Pope Fran­cis threat­ens legacy of John Paul II, Rea­gan

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - BY CHARLES HURT

Speak­ing un­der the hate­ful gaze of Che Gue­vara in Ha­vana’s Plaza of the Revo­lu­tion — a shrine to ruth­less com­mu­nism — Pope Fran­cis scolded us to “serve peo­ple, not ideas.” “Ser­vice is never ide­o­log­i­cal, for we do not serve ideas,” he said. “We serve peo­ple.”

What a quaint and beau­ti­ful con­cept to pon­der here in this fallen world full of vi­o­lent men who thirst for ab­so­lute power and feast on death, rape and slav­ery.

The re­mark was widely in­ter­preted as a veiled re­buke of the to­tal­i­tar­ian gov­ern­ment of Cuba that vi­o­lently rounds up peo­ple for ex­press­ing their opin­ions or ex­er­cis­ing their re­li­gion. In pris­ons, these peo­ple rot and die.

How­ever, there is no ev­i­dence that the pope ac­tu­ally in­tended to aim the re­buke at com­mu­nist dic­ta­tors. If any­thing, it is just as likely the re­buke was di­rected at free-mar­ket cap­i­tal­ism, which this pope has roundly and openly de­nounced as “the dung of the devil.”

At best, Pope Fran­cis meant the re­buke for both sides of the fight. He meant it as a pox on both our houses, de­nounc­ing both Cuba and Amer­ica, com­mu­nism and cap­i­tal­ism.

The grind­ing cin­ders you hear is Pope John Paul II turn­ing over in his crypt. Such moral equiv­a­lency from such a pow­er­ful post to­wards the bat­tle be­tween free­dom and slav­ery, good and evil, right and wrong serves only to pro­mote the devil’s play­ground here on Earth.

For the pope to do any­thing other than celebrate Amer­i­can democ­racy and fe­ro­ciously re­buke Cuban com­mu­nism is to deny the power of God.

That is be­cause here in Amer­ica, we cit­i­zens draw our rights di­rectly from God. And we are free to pur­sue that re­la­tion­ship with God any way we see fit.

In dic­ta­tor­ships such as in Cuba, those rights are granted by the dic­ta­tor and can be stripped away how­ever the dic­ta­tor sees fit. Oh, and there can be no re­la­tion­ship be­tween sub­jects and God un­der com­mu­nism be­cause the mere ex­is­tence of God un­der­cuts the to­tal au­thor­ity the dic­ta­tor has over his sub­jects.

If God is the God of free will in this bro­ken world, then He most cer­tainly does not see a moral equiv­a­lency be­tween free mar­ket cap­i­tal­ism and to­tal­i­tar­ian com­mu­nism. And nor should the pope.

It is un­der­stand­able that a pope — shrouded in clean white vest­ments and liv­ing in a guarded palace — might fail to ap­pre­ci­ate the mis­ery in this world and how it is car­ried out by evil, power-hun­gry men. But Pope Fran­cis makes great pains to dis­play com­pas­sion for those in mis­ery.

It would also be un­der­stand­able if a pope sim­ply chose to ride far above the trou­bles of this world and live prayer­fully like a monk in a monastery.

But again and again, Pope Fran­cis has cho­sen to boldly tackle real world ideas, even when woe­fully out of his depth.

He has opined at great length on global warm­ing, prov­ing lit­tle other than his shal­low grasp of science. His ex­hor­ta­tions on immigration re­veal his weak grasp of public pol­icy and moral haz­ard. And his ex­co­ri­a­tions of free-mar­ket eco­nom­ics proved him to be least of all an economist.

History re­mem­bers the right­eous cru­sade of Pope John Paul II and for­mer Pres­i­dent Ron­ald Rea­gan that lit­er­ally set mil­lions of peo­ple free from op­pres­sion. If Pope Fran­cis and Pres­i­dent Obama are not care­ful, they, too, will be re­mem­bered by history. But not for free­ing peo­ple. Rather, re­mem­bered for con­demn­ing mil­lions to un­speak­able earthly mis­ery.

Charles Hurt can be reached at charleshurt@live.com and on Twit­ter via @charleshurt.

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