On Tuesday, Pope Francis loudly criticized economic inequality and unburdened markets in a rather long document outlining a philosophy that he says will define his papal era as he guides the Catholic Church to reach out more to the disenfranchised.
Using such phrases as “idolatry of money” and “a new tyranny,” Pope Francis took aim at the United States. He particularly attacked economic systems that discourage taxation and regulation. These philosophies are considered by most to be conservative in nature.
Pope Francis said in his document that there are those who defend trickle-down economics even though there has never been success to prove that it works. He says they are looking for greater justice and inclusiveness in the world but have a naive idea of how to achieve it.
This is not the first time that the current Pope has expressed concerns about the growing gulf between the wealthy and poor since taking office in March. However, it is the first time that he has made a blunt mention of the idea of “trickle-down” economics in the English translation. This part of the 50,000-word statement made quite an impact.
The phrase is often used in a negative fashion to characterize a well-known version of a conservative or Republican economic idea. This economic philosophy states that if the wealthy are allowed to operate their businesses without being weighed down by regulation or taxation, then the result will be economic benefits that lead to more opportunities for employment and income for society as a whole. Liberals and Democratic officials have decried this idea, saying that economic evidence proves more to the contrary.
The statement that included the loud criticism of economic inequality from Pope Francis is actually known as an apostolic exhortation. However, this is the first document written entirely by Francis himself. It covers a wide range of topics which include a call to provide more opportunities that would allow for a more profound female presence in the Catholic Church.
Francis was elected as the foremost leader of the Catholic Church in March this year after Pope Benedict unexpectedly resigned for health reasons. He is originally from Buenos Aires and Pope Francis is the first non-European Pope in more than a thousand years.
Since his appointment, he has been the subject of much attention among many Catholics as well as political leaders from all over the world. Most of this is because of a fresh approach he has taken to the papacy. Some of the attention he has received has been in no small part to the softer tone he has taken toward gay marriage as well as a complete refusal of lavish features of the Vatican lifestyle. He also washed the feet of convicts and has continuously urged greater effort to reach out to the poor of the world.
The Pope’s emphasis on the subject of economics is particularly noteworthy given recent major changes in the global economy.
Many of the more economically affluent countries of the world are currently dealing with income inequality at historical proportions, while the quality of the life for workers in the middle class are showing no improvement.
There are growing concerns about the economy in developing countries as well. For example, Chinese government officials have made repetitive promises to tackle the widening income gap in their country. It is obvious that in an effort to give the Catholic Church a continued voice in world affairs, Pope Francis felt it necessary to give his own passionate, loud criticism of economic inequality.
By Rick Hope