My claim: The wealthiest Plutocrats within the 1% use religion and its morality to support their estate as the most powerful. Toward that end, such men and women will often weigh in on issues that they do not care so much about in order to obtain greater control over the economy and politics.
For instance, I would be surprised to find that most super wealthy people really care that much about gay marriage or even most womens issues or many racial issues. These are things that are of more concern among many in the 99% who are oppressed by narratives of the other who is destroying their families, taking their jobs, etc.
Above all, this is where Pope Francis I plays an important role. He will likely never be an ally regarding women priests, women’s health issues, gay rights, etc. He is orthodox Catholic in regards to those teachings. But there has never been any teaching in the Catholic Church which said the faithful should believe in Capitalism.
In fact, Catholic social doctrines–especially those evolving out of the teachings of St. Francis of Assisi and of the Catholic Workers Movement–often are as much at odds with capitalism as they are with communism. When the Pontiff speaks up against trickle down economics and capitalist greed, he weakens one of the greatest tools at the disposal of the powers-that-be to continue their economic oppression of the working classes and the poor.
I do not want folks to think, then, that I see Pope Francis as the best hope for changing the Church toward new doctrines. He is not that kind of ally, and I am not concerned primarily with how Catholicism evolves. Rather, because he disambiguates capitalism from morality, he reveals from a pretty big stage the danger posed to ethical life by our current financial system.
Precisely because Francis is no social liberal, 1% Plutocrats cannot so easily distract public discourse by screaming that his teachings are a kind of “destroy-all-social-fabrics” relativism. When he lambasts the 1% for being more concerned about stock market indexes than old people starving to death, the Supreme Pontiff strips away in one loud rip the costume worn by our supremely smug plutocrats.
At this point, the most avaricious stand naked unable to play their old game. So they will just take their golden toys and stomp off home. If that does not reveal them for what they are, what can?
If anyone wonders whether Pope Francis has irritated wealthy conservatives with his courage and idealism, the latest outburst from Kenneth Langone left little doubt. Sounding both aggressive and whiny, the billionaire investor warned that he and his overprivileged friends might withhold their millions from church and charity unless the pontiff stops preaching against the excesses and cruelty of unleashed capitalism.
According to Langone, such criticism from the Holy See could ultimately hurt the sensitive feelings of the rich so badly that they become “incapable of feeling compassion for the poor.” He also said rich donors are already losing their enthusiasm for the restoration of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan — a very specific threat that he mentioned directly to Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York.