The Pope’s message twisted by ideologues

To the Editor:

A friend of mine just bitterly complained that the new pope is a communist. It seems that representative of Christ on earth had the audacity to suggest that the very wealthy should share some of their vast wealth with the very poor and needy. I am sure that he would be labeled a heretic by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin.

Here is what the Pope said: “A contribution to this equitable development will also be made both by international activity aimed at the integral human development of all the world’s peoples, and by the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the state, as well as indispensable cooperation between the private sector and civil society.”

The very idea that the Pope should suggest the redistribution of economic benefits set off alarm bells throughout the hard political right and Tea Party types. But here is the problem: almost all of these people have strong Christian beliefs, and Jesus was very specific on this issue.

“Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19:24. No one would deny that one of the core Christian teaching is based on our treatment of those who are less fortunate than us. I find nothing in the Bible supporting “trickledown economics.”

Those who believe that every fiscal and social problem can be solved by adherence to strict ideological beliefs are in for a difficult time. Real world people and problems are not always solved by tax cuts and reduced government spending. Denying facts because they conflict with our ideology only worsens the problem of the poor in our society.

A perfect example of this is the argument over the minimum wage. Numerous studies have shown that far more jobs will be created than lost by an increase in the minimum wage. Yet most Republicans would rather there be no minimum wage. They believe that pure market forces should determine wages, even if that wage is a dollar an hour. Mitt Romney got it right last week when he broke with the ideologues in his party and said, “… on the issue of the minimum wage. I think we ought to raise it.” I think Jesus would agree.

Louis Vitale


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