The Pope of Platitudes

Today, I had a little extra time, so I was going to write a response to the Op-Ed piece that Pope Francis recently published in the New York Times . Seeing as how he’s such a prominent figure in the culture today, I thought it might spice up the feed to delve into current events and do an analysis. However, after reading through this twaddle twice, I have to say I found it utterly vapid and unworthy of anything like a serious critique.

Reading this piece was like listening to my 85 year old grandfather grouse about a random litany of personal and social problems (“you kids, these days!!” ), with no real point other than to vent frustration. There wasn’t even an attempt at deploying any coherent theology in this missive. It was just one sentimental bromide after another.

He bemoans our obsessive focus on “self-preservation” and laments our exploitable “anxiety”, but blames it on “feverish consumerism” and an “ideological” commitment to “personal freedom”. Worse, he offers not one argument in defense of this position. If you’re not going to bother to support the bald assertion that “consumerism” is responsible for our present mass-neurosis, then I have no reason to take you any more seriously than my curmudgeonly grandfather.

He rightly points out that boots-on-the-ground practical know-how can often provide far better expertise in specific circumstances, than can a credentialed expert (as exhibited in the nursing care he received contrary to doctors' orders, when he was 21). But then scolds us all to shut up and do as we’re told by our government technocrats, because they have “the good of the people” as their mission.

He rightly points out that we should be working to increase opportunities for the poor to gain access to “land, lodging, and labour”, but completely ignores the last 100 years of history in which precisely this work has been done under the aegis of a free market, flatly asserting instead without argument (again), that we “cannot return to the false securities of the… economic systems we had before the crisis…” and that we need to “dream big” (whatever that means).

All in all, this editorial was an ejaculation of vacuous and confused emotional nonsense. I don’t know exactly what effect Francis was expecting this piece to have, but I can sort of see why the mainstream press is totally in love with this man. He’s not difficult, and he surely isn’t going to challenge you.