I have been watching the pomp and circumstance around Pope Francis’ visit to the United States. My nine-year-old asked me why I am watching this on the news. My answer, “This is history in the making.” It is in reality history being made before our eyes. This does not mean that I am Catholic nor does it mean that I am even considering converting to Catholicism. Many of my family on the mother’s side are Catholic.
I had a cousin of mine who recently passed away and I attended her funeral Mass. The rituals and the homily were interesting to watch especially since I am a Southern Baptist. We do not have this sort of liturgy in our churches. We have certain things that we do on a regular basis. What the Pope has to say is important for us to hear whether we agree with him or we don’t. It is important because he influences so many people around the world. There are very few people who can influence entire nations and their leaders like the Pope can. It is also important to hear because he helps to determine policies in nations around the world by what he preaches and teaches.
From what I have heard on the news over the last two days, Pope Francis is not too keen on capitalism. Well, this needs to be qualified. First of all, I do not know anything about this Pope or what he believes about anything. Secondly, it seems that he wants to see the poor of the world helped and he believes that those who exercise capitalism with an attitude of greed are wrong. So, perhaps, the Pope is in favor of capitalism in the sense that it is through capitalism that many people have been helped throughout the world. The United States of America ranks in the top ten of the most giving nations along with Myanmar. We Americans gave more than $358 billion away in 2014. That’s not chump change! Many American companies have given millions and millions of dollars away as well.
This does not mean that all of the companies that have given millions of dollars are not greedy nor does it mean that their attitudes toward giving are in the best of interests except for tax purposes. Either way, the fact remains that millions of dollars from a capitalistic society has given millions of dollars in charity to tens of thousands of needy organizations and world efforts to meet the needs of some of the most needy around the world. Capitalism is not necessarily a bad thing as some on the Left might suggest. After all, the Left tends to capitalize on what they perceive to be what is wrong with our nation. Have you seen just how much money some of these people are worth? For instance, because of his global warming stance, Al Gore is worth over $300 million. Michael Moore, who is constantly railing against conservatives and capitalism is worth an estimated $50 million. So while these preachers of doom and anti-capitalism spew out their disgust for capitalism, they are doing a pretty good job of capitalizing on the ills of our society, and these are just two examples. (Click here to check out some of the wealthiest serving our nation in the Capital building!)
While I agree with Pope Francis that greediness is not a good thing, I certainly do not agree that people who work hard for what they are able to obtain is a bad thing. What I find to be disheartening and wrong more than anything is when people think that they have created their wealth more than anything. After all, God told the Israelites–and I believe the principle is the same for the rest of us–that He is the One who gives us the blessings that we so enjoy in this life and the one to come. Read what Moses wrote in Deuteronomy:
Be sure you do not forget the LORD your God by not keeping his commandments, ordinances, and statutes that I am giving you today. When you eat your fill, when you build and occupy good houses, when your cattle and flocks increase, when you have plenty of silver and gold, and when you have abundance of everything, be sure you do not feel self-important and forget the LORD your God who brought you from the land of Egypt, the place of slavery, and who brought you through the great, fearful desert of venomous serpents and scorpions, an arid place with no water. He made water flow form a flint rock and fed you in the desert with manna (which your ancestors had never before known) so that he might by humbling you test you and eventually bring good to you. Be careful not to say, “My own ability and skill have gotten me this wealth.” You must remember the LORD your God, for he is the one who gives ability to get wealth; if you do this he will confirm his covenant that he made by oath to your ancestors, even as he has to this day. (Deuteronomy 8:11-18)
Has capitalism here in America turned greedy? Certainly in some respects it has. And let us not forget what else God said through Moses:
Now if you forget the LORD your God at all and follow other gods, worshiping and prostrating yourselves before them, I testify to you today that you will surely be annihilated. Just like the nations the LORD is about to destroy from your sight, so he will do to you because you would not obey him. (Deuteronomy 8:19-20)
What we need to take away from these Scriptures–and Pope Francis–is that it is God that blesses us and gives us the ability to build wealth and then to help our fellow-man.
These are my thoughts on this visit so far. I’d be interested in knowing what your thoughts are on Pope Francis’ visit to the United States.