In his first official document, Pope Francis speaks out against inequality and dismisses trickle-down economics as “crude and naive.”
Pope Francis released Tuesday his first official document since becoming pope in March. The document, entitled “Evangelii Gaudium” or “The Joy of the Gospel,” makes the usual calls to Christians, asking Catholics to renew their relationships with God and evangelize, but it also takes a firm stance against persistent economic inequality.
The document contains sections entitled “No to an economy of exclusion,” “No to the new idolatry of money,” and “No to the inequality which spawns violence.”
“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?” Pope Francis writes in the 224-page document.
Perhaps most strikingly, Francis lashes out specifically against one of the more famous economic theories of the 20th century – the trickle-down economics embraced by the Reagan administration. Not only does he argue that he does not believe in this theory; he argues there is no evidence that it works.
“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,” he writes. “Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.”
“In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule,” he writes.
“Just as goodness tends to spread, the toleration of evil, which is injustice, tends to expand its baneful influence and quietly to undermine any political and social system, no matter how solid it may appear. … We are far from the so-called ‘end of history,’ since the conditions for a sustainable and peaceful development have not yet been adequately articulated and realized,” Pope Francis writes.