A more nuanced rejoinder to the Pope’s comments on capitalism.
As Rev. Robert Sirico points out in a recent interview, Pope Francis is from Argentina where “free market capitalism” isn’t, in fact, all that free. The economic system in his home country is plagued by corruption and cronyism, which have greatly limited real economic freedom. Perhaps this is why he has such a cynical view of free markets?
I wonder what Francis would make of those of us who value the free market system, but do not deify it; who admit that unfettered capitalism can lead to corruption, injustice and inequality; who agree that the state has a role (though a limited one) in ensuring the rule of law and providing a safety net for the most vulnerable; who understand that virtue and values must accompany capitalism; who realize that money can be an idol and is only a means to a much higher end; who care deeply for the poor, seek to help them with their physical and spiritual needs, but think economic growth can help more than food stamps or foreign aid.
People are going to pursue worldly reward no matter what we do, and capitalism is a system that elevates the material aspects above a zero-sum game. But as Rabbi Jonathan Sacks points out in a different context, meaning has to come from outside the system.