It's been fun watching the reaction of the plutocrats to Pope Francis's calling out of unrestrained capitalism as "Marxism "(Rush Limbaugh), "kind of Liberal"
(Sarah Palin) and "neo-socialism" ( Stuart Varney of Fox News).
These folks have made their careers over the last 30 years of persuading the American public that there is only one legitimate economic theory, unregulated capitalism, and that all other economies are the devil's own creation. How else to understand why ordinary people, made to scrape and suffer under a system that funnels 40% of its wealth to the top 1% of income earners, can support the system that impoverishes them and reduces opportunities for their children? When called upon to help the unfortunate, the only response of our wealth-idolizing class is to double down on their beliefs, swearing that the rich need to be taxed less than ever before and the poor need to be bled more deeply. So deep is their faith in the system that even its complete collapse would hardly dent their fervor.
I have been worried about the pope's well being since just after his election. He has clearly signaled that the Church needs to be true to its call for justice and its option for the poor. Disciplining the Bishop of Bling was one of Francis's first shots across the bow of the Church of Luxury. Washing the feet of women (a Muslim woman, to boot) signaled an end to the exclusive boys-only club that the Church has become. Embracing a man with facial tumors called us all to see beyond the externals to a person's soul. And
placed the pontiff squarely on the side of those disadvantaged by the soul-sucking refusal of western capitalism to deal with the ever-widening gap between the super-rich and the rest of us. At what point will the pope's openness and accessibility become a liability? Will someone take a shot at him? Arrange a convenient accident?
We should probably enjoy this season of the Church's openness to the poor while it lasts. In myth, based on John's timeline, Jesus preached for three years. More likely, if you look at the Synoptics, he preached for less than one. Brutal military/economic systems don't tolerate rule breakers for long.
The Devil may be fated to lose the war in the long run, but he sure can rack up many small, heartbreaking victories along the way, along with body count. Pray for the pope's safety. Pray to thwart the plans of those with an interest to silence his message of joy and hope.