Pope Benedict XVI: The West’s Pathological Self-Hatred

Pope Benedict XVI arrives to lead his weekly general audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican June 28, 2006. REUTERS/Max Rossi (VATICAN)

“There is a self-hatred in the West that can be considered only as something pathological. The West attempts in a praiseworthy manner to open itself completely to the comprehension of external values, but it no longer loves itself; it now only sees what is despicable and destructive in its own history, while it is no longer able to perceive what is great and pure there.”  

— Pope Benedict XVI


[PHOTOS] Presidents and Popes

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Presidents and Popes

Pope Benedict XVI in the Popemobile outside the White House. 4/16/08

Lyndon B. Johnson introduces a member of his staff to Pope Paul VI. NY, 10/4/65.

Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II in conversation at Vizcaya Museum in Miami. 9/10/87

Richard and Pat Nixon at the Vatican with Pope Paul VI. 9/28/70.

Pope John Paul II with George Bush in the papal apartment, Vatican City. 11/8/91.

Dwight D. Eisenhower met with Pope John XXIII at the Vatican on 12/6/59. 


Michael R. Strain: Pope Francis Should Praise Free Markets More Often

Poverty is a serious obstacle to human potential. Free enterprise can help fight it.

Michael R. Strainimrs.php writes: Washington, D.C., where I live and work, is abuzz with talk of Pope Francis’s upcoming visit, commencing Tuesday. But what matters much more for the universal church will take place seven days after the pope departs the United States for the Vatican, when the Synod of Bishops on the Family begins.

Free enterprise dramatically reduces extreme poverty. In 1970, over one-quarter of the world lived on less than one dollar per day. By 2006, about one in 20 people lived in extreme poverty — an 80 percent reduction. We have the adoption of free markets across the developing world to thank for this massive reduction. That it happened in less than four decades is all the more impressive.

Due to a recent move by the pope, the upcoming synod may include a discussion of broader issues than did last year’s. I sure hope so. Hot-button issues related to divorce and homosexuality are obviously important and need to be discussed, but so do many other issues. The synod bishops and critics of the Church alike should spend more time on those issues. And I hope one such issue will be the relationship between economics and the family, the topic of a great panel I sat on at Georgetown University earlier this month. The Church’s understanding of this relationship — or, more accurately, this Catholic’s understanding of the Church’s understanding — may be instructive and edifying to our national conversation.

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“Poverty is obviously a serious obstacle to the flourishing life – it is hard to reach your full potential if you don’t have enough to eat, and it is hard to meet your obligations to your family, as well. By reducing poverty in the developing world, free markets help to strengthen families.”

We must begin with the human person — that is always the starting point. And we must begin with the understanding that each of us is called to love God and to love others. I do not refer here to sentimentality, but rather to a deep, abiding commitment, rooted in duty — to live for others, our families not the least. This is the central human calling, and the benchmark against which to judge the efficacy of social and economic systems.

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“If I’m reading him correctly, the Holy Father’s view is a shame, because dramatically rolling back free markets would weaken the greatest anti-poverty tool in human history. It would, of course, extract a large toll from families.”

The free enterprise system, then, is good insofar as it enables individuals to fulfill this central human vocation. It does this quite well.

First, free enterprise dramatically reduces extreme poverty. In 1970, over one-quarter of the world lived on less than one dollar per day. By 2006, about one in 20 people lived in extreme poverty — an 80 percent reduction. We have the adoption of free markets across the developing world to thank for this massive reduction. That it happened in less than four decades is all the more impressive.

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Poverty is obviously a serious obstacle to the flourishing life – it is hard to reach your full potential if you don’t have enough to eat, and it is hard to meet your obligations to your family, as well. By reducing poverty in the developing world, free markets help to strengthen families.

[Read the full text here, at The Washington Post]

The effect of liberalizing markets on extreme poverty and the good this does for families is a fact I wish the Holy Father discussed more often, and that I hope will be part of the upcoming synod. Reading His Holiness’s encyclical on the environment, I was left with the impression that the pope’s primary socio-environmental concern is not pollution per se, but rather mankind’s ability to generate pollution — an ability which is the consequence of industrialization and market economies. If I’m reading him correctly, the Holy Father’s view is a shame, because dramatically rolling back free markets would weaken the greatest anti-poverty tool in human history. It would, of course, extract a large toll from families. Hopefully the Holy Father sees that markets generate solutions to intractable problems, in addition to causing problems of their own. Read the rest of this entry »


Political Oppression: Dissidents Arrested as Pope Francis Conducts his First Mass in Cuba

Political opponents of President Raul Castro’s Communist regime are regularly subjected to harassment and intimidation.

 reports: Cuban authorities prevented leading dissidents from meeting Pope Francis in Havana on Sunday, in a sign of the Communist regime’s rigid intolerance of political opposition.

“The head of an opposition group called the Ladies in White said that 22 of the 24 members of the group who had hoped to attend a Mass celebrated by the Pope were prevented from doing so by Cuban security officials.”

Two well-known dissidents, Marta Beatriz Roque and Miriam Leiva, had been invited by the Vatican to attend a vespers service led by the Pope’s in Havana’s historic baroque cathedral.

But they said they were detained by security agents and barred from attending the event.

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“They told me that I didn’t have a credential and that I couldn’t go to the Pope’s event that was taking place there in the plaza of the Cathedral,” Ms Roque said.

The head of an opposition group called the Ladies in White said that 22 of the 24 members of the group who had hoped to attend a Mass celebrated by the Pope were prevented from doing so by Cuban security officials.

There had been intense speculation about whether the Pope would risk incurring the displeasure of his host, President Raul Castro, by meeting political opponents of the Communist regime.

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The fact that the Vatican invited the women to Sunday’s cathedral service showed Francis’ determination to try to engage with the dissident movement, which has endured years of persecution by the Castro regime.

Earlier in the day, the Pope celebrated Mass in Havana’s Revolution Square in front of tens of thousands of people.

He was driven through the crowds in a white pope-mobile, pausing to kiss children who were held up to him.

As the ceremony got underway, Cuban security officers detained at least three people who appeared to be trying to distribute leaflets in the capital’s Revolution Square, a large open area dominated by a massive likeness of revolutionary hero Che Guevara.

The three people were tackled and dragged away by the officers.

Political opponents of President Raul Castro’s Communist regime are regularly subjected to harassment and intimidation. Read the rest of this entry »