Having grown up Catholic, and with a mother enamored with the “peace and justice” movement and who was also very active within the Church, I think I have a reasonably good concept of where this pope is coming from on the issue of capitalism. He sees it as oppressive, not a tool for liberation, and this is a terrible shame.
I believe that the pope is most concerned with “crony capitalism” and not actual voluntary exchange capitalism, though he doesn’t make the distinction. He is concerned with the system which exacerbates inequality and which is gamed for the insiders. But it does not appear that he understands why this is so. He does not seem to see that the state, that all too human construct, is what makes crony capitalism and much of the trouble he sees in the world possible.
Is free market capitalism perfect? No. Nothing is. The definition of “perfection” varies by person so certainly actual real capitalism can’t be “perfect.” But a world without state coercion, which respects the individual and individual initiative, one in which the voluntary exchange of goods and services is respected, is far and above the tragic history of collectivism (of one kind or another) which has been human existence. A history which sadly is drenched in blood and in which Pope Francis’s Church (and even to this day is still mine in many respects) has played a vital role. (And I think he would likely acknowledge this.)
Pope Francis appears to be influenced quite a lot by the politics of his home country Argentina which came to embrace a quazi-fascist system called Peronism mid-20th Century. This system took Argentina from a position of immense wealth, surpassing even the USA at the time, too second rate status, and in many respects now 3 rate. Such a philosophy is a recipe for economic disaster and should be understood as such even if the siren song is sung by the Holy Father, who is after all, human.
The pope has criticized ‘‘an economy of exclusion and inequality,’’ saying ‘‘such an economy kills.’’ He has spoken of the ‘‘right of control of states’’ to impose limits on the ‘‘absolute autonomy’’ of markets and financial speculation…
…Nor is he an ignoramus; Sachs added he has ‘‘studied deeply and widely’’ and been advised by scientists including many Nobel laureates.*
Not that Francis reads economic treatises. ‘‘The pope doesn’t follow any particular school of economics,’’ said Tornielli. ‘‘What inspires him is what he has lived through, including a huge economic crisis in Argentina, and the social doctrine of the church.’’
It is too bad Francis didn’t draw the right conclusions from the economic crisis in Argentina however.
*It must be pointed out that a Nobel Prize, like the Papacy, is no indication of infallibility. President Obama, just as an example “won” a Nobel Peace Prize and he has warred across the globe even assassinating US citizens without trial in violation of the Constitution. Paul Krugman, who it appears was drummed out of Princeton for what some see as “intellectual dishonesty” also won a Nobel Prize.