Pope Francis will begin a tour of Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay on Sunday, returning to the continent of his birth for the first time since his election in 2013 and visiting areas of extreme poverty. Peter Johnson, the Acton Institute’s external relations officer, told the Associated Press that the pontiff’s criticism of the free market neglects to account for the economic improvements made in Latin America in the last decade.
The three countries on Francis’ tour all have made economic advances over the last decade, improvements that business leaders say have come thanks, in part, to the very sort of capitalistic ventures the pope recently has criticized as materialistic.
Bolivia, for example, has cut the number of people living in extreme poverty from 37 percent to 19 percent in less than a decade due in large part to increased natural gas exports under President Evo Morales.
“Francis is constantly impugning the free market and never holding up the good that it can do,” said Peter Johnson from the Acton Institute, a Grand Rapids, Michigan-based think tank focused on the intersection of economics and religion.
Johnson lived and worked in Paraguay with the Peace Corps in the early 2000s. In response to Pope Francis’s recent eco-encyclical Laudato Si’, Johnson recently wrote that the pope’s goodwill toward the poor is wonderful, but displays “a very romanticized—almost Rousseauian—view of subsistence farming.”
And while Pope Francis clearly has a heart for the poor—in much the same way I do—I am also very troubled by the overall economic incoherence of his message.
Read the full text of the AP story here.