Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium continues to stimulate conversation, especially in the arena of economics. According to Francis X. Rocca at the Catholic News Service, many are heralding the pope’s call for doing away with “an ‘economy of exclusion and inequality’ based on the ‘idolatry of money.’”
Sam Gregg, Acton’s Director of Research, weighed in on the pope’s economic viewpoint.
There’s plenty of evidence out there, from the World Bank for example, suggesting that the number of people in absolute poverty over the past 30 years has shrunk dramatically, that in parts of the world, such as East Asia, we’ve seen a lot of people get out of poverty, and we’ve seen the emergence of large middle classes in countries like China and India,” said Samuel Gregg, research director at the Acton Institute and author of “Tea Party Catholic.”
Gregg also argues that the financial sector and the economy in general are already highly regulated, at both the national and international levels, and that, “aside from one or two anarcho-capitalists who spend most of their time talking to each other and have no influence on the conduct of public policy,” no economists today seriously argue that markets should be absolutely autonomous.
Oblate Father Seamus Finn, director of the U.S. Missionary Oblates’ office for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation, says that the pope has noted that business is a “noble vocation” and that this document from Pope Francis is an opportunity to invite dialogue about business in a positive light.
That’s got to be one of the key conversations for the Vatican, for bishops’ conferences and for the church, a realistic conversation with people in business,” he said. “They’re the people on the front line of this Wall Street-Main Street tension.”
In Tea Party Catholic, Samuel Gregg draws upon Catholic teaching, natural law theory, and the thought of the only Catholic Signer of America's Declaration of Independence, Charles Carroll of Carrollton—the first “Tea Party Catholic”—to develop a Catholic case for the values and institutions associated with the free economy, limited government, and America's experiment in ordered liberty. Beginning with the nature of freedom and human flourishing, Gregg underscores the moral and economic benefits of business and markets as well as the welfare state's problems. Gregg then addresses several related issues that divide Catholics in America. These include the demands of social justice, the role of unions, immigration, poverty, and the relationship between secularism and big government.