I recently read this article called Pope Francis and Basic Economics written by Judge Andrew P. Napolitano. It upset me a little, because it wasn’t the first time I have heard someone criticize the first Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis called Evangelii Gaudium. The section Napolitano is discussing is in articles 53-60. I encourage you to read both before reading my opinion.
First of all, The Catholic Church has all the right in the world to teach on economics and politics and give her teaching on social thought. She is wise, and her guide is God and the natural law which lends to a social teaching which aims at establishing conditions in which the human person can flourish.
Second of all, Pope Francis never once attacks capitalism, and he does not criticize the economic market of today because it takes too long ‘for poor to get rich’.
What he does criticize is the prevalent thought process in our world today that the fittest will survive and it is not their problem to defend and help the poor. He criticizes trickle-down theory because it contributes to the problem of thinking that it is someone else’s job to take care of the poor.
He also criticizes our cultures obsession with money, and how instead of the proper use for money to serve us, we are ruled by money.
This article criticizes Pope Francis for attacking capitalism, which he does not do, and not attacking capitalism for what it should be criticized for.
However, Pope Francis did not claim that he was going to offer a comprehensive exhortation on economics today. He is simply claiming “only to consider briefly, and from a pastoral perspective, certain factors which can restrain or weaken the impulse of missionary renewal in the Church” He even says “It is not the task of the Pope to offer a detailed and complete analysis of contemporary reality”
There is so much more to Catholic social teaching that an ‘imposition of moral obligation to act in charity’
Pope Francis isn’t telling people to give money to the poor and let them squander it, but he is telling people we need to care about the lowly and build them up.
The Catholic Church teaches that private ownership for man’s own sake is a natural and necessary right for man, but she teaches man not to become obsessed with possessions and money. In order to do this she teaches to give away your excess to help other people flourish and grow.
Overall, I think this article is very misinformed. It seems as if the author didn’t even read the actual apostolic exhortation that Pope Francis wrote. It is wrong about what the Church teaches, and it is presumptuous about Pope Francis’ comments on the problem economics has created in the culture. I mean right off the bat the author says “His encyclical is about economics” and it absolutely is not. The only reason Pope Francis brings up economics is to serve his greater goal of evangelizing the world and sharing the Joy of the Gospel.
If you would like to learn more about Catholic Social Teaching here are some resources:
Pope Leo XIII wrote Reurm Novarum in 1891 on the “Rights and Duties of Capital and Labor”
Pope Paul VI wrote Populorun Progressio in 1967 on The Development of People and the economy.
Pope Paul VI wrote Octogesima Adveniens in 1971 on securing democratic foundation in society
Pope John Paul II wrote Centesimus Annus in 1991 which examines contemporaneous political and economic issues.