When Pope Francis issued his sweeping exhortation, “The Joy of the Gospel,” last November, there was a great deal of focus — and gnashing of teeth on the right — over his blasts at capitalism and in particular his dismissal of the “trickle-down” theories favored by conservatives who want to cut taxes for the wealthy and cut benefits for the poor:

That theory “expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system,” Francis wrote. “Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed.”

Many on the right offered one or several of these explanations for Francis’ comments, which were consistent with his many other criticisms of today’s capitalist economics:

  • The pope was talking about capitalism in his native Argentina, not in places like the U.S. and the industrialized West;
  • The pope was talking about “crony capitalism” of the kind that even conservatives condemn;
  • The pope is not criticizing genuine capitalism because almost every country regulates the marketplace to some degree thus inhibiting economic growth;
  • Poverty and income inequality aren’t that bad and that’s because of capitalism;
  • The pope just doesn’t know what he’s talking about and should stick to other topics.

Well, Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich is not from Latin America, he knows what he is talking about, and he says the idea that capitalism has never been properly tried is silly — and he says it in the latest edition of the Vatican daily, L’Osservatore Romano:

“To think that somewhere there are pure markets which give rise to the good through free competition is mere ideology,” wrote Marx, who is one of the pope’s “Gang of Eight” special advisers. “Capitalism should not become the model of society” because “it does not take into account individual destinies, the weak and the poor.”

He noted that “The call to think beyond capitalism is not a struggle against the market economy,” but, according to Catholic World News, he wrote that an economic vision that “reduces economic action to capitalism has chosen the morally wrong starting point.”

Catholic social teaching offers the “spiritual foundations of a social market economy” but  “these ideas have never played a real role.”

“The future is not capitalism,” he concludes, “but rather a world community that leaves more space to the model of responsible freedom and that does not accept that people, groups, and individuals are excluded and marginalized.”


  1. Earold Gunter

    I must admit a guilty pleasure watching the writhing of those politically far right to the direction the Catholic Church appears to be taking. Those far right enough to arrogantly ignore the overall message of being kind to those who are less fortunate, which is the core message to be found in the stories of their savior Jesus in the NT.

    Since this message does not not fit in with their political perspective, which includes a “tough love” mentality for humanity less fortunately than them, and of course the unquestionable goodness of unfettered capitalism, which has been proven by not good at all by the increased disparity between those that have and those that don’t, they twist the meaning of it, in order to justify the lack of humanity they display towards their fellow man.

    They also selectively pick out scriptural laws which supports their anti-social political views. This scripture is of course designed to control people, mostly their sexuality. Then with unmitigated hypocrisy, they claim they are closer to their God because they support their selected laws than those who actually work towards the betterment of their fellow man.

    Unfortunately the scriptural support they use is also easily found in the Bible, mostly in the OT. There are many “Laws” to be found there, laws of a God who is jealous, murderous, merciless, and displays nothing less than psychopathic behavior. Laws which are totally void of acceptable morals as are understood by most humans in the world today; morals that have nothing positive to add to humans flourishing.

    Until religion no longer impacts my life in any way, I will remain absolutely opposed to its existence. Religion is poison for humans, and does much more harm than good.

    Until is is completely gone though, which will more than likely not be in my lifetime, I will still get guilty pleasure from watching the pain of those that use religion as an excuse to step on their fellow man in order to get more rewards in this life, while hypocritically claiming their true treasure awaits them in another life.

  2. Cardinal Marx’s comments are nothing new. One is suspect when words like
    “world community” are used. What exactly does that mean?
    “World Peace” sounds wonderful until you see what is really happening in the
    world. Until something better comes along that takes man out of poverty by
    creating wealth, Capitalism will remain. Even the Chinese Communist figured
    that out. In the USA, one party and one President think simply giving to
    others is good. Making a segment of society depend on government is evil to me. Capitalism must be refined but not eliminated. All dictators started out
    promising paradise on earth which will never be. I know what the Cardinal is
    saying and I understand his altruistic heart. Do good always. But then we have
    that terrible character, man. There is not one or simple solution. It will require much hard work among good men to move forward on this worthy endeavor.

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