Speaking under the hateful gaze of Che Guevara in Havana’s Plaza of the Revolution — a shrine to ruthless communism — Pope Francis scolded us to “serve people, not ideas.”
“Service is never ideological, for we do not serve ideas,” he said. “We serve people.”
What a quaint and beautiful concept to ponder here in this fallen world full of violent men who thirst for absolute power and feast on death, rape and slavery.
The remark was widely interpreted as a veiled rebuke of the totalitarian government of Cuba that violently rounds up people for expressing their opinions or exercising their religion. In prisons, these people rot and die.
However, there is no evidence that the pope actually intended to aim the rebuke at communist dictators. If anything, it is just as likely the rebuke was directed at free-market capitalism, which this pope has roundly and openly denounced as “the dung of the devil.”
At best, Pope Francis meant the rebuke for both sides of the fight. He meant it as a pox on both our houses, denouncing both Cuba and America, communism and capitalism.
The grinding cinders you hear is Pope John Paul II turning over in his crypt. Such moral equivalency from such a powerful post towards the battle between freedom and slavery, good and evil, right and wrong serves only to promote the devil’s playground here on Earth.
For the pope to do anything other than celebrate American democracy and ferociously rebuke Cuban communism is to deny the power of God.
That is because here in America, we citizens draw our rights directly from God. And we are free to pursue that relationship with God any way we see fit.
In dictatorships such as in Cuba, those rights are granted by the dictator and can be stripped away however the dictator sees fit. Oh, and there can be no relationship between subjects and God under communism because the mere existence of God undercuts the total authority the dictator has over his subjects.
If God is the God of free will in this broken world, then He most certainly does not see a moral equivalency between free market capitalism and totalitarian communism. And nor should the pope.
It is understandable that a pope — shrouded in clean white vestments and living in a guarded palace — might fail to appreciate the misery in this world and how it is carried out by evil, power-hungry men. But Pope Francis makes great pains to display compassion for those in misery.
It would also be understandable if a pope simply chose to ride far above the troubles of this world and live prayerfully like a monk in a monastery.
But again and again, Pope Francis has chosen to boldly tackle real world ideas, even when woefully out of his depth.
He has opined at great length on global warming, proving little other than his shallow grasp of science. His exhortations on immigration reveal his weak grasp of public policy and moral hazard. And his excoriations of free-market economics proved him to be least of all an economist.
History remembers the righteous crusade of Pope John Paul II and former President Ronald Reagan that literally set millions of people free from oppression. If Pope Francis and President Obama are not careful, they, too, will be remembered by history. But not for freeing people. Rather, remembered for condemning millions to unspeakable earthly misery.
Charles Hurt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter via @charleshurt.