Capitalism comes under attack again in the latest publication from Pope Francis. On Tuesday the pontiff published his first long-form document written as pope, known as an apostolic exhortation. The 84-page “Evangelii Gaudium” (The Joy of the Gospel) speaks at length about the evils of unfettered capitalism and the church’s need to minister to the poor.
It's not the first time the pope has attacked capitalism. Since his election to the papacy eight months ago, Pope Francis has made a name for himself as a radical by calling for reform of global financial systems that exclude the poor to the benefit of the rich.
Below, check out five of Pope Francis’ most revolutionary statements on capitalism and global income inequality, from “Evangelii Guadium” and other sources.
In Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, he takes some of his harshest shots yet at global capitalism, saying that economies that prey on the poor are tantamount to murder.
"Just as the commandment 'Thou shalt not kill' sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion."
With “Evangelii Gaudium,” Francis also blasted trickle-down economic theories, saying that those in economic power will always work to benefit themselves and not the poor in such a scenario.
"Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting."
The Catholic Church Is for the Poor
Pope Francis isn’t just content to attack financial problems outside of the church, either. In an interview with Italian journalist (and atheist) Eugenio Scalfari, Pope Francis questioned the Catholic Church itself, claiming that the church must be focused on the poor, not on itself or divisive issues like same-sex marriage and abortion.
“Heads of the Church have often been narcissists, flattered and thrilled by their courtiers. The court is the leprosy of the papacy. The Church is or should go back to being a community of God's people, and priests, pastors and bishops who have the care of souls are at the service of the people of God.”
“I believe I have already said that our goal is not to proselytize but to listen to needs, desires and disappointments, despair, hope. We must restore hope to young people, help the old, be open to the future, spread love. Be poor among the poor. We need to include the excluded and preach peace.”
God Says to Focus on Poor
Speaking about his past and present as a Jesuit with American Magazine, Pope Francis claimed that his decisions to eschew material wealth and minister to the poor come directly from God.
"Discernment is always done in the presence of the Lord, looking at the signs, listening to the things that happen, the feeling of the people, especially the poor. My choices, including those related to the day-to-day aspects of life, like the use of a modest car, are related to a spiritual discernment that responds to a need that arises from looking at things, at people and from reading the signs of the times. Discernment in the Lord guides me in my way of governing."
Capitalism Is Idolatry
In an open letter to British Prime Minister David Cameron on the eve of the G-8 Summit, Pope Francis called capitalism a new form of idolatry, saying the money should “serve” humanity, not lead it.
"The goal of economics and politics is to serve humanity, beginning with the poorest and most vulnerable wherever they may be, even in their mothers' wombs. Every economic and political theory or action must set about providing each inhabitant of the planet with the minimum wherewithal to live in dignity and freedom, with the possibility of supporting a family, educating children, praising God and developing one's own human potential."
"We have created new idols. The worship of the golden calf of old has found a new and heartless image in the cult of money and the dictatorship of an economy which is faceless and lacking any truly humane goal."