On Pope Francis and Free Markets

by Ramesh Ponnuru

My new Bloomberg column discusses his recent comments about economic matters. An excerpt:

He says that violence is on the rise and that its root cause is increasing inequality. “But until exclusion and inequality in society and between peoples are reversed, it will be impossible to eliminate violence,” he writes. (Surely the main clause of that sentence could have stood alone.) “Inequality eventually engenders a violence which recourse to arms cannot and never will be able to resolve.” Actually, there is good evidence that both violence and economic inequality are falling globally. . . .

Much of Francis’s economic thought . . . seems to rest on the identification of free markets with extreme individualism. A generation ago, the writer Michael Novak and others were instrumental in persuading many American Catholics that markets could instead enable a creative form of community. The pope’s remarks suggest that this type of evangelizing still needs to be done.

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