A Critique of Capitalism & A New Catholic Church?

Pope Francis has made his name as a progressive interpreter in the Roman Catholic faith.  Only seven months into his papacy, the newly appointed has taken numerous stances, most notably against anti-gay rhetoric.  But the Pope may have called out his most formidable cause yet- capitalism.

                        pope francis
Photo from the Daily Beast- read their article here: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/11/26/pope-francis-declares-consumers-and-capitalists-need-to-help-the-poor.html

                Born in Argentina to Italian parents, Pope Francis’ stance on greed and the economy has direct political implications.  During the 1980s, Argentinians were hard hit with strict austerity measures and cuts to social spending that deeply affected quality of life for many Argentinians after years of violence and civil conflict with the government.  According to his teachings, worldwide capitalism is the root of most all inequality and injustice in modern society.  This, the Pope suggests, calls for a total overhaul and beckons the Catholic Church to intervene on behalf of the poor and marginalized- especially among those countries seeking economic development.

This stance proves to be divergent from traditionally conservative politics of worldwide Catholicism in the past, which made a point to stay out of economic matters.  Rather, the previous stance of the church involved a focus on using church funds to fulfill a philanthropic role- one which Pope Francis looks to supplement by advocating for structural changes in the global economy. It may have a profound effect on countries in the developing world, especially those in Latin America where Catholicism has maintained its strong foothold in the midst of waning church attendance in Western Europe and the US.

With a new spring in its step, many wonder if the new leadership with a stronger voice in global politics will shake the foundation of the Catholic Church, bringing about divisiveness along party lines.  While the course of history has shown religious groups to be highly entrenched in politics and state-building, will Pope Francis’ new platform of a modern Catholicism serve to unite its followers across the globe or will the injection of a stronger voice threaten to divide the flock?

-Bridget Healy

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