Tuesday, November 26, 2013
The Pope writes about capitalism and inequality...is anyone listening?
I wonder how it's going to play in the developed world.
Pope Francis has released what is known as an apostolic exhortation in which he criticizes the global economic system and characterizes "unfettered" capitalism as "tyranny". He goes even further, asking the rich, essentially, to share the wealth. Even more controversially - if that is possible - he tells political leaders that they need to "attack the structural causes of inequality." In fact, he reportedly calls specifically for a restructuring of the world financial system. Here is an analysis of the document posted on CNN.com.
That's a wide-ranging agenda, and I'm pretty sure that there are going to be people - the very people he is addressing - who are going to take issue with his exhortations.
Not that anyone should really be surprised that the Pope would produce such a document. After all, he has rejected living in the Apostolic Palace and is driven around in a Ford rather than a big, black limo. He also recently took steps against a spendthrift bishop.
Now, I'm not a Catholic, and I don't know how much force a document like this will have within the Catholic Church, much less on the secular leaders of the world. But I think some of the things he says here are important and must be said by someone who is in a position of power and influence, rather than just coming from people who don't have anything and keep getting accused by the 1 percent of just being a) greedy, b) lazy, c) Socialist, or d) all of the above.
Sort of like how the Tea Partiers here in the US talk about anyone who has the audacity to ask for just a little fairness and real equality.
It really is going to be interesting to see how the reaction to this shakes out, especially from some US politicians who are libertarian/Tea Party in their ideological bent but who portray themselves as devout Roman Catholics.
When I've found a translation of the document and read it, I might have more to say about what Pope Francis has written. Until then, I guess it will just be a waiting game to see what sort of commentary comes out in the media. I'm predicting either crickets, with political and economic leaders trying to ignore the Pope's ideas in hopes that his call for greater equality will go away, or else an outcry about how Pope Frances "just doesn't understand how the real world works."
I could be wrong, and I hope I am and that his ideas get not only a fair airing but spur people to action. But I'm not holding my breath on that.