VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis issued the mission statement for his papacy Tuesday, outlining the Holy Father’s vision for reforming the church and its dedication to serving the poor and oppressed. Of concern to some, however, was the Pope’s criticism of “the idolatry of money” and his urging of Catholics to “ask hard questions about the value of socialism and income redistribution.”
“Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world,” Francis wrote in the papal statement. “We need to be open about the immorality of the unfettered free market and its incompatibility with Christian virtue.”
The 76-year-old pontiff also sharply rebuked those who “[Express] a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system,” noting that “Jesus told us to render unto Caesar, not relocate our assets to an overseas tax haven.”
The economic posturing is just the latest in a series of controversial statements by the recently-elected Pope. In addition to softening attitudes toward gay people, he has scaled back some of the lavish trappings of the papal lifestyle, and has repeatedly urged greater effort to lift up the world’s poor.
While acknowledging that the Church lacked the legal authority to influence income distribution, the Apostolic Exhortation did propose a number of solutions. “To be frank, it is vital we spread the wealth around,” said the Bishop of Rome. “To begin with, world leaders need to forgive third world debt and start breaking up the megabanks. And on a personal level, anyone who earns more than $100,000 a year should be taxed around 60 percent, and anyone making less than $30,000 a year shouldn’t pay any income taxes at all. In addition, unemployment benefits should be increased and extended, in those countries that can afford social security nets.”
“It’s what Jesus would do.”
While the Pope’s increasingly-progressive papal stances have drawn scrutiny from some—most recently former Alaska governor Sarah Palin—reactions to the Pope’s declaration brought a flurry of condemnation and concern. Conservative commentator Laura Ingraham voiced her opinion on The O’Reilly Factor Tuesday night.
“It was bad enough when this Pope was washing women’s feet a few months ago. Now he’s swapped the New Testament for Rules for Radicals.”
While not explicitly reversing the Church’s long-standing condemnation of socialism and Marxism, Pope Francis did encourage the faithful to “not be so quick to condemn ideologies that, while imperfect, come closer to Christ’s vision for His church than capitalism.”
“Remember what the Savior said in Matthew 19:21: ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.’ Frankly, as it is my mission to save souls, forcing the rich to sell their possessions is a theologically-sound method of delivering souls to salvation,” the Pope said.
“And while you’re at it, turn off Glenn Beck. That garbage will rot your brain.”