Now lets get this cleared up right at the start. Im not what could be called a moderate atheist. Im one of the ones who likes to point the finger and scream "J'Accuse!" And boy oh boy, when it comes to the many and various crimes and offenses associated with the Roman Catholic Church I was raised in I am more than happy to throw brickbats at the institution, its clerics, its members and its apologists.
At the same time I am the first to admit that for every cloud there is a silver lining, and that when it comes to socio-economic issues and policy, economics, wealth disparity and a raft of other topics involving social justice old Mother Church is not just spot on now in the hands of good men like Pope Frank, but has been for a long long time.
Over a century in fact....
Which is why these accusations from the mouths of scrabby right wing hatemongers like Varney and Limbaugh leveled against poor Pope Franky have me sniggering. Yet again the right wing in the US demonstrates its utter ignorance and that it collectively has a memory akin to that of a goldfish.
So here is a little lesson in the history of Catholic Church Social Doctrine.... and that's social with a massive slice of Socialism.
At the end of the 19thC Pope Leo XIII was faced with a Church that was increasingly out of lockstep with the greatest social upheaval and societal shift in modern history - the Industrial Revolution. A church that had previously catered to a society whose foundations were agrarian economies and societies now found itself coping with a flock who were mainly urban and industrial workers, and who in the Gilded Age had become a flock of oppressed virtual slaves at the mercy of robber baron industrialists. Seeing this, and deciding that as chief helmsman it was his duty to change the course of Mother Church, in 1891 he issued the doctrinal document known as Rerum Novarum . A clue to its contents comes with the translated version of its title - "Rights and Duties of Capital and Labor"
It discussed the relationships and mutual duties between labor and capital, as well as government and its citizens. Of primary concern was the need for some amelioration of "The misery and wretchedness pressing so unjustly on the majority of the working class." It supported the rights of labor to form unions, rejected communism and unrestricted capitalism, whilst affirming the right to private property.Forty years later, in 1931, the world had again moved on. New challenges had developed for the Church, ones that built on the ills flagged by Pope Leo, and so Pope Pius XI issued his update to Rerum Novarum, the doctrinal document known as Quadragesimo Anno. That document, again from Wiki, concerned:
the ethical implications of the social and economic order. He describes the major dangers for human freedom and dignity arising from unrestrained capitalism and totalitarian communism. He also calls for the reconstruction of the social order based on the principle of solidarity and subsidiarity.Fast forward another thirty years and in the post war age of white hot technology Pope John XXIII in 1961, concerned with what he saw in society and the Church, again made a plea for reason and compassion, social justice and state involvement with safety nets in his doctrinal document known as Mater et Magistra. Wiki summarises its contents as:
It describes a necessity to work towards authentic community in order to promote human dignity. It taught that the state must sometimes intervene in matters of health care, education, and housing.Then finally, in 1991, to mark the one hundredth anniversary of Rerum Novarum, Pope John Paul II issued his own encyclical update and reminder doctrinal document - the Centesimus Annus. CA referred back to Rerum, and reinforced its message stating clearly that the concerns of the Church then and now in respect of social justice and societal trends were the same.
Rerum Novarum was such a foundational document for the RCC that to this day it is still the major foundational document, and its continuing relevance in the modern world is enshrined in the Roman Catholic Church's "Compendium Of The Social Doctrine Of The Church". That same document discusses in detail the social concerns of the Church, states its beliefs as to the rights of common men and the duties of states and governments.
These matters have hardly passed undiscussed by Popes in recent years. Pope Benedict, (or as I call him the Twat In The Hat for his involvement in child sex abuse cover ups), although in many regards anything but a "progressive" Pope, called on many occasions for stricter regulation of markets, and decried current levels of income disparity "a scandal". The US press carried many articles in its biggest publications where he decried the current abuses of financial and banking markets, insurance scams, income disparity and a lack of protections for workers.
So is Pope Franky, as Varney, Limbaugh and the rest of the right wing Fox horns would have the US public believe, such a radical?
Pope Frank is just following a long trodden path for Popes of Mother Church and speaking up for the common man.
And for that even a hardened anti-theist like myself doffs his cap and says "Well said that man!".
As I said, when it comes to some issues, and there are more than a few, Im happy to chuck a brick at the Church. But on social and economic doctrine, as well as some others like its embracing modern science and utter disregard for Biblical Literalists and Creationists, I have to stand with them and cheer them on.
Three cheers for Pope Frank.
Now....about these dog collared kiddy fiddlers. And while we are at it, can I have a word about those fat headed assclowns Cardinal Dolan, Bishop Paprocki and Bill Donohue....
Rerum Novarum: - http://www.vatican.va/...
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church: - http://www.vatican.va/...
6:50 AM PT: LATE ADDENDUM:
A very very HAPPY THANKSGIVING from across the Atlantic to all my US chums and chumettes ;-)