Karl Marx or Pope Francis?

by Kieran Healy on November 26, 2013

Pope Francis’s new Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, has been getting some attention today, mostly thanks to its reiteration of some long-standing Catholic doctrine on social justice and the market. So, here is a quiz to see whether you can distinguish statements by Pope Francis from statements by Karl Marx. I figured someone was likely to do this anyway, so why not be first to the market? It’s fair to say that the Pope and Karl Marx differ significantly on numerous points of theory as well as on what people asking questions at job talks refer to as the policy implications of their views. So I don’t think this quiz is very hard. At the same time, I sort of hope it will be picked up, stripped of this introductory paragraph, and circulated as evidence that the Pope and Marx agree on pretty much everything.

Questions!

1. In a similar way, by raising dreams of an inexhaustible market and by fostering false speculations, the present treaty may prepare a new crisis at the very moment when the market of the world is but slowly recovering from the recent universal shock.

2. … society needs to be cured of a sickness which is weakening and frustrating it, and which can only lead to new crises.

3. In this play of forces, poverty senses a beneficent power more humane than human power. The arbitrary action of privileged individuals is replaced … Just as it is not fitting for the rich to lay claim to alms distributed in the street, so it is also in regard to these alms of nature.

4. Yet we desire even more than this; our dream soars higher. We are not simply talking about ensuring nourishment or a “dignified sustenance” for all people … for it is through free, creative, participatory and mutually supportive labour that human beings express and enhance the dignity of their lives.

5. … the limitless possibilities for consumption and distraction offered by contemporary society. This leads to a kind of alienation at every level, for a society becomes alienated when its forms of social organization, production and consumption make it more difficult … to establish solidarity between people.

6. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.

7. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile … is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which becomes the only rule.

8. Inequality eventually engenders a violence which recourse to arms cannot and never will be able to resolve. … Some simply content themselves with blaming the poor and the poorer countries themselves for their troubles; indulging in unwarranted generalizations, they claim that the solution is an “education” that would tranquilize them, making them tame and harmless.

9. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption.

10. Solidarity is a spontaneous reaction by those who recognize that the social function of property and the universal destination of goods are realities which come before private property.

(Scroll down for answers.)

































Answers!

  1. Karl Marx, New York Daily Tribune, September 20th 1858.

  2. Pope Francis §202.

  3. Karl Marx Rheinische Zeitung November 3rd, 1842.

  4. Pope Francis, §192.

  5. Pope Francis, §162.

  6. Pope Francis, §53.

  7. Pope Francis, §56.

  8. Pope Francis, §60.

  9. Pope Francis, §55.

  10. Pope Francis, §189.

{ 125 comments }

1

Shatterface 11.26.13 at 5:27 pm

At the same time, I sort of hope it will be picked up, stripped of this introductory paragraph, and circulated as evidence that the Pope and Marx agree on pretty much everything.

That’s not a good selling point for either.

2

js. 11.26.13 at 5:33 pm

This is kinda hard? My (partial) guesses would be:

Pope: 5, 6, 8

Marx: 1, 10

Not sure about others.

3

js. 11.26.13 at 5:35 pm

Wait, and 3 is Marx, surely.

4

Corey Robin 11.26.13 at 5:51 pm

Hah, I got 8 out of 10 right. I thought they were all the Pope. None of them sounded like Marx, not even 1 and 3. Well, maybe 3.

5

MPAVictoria 11.26.13 at 6:11 pm

I got a number wrong.
“The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption”

This really sounded like Marx to me.

6

js. 11.26.13 at 6:16 pm

Yeah, 1 doesn’t really sound like Marx—I just wasn’t sure what “treaty” Francis could’ve been referring to, so went with Marx.

7

Watson Ladd 11.26.13 at 6:23 pm

If you think Catholicism and Marxism are compatible you know nothing about either. What side was the Pope on in 1848? What side Marx? What does the Pope have to say about human freedom and and the double-sided nature? Only that man is the image of a platonist form which eternally determines everything.

8

Nick 11.26.13 at 6:53 pm

They are also both leaders of reactionary millenarian cults. Still, at least Pope Francis seems like a nice man besides that.

9

Harold 11.26.13 at 7:01 pm

Marxism and Catholicism both stem from the same source. Therefore the Church regards Marxism as especially dangerous, a heresy, in other words. “From each according to his needs and to each according to his abilities” is a quote from the New Testament, after all.

10

Hector_St_Clare 11.26.13 at 7:08 pm

Harold’s basically right here.

Catholicism, per se, and Marxism, per se, may not be compatible, but it’s certainly possible to come up with synthetic worldviews that combine certain elements from both, and there certainly are points of agreement.

Nick, what was remotely ‘reactionary’ about Marx?

11

Number Three 11.26.13 at 7:18 pm

I think (even institutional) Catholicism and (social democratic) Marxism are surprisingly compatible, with the following provisos:
–No (sudden and massive) expropriation of Church property (KEY!!!!);
–Relaxation of the Marxist atheist meme (i.e., you can be Socialist Man and attend church); and
–Separation of church and state (hello, James Madison).
Now, adherents of Liberation Theology may disagree with me, but they would disagree most with the first point?

/full disclosure: not a Catholic, not a Marxist, so maybe I’m just full of it./

12

Mao Cheng Ji 11.26.13 at 7:45 pm

“No (sudden and massive) expropriation of Church property (KEY!!!!)”

Right, but it’s just about expropriation; don’t they have a nice little bank there, allegedly engaged in all kinds of dubious practices? So, is this pope just talking the talk, or is he going to do something about it, and perhaps follow the fate of the unfortunate John Paul I? Ta-da-ta-da-ta-da…

13

Harold 11.26.13 at 7:48 pm

What Mao said.

14

Rakesh Bhandari 11.26.13 at 7:54 pm

On Marx and Catholic teachings, see Jose Miranda, Enrique Dussel, Hugo Assmann, Franz Hinkelammert.
And http://www.scribd.com/doc/19792338/Loewy-Capitalism-as-Religion-Benjamin-and-Weber

15

Hector_St_Clare 11.26.13 at 7:55 pm

Number Three,

‘Non institutional’ Catholicism isn’t Catholicism. The defining feature of Catholicism, which sets it apart from other Christian bodies, is the papacy.

A non-atheistic Marxism without gulags and such is certainly compatible with some forms of Christianity, just not with Catholicism as an institution.

16

Mao Cheng Ji 11.26.13 at 8:30 pm

Where’s George Scialabba when you need one?

17

MPAVictoria 11.26.13 at 8:50 pm

I totally shared this list on twitter by the way.
/Of course I only have like 30 followers and I am sure they are all tired of my twitter feeds constant stream of articles on unions, poverty and Canadian politics.

18

Jim Buck 11.26.13 at 9:15 pm

How many dividends has the Pope?

19

John Quiggin 11.26.13 at 9:42 pm

I picked 1 (referring to Cobden-Chevalier?) and 3 as Marx. I thought all the others more likely to be Francis, but guessed 4 and 10 as the most plausible candidates for Marx, on the assumption of a roughly even split.

20

John Quiggin 11.26.13 at 10:03 pm

I see I got the same score as Corey, but with an opposite type of error.

21

Martin 11.26.13 at 10:06 pm

Those that say there are no parallels don’t understand the church or communism …. Both are theological …. Read your agamben

22

John Quiggin 11.26.13 at 10:22 pm

I imagine with an exhaustive trawl you could find similar sentiments expressed on occasion by Benedict, JPII etc. Not an authority, but this looks to be entirely orthodox Catholic doctrine.

But, as people on the left are having fun pointing out, Benedict and JPII catered to “cafeteria Catholics” on the right, who wanted plenty of hellfire and brimstone on abortion and homosexuality, but infrequent and sotto voce mentions of anything Jesus might have said about the poor in unguarded moments.

23

CJColucci 11.26.13 at 10:33 pm

If you think Catholicism and Marxism are compatible you know nothing about either.

Take it up with the Pope.

24

hix 11.26.13 at 10:55 pm

Assets of the two big churches in Germany are estimated at 500 billion (there are of course no accurate numbers, since the churches are extempt from publication requirements, along with labour laws that allow strikes, or dont allow fireing people for non job related reasons and a lot of other stuff..). If they would practice what they preach on poverty, they would stop hoarding money and start donating it.

25

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© 11.26.13 at 11:21 pm

Karlo Marx and Fredrich Engels
Came to the checkout at the 7-11
Marx was skint – but he had sense
Engels lent him the necessary pence

(First thing that popped into my head.)
~

26

David 11.26.13 at 11:51 pm

“Christianity is the grandmother of Bolshevism” is classic reactionary cant.

27

Alan White 11.27.13 at 12:03 am

Thomas More in Utopia sure seemed to blend the two, though neither perfectly preserved.

28

js. 11.27.13 at 12:19 am

Thomas More in Utopia sure seemed to blend the two, though neither perfectly preserved.

Indeed! As did Plato in the Republic. I mean, if you want to go avant le lettre, let’s go avant le fucking lettre.

29

Con George-Kotzabasis 11.27.13 at 12:22 am

The two religions meet at their apostolic apex.

30

GiT 11.27.13 at 12:26 am

Utopia doesn’t really strike me as blending Catholicism with the whole Utopian plan much. I mean, it’s a parody of Erasmus’s humanism.

31

js. 11.27.13 at 12:30 am

Umm, I was being sarcastic. Hence the second sentence.

32

PJW 11.27.13 at 12:55 am

Pope Francis just might be an accelerationist at heart.

33

Ed Herdman 11.27.13 at 1:17 am

I’ll have to look at this later – but I just wanted to add that I (coincidentally) was looking at Catholic attitudes towards the poor in the 2008 National Election Survey data. I didn’t see strong support for the poor – in fact support for the poor was stronger (and also statistically significant!) amongst Protestants. Controlling for race and a couple other factors (i.e., looking at just people who attend a religious service every week) didn’t help raise those numbers.

In practical terms, there may well be an opportunity to change attitudes here. But given how the Catholic voter seems at times out of sync with the Magisterium, I am afraid that people simply won’t care.

34

Ed Herdman 11.27.13 at 1:25 am

Guesses: 1 m, 2 m, 3 p, 4 m, 5 p, 6 p, 7 m (no concrete feeling), 8 p, 9 p, 10 m
Did better past the first group.
The mention of a “treaty” in #1 was a dead giveaway for me that it had to be Marx. I could have gotten #10 right if I hadn’t zoned out and not looked at it carefully. Hitting a bit better than random chance here, and I haven’t even read Marx (well, only exceedingly little).

35

Mark English 11.27.13 at 2:46 am

“… Evangelii Gaudium, has been getting some attention today, mostly thanks to its reiteration of some long-standing Catholic doctrine on social justice and the market.”

Given that there are also long-standing intellectual traditions within Catholicism which are decidedly at odds with left-wing social thought, what we appear to be witnessing here is the influence of an individual whose views reflect certain (currently dominant?) strands of social thought within the church.

But this sort of Marxist rhetoric on the part of a church leader will only encourage hardline Christian conservatives to maintain their hard conservative line.

And will be taken by the non-religious right (and should be by the non-religious left) just as seriously as other pronouncements by the Pope – i.e. cum grano salis.

36

QS 11.27.13 at 3:09 am

The Pope’s words might have a positive effect in legitimizing social democratic projects, particularly if he can push provincial elites within the Church to assist local efforts. That’s my speculation, I’m rather ignorant of what the Church is up to nowadays in say Latin America.

37

Lee A. Arnold 11.27.13 at 4:17 am

“the universal destination of goods” is a very nice phrase. I think I may like this Pope

38

Alan White 11.27.13 at 4:57 am

I didn’t know Plato was Catholic! Thanks so much.

39

js. 11.27.13 at 5:03 am

Surely Plato has as much of a claim to being a Catholic as More does to being a Marxist, no? (Despite Marxism not being a doctrinal faith obviously.)

40

dn 11.27.13 at 5:55 am

John Quiggin is entirely correct. Benedict made no secret of his disdain for capitalism. Shortly before his resignation he wrote this (source):

“It is alarming to see hotbeds of tension and conflict caused by growing instances of inequality between rich and poor, by the prevalence of a selfish and individualistic mindset which also finds expression in an unregulated financial capitalism. In addition to the varied forms of terrorism and international crime, peace is also endangered by those forms of fundamentalism and fanaticism which distort the true nature of religion, which is called to foster fellowship and reconciliation among people.

41

Harold 11.27.13 at 6:10 am

Most of the Popes have condemned capitalism, favoring corporatism (and paternalistic feudalism) instead. The Catholic church poor people to have plenty of days off from work for religious holidays, processions, visiting cemeteries, and the like. I’m all for holidays, myself, as a matter of fact.

42

Hector_St_Clare 11.27.13 at 6:43 am

Plato’s work certainly got incorporated into Christianity.

43

Hector_St_Clare 11.27.13 at 6:45 am

Just a cautionary note: like I said, socialism of various forms is certainly compatible with *Christianity*, so are certain forms of communism. whether they’re compatible with *Catholicism* is a different question, and one only the Pope can answer. One should not get their hopes up until they do answer it.

44

js. 11.27.13 at 7:05 am

Is it me or did the CT commentariat of a few years back have a better sense of humor? (I mean, fuck, I’m probably bringing the mean down, but still.)

45

bad Jim 11.27.13 at 7:15 am

I guessed that the odd-numbered quotes were Marx and the even ones Francesco, which seemed consistent with their antiquated rhetoric. So much for trying to psych the test.

In some quarters it’s doubted whether Marx was consistently a Marxist.

The last couple of popes were pretty uptight. This guy, not so much. That by itself is encouraging; not being pretty uptight is an enormous change. The doctrine remains the same, unfortunately but necessarily, which makes the emphasis all-important.

46

Collin Street 11.27.13 at 7:29 am

whether they’re compatible with *Catholicism* is a different question, and one only the Pope can answer.

… and here I was, thinking “catholic” meant “universal”.

47

Walt 11.27.13 at 7:30 am

Hector knows women better than actual women, and Watson knows Catholicism better than the actual pope. How can you say the CT commentariat has lost its sense of humor, js?

48

Harold 11.27.13 at 7:42 am

“The doctrine remains the same, unfortunately but necessarily, which makes the emphasis all-important.”

It’s the same old same old, I fear. But perhaps this Pope has a better feel for the Zeitgeist than his Germanic predecessor.

49

sanbikinoraion 11.27.13 at 11:59 am

Really I think there should have been a third choice of speaker, namely Matt Damon:

http://daily.represent.us/matt-damon-blows-your-mind/

50

passer-by 11.27.13 at 12:29 pm

“That the spirit of revolutionary change, which has long been disturbing the nations of the world, should have passed beyond the sphere of politics and made its influence felt in the cognate sphere of practical economics is not surprising. The elements of the conflict now raging are unmistakable, in the vast expansion of industrial pursuits and the marvellous discoveries of science; in the changed relations between masters and workmen; in the enormous fortunes of some few individuals, and the utter poverty of the masses; the increased self reliance and closer mutual combination of the working classes; as also, finally, in the prevailing moral degeneracy.
In any case we clearly see, and on this there is general agreement, that some opportune remedy must be found quickly for the misery and wretchedness pressing so unjustly on the majority of the working class (…). Hence, by degrees it has come to pass that working men have been surrendered, isolated and helpless, to the hardheartedness of employers and the greed of unchecked competition. The mischief has been increased by rapacious usury, which, although more than once condemned by the Church, is nevertheless, under a different guise, but with like injustice, still practiced by covetous and grasping men. To this must be added that the hiring of labor and the conduct of trade are concentrated in the hands of comparatively few; so that a small number of very rich men have been able to lay upon the teeming masses of the laboring poor a yoke little better than that of slavery itself. ” Rerum Novarum, pope Leo XIII, 1891.
I don’t know that any pope since then has strayed from Leo’s position. The catholic church has been condemning both capitalism and socialism for over a century; what’s new is that Francis is the first pope who no longer has to worry about socialism (by far the greater evil in the eye of the church). I don’t know if that’s good news.

51

QS 11.27.13 at 1:18 pm

So Leo was the first Pope to challenge capitalism? But what was the Pope up to during the Spanish Civil War? (not rhetorical questions, btw)

52

MPAVictoria 11.27.13 at 1:19 pm

“Hector knows women better than actual women, and Watson knows Catholicism better than the actual pope.”

Don’t forget that Mao knows Judaism better than actual Jews!

/These last couple threads have just been surreal.

53

Mao Cheng Ji 11.27.13 at 1:32 pm

“Don’t forget that Mao knows Judaism better than actual Jews!”

What’s so surreal (and exciting) about that? I certainly do know Judaism better than many actual Jews.

54

Katherine 11.27.13 at 1:36 pm

In [the exhortation], he reiterated earlier statements that the church cannot ordain women or accept abortion. The male-only priesthood, he said, “is not a question open to discussion” but women must have more influence in church leadership.

It’s a shame he doesn’t seem able to apply his analysis of inequality to inequalities between men and women. Or recognise that most of the poor are women and girls, and a lot of them are poor because of the way they are treated as women and girls.

55

Hector_St_Clare 11.27.13 at 1:47 pm

Katherine,

The Roman Catholic Church, by it’s nature, must pay more attention to perennial moral truths rather than the fads and fashions of our time. I understand that you may deely want to be a priest, or to have an abortion, but what we want is often a poor guide to what’s good for us. ask any five year old.

56

passer-by 11.27.13 at 2:03 pm

To QS: succintly put, the catholic church holds that the destruction of the feudal order has led to the disaster of capitalism, which itself breeds (or used to breed) the even worse danger of communism / socialism. Or as Pius XI put it in the 30’s:
“By pretending to desire only the betterment of the condition of the working classes, by urging the removal of the very real abuses chargeable to the liberalistic economic order, and by demanding a more equitable distribution of this world’s goods (objectives entirely and undoubtedly legitimate), the Communist takes advantage of the present world-wide economic crisis to draw into the sphere of his influence even those sections of the populace which on principle reject all forms of materialism and terrorism.”
The church’s condemnation of capitalism is reactionary at its core. Its socio-economic doctrine, for over a century, has rested on a paternalistic, corporatist, organicist view of society. The cardinal sin, in its view, was the destruction of the guilds and corporations by the French revolution. In its rhetoric, the church may sometimes sound close to the left, if you select carefully. Thus for example, the church has been a strong advocate of the freedom of association – but its model has always been the corporation of old, not the workers union.
The separation of church and state, the expropriation of the catholic church by the Spanish republic led to its condemnation by the church. During the Civil War, the pope never doubted that the danger of communism far outweighed any other consideration (despite early exhortations to “love your enemy”). But then again, Franco was no liberal by any means.

57

Ed 11.27.13 at 2:26 pm

“the destruction of the feudal order has led to the disaster of capitalism, which itself breeds (or used to breed) the even worse danger of communism / socialism.”

What Marx said.

58

MPAVictoria 11.27.13 at 2:43 pm

“I certainly do know Judaism better than many actual Jews.”
Do you?

59

MPAVictoria 11.27.13 at 2:44 pm

“I understand that you may deely want to be a priest, or to have an abortion, but what we want is often a poor guide to what’s good for us. ask any five year old.”

How would women being ordained be “bad” for us Hector?

60

Katherine 11.27.13 at 2:45 pm

Fuck off, Hector.

(And I apologise if this breaks any CT rules, I just had to say it.)

61

Hector_St_Clare 11.27.13 at 2:48 pm

I see that the faculty for polite and civilised discussion is not one that feminism encourages, Katherine.

62

Hector_St_Clare 11.27.13 at 2:53 pm

In any case, I’m sorry for derailing the discussion by responding to Katherine’s remark about feminism.

63

MPAVictoria 11.27.13 at 3:10 pm

Atrios posted this yesterday evening:
“I’m not catholic and the guy doesn’t represent me, but christianity – including catholicism – seems to have been reduced “abortion, contraception, and gay people are evil” over the past several decades. If the dude manages to adjust the balance on those things – even if he thinks those things are still bad – I’ll applaud. Supposedly we’re all sinners, it just hasn’t been clear why some sins have been more important than others lately. “

Pretty much summarizes my view.

64

phosphorious 11.27.13 at 3:18 pm

“I see that the faculty for polite and civilised discussion is not one that feminism encourages, Katherine.”

You responded to her in the most patronizing tone imaginable, essentially calling her a five year old.

You deserve neither politeness nor civilized discussion, you smug prick.

65

Neil Levy 11.27.13 at 3:36 pm

Actually, I want to thank Hector for his time saving tip: If only everyone jackass came with little flags saying “don’t bother to read me, I’m combine idiocy with arrogance.”

66

sanbikinoraion 11.27.13 at 3:40 pm

> what we want is often a poor guide to what’s good for us

Coincidentally, so is the Bible!

(Unless you’re allergic to shellfish…)

67

Katherine 11.27.13 at 3:45 pm

Hector, I may not be polite, but you are small minded, unimaginative, weak, patronising and, worst of all, really fucking boring.

68

Ronan(rf) 11.27.13 at 3:52 pm

I have to disagree with Atrios; misogyny, homophobia and authoritarianism are built into the Catholic Church and although there are traditions, factions and individuals within the Church who have different (more humane and sensible) priorities, the misogynistic authoritarian homophobes will always win out (even the best intentions of the odd ‘liberal parish’ notwithstanding)
Of course if you dare make such an obvious point these days you get written of as trading in simplistic caricatures, and are called out as someone who doesnt understand the complexity of the modern Church and the reforms being carried out internally by the ‘liberal wing’. LOL
I’m glad the new Pope has reprioritised from ‘the culture wars’ but it’s only a lipstick on a pig moment. The Catholic Church will never be changed, so good riddance to it.

69

godoggo 11.27.13 at 4:29 pm

You have inspired me to do a google image search for “lipstick on a pig.”

70

donquijoterocket 11.27.13 at 4:35 pm

When thinking of Catholic thought and theory I have to consider the differences between Franciscan, Benedictine, Jesuit, and Augustinian ideas and practices.
If this Pope is not careful he’ll end up in the same boat with Dom Helder Camara and/or the ghost of Sir Thomas More.

71

dn 11.27.13 at 5:23 pm

Re: passer-by’s note @50 -I don’t think it’s that the Church sees socialism as a greater evil than capitalism; what they hate is the “godless” part of godless Communism. As a matter of dogma I believe the Church has no particular positive preferences about political or economic organization – they just want everything to be as friendly to the Church as possible (and they hate revolutionaries of all stripes on principle; it’s in the Bible – Romans 13).

The whole reason Catholicism is so slippery is because the anathema is their preferred way of articulating dogma. They’ve got a list a mile long of specific things that they officially consider bad ideas, but they’re not in the business of proposing alternative good ideas, other than “come to mass”. Hence why they’ll rail against the evils of any system of government you can name, but then turn around and support the Francos of the world.

72

MPAVictoria 11.27.13 at 5:30 pm

“They’ve got a list a mile long of specific things that they officially consider bad ideas, but they’re not in the business of proposing alternative good ideas, other than “come to mass”. Hence why they’ll rail against the evils of any system of government you can name, but then turn around and support the Francos of the world.”

I really like this comment. Thank you dn.

73

Anarcissie 11.27.13 at 5:36 pm

Harold 11.26.13 at 7:01 pm:

‘Marxism and Catholicism both stem from the same source. Therefore the Church regards Marxism as especially dangerous, a heresy, in other words. “From each according to his needs and to each according to his abilities” is a quote from the New Testament, after all.’

You’ve reversed the ‘from each’ clauses, making it represent capitalism instead of communism. In any case, I don’t recall the ‘from each’ thing in the New Testament. Jesus himself sometimes implies a preference for a communistic society but at other times he advocates charity, which requires that there be better-off people to give alms to the worse-off, and worse-off people to receive them and thus enable the better-off to fulfill their religious obligation to be charitable. I’m curious as to what you’re thinking of here.

74

puss wallgreen 11.27.13 at 6:01 pm

“They’ve got a list a mile long of specific things that they officially consider bad ideas, but they’re not in the business of proposing alternative good ideas, other than “come to mass”. Hence why they’ll rail against the evils of any system of government you can name, but then turn around and support the Francos of the world”
You might find that assuming political actors have the same positions they adopted in the 1930s today is a fairly risky methodology – if you assumed, for example, that European social democracy today is basically similar to what it was in that decade, you’d be making a pretty big mistake. And though the Church may be fairly slow to move, there have been such little shifts of position as Vatican II since the 1930s. The Basque hierarchy was firm in its support for the Republic during the Civil War, incidentally, so obviously there is nothing specifically in the Catholic DNA here. I am somewhat baffled by the assumption apparently held by everyone here that the Church’s social teachings are some kind of Delphic mystery – they were embodied precisely by the programme of western European Christian Democracy from the late 1940s through to the 1970s. I for one prefer that programme to neoliberalism, even neoliberalism plus gay marriage.

75

Trader Joe 11.27.13 at 6:02 pm

“The Roman Catholic Church, by it’s nature, must pay more attention to perennial moral truths rather than the fads and fashions of our time.”

As much as I hate to say it, Hector’s comment @55 above is spot on. The RC Church’s underlying tenets have been remarkably stable and from time to time cultural values have seemed to be in sync to a greater or lesser extent. Cultural values have shown far greater movement (for both better and worse) than the Church’s.

I’d also assert – however – that the Catholic Church’s track record of abiding by its own core moral principals has been at best poor and at times abysmal. Someone upstrand mentioned PiusXI and he’s undoubtedly one of the greatest offenders of the modern Papacy, no doubt countless others could be quickly recited.

76

Memory 11.27.13 at 6:03 pm

Far more briefly than the topic deserves:

In the late 19th century, Catholic social thinkers in Austria, Italy, and Spain faced the challenge of industrialization and the combination of a.) disruption of traditional social hierarchies and b.) concentrated mass poverty that this entailed. These thinkers rejected both what they called “Manchester Liberalism” and Marxist socialism. Instead, they developed an arguably reactionary set of doctrines that we can classify as “Corporatism” (At the Papal level, see e.g. Pope Leo XIII’s 1891 Encyclical Letter. Looking backwards, the Church laments the destruction of medieval social organizations and the rise of modern mass society. Looking forwards, the same document prescribes Catholic trades unionism as the foundation for social order and the protection of the interests of the working class.) This tradition of corporatism was either refined or corrupted (as you prefer) into the basic economic theory of fascism. It was technically a reactionary ideology, but it advocated a set of practical policies to deal with the social disruption and economic instability of capitalism that were anti-market and in some cases converged with the policies advocated by Marxists.

History in the English-speaking world has blotted out this entire corporatist tradition for a variety of reasons (e.g. the poison left by its legacy of fascism, the work of Marxist historians and theorists condemning corporatism as simply a manifestation of state capitalism in which capital is directly backed by state coercive power under the guise of “corporate” institutions, etc.), but it is that tradition from which Francis is very clearly speaking, and it is a longstanding and well grounded tradition in Catholic thought. It would be foolishly ahistorical to claim that these statements by Francis are Marxist, even while it might be worthwhile to point out that they are anti-capitalist and anti-(classical) liberal.

77

Hector_St_Clare 11.27.13 at 6:16 pm

DN is quite right. The Catholic Church is neither as favourable to socialism as I’d like, not as hostile as some would claim.

78

Michael Kremer 11.27.13 at 6:26 pm

79

Harold 11.27.13 at 6:38 pm

To the many good references mentioned on this thread I’s like to add:

Peter Brown’s “Through the Eye of a Needle: Wealth, the Fall of Rome, and the Making of Christianity in the West, 350-550 AD”
also
Michael Alexander, “Medievalism: The Middle Ages in Modern England” (Yale, 2007) which offers a sympathetic account of the rise of the Catholic social movement — not limited to reactionaries, by the way. This is a really good book by someone who knows his stuff – though he is not as well known as Peter Brown.

80

bianca steele 11.27.13 at 6:43 pm

I have a book somewhere by Michael Novak from the old days when he was defending Catholic social teaching against capitalism, before he got mugged by reality, I guess. I wonder if you could make a quiz like this using quotes from him.

81

dn 11.27.13 at 6:51 pm

puss wallgreen @74 – It is not my intention to say that support for Franco-esque regimes is in the Catholic DNA. Quite the opposite – my larger point (perhaps not expressed as felicitously as it could have been) is that in terms of official Church teaching there is no “Catholic politics” apart from theology, and theology is not primarily concerned with worldly institutions. “Christian democracy” draws on the social teachings, yes, but that doesn’t mean the Church has any particular affection for democratic institutions as such; as far as I can tell, they don’t. They appreciate democracy to the degree that it offers opportunities to save souls in a pluralistic society. The theological use of the language of “human rights” is entirely subservient to the language of “communion” and the soul-saving project. The basic Catholic critique of socialism, of communism, of liberalism, of anarchism, of capitalism, of any “system” you can think of, is always the same – it’s that “communion”, i.e. the Church, is not at its center.

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Harold 11.27.13 at 6:55 pm

There is a strong, humane reformist tradition in the Catholic Church. Unfortunately, when push comes to shove, they usually seem to get clobbered by their fanatical extremist opponents on the right — from the Council of Trent on, and maybe before.

83

dn 11.27.13 at 7:33 pm

The thing is, “reform” to the RCC doesn’t mean what it does to everyone else. It’s okay for them to tidy up “abuses” around the margins – but they absolutely cannot change anything related to the basics of getting saved, because from their POV they literally cannot be wrong. They really believe that the gates of hell cannot prevail against the mind of the Church.

A good book to read to really get a handle on how this works is “The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition” by the historian of dogma Jaroslav Pelikan, who became Orthodox himself. Many of the important basic doctrines of mainstream Christianity were settled not so much by argumentation as by realities on the ground. For example: what ultimately settled the doctrine of original sin was not so much anything in Scripture as it was simply the fact that infant baptism was already a centuries-old practice by the time Augustine came around. As I recall, the Pelagians were anti-original sin, but were fine with the practice of infant baptism – which prompted the question of why you would baptize those too young to have any actual sins. The practice couldn’t be wrong, therefore the doctrine of original sin had to be right.

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Ed 11.27.13 at 7:53 pm

I didn’t know that about infant baptism and original sin. I’m learning new things on this comment thread.

Its important to remember that a number of 19th and 20th century Popes -I think Leo XIII was one of the few exceptions- came from the Italian aristocracy and upper middle class, and their attitudes towards socialism and communism were what you would expect from people with that background.

85

Colin Danby 11.27.13 at 8:00 pm

Thanks a lot, Memory @76. Conservative anti-capitalism in general gets blotted out.

From Kieran’s quiz, it’s interesting that “limitless possibilities for consumption and distraction” and “man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption” may read today as Marxist, but are in fact standard tropes of 19th-century romantic anticapitalism.

That said, this tradition has radical potentials. I’ll be teaching a little bit of Paulo Freire next week, and I was impressed with “Some simply content themselves with blaming the poor and the poorer countries themselves for their troubles; indulging in unwarranted generalizations, they claim that the solution is an “education” that would tranquilize them, making them tame and harmless. “

86

Collin Street 11.27.13 at 8:19 pm

I see that the faculty for polite and civilised discussion is not one that feminism encourages, Katherine.

At the heart of politeness is respect, Hector.

[pointless, I know.]

87

godoggo 11.27.13 at 8:42 pm

Is the famous bat paper what you find in the bat room in the bat cave?

88

godoggo 11.27.13 at 8:43 pm

Sorry, wrong thread.

89

Jon Spangler 11.27.13 at 8:47 pm

The quiz is tough but let’s j keep the historical chain clear here.

Consider that Marx and Engels borrowed their economic justice model and calls for equity from the Judeo-Christian scriptures. See Acts 2:44ff for just one:

Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. 44And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.…””

The economic model of the early Christian church–which was, in turn, ethically grounded in the OT prophetic calls for justice, hospitality to the stranger, and compassion for the poor–predated Marx and Engels by roughly 1600 years. Although Communism was a deliberately secular and anti-religious model, its inheritance from Biblical ethical and economic values is clear.

Asking whether Pope Francis or Karl Marx came first ignores the root sources that are hundreds if not thousands of years older. Those original sources (the ancient justice codes embodied in most world religions as well as the Judeo-Christian heritage) deserve better attribution and proper citation–I am sure that Pope Francis could provide his scriptural footnotes on request.

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MPAVictoria 11.27.13 at 8:55 pm

“At the heart of politeness is respect, Hector.

[pointless, I know.]“

Hector doesn’t have respect for women on the internet because he doesn’t think they should be expressing opinions or contradicting men. He doesn’t see women as rational actors or as real people.

91

lupita 11.27.13 at 9:07 pm

Whereas the English language media focused on the anti- capitalist part of the Pope’s exhortation, in Latin America, the decentralization of the church part grabbed the headlines. Given that the region’s history regarding the theology of liberation, the persecution, assassination, and torture of priests, and anti neo-liberalism, I think it becomes quite clear where this is leading.

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hix 11.27.13 at 9:15 pm

“the homophobes will always win out”

That would involve selfdefeat for a large part of the church hierarchy. The catholic church keeps up with a lot of things on an invididual level (some more, some less or not at all considered bad by mainstream society) , as long as its not done as an official chalenge to church doctrine.

93

lupita 11.27.13 at 9:25 pm

@hix:

Actually, Francis is suggesting granting bishop’s conferences doctrinal authority in their territories.

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dn 11.27.13 at 9:31 pm

lupita @89 – indeed, the decentralization issue is huge – not only with respect to Latin America, but also with respect to ecumenism. If decentralizing reforms follow, watch how the Eastern Orthodox react; any move toward a less ultramontane Church is also an incremental step in the direction of East-West unity, which is something of a holy grail to the post-VII papacy.

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Dave Barnes 11.27.13 at 9:41 pm

So, this demonstrates that:
a. Marx was a Catholic
b. Francis is a Marist

96

chris y 11.27.13 at 10:28 pm

From Kieran’s quiz, it’s interesting that “limitless possibilities for consumption and distraction” and “man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption” may read today as Marxist, but are in fact standard tropes of 19th-century romantic anticapitalism.

So true. 90% of the population of the internet insist on believing that Marx advocated the slogan, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!”

Whereas what he actually said about it was, “In a higher phase of communist society, after the enslaving subordination of the individual to the division of labor, and therewith also the antithesis between mental and physical labor, has vanished; after labor has become not only a means of life but life’s prime want; after the productive forces have also increased with the all-around development of the individual, and all the springs of co-operative wealth flow more abundantly — only then then can the narrow horizon of bourgeois right be crossed in its entirety and society inscribe on its banners: From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!

“Quite apart from the analysis so far given, it was in general a mistake to make a fuss about so-called distribution and put the principal stress on it.”

Let’s face it. In popular misconception, 19th century romantic anti-capitalism has won hands down.

97

floopmeister 11.27.13 at 10:59 pm

A couple of other really interesting references:

“The Last Christian” by Adolf Holl – a Marxist interpretation of the current Pope’s namesake St Francis of Assisi.

“Faith and Wealth: A History of Early Christian Ideas on the Origin, Significance, and Use of Money” by Justo Gonzalez

Both great reads – the latter work does the hard legwork of basically going through the corpus and listing what the Gospels and the early Church fathers said about money and wealth.

This is an old debate of course – the difficulties that the Greek term ‘koiononia’ poses for the imperial American Baptist Churches is a classic example. One usage is from Acts 2:42-47 where it’s stated that:
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the communion, to the breaking of bread and to prayer…All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need…They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.”

Definitely resonances with Karl’s work there. There are a multitude of commentators from the ‘Bible plus Free Market/Ayn Rand’ School of Confused Thought trying to square that circle.

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Harold 11.27.13 at 11:53 pm

This belongs here: “From each …”, etc: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/From_each_according_to_his_ability,_to_each_according_to_his_need

One might say that the Enlightenment is the grandmother of Marx, and that Christianity is the grandmother of the Enlightenment, and that Judaism (along with Plato and the Roman Stoics) were the grandmother of Christianity, and that Zoroastrianism is the grandmother of Judaism (along with ancient Egypt and Ur). One might say all that and not be reactionary.

***
Also, the Church may not be fond of democracy, but it does have councils which elect the Pope, deliberate on reform, and theoretically can remove a bad pope, and so provide a template of a majority rule organization — even if hardliners seem to usually carry the day.

99

floopmeister 11.28.13 at 12:17 am

One might say that the Enlightenment is the grandmother of Marx, and that Christianity is the grandmother of the Enlightenment, and that Judaism (along with Plato and the Roman Stoics) were the grandmother of Christianity…

Well Nietszche did consider Christianity (and I’m paraphrasing) ‘Platonism for the masses’…

100

Watson Ladd 11.28.13 at 12:45 am

To pile on unnecessarily onto what is above, Catholicism opposes abortion rights, the cornerstone of Marxist feminism, has an ideal image of society as neofeudal fiefdoms bound together by customary relations rather than the expanding force of reason, privileges one religion above all others. Even post-Vatican II the church is not a force for freedom and democracy.

In the history of the social democratic project, Catholicism was often a sticking point, from the Special Schools debate in the Netherlands during the 1960’s to the tacit support for Franco and Salazar.

@floopmeister: Add Max Weber to that list, and you will see how simply that circle is squared. Hard work is virtuous, while enjoyment of its fruits is not in Protestantism. Ideologies do not need to be true to their names or founders.

101

Harold 11.28.13 at 1:08 am

Just to be a little pedantic. The Catholic did not always reject abortion, at least not before “quickening”, in the terminology of Aristotelean (Thomist?) biology. What it rejected was sex. As far as women, Christianity, unlike Judaism, had a role for unmarried women. (Just being the devil’s advocate here, in a manner of speaking.) This was an innovation that many women saw as an improvement, at the time.

102

Harold 11.28.13 at 1:58 am

That should be “The Catholic Church did not ….”

103

Lee A. Arnold 11.28.13 at 2:17 am

A reading of the recent 10 popes on “socialism” reveals that the church is against government control that negates individualism. While in other pronunciamentoes, we otherwise know that they have variously lauded: public goods, transfers, helping the poor even through government, providing jobs, universal medicine, retirement security, etc., none of which apparently they regard as “socialism”.

Clearly the Popes are not libertarians.

Yet those items will give you half the GDP (at least) and I will guess that most of us will settle (for now) for such a mixed system.

Here are a hundred words or more of the last ten popes on “socialism”, specifically as chosen by (horrors!) a social conservative website:

http://www.tfp.org/tfp-home/catholic-perspective/what-the-popes-have-to-say-about-socialism.html

Because I want you to know I am not gilding the lily in favor of my thesis; here is what the Popes said, that some (all?) conservatives think is important.

Recommended for interesting reading about the historical definition of “socialism”, because that definition is not the final word. “Socialism” does not have to have a soul-destroying government — that is not a requirement of real socialism.

It came third in the list, when I googled “catholic church on socialism”. This is not brain surgery, people.

P.S. Byt the way, (and that website won’t like it), but Francis recently also said he didn’t care about homosexuality, the issue is what inhibits your spiritual transcendence (or words to that effect). That is an historic sea-change, so we may not hear another shoe drop, for another 50 years.

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Lee A. Arnold 11.28.13 at 2:18 am

See this is what happens because sometimes I hit “submit” accidentally.

105

Lee A. Arnold 11.28.13 at 2:24 am

Inequality is the issue, not snotty positioning.

Now I haven’t read through all the threads, but nobody mentioned this terrific exchange between Jeremy Paxman and Russell Brand, yet it is almost up to 10 million views, I mean something is happening here, what it is ain’t exactly clear. I mean come on, I know Brits are hanging round here:

106

Suzanne 11.28.13 at 5:06 am

” It’s fair to say that the Pope and Karl Marx differ significantly on numerous points of theory as well as on what people asking questions at job talks refer to as the policy implications of their views.”

Indeed. I can’t imagine Marx (or Engels) echoing Francis’ dark warnings about “female machismo” or hemming and hawing about the role of women with “We must not confuse the function with the dignity.”

107

Harold 11.28.13 at 8:27 am

“Female machismo”? I missed that one.

108

Mao Cheng Ji 11.28.13 at 8:29 am

@102

Asked his favorite virtue, Marx replied “simplicity.” His favorite virtue in men, he said, was “strength”; in women, “weakness”.

https://www.google.com/search?num=100&q=%22asked+his+favorite+virtue+marx%22

109

bad Jim 11.28.13 at 8:31 am

When I google “Pope Francis female machismo” I encounter feminists taking encouragement from his words. Whatever. He’s the fucking pope. His job is to be a bad guy. At least he isn’t quite as much a nasty asshole as the last guy, and that’s a matter for rejoicing. Happy Thanksgivukkah to all, and may comet ISON survive to delight our skies.

110

QS 11.28.13 at 8:47 am

Nice comment thread, thanks all.

111

floopmeister 11.28.13 at 9:49 am

@floopmeister: Add Max Weber to that list, and you will see how simply that circle is squared. Hard work is virtuous, while enjoyment of its fruits is not in Protestantism. Ideologies do not need to be true to their names or founders.

Not actually sure what you mean here – the recognised Protestant concern with the private (i.e. private property) over the communal?

No sarcasm intended – just not sure what point you are making here (and actually interested to find out)…

112

twinkletoes 11.28.13 at 2:04 pm

Lucky me, I believe in separation of Church and State — and I don’t have to get all bent out of shape about Pope Francis’s political views.

113

Michael Kremer 11.28.13 at 3:11 pm

I posted a response to John Quiggin (#22) yesterday morning, which has been held for moderation since, probably because it had too many links. So here is a different version without the links (which can easily be found by googling), but with some more explanation. I hope this one will pass and the other can be left unposted.

John Quiggin notes that Pope Francis’s teaching on poverty “looks to be entirely orthodox Catholic doctrine;” but “Benedict and JPII catered to “cafeteria Catholics” on the right” with “plenty of hellfire and brimstone on abortion and homosexuality, but infrequent and sotto voce mentions of anything Jesus might have said about the poor in unguarded moments” — although “with an exhaustive trawl you could find similar sentiments expressed on occasion by Benedict, JPII etc.”

The problem with this story is that Pope Francis is building on a long tradition of papal encyclicals, including several by his immediate predecessors. Papal encyclicals are not “sotto voce mentions.” They are the most authoritative of papal pronouncements.

In particular:

John Paul II
Laborem Exercens (1981) [7 occurrences of "poor" or "poverty"; 25 occurrences of "justice" or "injustice"; states the principle of "the priority of labour over capital."]

Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (1987) [36 occurrences of "poor" or "poverty"; 21 occurrences of "justice" or "injustice"; advocates for "the option or love of preference for the poor."]

Centesimus Annus (1991) [40 occurrences of "poor" or "poverty"; 38 occurrences of "justice" or "injustice"; argues that "it cannot be expected that the debts which have been contracted should be paid at the price of unbearable sacrifices."]

Benedict XVI
Caritas in Veritate (2009) [50 occurrences of "poor" or "poverty"; 53 occurrences of "justice" or "injustice"; "there is urgent need of a true world political authority"]

The quotations given are merely representative and chosen for their interest in the context of the OP, Quiggin’s post, and of some of the other comments above. No exhaustive trawl was needed; any website on Catholic social teaching will direct you to these as key documents.

114

Michael Kremer 11.28.13 at 3:11 pm

I posted a response to John Quiggin (#22) yesterday morning, which has been held for moderation since, probably because it had too many links. So here is a different version without the links (which can easily be found by googling), but with some more explanation. I hope this one will pass and the other can be left unposted.

John Quiggin notes that Pope Francis’s teaching on poverty “looks to be entirely orthodox Catholic doctrine;” but “Benedict and JPII catered to “cafeteria Catholics” on the right” with “plenty of hellfire and brimstone on abortion and homosexuality, but infrequent and sotto voce mentions of anything Jesus might have said about the poor in unguarded moments” — although “with an exhaustive trawl you could find similar sentiments expressed on occasion by Benedict, JPII etc.”

The problem with this story is that Pope Francis is building on a long tradition of papal encyclicals, including several by his immediate predecessors. Papal encyclicals are not “sotto voce mentions.” They are the most authoritative of papal pronouncements.

In particular:

John Paul II
Laborem Exercens (1981) [7 occurrences of "poor" or "poverty"; 25 occurrences of "justice" or "injustice"; states the principle of "the priority of labour over capital."]

Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (1987) [36 occurrences of "poor" or "poverty"; 21 occurrences of "justice" or "injustice"; advocates for "the option or love of preference for the poor."]

Centesimus Annus (1991) [40 occurrences of "poor" or "poverty"; 38 occurrences of "justice" or "injustice"; argues that "it cannot be expected that the debts which have been contracted should be paid at the price of unbearable sacrifices."]

Benedict XVI
Caritas in Veritate (2009) [50 occurrences of "poor" or "poverty"; 53 occurrences of "justice" or "injustice"; "there is urgent need of a true world political authority"]

The quotations given are merely representative and chosen for their interest in the context of the OP, Quiggin’s post, and of some of the other comments above. No exhaustive trawl was needed; any website on Catholic social teaching will direct you to these as key documents.

115

Michael Kremer 11.28.13 at 3:13 pm

Now I have duplicate posted, though I have no idea how that happened. I apologize for that.

116

Lurker until now 11.28.13 at 4:20 pm

Why haven’t the moderators banned Hector?

117

MPAVictoria 11.28.13 at 4:41 pm

Michael I think what John is saying is that despite these references that public focus still seemed to be on issues like abortion or gay rights. Speaking as someone outside the Catholic Church his interpretation seems accurate to me.

118

Ed 11.28.13 at 7:43 pm

To be fair, much of the impression that John Paul II and Benedict XIV “catered to cafeteria Catholics on the right” is probably due to filtering through the English-speaking media. I’m not sure how Francis is getting around this, and John Paul II, who was notably media-savvy, didn’t.

John Paul II (Wojtyla) was probably more focused on the Soviet Union as the hyperpower threatening the Catholic Church, and Francis (Bergoglio) is more concerned about the United States, for entirely understandable reasons given their backgrounds and the geopolitical situation when they were elected. Once constant in the history of the Papacy is a tendency to gravitate against the perceived strongest secular power of the day, they even tried to undermine Hapsburg Spain when the Spanish Kings were doing their best to extinguish Protestantism and to hold off the Turks. Plus there has always been suspicion that the American Catholic Church, which is a big revenue generator for the Vatican, has been too American and not sufficiently Catholic. So we can expect some break between the Vatican and the Washington Consensus, though they will probably try to be gradual and subtle about it.

119

Watson Ladd 11.28.13 at 10:50 pm

@floopmeister: Max Weber argued in “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism” that the end of the divide between sacred and mundane pursuits lead to an ethos of diligent and hard work, while the pursuit of worldly gain was still frowned upon. This is no stranger in 2013 Ohio than in 1830’s Breman.

120

floopmeister 11.28.13 at 11:35 pm

Watson – Ok, thanks for the further explication (I see your point).

I’m pretty familiar with the ‘Protestant Ethic’ (both the text and the lived experience – coming from an extremely conservative Protestant upbringing) and I’ve always found the contradictions between doctine and practice pretty glaring…

121

Suzanne 11.30.13 at 12:02 am

@109: I do not understand how the feminists you googled are able to take comfort from Francis’ remarks on “female machismo.” Try Katha Pollitt:

http://www.thenation.com/article/176345/pope-francis-sexism-human-face#

Francis’ comments in context below. He has, as Pollitt notes, also completely shut down the topic of women and the priesthood.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/20/world/europe/an-interview-with-pope-francis.html?_r=0

122

bad Jim 11.30.13 at 5:21 am

Suzanne, I admit my googling was lazy, and I’m certainly not defending the pope on this or many other contentious topics, and don’t expect much improvement from the Catholics in my lifetime (which is to say for the next twenty years), nor even from many mainline Protestant denominations. Pollitt’s article was good, as usual, and the pope’s treatment of the Women Religious is something to keep an eye on. I’m inclined to hope that Francis will view their activity with a less jaundiced eye than Benedict, but I have no idea how these things work, how much of this is injured pride, institutional inertia, or what have you.

I like to look at trends, the first and second derivatives. We can probably say at least that Francis isn’t making things worse as rapidly as Benedict was. It may be too early to tell if he’s actually making things better. (Kind of like poor little comet ISON?)

123

lupita 11.30.13 at 6:16 am

Female machismo refers to women enabling a male dominated society through their own attitudes and actions, to example, justifying male adultery because “that is the way men are” while being very harsh on women who do the same, telling daughters to forget about their education and get a rich husband, even accepting accepting a church hierarchy dominated by men. Francis said he does not want women to accept male dominance. What is wrong with that?

As to a theology of women, Pollitt dismisses it because there is no theology of men forgetting that that is what we had until women started writing about theology.

Feminine machismo and theology of women (greatly inspired by the theology of liberation) are Latin American concepts, or at least Francis is using the terms in the Latin American sense, and what he says makes perfect sense to me. Perhaps his meaning is being lost in translation.

124

Suzanne 11.30.13 at 7:00 pm

lupita, that’s quite a gloss, but respectfully I actually think it’s already pretty clear what Francis meant. And pointing to the Marian cult as he does in the interview is the kind of bone JP II and Benedict would have been very comfortable tossing to the distaff side. As for the “theology of the woman,” to me it sounded as if Francis meant we’ll just have to dig further to find out what these strange not-male Others are all about.

@122: Francis is a change for the better. No question. It does bother me when I observe liberal opinion seemingly ignoring or glossing over what appears to be the new guy’s little woman problem. He does refer to women having more of a voice and he didn’t bar women, from, say, the diaconate. Early days, baby steps, etc.

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David 12.02.13 at 4:42 am

Everyone would be a good practicing Catholic if they could pick among the practices of the Century and decade therein they would follow. That would be real cafeteria Catholicism.

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