Noam Chomsky on Pope Francis’ Radicalism

Pope Francis

Image by Catholic Church England and Wales via Flickr

Dandelion Salad

with Noam Chomsky

Robert Malin – Dec 5, 2013

Note from Abel Collins: “I sat down to discuss a wide range of topics with the idol of my high school days, Noam Chomsky, in early October. This was before the release of Evangelii Gaudium, but after a lot of encouraging words about economic justice from Pope Francis. Chomsky’s eyes lit up when I asked him about his thoughts on the new Pope’s new direction for the Catholic Church.

Essentially, he admired the rhetoric of the Pope but was concerned that “nothing much is happening.”

“We have to see if it crosses to the point where it leads to say organizing people to insist on their rights and to pursue the path of preferential option for the poor, take the gospels seriously.”

Thus, while I enjoy reading the Pope reiterating his opposition to the current economic model I, like Chomsky, was looking for more. Happily that is what I found in Evangelii Gaudium. In fact, Francis devotes more of his writing to how the Church should change its methods of evangelizing than he does on which topics to evangelize upon.

“Pastoral ministry in a missionary key seeks to abandon the complacent attitude that says: “We have always done it this way”. I invite everyone to be bold and creative in this task of rethinking the goals, structures, style and methods of evangelization in their respective communities…The important thing is to not walk alone.”

He stresses the need to get outside the confines of the churches and into the community, meeting people where they are and organizing around issues that the people care about, like economic equality. The way I read it, Pope Francis is giving license to the clergy and the lay membership of the Church to engage fully in liberation theology, and I suspect they will. Wouldn’t you?

And that is the question really, because Catholic or not (I’m a Quaker myself) this radical honesty can light a spark in anyone’s eyes. We can each take that license ourselves to evangelize about economic justice in our communities, and the light we shine will spark others to join us. “The important thing is to not walk alone.”

Getting Serious with the Gospels: Chomsky on the Church

From the archives:

Noam Chomsky: The Gospels Are Radical Pacifist Documents

Romero (1989) + Chomsky on Oscar Romero + Massacre during Romero’s funeral (must-see)

10 thoughts on “Noam Chomsky on Pope Francis’ Radicalism

  1. Pingback: A Revolutionary Pope Calls for Rethinking the Outdated Criteria That Rule the World by Ellen Brown | Dandelion Salad

  2. Reblogged this on Grace and Peace and commented:
    He stresses the need to get outside the confines of the churches and into the community, meeting people where they are and organizing around issues that the people care about, like economic equality. The way I read it, Pope Francis is giving license to the clergy and the lay membership of the Church to engage fully in liberation theology, and I suspect they will. Wouldn’t you?

    • Charlie , clarification . not the Liberation theology of the Christian/Marxist matrix as espoused by Gustav Gutiarez , but rather the liberation theology of St. Francis . there is a world of difference. Both reject capitalism , however the Marxist one is oppressive and seeks to use the rule of law . this has been very unsuccessful in the past.

      the reason why Pope Francis took the name of St. Francis is to make it crystal clear of the radical volunteerism of St. Francis as the mode for true liberation theology . this is understood in the work of the Franciscan Scholars like William of Occam all the way to Leonardo Boff.

  3. C’mon people belly up to the bar . Jesuit Pope serving up strong drinks . i love it ! The revolution is being televised .

    • Rocket! you really are a starry eyed optimist ~ I’d love you to be right, but Chomsky is skeptical that such a literal implementation of egalitarian justice will be allowed to prevail let alone endure.

      No, it will never happen from the top down, that only perpetuates the pecking order of privileged and secret knowledge.

      Dismantle the whole corrupt thing, that’s the answer; and implement the rule of law that invokes all the moral, social and financial obligations and ethical mechanisms that are contractually demanded under the rules that are already extant and applicable.

      • David , you sound like Voltaire –crush the infamous thing ! it aint gonna happen . look , i work on the front lines of homeless shelter and prisons and soup kitchens as a catholic worker , and my atheist hard thinking friends are more excited about this pope than i am !

        dont lag behind mate talking about ethics , and i am not an optimist . i see more people coming out volunteering on the front lines because of this Pope . they tell me so. FACT. I volunteer nights at an emergency shelter at 10 below zero and a guy who is British who used to work for the BBC , and is a staunch Atheist cant stop raving about him .

        Pope Francis is the fulfillment and embodiment of Vatican 2 , and he is just getting warmed up . so belly up to the bar with this radical Jesuit and have a scotch on the rocks . ha ! LOL

        • Never mind Voltaire. Bottom line R ~ we don’t need male popes, we need enlightened and inspired bioneers, free-thinking women and empathetic liberated souls.

          Sure, we love real human beings, like the caring folks you work with; only, why admire this pontifical dude? if you must, fine ~ but the truth is that high level, inter-locking corruption is endemic to all religio-fascist systems of control by fear of damnation-in-hell. The inevitable class-wars, that dictate the territorial scope of the narrative frames that pious “religiosity” determines, are yesterday’s news.

          I say break that frame! Break the set. Open up the public mind to the facts of universal life. The Jesuits are a secret society of MEN!! Women are subordinate ~ at worst, actual slaves and victims. This cannot go on.

          The entire financial matrix is intimately constrained & compromised by the criminal antics of the Vatican. The “church” can’t have its holy cake and eat it, either it dissolves itself voluntarily or just withers on the Sacred Vine, a superannuated dying-god cult of perpetual misogynist superstition and colossal, staggering wealth accumulated and hidden in plain sight..

          Women are not free or equal in the Roman church, no-one is free if they are enslaved by dogma that is patently absurd. Surely you cannot claim otherwise….

        • David , you don’t have to convince me of anything . the people you need to convince are my fellow men and women who work with me in life and death situations ON THE FRONT LINES …who are intellectual atheists and practicing women wiccan pagans . They love this Pope .they read his encyclicals and follow his activity daily .

          Their radical activity toward the most rejected in our world , and their cynical attitude is beyond anything you can imagine . You will have to come up with more than mere words with these folks . to them , all talk is cheap . trust me , i am working at the shelters and in debates with them daily on the need for spiritual things .

          These people only want action . the only reason they listen to me and other catholic workers is because we are radicals like them against war , the death penalty , taking the rejected in , running soup kitchens , visiting death row , etc… They saw what the Pope did washing the feet of those prisoners .The understand the power of symbolism . they see what the Pope did in getting rid of Archbishop Burke here in St. Louis and his cultural war of terror . ..when the Pope said , ”we are not about culture wars and moralizing , but mercy ”.

          now , you have to ask yourself this question; are you about cultural wars , and moralizing , and ethics , and other such frivolous nonsense , while there are broken lives of people all around you ? My unbelieving friends will not sand for it if you are . They, for the first time in their entire life stand with the Bishop of Rome . If you think it sounds odd to you , just think how odd it sounds to me .

          i think if the Bishop of Rome ordains women that still wont be enough for you . there is something here deeper than meets the eye with your war with the Church . i dont know what it is , and it is not my business , but it is seems almost like an obsession or something .Look , i am a very serious critic of my own Church . i know all the history . like i said , you don’t have to convince me . its my unbelieving friends you have to convince , and if you are not on the front lines they wont give you the time of day .

        • David — click here – this song is theme for of the new Pope. “Takin’ it to the streets”!!!!

        • Well thanks for that pal. You know me well enough, and could be right, only one thing I can add, I despise posturing and deceit.

          I have nothing but respect for people like yourself and your fellows who are walking the talk. I have no double standards, and would always do what I can to be straight and decent to people, only I deeply mistrust the papal institution, and believe we’d be better off without it.

          Call me prejudiced if you like, but I think the church is part of the problem not the solution.

          As I said before, only time and tide will tell.

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