Saturday, April 16, 2016

Bernie Sanders at the Vatican

It is not without a bit of irony that Democratic Socialist, Bernie Sanders was the only U.S. Presidential candidate invited to speak at a conference at the Vatican,hosted by the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences to mark the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s encyclical, Centesimus Annus.

Sanders' "reflection" can be found on his website.

Having read Sanders' speech, I have to say that there is little, if anything, that I can disagree with Sanders on in his speech. There are areas where his worldview actually aligns (in a limited way) with Catholic teaching.

Sanders says:

"In the year 2016, the top one percent of the people on this planet own more wealth than the bottom 99 percent, while the wealthiest 60 people – 60 people – own more than the bottom half – 3 1/2 billion people. At a time when so few have so much, and so many have so little, we must reject the foundations of this contemporary economy as immoral and unsustainable."

Sanders misses the mark in many areas, however. The encyclical, which the conference was commemorating, was itself, a commemoration of Pope Leo XIII's 1891 encyclical Rerum Novarum. In Rerum Novarum, Pope Leo XIII praises private property and condemns Socialism.

There may be ideas in Centesimus Annus which are appealing to Bernie Sanders, but he ignores one in particular:

"Now, as then, we need to repeat that there can be no genuine solution of the 'social question' apart from the Gospel, and that the 'new things' can find in the Gospel the context for their correct understanding and the proper moral perspective for judgment on them."

I don't have the answer as to how we eliminate poverty and income inequality. I'm sure it can't be achieved without some governmental intervention. The question is how much governmental intervention is necessary and at what point does governmental intervention make the situation worse?

I'm certainly willing to give Sanders' economic ideas a look-see, but I could never support him outright due his views on abortion and same sex so-called "marriage".

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