The world has a new Pope—and he’s considered by some as a gift to South and Central America.
Pope Francis is considered an alternative to the dictators, such as Hugo Chavez, who have plagued South and Central American countries and kept them from rising to the economic strength of their admired and envied northern neighbor, the United States.
Conservative columnist Dick Morris illustrates this perspective: ‘The twin developments of the death of Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez and the election of Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope may offer a turning point for Latin America ‘ [Chavez’s] power is maintained by massive cash handouts to the poor to lure them to support his version of revolutionary, socialist change. Free food and medical care flow freely from his oil-enriched coffers through leftist political organizations in each country.’
Morris is right about Chavez, who was just a cruder form of America’s Obama. Obama promises handouts to vulnerable people and in so doing strengthens his own, and his party’s, political power. It’s done in the name of ‘altruism’ and benevolence, but it’s at the expense of the economic growth that only capitalism can provide. Without economic growth, the most vulnerable are the first to suffer or perish.
What I don’t understand is why religious conservatives see the Pope and religion as an alternative to the wretched delusions of state socialism.
Let’s say that Pope Francis encourages South and Central Americans to abandon socialist collectivism in favor of a return to supernaturalism and faith.
Will faith raise the standard of living for everyone?
Will faith foster freedom of thought and speech, or simply replace one form of government control with another?
Will faith foster a revolution in science and technology, stirring a new adherence to reason over prayer as the means for improving human life? Will Pope Francis inspire a generation of South American scientists and inventors whose ingenuity will benefit the entire planet? Or will he inspire millions of people to become priests or nuns, or have numerous children (thanks to restrictions on abortion and contraception) that they cannot possibly afford?
I don’t see a revolution for impoverished countries—not unless this new Pope strays from the basic principles of religion and encourages a newfound reliance on the reasoning human mind, rational action and political freedom as the only alternatives to dictatorships such as those of Chavez.
If anything, the socialist and collectivist dictatorships that have plagued these countries are really a symptom of too much religious faith in the first place. For centuries, devout Catholics have been taught to pray, wish and hope—to have faith for a better day, in mystical fantasy that it will somehow (by God’s will alone) eventually arrive. When that never happened, of course they were vulnerable to the self-appointed dictators who said, “I’ll make it happen now.”
Unlike most opponents of Big Government and socialism, I don’t see religion as the solution; I see religion as the very problem that gave us socialism in the first place.
Prosperous nations such as the United States are condemned by religion and socialism alike for being too ‘materialistic and greedy.’ The last two Popes condemned the United States for being ‘Godless,’ and I surely expect this next Pope to do the same. It’s what Popes do.
Faith does not inspire hope or confidence, not in anything real. Faith will not pay the bills. Faith will not lift the standard of living so that material life on earth can be more tolerable and pleasurable.
Faith—particularly Catholic faith—encourages belief in the afterlife, for all eternity, as the only point of anything. Human life is an unfortunate and temporary state which has to be endured in a narrowly defined ‘spiritual’ way if one is to deserve the effortless, permanent, non-materialist existence of heaven.
A few decades of a flawed and difficult life on earth, as compared to a permanent bliss promised by eternity, the very effortless bliss that socialists promise to give us on earth immediately after the next election. What a choice! Rationally speaking, if there is an afterlife, why even bother to concern ourselves with life on earth?
These are the questions never asked, because it’s heresy—from the religious point-of-view—to ask them. It’s likewise heresy from the socialist point-of-view, because the Obamas and Chavezes of the world, like the Castros and Lenins before them, all ask for faith in the chosen strongman to guide and control us. These men don’t like being questioned, any more than the elders of the Church who practice dogmatism of a different kind.
Let’s be real. Pope Francis won’t rescue Catholics in South and Central America from stagnation, disease and poverty through calls to faith. Only reason, individualism and capitalism will ever deliver the goods.
The sooner human beings leave behind their myths and illusions, the higher and faster we will achieve our as yet undreamed of potential for the magnificence that should always have been life on earth.
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