There are lots of critical things to say about the retiring Pope Benedict XVI, but (like his predecessor John Paul II) his stance on issues of social and economic justice would, if he were an American Democrat, get him branded by some conservatives (including Catholics) a socialist.
Think Progress cites some examples:
– Addressing climate change. Benedict was dubbed the “Green Pope” for his commitment to environmental concerns. He boosted “efforts to make Vatican City more environmentally efficient,” used “Roman Catholic doctrine to emphasize humanity’s responsibility to care for the planet,” and called on world leaders to “agree on a responsible, credible and supportive response to this worrisome and complex phenomenon, keeping in mind the needs of the poorest populations and of future generations.”
– A fair and equitable economy. “[T]he economy cannot be measured only by maximization of profit but rather according to the common good,” he said in 2011 during a visit to Spain. In a 2009 treatise, the pontiff called for protections for “labour unions — which have always been encouraged and supported by the Church,” the elimination of world hunger through “wealth redistribution,” the protection of the “natural environment” — “God’s gift to everyone” — from unchecked economic expansion, and a strengthened “family of nations,” like the U.N. with “real teeth.”
– Universal health care. At an international papal conference on health care in November of 2010, at the Vatican, Pope Benedict and other Catholic church leaders said it is the “moral responsibility of nations to guarantee access to health care for all of their citizens, regardless of social and economic status or their ability to pay.” Saying access to adequate medical care is one of the “inalienable rights” of man, the pope said, “Justice in health care should be a priority of governments and international institutions.” Catholic bishops, however, led the charge against Obamacare’s contraception requirements and have rejected the Obama administration’s latest compromise.
– Immigration reform. Pope Benedict had been a supporter of U.S. immigrants, regardless of their legal status, urging the Bush administration to treat immigrants with human dignity. The United States must do “everything possible to fight…all forms of violence so that immigrants may lead dignified lives,” the pope said when asked if he would address the issue of Latin American immigrants with Bush in 2008.
It’s worth noting that under Benedict, the Vatican declared seven mortal sins, including polluting the environment, causing social injustice, causing poverty and becoming obscenely wealthy.