Posted on October 11, 2015
Pope Francis vs. Boris Yeltsin
In 1989, Boris Yeltsin visited a Houston-area supermarket, and was amazed by the variety of meats, cheeses, fruits and vegetables that were available to the general public in the United States. According to biographer Leon Aron, the future Russian president sat with his head in his hands after that experience, before finally remarking, “What have they done to our poor people? … I think we have committed a crime against our people by making their standard of living so incomparably lower than that of the Americans.”
Yeltsin, who died in 2007, was not the stuff of which heroes are generally made. He was thoroughly corrupt, and he never did grasp the concept of a free market. As president, he tried to implement privatization by way of a redistributionist voucher system, which burdened his country with a crushing national debt. Nevertheless, his compassion for the poor led him to identify the primary cause of their suffering, and to try to alleviate it.
Pope Francis, by comparison, defines his papacy by his concern for the poor, but never does he hold tyrants accountable for creating so much of the world’s poverty. Yeltsin, though infirmed or inebriated through much of his public life, still retained enough capacity for moral clarity to recognize Mikhail Gorbachev for the scoundrel he is. Sometimes Francis seems as if he couldn’t recognize evil if it walked up and handed him a crucifix in the shape of a Soviet hammer and sickle.
Bolivian president Evo Morales – a Communist, and an acolyte of the late Venezuelan goon Hugo Chavez – did just that. The pope says he wasn’t offended by it. Nor was he offended by Morales himself, an enemy of freedom and a class-warmongering racist, whose main governing principle is hatred. When given a chance to address this evil, Francis only agreed with Morales about the sins of white colonialists, and hysterically blamed the “unfettered pursuit of money” for the world’s ills, as Morales stood by with an image of Che Guevara on his jacket.
Last year, when Francis visited the Korean peninsula, he condemned the supposedly immoral economic system of South Korea. He had little to say about North Korea, other than to tell the South that it needed to get along with the tyrants who rule that belligerent, Communist prison-state. The way he lectured, you’d think it was South Korea that had been the aggressor in the war, and was constantly threatening to invade its neighbor to this day.
The pontiff displayed the same kind of implausible obtuseness when he went to Cuba. Regardless of whatever he said to Fidel and Raul Castro in private (which was almost assuredly horrid), he did not challenge them in public. Rather, he addressed the Cuban people, telling them that they have the ability to change, as if he thought they were a free people being governed by their own consent. Giving that impression was exactly the sort of public relations coup that the Castros must have been hoping for.
When Francis is surrounded by impoverished victims of a Communist dictatorship, does he really convince himself that their circumstance has been created by the wealthier peoples of the world? Does he not see that every Communist government impoverishes its people by design? Does he not understand the moral value of freedom, even if he chooses to ignore its positive economic impact?
If this makes it sound like the pope is actually opposed to prosperity, that’s only because he is. In a 2013 exhortation, he wrote, “The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase. In the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle.” That the introduction of new products to the market creates economic opportunities doesn’t interest him. Mind you, when he sees people whose lives have been genuinely stunted by a government-imposed lack of opportunity, he’s unmoved.
If only we could exhume the drunken, corrupt, philosophically confused Russki, and have him become pope instead. Rather than acting as the Castros’ minister of propaganda, he’d have probably called them out in front of the world for their crimes, by pointing a finger at them and demanding, “What have you done to your poor people!”
That would not have won him the praise of the international media, but it might have made it more difficult for a pair of Communist tyrants to sustain the systematic impoverishment of their people. Pope Francis, apparently, would not consider that a fair trade-off.
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