The pope makes a dire prediction
Pope Francis is not alone in his recently publicized premonition that we are on the verge of, in his words, "even greater destruction and desolation than what we are currently experiencing."
History is, if not replete with such predictions, frequently punctuated by them. His prominence as a world spiritual leader does, however, make us take more notice of his words than we do of the iconic sidewalk doomsday preacher, so often portrayed in cartoon frames, proclaiming, "The end is near."
There are plenty of reasons to make us afraid of the future, even the near future. The Horsemen of the Apocalypse, while biblical, can be closely construed in secular terms as being tyranny, war, famine, and death. Using these terms, regardless of one's religious or philosophical beliefs, the daily news is sufficient to give many of us an appreciation of the imminent danger to civilization as we know it, and even to the possibility of its collapse.
Tyranny, war, famine, and death are deeply embedded themes throughout history. Every generation tends to see itself as the pinnacle, and Christian leaders are no exception. In this regard, the pope's words are actually tepid by comparison with other doomsayers.
One irony here is that the pope himself is the object of such premonitions as he proclaims, along with the papacy in general. In the case of Pope Francis, his expressed social and political views have made him especially suspect. Although he has not specifically abrogated the most conservative church teachings on such matters as homosexuality and abortion, he uses the language of the left to suggest some degree of sympathy with leftist definitions of rights, saying such things as "Human rights are not only violated by terrorism, repression or assassination, but also by unfair economic structures that create huge inequalities."
It is reminiscent of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's term, "freedom from want," which, while it is a freedom worthy of earning, is not otherwise an entitlement. FDR's leanings were decidedly socialist for his day.
While the pope's phrase may not be precisely Marxist, Pope Francis shows himself to be by no means a firebrand conservative. Quite the opposite: Many traditionalist Catholics do not find his words reassuring. Other people find in them a hint of thinly disguised socialist sympathies, or worse.
The pope would do well to be more specific, by defining which "economic structures" are "unfair." Are they the ones that confiscate taxpayer money to perform functions outside the proper purview of government? Are the "huge inequalities" those who make America's poor the wealthiest poor people on the planet? Is the pope more concerned about inequality of opportunity, or of outcome? Did the Good Samaritan give of his own money or other people's money?
While America's founding documents are by no means holy scripture, they were written by prayerful men who were thoroughly versed in the Bible. The Declaration specifically mentions the Creator. It enumerates three specific human rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. They are inalienable. The Constitution, in every respect, translates Biblical principles into practical institutions. With all of this going for it, the United States was off to a good start, not perfect by any means, but headed in the right direction.
What went wrong? How did popular American culture sink so low? How has it come to redefine diversity as perversity? That, too, has biblical foundations. Heaven was created perfect, and so was the earth. What went wrong was sin. What is now going wrong with America is corruption, deep and pervasive. No laws can fix that. Laws are nothing without obedience to their underlying moral principles, without which, the law itself becomes a tool of the oppressor and the bane of the oppressed.
One cannot expect the pope to have read and understood the Mayflower Compact, or the Federalist papers, nor to celebrate the culture of individual freedom. His European background is quite different from all that.
But one can expect him to be more thoroughly versed in the Bible, at least as much as were America's Founding Fathers. He should be firmly dedicated, as were the Founders, to extending the fruits of liberty to all who will undertake the difficult and dangerous path along which freedom leads. It is that liberty, after all, that made of America a fortress against tyranny, war, and famine. The pope should firmly be disavowing socialism, and scorning the obscene agenda of radical leftism, which is eroding the West and making his fearsome premonitions believable.
Image via Max Pixel.