Pope Francis and the New Feudalism

I am, as Lady Catherine DeBourgh would say, “most seriously displeased” with Pope Francis. I’m not going to suggest that his behavior was not unexpected, however, one would ordinarily like to think that the college of Cardinals would have more sense than to elect a man who is so obviously historically ignorant to a post where he can do or attempt to do serious damage to the human condition.

 

Back during the late Roman Empire two events occurred that set the stage in many ways for the medieval period and the feudal system, which characterized it. These two events were when Diocletian issued his edict on “compulsory services,” freezing most people in the careers and professions based on family history. If your father was a farmer then you were required to be a farmer too. The second was Constantine’s Christianization of the Empire. As the empire declined and eventually disappeared the Catholic Church was the only entity that had influence across Europe, and could provide political stability. And while the Church had not set out to be political at its origins, it ended up doing so, almost as a matter of necessity to bring stability to a continent full of contentious tribal groups. Thus, requiring Church sanction for wars and other major undertakings placed it at the center of political control in the continent for approximately 500 years. During that time Diocletian’s compulsory services edict, probably forgotten was enforced as a matter of divine intention. Social mobility was at a minimum.

 

In a low technology society where a combination of money and political influence made all the difference, it was easy to justify the social status of individuals. Pope Boniface VIII’s Papal Bull known as Unam Sanctam which he concluded with “Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff” it was one of the most profound declarations of absolute political power ever made in recorded history. Boniface was unsuccessful in this assertion of power and died 11 months later following an invasion of his residence and near assassination.

 

Pope Francis’ recent actions as the symbolic head of world Christianity in advocating for economically depressed societies and promoting the global warming agenda smack of Pope Boniface’s foolish attempt to assert dominion over all humanity. It may not appear so at first. After all, the Bible instructs charity for the poor and for humanity to be a good steward of the world. However, Francis is missing the point. He has become a political pope rather than a spiritual one, pushing for wealth re-distribution and technology reductions for the average individual, effectively stating that they should be reduced to the same level of poverty as the “underprivileged” people, while guarantying that people in positions of power and influence will retain those positions along with the perks that go with them. When Francis insisted on carrying his own luggage after his election it was a nice gesture, but what is missing is the real action.

 

One might look back on a film released back in 1968 where a fictitious pope pledges the wealth of the Catholic Church to buy food for China, which is under economic sanctions for it s militarism, and in so doing helps avoid a major crisis and perhaps a world war. Morris West, who wrote the original story, perhaps understood the nature of what the Church should do with its wealth, better than many of the Church elders. Instead of sitting on it and accumulating it, perhaps Francis should consider using it for the benefit of the poor he states he is so concerned with. At the same time he should consider how American capitalism has benefitted so many, while those societies, which adopt socialist, authoritarian governments have more who languish in poverty and lack of opportunity. Instead, he pushes an agenda guaranteed to provide equal poverty among those who follow it, while sparing him and his fellows from its effects. It is a politically based denial of the truth. Francis’ caring goes only so far. It does not reach reality and rests on a convenient fiction that he, like many other political leaders, Obama included, actually care. They don’t, or they would live their lives differently.

 

Likewise, those who constantly harp on the supposed homelessness of the Christ Child in Bethlehem are committing a mischaracterization of history. The Bible specifically states that Mary and Joseph were ordered to Bethlehem for a Roman Imperial Census. Everyone else was also ordered to the city of his or her ancestral origin for the same purpose. When the census was concluded they could return to their normal place of residence. Thus, Mary, Joseph and Jesus were in the same position as someone who comes to town during a convention and cannot find a hotel room. As it states in the Gospel, “there was no room at the inn.” The implication was that if there were room, they had the ability to pay. It was an unfortunate coincidence of circumstances.

 

Meanwhile Francis refuses to confront the real evils in the world; authoritarianism, totalitarianism, deliberate violence, atavistic social attitudes and, of course, leading them all as a worldwide danger, Islam. Francis, like many others, refuses to acknowledge that it exists as a threat, even to Christianity.

 

Make no mistake, Francis and those who follow his way of thinking would see no problem with a return to the system that controlled Europe during the Middle Ages. They would be the kings and princes (secular or clerical) and nobility, while the rest of us would be relegated to the status of serfs, whose duty was to supply the needs of the nobility because that was what the system demanded. Occasions of royal visits with all of the pomp and circumstance were occasions for celebration because they provided entertainment. The common folk were supposed to enjoy how their collective wealth had allowed others to put on an occasional public display, while serving little purpose except leadership in wartime, if they were capable of it.

 

It is time for the this sort of leadership to be replaced with institutions that do not exist for their own aggrandizement. They should seek to provide an environment of ordered liberty in which their role is limited to preventing violations of recognized law and invasion by foreign troublemakers. If Francis truly understood how he could exert a proper role in the political environment he would be pressuring corrupt governments to give up their power in favor of popular sovereignty and free societies that can feed their own people rather than requiring charity. It is clear that he prefers status quo corruption to real moral society.

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