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Cardinal Dolan: Pope Francis Not Endorsing Socialism

Image: Cardinal Dolan: Pope Francis Not Endorsing Socialism

By John A. Oswald   |   Friday, 23 May 2014 01:56 PM

Pope Francis is not endorsing socialism with his recent calls for the haves to do much more for the have-nots, Cardinal Timothy Dolan writes in The Wall Street Journal, but he does believe capitalism must come with "compassion and generosity."

"From media reports, one might think that the only thing on the Pope's mind was government redistribution of property, as if he were denouncing capitalism and endorsing some form of socialism," Dolan writes in a Friday Op-Ed piece.

"This is unfortunate, because it overlooks the principal focus of Pope Francis ' economic teaching — that economic and social activity must be based on the virtues of compassion and generosity."

Editor’s Note: Do You Approve of Pope Francis? Vote Now in Urgent Poll

Francis last fall delivered what has been called a "Magna Carta for church reform" in his first apostolic exhortation when decried "an economy of exclusion 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," he wrote in the 84-page document.

"Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?"

He has since given several high-profile speeches pressing his views, including one to the World Economic Conference in January and most recently two weeks ago to the United Nations.

There he called for "the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the state, as well as indispensable cooperation between the private sector and civil society."

Critics have called Francis everything from a radical Marxist to the commie pope.
And in a Newsmax TV debate last week, conservative talker Michael Savage advised Francis to redistribute the wealth that begins in the Vatican itself by selling off its massive collection of art and other treasures.

Savage's sparring partner was Catholic League President William Donohue, who noted that Francis continues a tradition of recent popes who view economics through the prism of the neediest.

Dolan echoes that view in his Journal piece in denying that the Pope is a socialist.

"The church has consistently rejected coercive systems of socialism and collectivism, because they violate inherent human rights to economic freedom and private property," writes Dolan.

"When properly regulated, a free market can certainly foster greater productivity and prosperity. But, as the Pope continually emphasizes, the essential element is genuine human virtue."

He continues: "The church has long taught that the value of any economic system rests on the personal virtue of the individuals who take part in it, and on the morality of their day-to-day decisions. Business can be a noble vocation, so long as those engaged in it also serve the common good, acting with a sense of generosity in addition to self-interest."

While Francis' message has made him very popular with the masses, some U.S. capitalists have bristled. Billionaire Home Depot founder Ken Langone told CNBC in December he may stop giving to charity because rich people are being demonized.

"You want to be careful about generalities. Rich people in one country don't act the same as rich people in another country,'" Langone said.

Dolan appeared to be taking Langone's concerns head on.

"Americans must remember that the Holy Gather is speaking to this worldwide audience," he wrote.

"It's also worth noting that what many people around the world experience as 'capitalism' isn't recognizable to Americans. For many in developing or newly industrialized countries, what passes as capitalism is an exploitative racket for the benefit of the few powerful and wealthy."

Langone, it should be noted, has led the push to raise $180 million for New York City's St. Patrick's Cathedral, where Dolan presides.

Editor’s Note: Do You Approve of Pope Francis? Vote Now in Urgent Poll

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