Monthly Archives: September 2015

Is Pope Francis in a learning mode?

He wowed people, including Americans, on his trip. Did they (we) wow him?

Can we dare to say that Francis has learned something about economics from his American critics? Maybe so. Compare what he said in Latin America about the “idolatry of money” and the “dung of the devil” to his speech in Congress about the “creation and distribution of wealth” and the “spirit of enterprise.” On his return flight from Paraguay, the pope had said he needed to study the American criticisms of his economic statements and admitted he was “allergic to economics.” He knows that we live in an individualistic age but shouldn’t be nostalgic or romantic about the past. Whatever happened in the pope’s thinking about economics, it was a step in the right direction.

This is the opposite side of the coin from what the left-leaning Crux head man John Allen presented in his Time will tell if Pope Francis’ visit has truly changed America.

Illinois union does Oliver Twist

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) want “step pay raises” and automatic promotions for members.

SPRINGFIELD – A reporter once asked the 20th Century’s most influential labor leader, John L. Lewis, what does organized labor want?

His response: “More.”

It’s a great rejoinder, but it’s a lousy premise to go into all negotiations

Sometimes there isn’t “more” to give.

For example, Illinois is the fiscal basket case of the nation.

It’s $111 billion-plus in pension debt, is spending what it doesn’t have and cutting basic services and is 13 weeks without a budget.

Other than that, no problem.

A prayer for the supposedly praying Mass-attender

Gerald Manley Hopkins deserves attention. So other Christian poets, in search for someone to counter the drugstore fustian that greets us regularly at our 21st-century mass.

First, do no harm, God told the worship clerks, who asked, “What on earth are you talking about?”

I do them injustice. It’s not easy to tell people how to pray. They mean well, as do many a mis-doer, from whose misdirected, ill-conceived and -executed efforts God save us and them.

Now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

BS from a master practitioner

The other Clinton spins a yarn.

Mr. Trump, meet Mr. Carson, your co-leader . . .

. . . in latest WSJ/NBC poll. (As above in blog’s super headline)

In the prior Journal/NBC News poll, conducted in mid-July, Mr. Carson had only 10% support, compared with 19% for Mr. Trump.
The retired neurosurgeon overtakes Mr. Trump in the new survey, conducted Sept. 20-24, when voters’ first choice is combined with their second.
No candidate in the race has enjoyed a swifter ascent than Mrs. Fiorina, who barely registered in the July survey. She has since taken the spotlight in the GOP race after a strong performance in a televised Sept. 16 candidate debate.

Is this a horse race I behold?

The Two Sides of Pope Francis – WSJ

Peggy Noonan fills out the papal profile:

The pope I love embraces the hideously deformed man. He sees the modern world for what it is, “a field hospital after battle.” We’re in triage: “The thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds.” This pope calls the woman who wrote him that her lover had left but she was having the baby. He tracked her down on her cellphone. “It’s Francis!” She said he told her he’d baptize the baby. This pope fills my eyes with tears.

Then the other Pope Francis:

The less lovable pope is—well, and I say this still with love, Uncle Frank in the attic. This is the one who endorses secular political agendas, who castigates capitalism in language that is both imprecise and heavily loaded. He doesn’t, actually, seem to know a lot about capitalism or markets, or even what economic freedom has given—and is giving—his own church.

Do this better if you can.

The pope’s a player, with a lot to lose

Francis doesn’t see himself that way. He’s more Ben Carson than Donald Trump. But he’s in it deeply.

Pope Francis is becoming an aggressive public player in secular politics, from the environment to economic policy. That carries risks, not for Francis alone, but for the papacy and the institution the pope leads.

Big problem there. He’s betting the farm, which isn’t his to bet.

The day before Pope Francis met with Mr. Obama, one of the president’s aides, Ben Rhodes, said: “How can we make use of the enormous platform that the pope’s visit provides to lift up the work we’re doing and demonstrate how it’s consistent with the direction that’s coming from the pope?” At the White House, Pope Francis praised Mr. Obama’s climate-change initiatives, and the president thanked the pope for supporting his policies on that and his opening to Cuba.

Brothers in Christ? Not quite, but consider this:

It is not possible to do this [exchange encomiums with
one of the big guys] and be “above” politics. Everyone in politics is one of the boys, including the pope.+

And your people have to be dragged along with you:

In Cuba, when the pope’s spokesman, Rev. Federico Lombardi, was asked if Pope Francis knew that 50 dissidents had been arrested, he said: “I don’t have any information about this.” Embarrassing bunk is standard for the Josh Earnests of the world. It should not become so for the pope’s spokesman.

With unforeseen consequences galore:

On one hand, Francis is amenable to being photographed smiling and squeezing hands with Fidel Castro, a decades-long oppressor of his nation’s Catholics. But then the Vatican objects that the pope might be photographed with a famous pro-abortion nun invited by the White House. Barack Obama plays hardball. His Justice Department had already sued the anti-abortion Little Sisters of the Poor.

Whom he unexpectedly visited, true, in a distinctly muted show of support in their battle with one of his new best friends. He has his priorities:

In the past two years, the plight of Christians in the Middle East has gone from persecution to slaughter. Decades of Vatican diplomacy there for the world’s most at-risk Christians has produced very little. Soon there may be nothing left to protect. On Friday, the pope reportedly will address the U.N. about climate change. A jeremiad against Christian extermination would be welcome this week, too.

His new friends use him.

What many of his new political friends mainly seek is to have the pope “moralize” their politics. Francis’ spiritual message could not be more secondary. They won’t be with him in Philadelphia. How allowing the papacy’s core moral authority to be politicized is in the interests of the Catholic Church as an institution is difficult to see.

Very difficult.


Maybe the Little Sisters visit means more than a nod in the right direction.

“What a huge boon to Catholic educators who yearn for relief from the Obama administration’s HHS mandate and protection of their First Amendment rights. This brings attention to the case that represents not only the Little Sisters but so many of us whose rights are denied,” said [Patrick] Reilly [president of the Obama-fighting Cardinal Newman Society].
Than again, probably not. Can we imagine Obama feeling pressured (or much less, inspired) by the Pope, him of the photo-op potential?

Pope F (and his country) have had a bad experience.

Maybe Pope Francis Doesn’t Understand Capitalism Because He Confuses It with Argentine Corporatism

We have here a case of understanding what Pope Francis says better than he does

The author is a British academic with a keen interest in economic inequality:

Martin O’Neill is a senior lecturer in politics at the University of York and a co-editor of “Property-Owning Democracy: Rawls and Beyond” (paperback edition, Wiley-Blackwell, 2014). He is currently a research fellow at the Institute for New Economic Thinking, working on a project about the significance of inequality.

He sees Francis embracing not only “radical green” but hard-left economic solutions:

Pope Francis’ new encyclical [Laudato Si,
June 18] is making headlines mainly because of the tough line it takes on climate change, and its message to Catholics and others that they must embrace radical green solutions to society’s problems.

But the Pope’s ecological message is only part of his radical political agenda. Just as significant as his environmental message is a parallel progressive economic agenda that fundamentally rejects deregulated free-market capitalism.

The Pope has a bracing message for Christians and other “people of good will”: that the time has come to move beyond right-wing economics, and to embrace a different kind of economic system.

The papal explainers who play Francis’s radicalism down in favor of his mainly giving spiritual more or less generic advice should tell this fellow how wrong he is.

On the other hand, there’s this other annoying aspect: where is this deregulated capitalism Francis and this radical professor are talking about? Not in this country, where regulations are a constant bone of contention.

A Humble Pope, Challenging the World – The New York Times

Sweet Jesus! Out of Argentina God has called his son.

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