Pope Francis: "Trickle-Down" Kills

by Brad Cotton


Praises and blessings to Pope Francis!  The new Pope has brought back to the table the long-standing Catholic ( and just plain Christian) tradition of social and economic justice. For too long in America Jesus has been kidnapped, bound and gagged except when forced to read from a Christian Right/ Republican script. Any unbiased reading of the Gospels, especially Luke, reveals God’s overwhelming passion for justice among the poor and marginalized

Writing of Israel at the time, where, like now, almost all wealth was held by a few, Luke has nothing good to say for those who exploit fishermen, day laborers and peasant farmers. Jesus was after all, born in a barn, his birth announced to the shepherds, the lowest of the low at the time. For today,  read Jesus was born in a homeless shelter and ministered to prostitutes, the long term unemployed and all of whomever  we  currently consider “unclean”. Jesus spoke more about God’s passion for justice and fairness than he did about a Heaven reserved only for those who adhere to a narrow theological interpretation. Try this: rid one’s self as best can of previously taught dogma and read Luke/Acts word for word and see what it truly says about salvation, what it is, and how it is achieved. You may be surprised

Pope Francis released just before Thanksgiving “The Joy of the Gospel”. Pope Francis understands Jesus’ primary concern.

Just as the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills… … Today everything comes under the laws of competition and survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.

Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. … In this context, some people continue to defend “trickle-down” theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free-market will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile the excluded are still waiting… Almost without being aware of it we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own.

I think of those excluded from healthcare. Excluded by health insurers for whom profit is primary. I think of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s attempts to rein in this murderous beast. Helping means helping effectively.  The convenient and twisted self-serving reading of Scripture that says all we need is a personal relationship with Jesus is part of the problem. Jesus called out the health insurers and our worship of selfish economics which creates the ocean within which such sharks swim. We return to Pope Francis:

One cause of this situation is found in our relationship with money, since we calmly accept its dominion over ourselves and our societies. … We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf ( Exodus 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise, in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose.

Speaking of a ruthless dictatorship by wealthy corporations and the anti-democratic ideology of “one dollar-one vote”, the Republican National Committee filed the McCutcheon case currently before the Supreme Court. McCutcheon opens wider the sewer pipes of secret corporate cash buying our elections. Democrats have been bribed also. Sen. Max  Baucus, central to shutting out consideration of single payer or even a public option from health care reform took $5.5 million in cash from health insurers and pharmaceutical manufacturers. Sen. Lieberman ( formerly a Democrat, then Independent)  kept cash flowing to his health insurer buddies by stopping an amendment lowering the age for Medicare to 55. Lieberman’s price? $2.1 million. This was before the Republican backed Citizens United Supreme Court decision that allows the cash to be delivered in secret. Now we can’t even know who bought whom, and at what price.

Pope Francis calls for a return to ethics: Behind this lurks a rejection of ethics and a rejection of God. ... ethics leads to a God who calls for a committed response which is outside the categories of the marketplace.

Worshipping the “invisible hand of the market” is a rejection of God. Corporations are incapable of ethical self-policing. We the people, acting through government, through presidents like FDR and LBJ , and based on a reading of Luke, of Matthew 25:40, of Rabbi Hillel, of Buddha, of Mohammed can bring about a kingdom wherein people are manifestations of God, not just consumer goods, neither market predators nor prey.


--- Brad Cotton