In the months since Pope Francis released his 2013 apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Guadium, critics of his pontificate have seized upon remarks he made regarding trickledown economics. In his view, he wrote, the successful implementation of such theories “have never been confirmed by the facts.” Of course, many conservatives scoffed at this assertion, some of whom accused him outright of being a socialist or a communist.
But what Pope Francis was getting at, I think, is how a “new idolatry of money” has taken root — and ahold — of many of us. This leads inevitably to what Pope Francis describes as a “throw away” culture. Individuals too often place material success, wealth, and money above the needs of human beings in a capitalist system. Such self-centeredness “deadens us,” he argues; we become indifferent and callous to those who suffer. So while this is a rather sharp criticism of unfettered capitalism and capitalism in general, it is hardly a clarion call for Marxist revolution, either.
Earlier in the week Pope Francis gave a meeting with a number of communications students from Belgium. During the interview he specifically addressed charges that he was a communist. He said he wasn’t, of course, explaining instead where his passion for the poor comes from…