resonates in Latin America is its emphasis on the dignity of all human persons.

Apart from women who don’t want to be pregnant in circumstances outside of their control, that is. Which is a fairly large portion of the population.

Given the great progress towards independence and sovereignty in the region, the notion that Latin Americans just go with the flow with the powers that be, including those that view them as sub-human, is nothing more than wishful thinking.

I think I must be part of a different conversation here. Where on earth would you get the impression that I hold the view that Latin Americans just go with the flow with the powers that be? The relationship of people, men and women, with religion, of whichever variety, is immensely complicated. There are any number of reasons why people might buy into a system that is objectively bad for them, and a huge number of examples of people doing just that. The simple fact of popularity of something is no evidence at all of its goodness or rightness, per se.

105

Hector_St_Clare 03.18.13 at 2:35 am

Lupita,

Your wasting your time arguing with Katherine, she appears to be one of those Foucaultian feminists who populate our e
Ivy League English departments, and who believe that abortion rights are the hill they choose to die on.

106

MPAVictoria 03.18.13 at 3:43 pm

“Your wasting your time arguing with Katherine, she appears to be one of those Foucaultian feminists who populate our e
Ivy League English departments, and who believe that abortion rights are the hill they choose to die on.”

I say again, Poe’s Law. The “Foucaultian feminists” remark is a dead give away.

107

Katherine 03.18.13 at 3:49 pm

Hector – don’t presume you know me. I’m am not American, not an academic, nor did I study English at university.

I do however think that the Catholic Church is an institution that oppresses women and considers them less than men. This isn’t exactly a radical view, although I do have plenty of those too.

You’ll note, if you take a second to see past your disdain for “Foucaultian feminists” that I did not mention abortion. I talked about contraception.

Comments on this entry are closed.