In the short time since his papacy began in early 2013, Pope Francis has made a name for himself as a critic of the prevailing economic system of the world, claiming that the separation of the majority of the population from prosperity is “the result of ideologies that defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation.” The pope has gone on to claim that we can no longer trust in the invisible hand of the market, and calls for an attack on the structural causes of inequality. However, many influential economists have sharply criticised the pope’s statements, claiming they are based on a poor understanding of economics. As a matter of fact, global poverty has been more than halved since 1990, largely due to the expansion of free markets and the advance of capitalism in the developing world, and the slow retreat of communism in the People’s Republic of China. Though few people regard the leader of the Catholic Church to be an expert in the field of economics, his denunciations of capitalism may have serious effects on the voting preferences of Catholics around the world.
But can you be Catholic and still disagree with Pope Francis?
According to Rev. Robert Sirico at the Acton Institute, a libertarian Catholic think-tank, it’s an open question.
“In praising business as a vocation, a noble vocation, [Pope Francis] speaks about meeting the needs of the common good by striving to increase the goods of this world to make them more accessible to people who are in need. Now that’s a description of the kind of markets that we here at the Acton Institute certainly talk about,” the reverend explains.
In this thoughtful and illuminating video, Rev. Robert Sirico provides a balanced and articulate response to the economic exhortations of Pope Francis, showing how free market capitalism is the best weapon in the Church’s arsenal for fighting poverty, inequality, and injustice.