As published in The Blaze:
In mid-September, Pope Francis will visit the United States to address the United Nations General Assembly Address in New York and speak before a joint session of Congress.
There is little doubt that the Pontiff will take the opportunity to amplify his recent controversial remarks about capitalism and further explain his “eco-encyclical,” which to many environmental activists is the most exciting news to come from organized religion since Moses carried the Ten Commandments.
For many non-believers who ignore the basic tenants of the faith, the Pope’s views on these issues coupled with the media’s interpretation of them, have made him a “rock star.” Al Gore went so far as to proclaim the Pope’s views on global warming could make him convert to Catholicism.
It would appear that the Catholic Church has weighed heavily into the politics of global warming and to save the world from its wrath has declared a social revolution to overthrow market economics. It would not be a far stretch to think the church has come under the spell of progressive activists like Naomi Klein, a pro-Occupy Wall Street supporter who has stated there is no way to fight climate change without fighting capitalism.
Klein was among of group of activists invited to the Vatican to address these issues where she mused at the contradiction of a Pope who apparently wants to save the world from global warming but uses energy sucking air conditioning to cool the buildings in which he lives. Klein has also started that the only way to save the world from global warming is to adopt a new system that requires “shredding the free-market ideology that has dominated the global economy for more than three decades.”
While the encyclical was certainly not written by Milton Friedman or Murray Rothbard, a closer look at the Pope’s remarks find a quest for a more balanced approach and a warning against extremism rather than a full throated endorsement of the green agenda.
The Church’s encyclical Laudato Si’ addresses “those who doggedly uphold the myth of progress and tell us that ecological problems will solve themselves simply with the application of new technology and without any need for ethical considerations or deep change.” It also warns those on the other end who view mankind “as no more than a threat, jeopardizing the global ecosystem, and consequently the presence of human beings on the planet should be reduced.”
Continuing, “the Church has no reason to offer a definitive opinion; she knows that honest debate must be encouraged among experts, while respecting divergent views.” It does not look like the Catholic Church has partnered with Bill McKibben and 350.org and didn’t even declare, “the science on climate change is settled.”
Capitalism is an economic system that is often misunderstood as a system built upon greed. But every economic system has ingredients of greed. Even the most steadfast believers in socialism find their leaders living in opulence while the masses suffer in shortage and scarcity.
North Korea’s Kim Jun-un lives in grand estates while the people he rules over search the countryside search for grass to eat. In Cuba, Fidel Castro has reportedly amassed near $1 billion in wealth while the island’s residents live in squalor. Venezuela’s late dictator and socialist hero Hugo Chavez died with an estimated $2 billion in liquid assets while the country has been turned into a war zone where the poor battle for food ration cards and the military seizes food from warehouses.
In fact, free market capitalism is the greatest tool available to lift the poor and downtrodden from the gutters and barrios. Many green activists seek to replace capitalism with some form of government-run economic system but that would not magically replace income inequality or save the world from imaginary global warming. It would, as it has everywhere exacerbate these problems.
Capitalism is not only an economic system that lifts people from poverty; it is a form of human peaceful social cooperation where decisions are made by free will and choice rather than by force of the state.
Many on the left have used the opportunity to spin the Pope’s positions in an attempt to further their political agenda. The Pope has taken a vow of poverty but has yet to declare that government’s around the world must enact a system that makes everyone poor.