Vatican’s La Stampa has an interview with Obama’s ambassador to the Vatican, former Catholic Relief Services Director, Kenneth Hackett about Francis’ upcoming visit to the United States and Cuba. Apparently the whole thing was hatched not so much at the invitation of the House’s Boehner, but Obama.
The President invited him to the United States?
Yes, the President invited him and more importantly, in the context of that invitation, the dynamic, the personal interaction, was more than warm; they hit it off on a number of issues including, I think, migration, poverty, exclusion, and people falling through the cracks. Those are the kind of things that I believe they were discussing behind closed doors. As soon as we were let in immediately afterwards you could feel the atmosphere in the room was very positive. So somehow Pope Francis had a very positive view of President Obama and what he is trying to do, and they clicked. And I think that led to his decision to come.
Then the following September I carried the invitation from Speaker Boehner to speak to Congress and I probably said at the time that this is a long shot, but Francis picked it up and there it goes.
The UN was not on the cards in the very beginning because we kept hearing it’s going to be a pastoral visit, and yes he’ll go to the White House, and then he’ll go to Congress. But all of a sudden (UN Secretary General) Ban Ki-moon came in and locked down the UN because a lot of people were saying it is the 50th anniversary of Paul VI’s visit to the UN, and Francis could speak about climate and about the sustainable development goals, and so they were creating an environment for him to speak at the UN.
“The dynamic, the personal interaction, was more than warm?” What does that mean? If it was more than warm was it hot? Did the pope have the least bit of Christian council or concern for the world in the face of a man like Obama? Is President Obama Pope Francis’ favorite person in the world? Was he in love? Is Obama a spiritual guide to Pope Francis?
What was the President’s reaction afterwards?
As you know well, the private conversation went on for a very long time. And coming out of the Pope’s meeting Obama was refreshed. He was happy!
Obama was refreshed after a very long conversation via interpreter? Was there a shower in there? Why was he so happy? Did his meeting with Francis succeed beyond his wildest dreams?
What is your own personal memory of that meeting?
It was two friends talking about things, even though they had never met before. As I was seeing it, this was warm and positive, and everything I have heard from the White House since he got back says the President was overjoyed with the visit.
Why is the entire monstrous liberal machine giddy about Francis? Is he handing over the patrimony of the Church so fast they can’t contain their demonic glee?
The lengthy interview is full of spin, but the biggest helping of it is applied to Francis and Communism, I mean, ‘anti-Capitalism.’
Some of his statements in the encyclical “on our common home” and in his speech to the Popular Movements, during his visit to Bolivia, were strong critiques of the way the economy is run. Many in the US read them as a strong critique of capitalism. What do you say to these critics?
I didn’t read them as a strong critique to all forms of capitalism. I think he’s basically saying what his predecessors said, but he is doing it with a Latin flare. He talks about the excesses of capitalism, and as I pick up the paper and I see who has been jailed in this place and that place for some banking scandal, I see there are excesses. I cannot believe that he is saying that the capitalist system which rewards hard work, good decisions, is totally wrong. He’s certainly not saying that the socialist system is the answer! He just saying don’t abuse things, don’t abuse your capitalism.
“A Latin flare, eh?” He has that.
In Francis’ mind having more than someone else is an abuse of freedom. As he travels to Bolivia and around the world Francis is saying that situation must be fixed. He wants a new ‘system’ where things are no longer ‘unequal.’ If the free system where you buy goods and services and spend your own money to do so doesn’t work, then we need a ‘system’ where that’s restrained, checked. Francis wants to impose some alternative to our God-given right to our lives and property, and then call it Catholic morality. That’s socialism, communism, Liberation Theology. Obama loves it and Ambassador Hackett is lying.
He’s certainly has raised this concern in various quarters about the stratification of our society, that so few at the very top have accumulated so much wealth and have left out the entire next three or four levels, and not just the poorest but even those who are struggling to get by on 30,000 dollars with three kids – that’s below the poverty line in some cities. He recognizes the issues, and I think those who are criticizing him as anti-capitalist are going too far. I may be wrong but that’s the way I read it.
I hope I’m not going too far but, do you know where capitalism isn’t ‘totally wrong’ either? Cuba. The state-controlled Cuban labor scheme leaves employees with 4% of every dollar they generate, but that 4% is still some hard-working capitalism. I may be wrong but that’s the way I read it.