another post on the new pope’s papal proclamations (me and francis, part 2)

NOTE: Due to a glitch in the software, WordPress did not assign an individual URL number to the post sub-titled “me and Francis, part 1” (originally published on November 28, 2013), so I had to repost it. Therefore, I had to repost this post to offset the changes in that post! So read the post titled “I never thought I’d see me quoting a sitting pope” (now dated December 1, 2013) first, then read this one.


Popes in Rome and Politics in America and Never the Twain Shall Meet, Part 5: on Karl Marx and Gustavo Gutiérrez

In my last post here (“never thought I’d see me quoting a sitting pope, or from a fading fascist to a latent librull” preceding this post below), I expressed my surprise and joy at the pronouncements being made by the new Earthly leader of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis.

As a long lapsed Catholic (“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned and, trust me, you don’t wanna know how long it’s been since my last confession. Pooty pie! I don’t even remember who the president was . . .”), I am in a state of thrillness over what appears to be the best thing to happen to The Church since I left it fifty years ago!

So I took the time to share that joy—and saying something positive about The Church should make my father smile. I ended my piece with this question: Exactly where does our Jesuit Pope stand on Liberation Theology?

Needless to say, I was pleased to find this article an hour ago: “Is the Pope Getting the Catholics Ready for an Economic Revolution? (Maybe He Read Marx)” by Lynn Parramore for AlterNet (November 30, 2013). It is just over 1,800 words in length, so it will take more than a few minutes to read. I offer a dramatically abridged version (less than ¼ of the original) below. (The subtitles in bold print are mine and applied to break up the text visually.)


Can solutions be found for the world’s problems?

[Pope Francis’] recent comments on capitalism suggest that he is a man who understands something about economics—specifically the link between unbridled capitalism and inequality:

“Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘Thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills.

As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems.”

Liberation theology [is] a Catholic phenomenon centered on actively fighting economic and social oppression [and] is the fascinating place where Karl Marx and the Catholic Church meet.

Though Marx was certainly an atheist, Catholics who support liberation theology understand that his attitude toward religion was nuanced. He saw it as a coin with two sides: a conservative force that could block positive changes as well as a reservoir of energy that could resist and challenge injustice. 

Gustavo Gutiérrez, a Peruvian Catholic priest who grew up in abject poverty, used Marx’s ideas about ideology, class, and capitalism to develop a perspective on how Christianity could be used to help the poor while they were on here on Earth rather than simply offer them solace in heaven.

Alternative structures and non-violent ways to free the poor from abuse

As Latin America saw the rise of military dictatorships in the 1960s and ‘70s, Gutiérrez called on Catholics to love their neighbor and to transform society for the better. Followers of the new liberation theology insisted on active engagement in social and economic change. They talked about alternative structures and creative, usually non-violent ways to free the poor from all forms of abuse.

The official Church hierarchy has had a tense relationship with liberation theology, but some Francis-watchers detect that a new chapter in that history is opening. In early September, the new Pope had a private meeting with Gutiérrez.

The Catholic world has now snapped to attention as the faithful pore over the Pope Francis’s recent communication, which calls upon politicians to guarantee “dignified work, education and healthcare” and blasts the “idolatry of money.”

Marx is over and done with—dead! and recently seen in the company of several prominent theologians

Catholics, particularly in the United States and Europe, are not sure what to make of all this solidarity with the poor and anti-capitalist rhetoric. For a long time now, many have considered Marx and his critique of capitalism over and done with.

But others have watched deregulation, globalization and redistribution toward the rich unleash a particularly nasty and aggressive form of capitalism that seems increasingly at odds with Christian values. Instead of becoming more fair and moderate, capitalism has become more brutal and extreme.

Pope Francis may prove himself open to considering Marx’s ideas in order to think about a more human-centered economic system. The American press is already buzzing nervously with the idea . . .”


If you have any real interest in this topic—whether you are an active or lapsed Catholic, one of godonlyknows how many Protestant branches, a Jew Muslim Buddhist Taoist Nealist und so weiter—please click the link and go on over to Ms. Parramore’s piece and read it in its entirety.

Comments and arguments welcome!