The Pope has made his opposition to capitalism clear and his words were scathing…
“Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills… A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules. To all this we can add widespread corruption and self-serving tax evasion, which has taken on worldwide dimensions. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits.”
This has led to praise and criticism from the right and the left. People have naturally views this within the right vs left dichotomy. I think it worth pointing out that libertarians of all varieties do not fit anywhere, comfortably, in this one dimensional paradigm, nor aught the Pope be expected to. He has been called a Marxist and had the economic failing of state socialism in Latin America and around the world flagged up, the assumption seems to be that if he is against the present model of capitalism he must be a socialist. The problem is the Pope may have made clear that he is in opposition to our present economic model he has not made clear what else he is against, (socialism) or what he supports.
What he has said on the matter and the clues to what he supports are as follows “I repeat: I did not talk as a specialist but according to the social doctrine of the church. And this does not mean being a Marxist.” The Pope indicates here that his stance on economics is only that which the Church has long-held. That he is simply re-iterating it’s doctrine, the only economic ideology based upon catholic social doctrine is Distributism… It is based on the teachings of Pope Leo XIII in his encyclical Rerum Novarum and Pope Pius XI in Quadragesimo Anno, and it is emphatically opposed to socialism. In the words one who inspired it:
“No one can be at the same time a sincere Catholic and a true Socialist” and “it is gravely wrong to take from individuals what they can accomplish by their own initiative and industry and give it to the community” – Pius XI.
The Popes Francis’s words on capitalism were no less scathing than his predecessor’s in Rerum Novarum. Pope Leo XIII spoke of “misery and wretchedness pressing so unjustly on the majority of the working class” and how “a small number of very rich men” had been able to “lay upon the teeming masses of the labouring poor a yoke little better than that of slavery itself.” And Pope Francis’s use of the term “exclusion” I’d argue meaning exclusion from personal access to property, and the means to produce are a further clue to his distributist leanings.
So what do these distributists profess if they oppose both socialism and capitalism?
According to distributists, property ownership is a fundamental right and the means of production should be spread as widely as possible rather than being centralized under the control of the state (state socialism) or of accomplished individuals (laissez-faire capitalism). Distributism therefore advocates a society marked by widespread property ownership and, according to co-operative economist Race Mathews, maintains that such a system is key to bringing about a just social order. – Wikipedia
In truth we cannot know where the Pope stands on socialism other than what he has said. Until he say’s otherwise I think it’s safe to say there is no reason to suspect he is a socialist, or that his position is anything other than that which the church has long-held.
- Samuel Allen