Church indicates need for “leash” or “chains” before his release
In the latest stunning development of the papacy of Pope Francis, Vatican police today announced the capture of Unfettered Capitalism. The seizure brings to a dramatic climax a mission that has engaged the time and resources of the Holy See for more than 200 years.
As friends pressed for his release, anonymous Vatican sources described the Holy See’s increased hostility toward Capitalism in the months since Francis’s election to the papacy. “The pope’s frustration with Unfettered Capitalism really permeated the papal apartments and St. Peter’s Square,” acknowledged one mildly alliterative Curia official. In a particularly tense moment last Friday night, according to witnesses present, Francis was heard to exclaim, “Will no one rid me of this meddlesome layman?!” Initially some believed Francis was referring to Adam Smith, the eighteenth-century economist known for the defense of economic liberty. But once His Holiness cooled off he made it clear that he had no exact quarrel with Smith, who, after all, believed in some government role in the economy, particularly in the construction of roads, bridges, and canals. Rather, “His Holiness believes many Christians have allowed Unfettered Capitalism to intrude on and even to replace Christ and the Church in their thinking about economic issues,” one cardinal noted. “Unfettered Capitalism would reduce all human relations to the economic and permit the exploitation of persons under a false notion of freedom. We can’t have that.”
By the early hours of Saturday morning Vatican police had taken their cue, launching a massive ideamanhunt, the most intense anyone in Vatican City could remember.
Speaking to reporters in Rome, Vatican police chief Francesco Bernardone indicated that Capitalism would be held at least 40 days pending his likely release by Pope Francis. “At the very least,” Bernardone said in a gratified tone, “this will give time for our blacksmith to forge a permanent set of chains for the prisoner.” Vatican experts familiar with both Church teaching and ironmongery speculated as to what those chains might consist of. “The Church has little or no coercive power, especially over non-Catholics; she can only ‘restrain’ through her teachings,” said Jacob Marley, resident scholar on Catholicism at London’s Centre For Truth, a theological think tank. “The chains will almost certainly include basic links such as mercy, generosity, and honesty. But there will also be more intellectually tough links such as subsidiarity, the primacy of labor over capital, and the universal destination of goods, which is the notion that ultimately all the resources of the world are meant for the good of all.”
In his only public comment on the matter thus far, Pope Francis stated , “It is not our purpose to chain Capitalism so as to deprive him of all freedom of movement in the world. We wish rather to restrain and direct his impulses so that they always serve the common good and the dignity of the human person.”
In the United States, some Church observers noted how easily the pope could be misunderstood, given the vagaries of translation. “We are constantly juggling Spanish, Italian, Latin, and English in determining the pope’s meaning,” said conservative Catholic intellectual Michael Nowak. “In this case, it is really more accurate to speak of a gentle but firm ‘leash’ for Capitalism rather than a ‘chain.’ After his release, Capitalism will still be able to do most of the things he did before he was seized.” Others disputed that notion. “A chain is a chain is a chain,” noted the editorial board of Amerigo, the liberal Catholic magazine. “Whatever he may call himself, Capitalism will never be ‘unfettered’ again.”