Pope Francis is a good man. At least I think so. He’s seriously interested in alleviating suffering and corruption around the world and uses his influence to do that. His ultimate boss must be very pleased.
Jesus the Nazarene was a compassionate, practical guy who looked at the cold world with a realistic weariness. “The poor will always be with us,” he told his followers.
With precision, Jesus spoke of ambition and achievement in his parable of the three workers given investment capital by their employer. The man who did nothing with that opportunity was scolded in the parable for squandering the gift he had received.
In his new book “Let Us Dream,” Pope Francis also speaks of practical matters, confronting the world of Covid and directly criticizing the actions of President Trump.
Having written “Killing Jesus,” a history of the most famous human being who ever existed, I think the Pope may be making a significant mistake in his analysis, one that the teacher Jesus would not have made.
On page two of the book, the Pope writes: “Think of governments having to choose in the pandemic. What matters more: to take care of people or keep the financial system going? Do we look after people, or sacrifice them for the sake of the stock market? Do we put the machinery of wealth on hold, knowing people will suffer, yet that way we save lives? In some cases governments have tried to protect the economy first, maybe because they didn’t understand the magnitude of the illness, or because they lacked the resources. Those governments have mortgaged their people.”
That is quite the indictment by Francis. So, playing devil’s advocate with His Holiness, let me challenge.
No country on earth has successfully eliminated Covid and a number of them badly damaged their own citizens by ordering intense lockdowns. That’s a fact.
I guess a case could be made that Sweden’s refusal to take strong isolation action led to more death in that country. That seems to be true.
As for the United States, President Trump did not want to panic the markets and create intense economic hardship. Remember, about 13 million Americans have contracted Covid. There are 330 million of us and we are all dependent on the market economy which slid into recession shortly after the virus hit.
Pope Francis is responsible for souls, an American president for bodies. Folks have to have money to support themselves and, under Mr. Trump, the U.S. economy has remained resilient while other nations have faltered.
It is true that Donald Trump did not aggressively promote mask wearing and punishing lockdowns. He was also far too optimistic about defeating the pandemic in the beginning. He might have handled those things with more touch and, surely, has paid a political price.
But the President did not “mortgage” his people. He protected their hard earned assets and investments. He also successfully fast-tracked a vaccine.
Capitalism comes through again.
Pope Francis is a disciple of “liberation theology,” a theory that demands social concern for the poor and political “liberation” for oppressed peoples. I believe Jesus would have endorsed that concept as well.
But it is HOW you provide for the downtrodden that separates the saints from the sinners. Allowing all citizens opportunities to improve their lives in this callous world should be the basis of “liberation theology.” Protecting folks from harm is equally as important as long as you don’t “destroy the village” in the process.
In the age of Covid, the USA continues to lead the planet in social and economic opportunities. With all due respect to the good man Pope Francis, President Trump contributed greatly in allowing opportunity to continue to knock through an extremely dangerous time.
At least that’s the take from this loyal American Irish-Catholic.