Vatican's New Bogeyman: Capitalism, Not Communism

Pope Francis' condemnation of trickle-down theory is a shift: Essayist
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 27, 2013 1:07 PM CST
Pope Francis arrives for his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Wednesday.   (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

(Newser) – Pope Francis' blistering attack yesterday on the "tyranny" of unchecked capitalism in general and trickle-down economics in particular marks a fundamental shift in church thinking, writes Emma Green at the Atlantic. A half-century ago, the church largely condemned communism and embraced democracy, along with its underlying free-market system. The pope made clear yesterday that those days are long gone. "This is more than just a lecture about ethics," writes Green. "It’s a statement about who should control financial markets." And Francis clearly believes "the global economy needs more government control—an argument that would have been unthinkable for the pope just 50 years ago."

In the longer view, popes have been railing against the abuses of capitalism for more than a century, writes Tim Fernholz at Quartz. (He's got the excerpts to prove it.) Still, Francis' approach seems different, adds James Downie at the Washington Post. For one thing, he backs up his talk in the humble way that he leads his own life. "The fact is that Francis is only saying what more and more people in the United States and around the world recognize: The increasing inequality of recent decades 'cannot be the basis of hope for a better future,'" writes Downie. "Now if only our leaders would listen." (Read more Pope Francis stories.)

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