Pope demands Ethics in Finance: Liberal Catholics object

A unique conflict of ideas is emerging from the Pope and the Obama administration. Few would be surprised to find liberal Catholic leaders taking Obama’s side. But what is strange is that these pundits are favoring not abortion or gay marriage, but money-idolatry and greed.

Stranger still, no one seems to notice this contradiction, especially the liberals themselves.

The Pope issued a speech this week harshly criticizing the world’s current financial culture as being “an economy which is faceless and lacking any truly humane goal.”

CNA_5159b73cc5ba9_19717In the finance world, ethics “is a nuisance! It is regarded as counterproductive…. These financiers, economists and politicians consider God to be unmanageable, unmanageable even dangerous.”

“The Pope appeals for disinterested solidarity and for a return to person-centered ethics in the world of finance and economics.”

Liberal Catholic pundits like the National Catholic Reporter’s Michael Sean Winters are crowing about this speech because they think it condemns conservative advocates of the free-market.

But these same liberal Catholics continue to defend the Obama administration’s insistence, in law and in nearly every court in the country, that businesses do not and cannot exercise religious ethics.

Obamacare, as you probably know, forces Catholic and other Christian families in business to provide early abortion drugs, contraception and sterilization in their health insurance plans.

The Obama administration has refused to exempt these people. But it’s worse than that. No less than three times later this month the Obama administration is arguing in court that a family business “is a for-profit, secular employer, and a secular entity by definition does not practice religion.”

In other words, there is no such thing as religious ethics in business. The President is eager to banish religion from economics so that everyone must participate in the abortion and contraception frenzy of his “God bless[ed]” ally Planned Parenthood.

Liberal Catholic pundits including Winters have repeatedly and emphatically defended the President’s current rule, and they insist that the Bishops shut up about it. This rule exempts or “accommodates” no one except churches and some non-profit organizations. Families earning a living in business are not even capable of claiming religious duty–they are only allowed to care about profit.

Ironically, this idea destroys the notion that businesses should care about workers, immigrants, “climate change” or just plain honesty. All those values are impossible to pursue if a family business “is a for-profit, secular employer, and a secular entity by definition does not practice religion.” The President, and Winters in his defense, are saying there can be no religious character to the thousands of Catholic families doing business in America who go to great expense to treat their workers and communities with great dignity, and who just don’t want to be conscripted into Planned Parenthood’s hegemony.

In contrast, you will recall, “The Pope appeals for disinterested solidarity and for a return to person-centered ethics in the world of finance and economics.” Meaning: religious ethics in business is not only possible, the Gospel demands it.

Michael Sean Winters couldn’t disagree more with the Pope on this point. Except when he wants to criticize Fr. Sirico. Only then will Winters claim he wants “ethical accountability” in the business world.


Categories:Health Care Law Pope Francis

  • Joe

    Way to again force a round peg (affordable care act) into a round hole (economic justice). Nice try in distracting from the real issues that the pope is trying to address: global poverty all because of free market capitalism. My dentist is a small business owner, devout, and is offering health care to his employees even before the affordable care act because it is the right thing to do for his employees. Their plan covers contraception because to him, the greater sin would be to leave his staff uninsured and forced to fend for themselves. How religious an employer are you that aren’t willing to cover your employees health insurance in the first place?

  • http://www.studentsforafairsociety.org Joseph

    The Holy Father was clearly talking about Capitalism and the so-called free market. I find it interesting how many Conservative catholycs defend Acton/Mises/Laissezfaire style economics when all of the popes who have written on economics (Pope Leo XIII and forward, since “economics” became a science) have been very much against that style of capitalism. Ratzinger even once quite vehemently defended democratic socialism (I believe it was in Europe, Today and Tomorrow).

    Further, you seem to fail to point out the idea that the Holy Father may be critiquing both ideas, and further, failed to address the Holy Father’s words, save for one line.

  • Erick

    Liberals constantly claim they are the “tolerant” group or even the speaker for the “common man.”But the truth is is that the liberals want their Dictatorship of Relativism to monopolize the world, especially in business. They want religion to have no say in Anything! Liberals are the Real intolerant and oppressive group.

  • Roger Guillaumes

    I really think you need to read what the Pope said… Clearly he was speaking based on the long tradition of the Church AGAINST economics and free enterprise that do NOT take heed of the needs of people and society and show no social responsibility! Your efforts to turn this into something else regarding health care in the USA is misleading and disingenuous. It addresses an economic system that sees people as objects and treats them with little respect. It uses people simple for the corporate bottom line which in most cases benefits only the people at the top. Corporations and businesses are NOT only there to make money for the owners… The Pope’s message was not meant to be taken as either a right-wing or left-wing political issue based on USA politics, but meant to be seen as an overall statement condemning GREED in corporations.

    • Slats

      You missed or misunderstood what the author was asserting about the consistent application of the pope’s points.

  • Domenic D’Ettore

    I would like to see this article acknowledge the distinction between Ethics and Ethics based on specifically religious principles. By making this distinction, one can see that it does not follow from the a rejection of “religious ethics” in business that business have no concern or responsibility other than profit. The President’s problem with the Church’s position on abortion and contraception and businesses is not that the Church’s position is religious, but that he (as his actions show) regards the Church’s position to be unethical. There is no inherent contradiction between the President or Winters insisting that businesses engage in certain Ethical practices while denying them the exercise of Ethical practices based on specifically religious (faith based) principles on the grounds that those practices are inconsistent with Ethics. That being said, I think it is errors in Ethical thinking that ground the parts of the Health Care law that the bishops object to.

    • M

      Domenic – Your argument is not logical. There shoudn’t be a distinction between Ethics and “Ethics based on specifically religious principles” as you call it. This would make the notion of ethics meaningless. Human rights are the same no matter what and human nature is based on the same laws wherever you go. Ethics should be grounded on a common moral code otherwise it’s a free for all. Your ethics would be different from my ethics……it’s makes no sense at all.

    • Slats

      Dominic, I think I more or less agree with you insofar as 1) the bishops’ (and God’s, and the Church’s) objections to the mandate are ethical, not matters of sectarian belief, since they are rooted in the natural law and correct anthropology, 2) Obama, et al.’s objections to the bishops’ position is that they believe it is evil/unethical, and 3) the bishops are right and Obama & co. are wrong about what is right and wrong. However, we live in a culture and consciousness in which the President’s original sin-rooted, cosmos-ripping, soul-destroying re-writing of human anthropology and ethics is very difficult to argue and defend against in intellectual argument, because the vast majority have bought into those falsehoods. Most are firmly convinced that sin and evil are righteousness and good. For the urgent moment, the Church’s best recourse in American society is to cite the First Amendment, freedom of religion, and conscience. Do some of those appeals scuttle future ability to argue the objective, reason-based wrongfulness of Obamacare ethics down the road? Perhaps. It’s not a comfortable predicament in which we in the Church find ourselves in this country. It seems that a huge part of the New Evangelization, along with of course inviting folks to a personal encounter with the love and mercy of Jesus Christ, is converting people back to true ethics and anthropology, which is an intellectual and reason-based matter. It’s hard to offer people Jesus if they’re convinced that they don’t need Him.

    • Curtis

      Dominic, the difficulty with this argument, is that, strictly speaking, that the ethics in question are not “specifically religious.” Rather, the unethical nature of abortion, abortifacients, and contraception comes from natural law. Thus while it is held primarilly by those of a particular religion it is not inherently religious. Beyond that, while an individuals ethics may be either grounded religiously or not, they represent a unified whole, it is no less immoral for the given person to violate a religiously grounded ethic as one grounded in say natural law.

  • Jeffrey

    Well Said. Solid arguments.



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