Reflections after the papal visit to Chile and Peru

Given, that knowledge has the characteristic of provisionality subject to refutations in an evolutionary context, debate, criticism and self – criticism are essential for progress. This article is not for fanatics who, often with the best good will, are unable to follow a story thread; if it were up to them we would still be with the Borgias in the Church. In his response to Gladstone, Cardinal Newman proposed a toast: “First for consciousness and then for the Pope”.

The Pope has visited Chile and Peru. Among other aspects, arise two that we discussed, one secondary in Chile and the main one in Peru. The first alludes to his message to the so-called “original peoples”, some of whose members have incurred crimes of various kinds on both sides of the mountain range (borderline between Argentina and Chile), but what I am pointing out here is confined to a genealogical error. They are not original since all humans come from the African continent; they are in any case the first immigrants in those areas, who deserve all respect, which must be reciprocal. If there are conflicts over properties, they must be resolved by the Justice system (although not all seem to subscribe to the idea of property rights).

The second is about the Pope’s considerations in the Episcopal Palace of Lima, statements that we highlight because they constitute the central axis of his thought in social matters. The core of what has been said is his allusion to “liberal, inhuman capitalism”, which, according to the Pope, is what hurts our region and other parts of the world.

At the moment there are few vestiges of liberal capitalism since the public expenses, the state indebtedness and the governmental interventionisms rise in exponential degrees. Nationalisms and the consequent protectionism are wreaking havoc in Europe. The same process, unfortunately, takes place in the United States, due to the unfortunate gestures of the current president, who flaunts protectionism and has a permanent confrontation in foreign and domestic relations (reduces taxes while increasing expenses to extraordinary levels). Latin America has also been debating these necessities for decades.

What prevails is not capitalism, but statist recipes. It is not entirely clear if Francis ponders material poverty or if he condemns it. But what must be clear is that the immense majority of the poor of this land aim to get out of this condition as quickly as possible and have done so to the extent that “liberal capitalism” has been applied, that is, the reciprocal respect and the liberation of creative energy.

It is of great importance to bear in mind biblical considerations about poverty and material wealth to verify the meaning of these terms in the context of moral values that should prevail over all other considerations, in accordance with two of the Commandments that refer to the transcendence of the private property (“do not steal” and “not covet the property of others”), which is entirely in harmony with the postulates of an open society. If material poverty were a virtue, charity would have to be condemned since it improves the recipient’s situation.

Thus, in Deuteronomy (8:18) “remember that Yahweh your God, who gives you strength to provide you with wealth.” In Matthew (5:3), “Blessed are the poor in spirit because theirs is the kingdom of heaven”, whipping the one who puts the material before the love of God (love of Perfection), in other words, the one who “does not He is rich in the eyes of God “(Luke 12:21), which clarifies the Encyclopedia of the Bible (with the technical direction of RP Sebastián Bartina and RP Alejandro Díaz Macho under the supervision of the archbishop of Barcelona): “The clear formula of Mateo -Blessed are the poor in spirit- suggests that rich or poor what they have to do is divest inwardly of all wealth”(volume VI, pp. 240/241).

It is pertinent to highlight the obsession of the Marxist Antonio Gramsci, who in his letters from prison aimed to “make the Church jump from within”, in agreement with Father Gustavo Gutiérrez -founder of liberation theology-, who underlines that with the Christianity “from a Marxist horizon convergent points of view are found […] that is why the positive abolition of private property”. Recall that Marx and Engels argue that “the Communists can certainly summarize all their theory in this single expression: abolition of private property.”

My good friend the Peruvian ex-Marxist – Mao and Lenin awards – and then great liberal Eudocio Ravines said, that at the time, the most entrusted instructions he received from the communist hierarchy were the infiltration into the Catholic churches of Spain and Chile.

Without the abolition of the institution of property, to the extent that it is affected through the interference of state apparatuses, the accounting and evaluation of projects are blurred, since prices are distorted and are the only signs to assign the always scarce resources to the effect of satisfying needs according to the respective demands. The waste that this implies consumes capital, which in turn translates into lower salaries and income in real terms.

In this situation it is interesting to keep in mind the stipulations of the International Theological Commission of the Holy See, which recorded on June 30, 1977, in its Declaration on human promotion and Christian salvation: “The theologian is not qualified to solve with their own lights the fundamental debates in social matters […] The sociological theories are reduced, in fact, to simple conjectures and it is not rare that they contain ideological elements, explicit or implicit, based on debatable philosophical presuppositions or on an erroneous anthropological conception. Such is the case, for example, of a notable part of the analyzes inspired by Marxism and Leninism […] If the analysis of this genre is resorted to, they do not acquire any supplement of certainty for the fact that a theology inserts in the plot of your statements “.

Finally, the Pope insisted on visits to Chile and Peru in a mistaken view of the environment, according to authors such as the Nobel Prize in Physics Ivar Giaever; the co-founder and first CEO of Weather Channel, John Coleman, and former president of Greenpeace Canada Patrick Moore. Other critics of this subject suggest, in another order of things, that instead of pointing to the correction of the corruption scandals in the Vatican bank, it would have to be liquidated because of incompatibility with the Church’s own tasks.

Written by Alberto Benegas Lynch (h)
President of the Academic Council of the Libertad y Progreso Foundation

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