(image by AP)
Today, Pope Francis released an 84-page document, known as an apostolic exhortation, called an Official Platform for his papacy by Reuters. Frankly, most of it is arcane religious doctrine and prescriptions to this atheist, but the pope's economic plan ought to be of interest to everyone.
This pope lives simply, in a guest house, and has been known to wash the feet of ordinary people, despite having access to vast wealth, like all popes. Further, like his namesake, Saint Francis, he seems to sincerely wish to do something to combat poverty. However, most of the MSM articles are crafting his message in purely moral terms. From the Reuters article:
In (the document), Francis went further than previous comments criticizing the global economic system, attacking the "idolatry of money" and beseeching politicians to guarantee all citizens "dignified work, education and healthcare".
Did the pope just call for universal healthcare? Where was he when Obamacare ruled out the Public Option? On safer ground, the Reuters article continues:
(The pope) also called on rich people to share their wealth. "Just as the commandment 'Thou shalt not kill' sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say 'thou shalt not' to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills," Francis wrote in the document issued on Tuesday.
"How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses 2 points?"
This is safe territory for most media. "Just give a little more...share what you've made with those less fortunate," is safe because how much is enough? How much is too little? One could debate redistribution forever without addressing the reason for maldistribution in the first place.
Senator Bernie Sanders digs a bit further, recognizing the
pope's "past passionate criticism of the global financial system,
which has plunged more of the world into poverty while benefiting
the wealthy few."
In (the exhortation), economic inequality features as one of the issues Francis is most concerned about, and the 76-year-old pontiff calls for an overhaul of the financial system and warns that unequal distribution of wealth inevitably leads to violence.
"As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world's problems or, for that matter, to any problems," he wrote.
The pope is clearly not a believer in deregulated markets! What would (catholic) Ronald Reagan have thought?
But, there is more to the Pope's plan than just exhortations to -- somehow -- lessen the wealth gap. Although for some reason, none of the articles I found directly linked to the actual apostolic exhortation, I was able to find it here.
In chapter 2, section I, the pope writes of "SOME CHALLENGES OF TODAY'S WORLD," saying:
"52. In our time humanity is experiencing a turning-point in its history, as we can see from the advances being made in so many fields. We can only praise the steps being taken to improve people's welfare in areas such as health care, education and communications. At the same time we have to remember that the majority of our contemporaries are barely living from day to day, with dire consequences. A number of diseases are spreading. The hearts of many people are gripped by fear and desperation, even in the so-called rich countries. The joy of living frequently fades, lack of respect for others and violence are on the rise, and inequality is increasingly evident. It is a struggle to live and, often, to live with precious little dignity. This epochal change has been set in motion by the enormous qualitative, quantitative, rapid and cumulative advances occurring in the sciences and in technology, and by their instant application in different areas of nature and of life. We are in an age of knowledge and information, which has led to new and often anonymous kinds of power."