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Pope Francis: Moral Leadership for the Economy

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In his message for the World Day of Peace on January 1, Pope Francis criticizes “the greedy pursuit of material goods on the one hand, and the impoverishment of interpersonal and community relations on the other” which have pushed people to “seek satisfaction, happiness, and security in consumption and earnings out of all proportion to the principles of a sound economy” and led to serious economic crises.

When Rush Limbaugh labeled the pope’s criticism of “unfettered capitalism” “Marxist,” Pope Francis responded:

The Marxist ideology is wrong. But I have met many Marxists in my life who are good people, so I don’t feel offended. There is nothing in [my] Exhortation that cannot be found in the social Doctrine of the Church.

Pope Francis brings his deepest values to his understanding of the economy. The economy is meant to serve men and women, to provide a means for them to flourish in the world. Men and women were not created to serve the economy. Quoting Pope John Paul II, Pope Francis emphasized that humans are not to be “exploited at low cost and then discarded when no longer useful.”

On this World Day of Peace, knowing how closely linked peace and economics are, Pope Francis brings a much-needed values-based perspective to discussions about the economy. May leaders the world over heed his call to bring the moral dimension into economic discussions. Without it, we are lost.

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