By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Pope commits to studying critiques of his criticism of capitalism
Pope Francis says, "If I dont dialogue with those who criticize then I have no right to express an opinion." - photo by Mark A. Kellner
After a weeklong South American visit in which he delivered direct criticism of "unbridled capitalism," Pope Francis returned to the Vatican on Monday pledging to listen to critics of his views.

In one lengthy speech filled with denunciations of the exploitation of the poor, Pope Francis blasted the unbridled pursuit of money as "the dung of the devil" during one of the stops on his visit to Bolivia, Reuters news agency reported.

"This system is by now intolerable: farm workers find it intolerable, laborers find it intolerable, communities find it intolerable, people find it intolerable," the 78-year-old pontiff said. "The earth itself our sister, Mother Earth, as Saint Francis would say also finds it intolerable."

Writing at, Andrew Stuttaford said, "The (pope's) distaste for free trade, complete with scare quotes of course, harks back to the Peronist preference for economic autarchy that marked the Argentina of his youth."

Francis' criticisms of capitalism are not new, but part of a recurring theme in his 28-month papacy. Shortly after his election to the office, posters went up around Buenos Aires declaring the new pontiff was both an Argentinian and a "Peronist," or follower of the political philosophy of former dictator Juan Pern.

In November 2013, publishing his first "apostolic exhortation," the pope wrote, "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 nave trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralised workings of the prevailing economic system."

This spring, writing in "Laudato S," his May 2015 encyclical on the environment, Francis included several comments on the global economy, saying care for the planet is linked to economics in many ways.

"The financial crisis of 2007-08 provided an opportunity to develop a new economy, more attentive to ethical principles, and new ways of regulating speculative financial practices and virtual wealth," he wrote. "But the response to the crisis did not include rethinking the outdated criteria which continue to rule the world."

Francis' comments drew a rebuff from Samuel Gregg, research director at the Acton Institute, a free market think tank headed by the Rev. Robert A. Sirico, a Catholic priest.

"Its hard not to view some of this language as bordering on populism. The not-so-veiled claim that people who favor free markets are being disingenuous is a serious allegation, one that isnt sustained by the briefest of glances at the writings and actions of many free market thinkers ranging from Wilhelm Rpke to Adam Smith himself," Gregg wrote in The American Spector.

According to Vatican Radio, the pope is ready to hear other economic viewpoints. Speaking with reporters on his return flight to Rome, Francis said, "Every criticism must be received, studied and then talked through. If I dont dialogue with those who criticize then I have no right to express an opinion."

The news service reported "in preparation for the visit to the United States, (Francis said he) now needs to begin studying these criticisms in order to prepare to dialogue."

Another reporter, according to Vatican Radio, "while recognizing Pope Francis as a champion of the poor asked (Francis) why he doesnt also defend the middle class. The Pope thanked him for the observation, acknowledging that 'polarization' is causing the middle class to shrink. He also promised 'dig deeper into the Churchs teaching' in this regard."
Sign up for our E-Newsletters