Writing in The Detroit News, Rev. Robert A. Sirico looks at Pope Francis’ recent Apostolic Exhortation, the “much talked about, but little-read” document titled “The Joy of the Gospel” with a special emphasis on how the pontiff understands the problem of poverty. The president and co-founder of the Acton Institute notes how Francis “speaks boldly through effective and moving gestures.” Excerpt:

It is no surprise that the man who took as his model and name the model of il poverello of Assisi would place the poor as a central concern of his pontificate: their dignity, their rights and their sustenance. Yet, the spontaneous gestures and the impromptu manner in which they are displayed ought not to beguile us into thinking this pope is offering a superficial dichotomy between left and right; between capitalism and socialism. To think that any pope, but especially this pope, is animated in his concern for the poor and vulnerable by a particular political ideology is to miss him completely.

While renouncing the notion that the market alone is sufficient to meet all human needs, Francis is also prepared to denounce a “welfare mentality” that creates a dependency on the part of the poor and reduces the Church to the role of being just another bureaucratic NGO. The complexity of his thought surprises some, on both the Right (some of whom worry, needlessly, that he is a liberation theologian) and the Left (who are already using his words to foment a political “Francis Revolution” in his name). Such tendencies reveal a rather anemic understanding of this man but also of Catholicism, which has historically been comfortable balancing the tensions of apparent paradoxes (Divine/human; Virgin/Mother; etc.). It is too facile a temptation to collapse 2,000 years of tradition, commentary and lived experience into four or five politically-correct hot button sound bites that are the priority, not of the Church, but of propagandists with an agenda.

Read “Pope Francis, without the politics” by Rev. Robert A. Sirico in The Detroit News.

12 Day: Defending the Free Market: The Moral Case for a Free Economy

12 Day: Defending the Free Market: The Moral Case for a Free Economy

Father Sirico argues that a free economy actually promotes charity, selflessness, and kindness, and why free-market capitalism is not only the best way to ensure individual success and national prosperity but is also the surest route to a moral and socially-just society.

Visit the official website at www.defendingthefreemarket.com


  • rodlarocque1931

    Would it be too much to expect the pope to stop feeding all these ‘misunderstandings’ of what he is ‘really’ trying to say?
    Seriously – when the Vatican spokesman needs to clarify that the Pope has not abolished sin, there is something seriously wrong going on…

    • Steven Hunter

      Perhaps. It seems to me, though, that the misunderstandings are in fact a willful distortion on the part of a media which neither understands Catholic social teaching nor cares that it doesn’t understand. If there was informed, responsible reporting on this papacy, I don’t think these sorts of clarifications would be required. Most faithful Catholics can see plainly what the Pope is doing and know that he hasn’t changed doctrine or any church teaching.

  • Paul H.

    The right-wing political activist religious group, the Acton Institute, calls on people to take the politics out of religion. Moving on…

    • Fr. Robert Sirico

      The “right-wing” of which you speak actually calls for less government, hence less politics. Glad you’re moving on.

  • timothygordon

    http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org/2014/01/critique-crypto-catholic-culture-pope-francis-may-saying.html. Someone please direct Gregg and Sirico to this article of mine in Imaginitove Conservative.

  • Dr. Charlie Self

    Father Sirico, thank your these insightful words on a new leader of more than one billion believers. The instant nature of communication and “reporting” can distort what history will place in context. May our gracious Lord bless Francis with Gospel wisdom and favor with seekers and skeptics as he calls all to faith operating through love.

  • Momo

    Can someone explain his comment about deciding for yourself what is right? And saying that the biggest problem is unemployment? Really, because being no one goes to Hell for being poor. In fact, Jesus suggests is an easier route than if u r rich. I think that this world is temporary and the biggest problems are those that lead to eternal damnation. I think the Pope is a great man but I’m worried he’s not a great Catholic. Please comment.