The Holy Father has come and gone. He said exactly what we all expected and it wasn’t very helpful.
It’s clear to me the Roman Catholic Church, as a Western institution is gone. I’m going to have to get used to a whole new church. The church’s membership growth is concentrated in the Third World, it’s leadership as well, and its views of how the world works are no longer those of traditional Euro-American sophistication.
My Pope’s personal approach can be summed up by the following snippet from a Reuters post. Pope Francis to reporters in Paraguay…”I have a great allergy to economic things.”
This is a great pity because while being allergic to economics the pope chooses to center much of his message to humanity in economic terms.
The pope uses the language of socialism to critique the universal human propensity toward greed and the maximization of advantage. He wants an economics of cooperation and solidarity. And to that end he is advancing the latest version of the old Catholic romance with cooperatives. The church as been pushing this exercise in reviving medieval guilds for a century and apart from some limited success with farmers in poor countries, nothing much to show for it.
Since the science of economics and modern management gives His Holiness a headache, the church must look somewhere to justify it’s impulses.
At this point the trouble starts. The modern Papacy, unlike the Papacy of old doesn’t really run anything or manage a society as such. When the church seeks to speak with authority about processes that are beyond it’s direct knowledge, it relies on Bishops and Cardinals, who in tern, rely on expert counsel.
So who are these experts?
I might expect to see learned and obscure experts drafted in from the finest Roman Catholic Universities. At least I could hope for self-effacing scholars with no public or private chips on the table. And I would be wrong. Here are some of the Popes expert advisors.
Jeffery Sachs. Is described as “An American economist and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. He is known as one of the worlds leading experts on economic development and the fight against poverty.” He is the author of three New York Times best sellers on ending world poverty. None of these is about how anyone actually ended poverty, but perhaps that’s not the point.
He is the guru of “Sustainable Development,” movement within the academy, NGO’s and governments. As an approach to self-promotion, sustainability is a useful concept, especially if your goal is to get lots of funding for your own little piece of academic turf and invitations to the Charley Rose show.
Naomi Klein. Naomi Klein is described as “A Canadian author, social activist and filmmaker known for her political analyses and criticism of corporate globalization and of corporate capitalism.” She may be an even better self-promoter on the backs of the poor than Sachs. She gets on the Charley Rose show, advises the Pope and plays the expert all while being a college dropout. That’s an accomplishment.
Cardinal Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga. Cardinal Maradiaga is a close advisor and confident of Pope Francis. He is the Pope’s point man as it were, on immigration and international capitalism. Unlike Naomi Klein or Jeffery Sachs, he does not aspire to be a TV celebrity. He is even a Catholic. He is highly educated, with multiple degrees in some things that actually exist. He seems to have been an effective force in cleaning up the Roman Curia, a real feat.
Unfortunately he seems to have about the same understanding of free markets as the pope. I believe this stems from his background in Honduras. Central America is a poor place to learn about capitalism and functioning societies. The corrupt, mercantilist version of markets in that part of the world can twist the perceptions of even the strongest intellect. To top this off he was stuck as the Vatican spokesman at the World Bank and the International Monetary fund seeking third world debt relief. After dealing with these characters, it’s remarkable that he isn’t an avowed communist. Suffice it to say that he views economics as a zero sum game where in order for Latin Americans to thrive, they have to come here and eat more of our pie.
An Article from the Catholic news sums up the quality and strange bedfellowness’ of the church’s search for expert advice.
The author and two of the identified Papal advisors want us to know that the pope’s message rests on three equal legs. They see immigration, income inequality, and global warming as part of a triad of new initiates, all crucial to the Church’s plans.
Here is a bit of the flavor of the church’s wise counsels.
“Kalee Kreider, policy adviser for climate science at the United Nations Foundation, said the three issues -- hunger, the environment and immigration -- are connected and encouraged reporters for secular news organizations to read "Laudato Si', on Care for Our Common Home" to get a taste of the case the pope will make and how he touches on the three topics.”
She went on to say;
“She described it as part of an "arc" that began Aug. 3, when U.S. President Barack Obama unveiled the "Clean Power Plan," a pledge by his administration to reduce the country's carbon dioxide emissions and combat climate change. It continues with the pope's message on the environment during his visit to the United States in September and whose influence may result, as environmentalists hope, in some form of global action during the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Paris in late 2015.”
So who are these people?
Kalee Kreider. She is from the United Nations Foundation and an advisor to the bishops. Before that she worked for Al Gore for six years in media management, especially on An Inconvenient Truth. Previously worked at Fenton, a “Social Change communications company.”
Yup, nobody here but us scholars!
Demetrios G. Papademetriou. Demetrios is President Emeritus of MPI = Migration Policy Institute. When not helping Europe do away with itself, he sits on the board of Geroge Soros’s Advisory Board of the Open Society Foundations’ (OSF) International Migration Initiative.
Who could have a more Catholic perspective than that?
So for a while we are in for a bumpy Papacy. The Catholic Church gave the world St. Thomas Aquinas, Mendel, and Thomas More. Now we go in search of “experts” from the ranks of self-interested celebrity do-gooders from the New York Times.