Pope Francis is not a Marxist, but make no mistake: He will challenge the world’s leading capitalist power

To paraphrase a joke that circulates in Jesuit circles: Pope Francis is the best at humility. He proved it again on his plane ride home from South America when he frankly acknowledged that “it was an error of mine” not to have said more about the struggles of the world’s middle class. A sharply worded criticism of unfettered capitalism in Bolivia had been only his most recent denunciation of a throwaway economy and a demand for greater systemic attention to the continuing plight of the world’s poor.

During one of the off-the-papal-cuff news conferences that have become a hallmark of his pontificate, Pope Francis explained to reporters because the poor are at the “heart of the Gospel” they enjoy a preferential option for his attention.

Advertisement

But he also thanked a reporter for reminding him of his duty as well to advocate on behalf of the global middle class, and he assured that he would turn his attention to their concerns after proper Jesuitical due diligence of study and reflection.

While most may think a fellow like Francis could fall back on the purported infallibility of his office, this pontiff seems completely at ease with the fully human capacity to make a mistake and to accept corrections—even from as unlikely a source as a plane-load of reporters.

It was hardly his most significant apology that week, however. In the same speech in Bolivia, in fact, he followed up on a previous apology from Pope John Paul II to more humbly express regret for church transgressions against the native people of the new world.

His remarks in Latin America preview what are likely to be the major concerns of his unprecedented address before Congress in September. Those whose hearts beat a little faster during bedtime stories of 19th century laissez faire capitalism should buckle up when Francis comes to Washington. “An unfettered pursuit of money rules,” he said in Bolivia, leading to a benighted planet, poisoned with the “dung of the devil.” Not exactly subtle. But sometimes Pope Francis has to play prophet and say the hard things that might awaken first world consciences.

Read the rest at the Washington Post: "Pope Francis is not a Marxist, but make no mistake: He will challenge the world’s leading capitalist power."

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Chuck Kotlarz
2 years 10 months ago
The reporters on the plane also heard Pope Francis say, “I’ll tell you something that really struck me. In all three countries (Bolivia, Ecuador and Paraguay), all three, along the streets there were moms and dads with their children, showing their children. I’ve never seen so many kids! So many kids.”
Chuck Kotlarz
2 years 10 months ago
The Washington Post article notes, “This Latin American pope has had a front-seat view of the real world results of…the free market…which reads mostly benignly in economic textbooks but which can produce ugly outcomes outside the classroom.” Historically (1865 to 1932) US capitalism spent half the time wreaking ugly outcomes during recessions, economic panics and depressions. After FDR’s New Deal, economic contractions were limited to recessions and then only 15% of the time. Social Security was credited with virtually wiping out poverty among US elderly. Capitalism, however, has relentlessly sought to weaken and ultimately repeal the New Deal. For example, Glass-Steagall (1933-1999) banking regulation is gone. The gravity of a weakened New Deal perhaps shows in a comment by former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. “September and October of 2008 was the worst financial crisis in global history, including the Great Depression.”
Andrew Russell
2 years 10 months ago
Thanks for this great phrase, "Those whose hearts beat a little faster during bedtime stories of 19th century laissez faire capitalism should buckle up when Francis comes to Washington."

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

Chilean clerical sex abuse survivors Juan Carlos Cruz, James Hamilton and Jose Andres Murillo in Rome, May 2. The three met Pope Francis individually at the Vatican April 27-29. The Vatican announced on May 22 that a second group of abuse victims will visit the pope in June (CNS photo/Paul Haring).
The encounters will take place from June 1-3 at Santa Marta, the Vatican guesthouse where Francis lives.
Gerard O’ConnellMay 22, 2018
Pope Francis talks with Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, as they arrive for a meeting in the synod hall at the Vatican in this Feb. 13, 2015, file photo. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) 
Righteous call-outs should be patterned after Cardinal O’Malley’s rebuke of Pope Francis on sex abuse.
Simcha FisherMay 22, 2018
In May, my cousin Christina and her husband Tyler were murdered in their home.
John J. ConleyMay 22, 2018
Follow Father Arturo Sosa's first visit to the Jesuits in Canada!
America StaffMay 22, 2018