Reuter’s Half-Sentence Homily Summary

Color me surprised. The opening paragraph of a Reuters Jan. 1st story claims the Pope said “the world was under threat from unbridled capitalism, terrorism and criminality.” Even though the Pope’s message clearly points to God as the source of our peace, the headline and first paragraph avoid His name like the plague. And even though the entirety of the Pope’s remarks are beautiful theologically and spiritually, the media pull half a sentence from a wonderful homily to make an erroneous economic point.

Read carefully, the Pope is concerned not with capitalism per se, but with “the prevalence of a selfish and individualistic mindset which also finds expression in an unregulated financial capitalism.” If the only change was to impose strict financial regulations, would selfishness and individualistic mindsets be cured? Nay, rather, the root of the problem, which capitalism can expose and which the Pope recognizes, is sin itself. Capitalism does nothing more than provide the most efficient way of generating the goods and services that a society, virtuous or vicious, desires. Movements away from capitalism don’t make citizens more moral; the U.S. is a mixed economy and has been moving steadily away from “unbridled capitalism” since the year 2000, yet there doesn’t seem to be a steady move toward morality since then as a result.

Even worldwide, we are going on several years where the average country’s economic freedom is falling (i.e., moving away from free markets, what Reuters would presumably prefer). This is very bad news:

[N]umerous studies have used data from Economic Freedom of the World to examine the impact of economic freedom on investment, economic growth, income levels, and poverty rates. Virtually without exception, these studies have found that countries with institutions and policies more consistent with economic freedom have higher investment rates, more rapid economic growth, higher income levels, and more rapid reductions in poverty rates.

There will always be a gap between rich and poor, but free markets best provide the opportunity for the poor to increase their absolute (if not relative) standard of living.

Again, though, the Pope isn’t making an economic point but a spiritual point about our dependence on God as our source of peace. Benedict uses Mary as a model of peace in turbulent times:

During the days in which “she gave birth to her first-born son” (Lk 2:7), many unexpected things occurred…In all this, however, Mary remains even tempered, she does not get agitated, she is not overcome by events greater than herself; in silence she considers what happens, keeping it in her mind and heart, and pondering it calmly and serenely. This is the interior peace which we ought to have amid the sometimes tumultuous and confusing events of history.

Even events as tumultuous and confusing as the Great Recession. As politicians consider changes to public policy and regulations in the face of a recession brought on largely by legislation itself, perhaps we can pray that Congress and the President will follow the Pope’s words and Mary’s example, asking for guidance from God and pondering legislative changes calmly and serenely.

HT: Fr. Sirico at Acton’s PowerBlog.



  • Russell Lewis
    • abadilla

      “Yep, popes never say or do anything wrong.” Neither Tim nor I nor anyone here ever said what you just claimed. “Context: is everything and apparently you don’t want to have one because your intention is to attack Pope Benedict, and that’s why you have to go back to 1633 to find your “proof,” don’t you? There are plenty of papal encyclicals you can read for your edification and you can read them in the Vatican website rather than relying on stupidities found in the INTERNET! BTW, Galileo, even in his sufferings, died a faithful son of the Church, but the post is NOT about Galileo.

      • Russell Lewis

        I was going to reply to the comment until I saw who it was. You are probably the most rabid, vehement, all consuming, even in the face of logic, defender of the faith I have ever seen (and I DON’T mean that as a compliment). You probably would have made a great inquisitor at the trial I mentioned. But just one glaring bit of ignorance has to be noted… from you; “read them in the Vatican website rather than relying on stupidities found in the INTERNET.” I rest my case.
        Comment all you want, I won’t be reading anything regarding this topic from you… see you on some other topic.

        • chris scanlan

          I’m glad you’ve successfully made use of the 5 D’s – Dodge, dip, dive, duck, and…dodge!

          Your comment did not, in any way, shape, or form qualify and a reasonable response to abadilla. Instead you relied on ad hominem attacks and pointing out that yes, abadilla did not communicate clearly in his definition of the “internet”.

          His points still stand and the onus is still on you.

          Chris S

          • Russell Lewis

            Obviously, you didn’t read the first sentence.
            Yes, you noticed I attacked him/her, and your point would be…?
            And the onus is NOT on me because… oh, I forgot, you DIDN’T read my first sentence.

          • Russell Lewis

            And your little lap dog yipping around doesn’t help your credibility any, either.

          • abadilla

            Thank you Chris S.

        • abadilla

          But you “did answer.” You might not read what I just wrote, but many people will read my reply to you and Monsignor Charles Mangan apparently thinks the opposite of me and his opinion would definitely count much more to me than yours.
          As for the Vatican website, there you will find all the words of the Holy Father without any spinning or interpretation. The newsmedia tends to “interpret” his words in the worse possible light because apparently anti-Catholicism is the most popular of prejudices among them.
          As for the INTERNET, yes, there are plenty of stupidities found there as well as good information, but even those who tend to interpret the Holy Father’s words correctly, do so as a “miracle” because most people tend to be very ignorant of what the Catholic Church teaches and many of the replies here at CV have demonstrated that fact often.
          As for being a “rabid,” “vehement,” “all consuming” defender of the faith, I know you didn’t mean it as a compliment but that is the job of every confirmed Catholic, not just me. It’s called Apologetics!

  • Gerard Neumann

    Long live the Pope.

  • Tim Heffron

    Civil Disobedience – Your ignorance and level of error are staggering! The pope is NEITHER leftist nor right-wing, he is pro-human dignity and you and EVERYONE else would do well to heed his words carefully and fully!

    • Philip D.

      There is nothing dignified in the war this church is waging against gay people and their families.

      • haggis95

        What War? The War is imaginary. Demanding that the Church allow “Gay Marriage” is as logical as demanding that motorbikes should have four wheels.

  • Civil Disobedience

    Mr. Shaughnessy, No matter how you spin it Benedict is a leftist covering for his comrades Obama, Pelosi, and Reid. I could find no connection to capitalism and the rest of Benedict’s homily. The man is as crooked as our Bishops. I urge all my fellow Catholics to stop funding their churches, CCHD, and Catholic Charities. Stop funding the Church with capitalism.

    • abadilla

      Your accusations against the Pope are so absurd, I don’t even know where to begin his defense.
      His Holiness is neither left nor right, he is Catholic! The labels “left” and “right” have different meanings in Europe than they do in the United States. How can you say with a straight face the Pope covers for Obama when Obama is busy persecuting the Church with the HH Mandate and promoting contraceptives through Planned Parenthood all over the globe. The Church has always been critical of unbridle capitalism but it is also critical of socialism, so, don’t give us this nonesense that Benedict XVI is somehow covering for Obama. There is nothing crooked about about Pope but there is something very wrong with the mind of any person who entertains such asinine notions.

  • abadilla

    I don’t know what the Pope or the Church must do to have the news media report his speeches accurately. So many people rely on what he says by reading a news media which is clearly bias against him and anything Catholic. All one has to do to read his statements is to go into the Vatican website and there one will find all of his speeches in their entirety in different languages.
    Reuters is not alone in its bias and neither is “The New York Times.” I read the major newspaper of Costa Rica almost daily, and any reference to the Pope’s words is often twisted and I don’t believe that to be “accidental.”

    • Philip D.

      With the growing irrelevance of our Catholic Church, we are lucky that the media pays any attention to him at all.

      • abadilla

        Funny you would say that because his picture and his words were all over newspapers all over the world, so I don’t know where you get the idea that he is not relevant. When one is in charge of a billion member Church, it’s hard to say one is not relevant.

        And how dare you come into a Catholic forum to insult the Bishop of Rome?

        • Marvin Derks

          There was no insult; simply data.

          • abadilla

            Well, I guess historical revisionism and anti-Catholicism passes today as objective “data.”

        • Philip D.

          Most faithful Catholics don’t listen to a single word of this Pope. At a time when the Church needed to move forward, we got a Pope determined to bring us back to the dark ages.

          • abadilla

            You have a curious understanding of the word “faithful.” If a Catholic is willing to ignore this Pope, or any other Pope for that matter, he or she could not possibly be “faithful.” Now, if you want to label such Catholics “progressives,” “modernists,” “heretics,” “un-happy” Catholics, “nominal” Catholics, then you would be much more accurate in your description of those who ignore His Holiness Benedict XVI.
            You also have a curious understanding of the so-called “dark ages.” During the “Dark Ages” achitecture was quite advanced and we see it even today in the great cathedrals of the world. In medicine we have the first priests who got interested in pharmacology. In writing we have Dante and Thomas Aquinas and St. Amselm to name a few, and in the world of art, you can go to Florence, Venice, Rome of the Louvre at Paris and see what those “dark ages” produced for humankind, so, if this Pope is taking us back to the dark ages, I would say that’s not bad at all.
            I think you meant to say that you are one of those who thought the Second Vatican Council was a “rupture: with the past while this Pope and Blessed John Paul II and Venerable Paul VI made it clear the Council is in “continuity” with the past.



Receive our updates via email.