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Video: Rev. Robert A. Sirico Comments on the Economic Views of Pope Francis in ‘Evangelii Gaudium’

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In this short talk, Rev. Robert A. Sirico, co-founder and president of the Acton Institute, offers some general observations about the new “Apostolic Exhortation” published Nov. 26 by Pope Francis. Specifically, Rev. Sirico addresses the economic content of the work, titled “Evangelii Gaudium” (The Joy of the Gospel) and poses some questions for further reflection. And please take a moment to watch this PovertyCure trailer also posted here.

John Couretas John Couretas is Director of Communications, responsible for print and online communications at the Acton Institute. He has more than 20 years of experience in news and publishing fields. He has worked as a staff writer on newspapers and magazines, covering business and government. John holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in the Humanities from Michigan State University and a Master of Science Degree in Journalism from Northwestern University.


  • Dbev

    Great reflection Father Sirico. Please keep the video posts coming. God bless.

  • StrictConstitutionalist

    Excellent commentary, free markets under the rule of law are the answer to the cry of the poor.
    Please keep up the good work.

  • Jorge Fabre

    Many thanks for this format. Many thanks for sharing tour analysis, it is very interesting and it encourages our work.

  • David

    After hearing about “Evangelii Gaudium” discussed by the MSM I am thankful for Father Sirico’s response. I plan to read the Pope’s writings. Its seems Pope Francis has people talking.

  • Greg Hadley

    I was extremely impressed with Fr. Sirico’s video comments on “Evangelii Gaudium.” I would most enjoy seeing similar presentations from Fr. Sirico in the future

  • Wake52

    This is so careful, so cautious, so general that it failed to register. Those of us who are “conservative” Catholics are more than a little horrified by how superficial and pandering this pope seems. His version of liberation theology, not surprising from a Latin American Jesuit, is distressingly at odds with history, with reality, with logic. This Pope advocates a view of the world and of economic, social and political values that will make him a darling of the left but result in more poverty, oppression, and injustice – he has done nothing in this document to help them. How sad. Frankly how backward.

    This pope’s life and pronouncements seem to be consistently in search for approval by the elite urban left , a life and pronouncements designed to show that he too is hip. He seems to be about currying favor with the cool rather than leading us to Christ.

    Please be a little more pointed and forceful next time, Fr. You don’t have to be insulting.. But your video came across as a long mumble. Those of us who believe and who think can use some encouragement in the face of this pope’s silliness. We look to people like you to provide that. But it will take more starch than is evident, here.

  • David W. Bryant

    Bravo Father Sirico! I sincerely believe that your thoughts, questions, and concerns are exactly what the Pope was hoping for in the release of this exhortation. After reading the exhortation and hearing your words, I believe this work is not only directed to the materially poor, but also to the spiritually poor. When you read no. 203 together with no. 206, the message is clear: Economics (referenced to oikonomos) is much more than capitalism, free markets, etc. By biblical definition, economics is stewardship! It’s through this stewardship that trade builds and sustains community. These are ideas that have been whitewashed to make us “spiritually poor.” Finally, I commend the great work of Acton and the Poverty Cure. Additionally, I love this video format. Keep fighting the good fight. Godspeed!

  • D. W. Bryant

    Bravo Father Sirico! I sincerely believe that your thoughts, questions, and concerns are exactly what the Pope was hoping for in the release of this exhortation. After reading the exhortation and hearing your words, I believe this work is not only directed to the materially poor, but also to the spiritually poor. When you read no. 203 together with no. 206, the message is clear: Economics (referenced to oikonomos) is much more than capitalism, free markets, etc. By biblical definition, economics is stewardship! It’s through this stewardship that trade builds and sustains community. Unfortunately, these ideas have been whitewashed by various outlets to make us “spiritually poor.” Finally, I commend the great work of Acton and the Poverty Cure. Additionally, I love this video format. Keep fighting the good fight. Godspeed!

  • MTR

    I was rather disturbed by the Pope’s comments on economics.
    It sounded like an exhortation for big governments to steal from the “rich”
    through the coercive power of taxation and give to the poor. He seems to
    forget that what this does is enrich and concentrate power in government
    bureaucracies, without really helping the poor only making them dependent.

    I think economic principles of free markets, as the engine of economic growth,
    should be taught to all priests in the seminaries so they can differentiate
    between true charity, which is freely given, and coercion.

    Of course people need to be well catechized so they would know that we are “our
    brother’s keeper” and must be generous in sharing the blessings they enjoy if
    they are to be true followers of Christ.

  • rodlarocque1931

    This Pope is way over his head and should have never been chosen as Pope.
    The Holy Spirit guides the Cardinals but doesn’t stop them from making a mistake, and they have made a huge one.
    His economic ‘opinions’ are old leftover socialist marxist drivel from the 70’s and his anti-traditionalism is moderism on crack. How a pope can say things like “ong held and venerable traditions may need to be abandoned is beyond me, considering Vatican I clearly defined that the Pope’s only job is to defend the traditions handed down to him.
    The precedence has been set, Pope’s can resign….Holy Father please resign.

    • Resigning only gives the appearance to the world that the Church is a representative governmental system…

  • KevinKillion

    “Wake52” expresses it perfectly. While I’m an enthusiastic supporter of
    Acton in general and Father Sirico in particular, this video is way too
    slow and tame. It may be somewhat helpful in soothing some concerns by free
    marketers over this Jesuit Pope’s apparent leftward leanings, but it’s insufficient for anyone else.

  • I would like to see more commentary on #253 of the Apostolic Exhortation.
    Specifically, for authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence.

    Now, anyone who has read even a little bit of the Qur’an knows this is just absolutely false.
    The method of avoiding contradiction in the Qur’an, because there are many, is such that older writings of Mahomet are superseded by the newer writings. It just so happens that the older writings are the peaceful and the latter are the warring, “kill the infidel” type writings.
    Muslims who understand this use this to their advantage all the time. Surely the Pope isn’t ignorant to this.

    So, is this “pastoral” language?
    Let’s just hope he doesn’t start kissing Qur’ans like the soon-to-be-canonized Pope John Paul II.

  • Note and Query

    A tempered response. There’s obviously a lot to digest from this new 224-page document. But can we really talk about any particular point in it without reference to Jesus and the saving work in his death and resurrection, indeed what the Joy of the Gospel is? All else is subordinated to that key concern, even these passing remarks on the limits of markets (which aren’t the same thing as an affirmation of statism). Neither markets nor governments serve Christ the King. Isn’t that his point? Isn’t it important to put that in context before drilling down into the particulars? Misunderstanding will surely result if you don’t….

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  • Gotomary

    Excellent commentary. Good intentions do not end poverty! Increasing the welfare state destroys the dignity of people able to work. We are definitely on the wrong path in the USA. Regarding the papacy, the progressives are still celebrating. II is disconcerting to say the least and I am searching for some explanation that makes sense. The latest pronouncement of decentralizing the authority of Rome is of major concern. Perhaps you would elaborate on that topic. Thank you!

    • Recon5

      ” Regarding the papacy, the progressives are still celebrating. II is disconcerting to say the least and I am searching for some explanation that makes sense. ”

      These are the same people that use Matthew to accuse Perry of being hypocrite for “preaching in the public square”, and fail to understand that it was the Pharisees false piety, not preaching, in the public square that Matthew called hypocritical.

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  • Raymond Lepetit

    P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; }

    In Rerum Novarum Pope Leo XIII
    proclaims: “It must be first of all recognized that
    the condition of things inherent in human affairs must be borne with,
    for it is impossible to reduce civil society to one dead level.
    Socialists may in that intent do their utmost, but all striving
    against nature is in vain. There naturally exist among mankind
    manifold differences of the most important kind; people differ in
    capacity, skill, health, strength; and unequal fortune is a necessary
    result of unequal condition. Such unequality is far from being
    disadvantageous either to individuals or to the community. Social and
    public life can only be maintained by means of various kinds of
    capacity for business and the playing of many parts; and each man, as
    a rule, chooses the part which suits his own peculiar domestic

    In Evangelii Gaudium Pope Francis claims: “Inequality is the root of social

    May the Holy Spirit guide our current
    Holy Father to appreciate the wisdom of his predecessors!

  • Bernie O’shea

    I am somewhat astounded at Father Sirico’s total embrace of the ideology of the free – market and taking no cognizance of just where this form of operating economies in the West has led us . I am simply a small business operator and former failed agri investor so mixing it with the powerful intellects like Father Sirico, as they say in OZ, is punching way above my weight. Nonetheless, it boils down to two options. Either one’s country embraces an operating economy which is PRODUCTIVE in nature as against one which is totally SPECULATIVE which Our Holy Father Benedict stated was the principal cause of the GFC. in addition, anyone who believes that an economic system that permits one man to enjoy a salary of circa $20million and the lowest paid to receive $7.50per hour which I understand is the case in the USof A ( as related in a recent interview I witnessed on Huckbee), will survive would believe anything. Unfortunately , history relates endless incidents of catastrophic proportions.

    • Wake52

      Bernie, adoption of free market principles in the west has lead to the widest, deepest, most dramatic increase in wealth, standard of living, longevity, literacy, political rights, human rights in history. Overwhelmingly.

      Think about it. Take a year, say 1750, and go to your local library or the Internet and see if you can get a sense of the population in Britain, for instance, and then see if you can get a sense off longevity, literacy, standard of living, average wealth. Or do the same for the USA in 1800. Or France, or any of the Western Nations. Roll forward to 1990 pr 2000 or 2010 ( if the data is available). Compare the early data to the late data.

      You will see that not only has the population grown dramatically over the last 200 yrs plus but every measure of the quality of life has improved even more dramatically. Average income is sharply higher, as is length of life, as is literacy, as is education, as is every measure of standard of living – housing, calories, transportation, heat, light, possessions, vacations (for pete’s sake). And this is not concentrated in an elite. These improvements are everywhere. They reach into every level of society. The AVERAGE improvement has been dramatic. 200 or 250 years ago these measures were all in the control of a tiny authoritarian elite perched on the top of society and based on religion, race, or a hereditary nobility. All of those were effectively blown away during the last 200 years. During this period the great mass democracies evolved, along with the rule of law, and open societies.

      None of this had happened before. Certainly not in socialist societies. Certainly not in the Medieval alms like redistribution that Francis seems to cling to. So why did it happen in the West and the Anglo American West particularly. And only in the last 200 years? And why is it than when other countries adopt the principles of the West they too blossom, and grow in standard of living and eventually in human rights? Why?

      The answer is that about 200 years ago the west began to develop what we essentially think of as Modern Societies. This revolution was driven by the growth of free markets, the rule of law, the rights of the individual, small government.

      The very things that you seem to dislike. Your contrast of the terms speculation with productivity makes a classic leftist mistake. “Speculation” is not a dirty word. Productivity comes from speculation. Speculation is risk taking. Risk taking to create a new technology, or to start a new business, or to invest in someone else’s business, to search for oil, to build a railroad, to start a factory, to introduce a new product, to decide to go to college, to build a house. Some “speculation” works and some does not – but to think that the speculation and productivity are opposed is to misunderstand both. They cannot live without one another.

      And that’s why cultures like the old USSR and other socialist ventures that try to prevent “speculation” in favor of “productivity” end up with neither, but instead are stagnant, impoverished. How can anyone honestly look at the past 200 years and not see this played out over and over and over. And yet people continue to cling to this hoary old Marxist fairy tale about speculators and productivity. are enemies. Francis clings to it as well and seems silly and Medieval to me. The opposite of progressive.

      So where has the free market “ideology” led us in the west, Brian? To an extraordinary pitch of social and human success. What threatens it? Marxism and Socialism. Both of which are reactionary in essence, anti modern: misunderstanding the market, misunderstanding speculation and productivity, misunderstanding history and economics. Misunderstanding Catholicism, so it seems.

    • Derek

      Bernie, as with most people who look at income disparity, you make the mistake of taking a snapshot in time and then assuming in continues through the future forever. The fact is the person making $20 million and the person making $7.50 are very different people and will not continue to make those same wages in the future. Over 90% of the people in the US who make the minimum wage are high school and college age kids working part time jobs. They have little skill to offer an employer and so they get paid little, but this opportunity allows them to gain skills and earn more later in life. My first job I earned only $4.50 per hour (minimum age at the time), however 17 years later I make much more and able to provide a very good middle class life for my family. The person making $20 million will typically not make that for long either. A few top CEO may make that for a while, but then they typically retire or move on to start a new company. Here is an interesting statistic, when you look at the actual people in various income brackets over the years something amazing jumps out. In a decades time, more people from the bottom 20% income bracket will move into the top 20% than people will stay in the top 20%. Income mobility is more important than income equality, the goal should be to adopt policies that allow people to move up the income ladder of their life span.

  • petersohn

    To all who think he’s being too timid, Francis can transfer Fr. to a Sibrerian diocese at the drop of a hat. For this reason alone the good Fr. is wisely treading lightly.

  • Paul S.

    “Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.”

    Let’s not pretend for a minute this Pope isn’t directly criticizing the principles that Acton stands for. What a shame.

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  • Dave

    Thank you for the reflection. Please continue with these video commentaries – they’re a great way to get digestible lessons and they’re very helpful for passing along to friends.

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  • David

    Why doesn’t Fr. Sirico just try to get a direct interview with Pope Francis like all these other journalists have? That would be wonderful and it wouldn’t hurt to just ask.

  • mainpain

    Fr Sirico, there is much more in this exhortation than the financial and markets comments, which proportionally are small, I would be interested in hearing your take on the majority of this document. Perhaps on the corrective aspects aimed at the clericalism that has plagued our Church for so many centuries, or perhaps sound preaching, taking the Good News to the lost, on developing a more holy life, on women in ministry or the more active role laity should be taking in the day to day function of the Catholic Church.

    thank you
    p.s. cradle Catholic and very active in our local parish and community and support the more active assistance to the poor and to social justice where we may better reveal the love of Christ as our motives.

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  • LongIslandMichael

    Thanks Father Sirico. This video was very informative and I do like the format of having video to watch and listen.

  • Jack Wirelength

    More YouTube commentaries please!

  • Christy Leskovar

    Indeed, where are those unfettered markets. Very helpful video, Father S. Good to have video and print, some will watch, some will read. Seems nothing is real these days without video.

  • Maricel

    Thank you Father Siricco for this video.I´m from Argentina, and always try to read about you, since your last visit to our country. It´s so difficult to find such a clear mind!

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  • Bidget

    Part of the reason the ‘poorest of the poor’ are poor is because they are destroyed in their mothers womb.
    There are poor of ignorant who have not been raised in the Gospel.
    Economic poverty is maintained by those governments refusing to distribute aide given to their people.
    John Paul II lived and worked his whole life preaching dignity of work and evils of Marxism/ Socialism.
    Pray for this pope . I find in interesting we have not heard out of his own mouth his take on this latest writing. Who surrounds him to influence possble change his translation…? These days one has to be careful and cautious what they read discerning if it is truly from the original source.

  • Clifford Stevens

    Pope Francis writes against the very Free Markey Economy that Father Sirico defends,
    What kind of a contradiction is this?
    Father Clifford Stevens
    Boys Town, Nebraska

  • It seems to me that the Holy Father’s economic thought has been mis-informed by the local economic debate in Latin America between the only political forces present, the center-left and the far-left. Therefore, the debate is whether the Latin American economy should like either the EU or Cuba. To the most vocal far-left accuses the center-left of being for free markets for their privatization of state companies years ago. But, in actuality, the center-left follows the EU-like crony-capitalism and flirts with capitalism of state.

    One ignorant that these references are relative, might consider his experience as representative of economic realities and miss their misnomers, buying into the far-left’s rhetoric, if not its practice, and condemning the center-left practice, if not is rhetoric.

  • Kimberly

    Love love love the audio and video resources!!! Thank you so much and please continue!!

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