Pope Francis on Libertarianism: My Loyal Opposition

by Cameron Cutrone

I lie here on the couch, unable to feel fully accepted and understood by my faith's leading patriarch. It leaves a pit of unease. The kind of unease one can only feel after disappointing their father. "Surely, we're talking about two different incarnations of libertarianism, right? Do I have to go to confession now?" 

These questions soon followed after hearing the Pope's recent remarks at the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.  Among them, remarks such as "the new invasion" of libertarian individualism is "radically antisocial," only promotes the "selfish ideal," and minimizes the "common good" achieved through communitarianism. Wow. Where is  John Paul II when you need him? Only a quarter century ago, Pope John Paul II became a symbol of resistance to Soviet Communism, a state mandated form of communitarianism that caused the deaths of tens of millions of people, many of them Christians who wouldn't put the State above their faith.

I need not get into the nuts and bolts of individual governments and their policies. There is no need to point out the wellspring of knowledge penned and shared by such notable modern American libertarians like Lew Rockwell and Tom Woods, both Catholics.  Pope Francis may not be won over by a clever chart that perfectly crystallizes the Austrian theory of the business cycle. None of these are necessary. What IS needed here is an understanding of the Non-Aggression Principle. Billions of people of faith already know it as the Golden Rule.  This is how we libertarians of faith square our private lives with our thoughts on public policy.  Federalism also lends itself to the Catholic social teaching of subsidiarity, in short, that there is virtue in allowing the smallest, lowest denomination of power take care of as much as possible, leaving centralization as a last resort. Sound familiar?

Dare it be said that the Church of Rome has become quite a bit more libertarian itself? Folks in medieval times were often burned at the stake for speaking heresy against the Church, which was also at that time, the State.  Now? The Church has taken its rightful place as a private institution, accepting and appreciative of your donations. If only the State could be so libertarian. Mandatory alms-giving is theft, and community is more genuinely built and sustained by people who are voluntarily interacting with each other. Rendering tribute to Caesar has never been seen as the height of compassion and caring for the poor.  If anything, blindly paying taxes and assuming it goes to "helping people" has caused many millions of people, both here and abroad, countless amounts of pain.

Furthermore, at this same function being dubbed “Towards a Participatory Society: New Roads to Social and Cultural Integration,” Papa Francisco turned his ire towards the wave of populism sweeping across Europe, a system he warns is built on "egoism." Okay, here we encounter another total misunderstanding: Populism is the natural result of mandatory communitarianism. When you go around speaking of a participatory society, you unintentionally or not, champion the notion of mob rule. Have we learned nothing from the totalitarian excesses of the 20th century? Humanity has embarked on a process of elimination as it relates to forms of government.  The Church of Rome has survived because it has learned firsthand the futility of those excesses. It was a radical expansionist empire, then morphed into a loose-knit group of city-states, then morphed into a quasi-private entity. In conclusion, the evolution of the Catholic church has been suspiciously, how does one say...LIBERTARIAN???  

I leave you with the wisdom of Pope John Paul II, defender of individual human dignity: "The truth is not always the same as majority decision."

This article was submitted by Cameron Cutrone. He can be reached on Facebook here.
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