Trent Horn, IMO the young protégé to Peter Kreeft, does yeomans work regarding Rush Limbaugh’s recent comments on his show (linked just below) pertaining to Pope Francis’ new apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium. I’ve been a follower of Rush since the early ’90’s, but Rush’s “99.7% of the time correct” line just got knocked down a few percentage points, albeit, tenth-of-percentage points. The problem here is our lack of thoroughly reading and digesting what Pope Francis graciously gives us. Our lack of interpreting Italian and Portuguese does a great disservice to Pope Francis, to Catholicism and to the world. Lest we not forget, Pope Francis is not fluent, and rarely, rarely speaks English, because he doesn’t, and collectively we are guilty of jumping the gun on what he is saying. When the pope has something to say, let’s take the time to read him. I’m thinking it’s not wise to put words in the mouth to the successor of St. Peter.
Trent Horn writes….”In a recent segment on his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh talked about the pope’s new apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium. I don’t have the space to address everything Limbaugh said, but what struck me was his mischaracterization of Pope Francis’s comments about economics.
The fundamental problem was that Limbaugh chose to quote not what Pope Francis wrote but a Washington Post article on the exhortation, which stated:
Pope Francis attacked unfettered capitalism as “a new tyranny” and beseeched global leaders to fight poverty and growing inequality, in a document on Tuesday setting out a platform for his papacy and calling for a renewal of the Catholic Church. . . . In it, Francis went further than previous comments criticizing the global economic system, attacking the “idolatry of money.”
Limbaugh responded by saying, “This is just pure Marxism coming out of the mouth of the pope. Unfettered capitalism? That doesn’t exist anywhere. ‘Unfettered capitalism’ is a liberal socialist phrase to describe the United States.”
Granted, it takes hours to read this massive document but, for someone whose words are heard by millions of people, before calling the pope a “Marxist” a simple use of the control+F function would have been warranted. If Limbaugh had done that, he would have found that the phrase “unfettered capitalism” does not appear in Evangelii Gaudium.
Neither is the global economy the main theme of this exhortation; rather, it’s only one area where Pope Francis is calling on the Church to evangelize the world. He describes specific financial and cultural challenges facing the human community and then addresses the temptations of pastors who must face these challenges. Nowhere does the Pope blame humanity’s woes on the concept of the free market or demand a Marxist government to save mankind.
A Betrayal of John Paul II?
Limbaugh later said, “[J]uxtaposed against the actions of Pope John Paul II, this pope and the things that he released yesterday or recently are really striking.”
No, they aren’t. In his 1991 encyclical Centesimus Annus, Pope John Paul II reflected on socialism and capitalism in light of the recent fall of the Soviet Union. Although he acknowledged that profit has a “legitimate role” in the function of a business and that “the Marxist solution” to economic inequality had failed, he also spoke of the “inadequacies of capitalism” and said that profit is the not the only indicator that a business is doing well. The human dignity of workers matter too, and if capitalism is left unchecked it becomes “ruthless” and leads to “inhuman exploitation.” Pope Francis’s words are consistent with John Paul’s.
You talk about unfettered, this is an unfettered anti-capitalist dictate from Pope Francis. And listen to this. This is an actual quote from what he wrote. “The culture of prosperity deadens us. We are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase. In the meantime, all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle. They fail to move us.” I mean, that’s pretty profound. That’s going way beyond matters that are ethical. This is almost a statement about who should control financial markets. He says that the global economy needs government control.
But the Pope is not saying that. He is saying that a global economy needs global control, not government control in the form of some creepy one-world government that runs everything. Pope Francis said, “If we really want to achieve a healthy world economy, what is needed at this juncture of history is a more efficient way of interacting which, with due regard for the sovereignty of each nation [emphasis added], ensures the economic well-being of all countries, not just of a few (206).”