Rorate Caeli

"The goal of economics and politics is to serve humanity"

[T]he goal of economics and politics is to serve humanity, beginning with the poorest and most vulnerable wherever they may be, even in their mothers' wombs. Every economic and political theory or action must set about providing each inhabitant of the planet with the minimum wherewithal to live in dignity and freedom, with the possibility of supporting a family, educating children, praising God and developing one's own human potential. This is the main thing; in the absence of such a vision, all economic activity is meaningless.

In this sense, the various grave economic and political challenges facing today's world require a courageous change of attitude that will restore to the end (the human person) and to the means (economics and politics) their proper place. Money and other political and economic means must serve, not rule, bearing in mind that, in a seemingly paradoxical way, free and disinterested solidarity is the key to the smooth functioning of the global economy.
Franciscus
June 15, 2013

32 comments:

Gratias said...

Free market economies are the best way to improve th human condition. Statist redistribution of wealth brought Communism and poverty. The Church is the best way to prepare for the next life.

James Kohn said...

Considering that Francis is a Chesterton fan to one degree or another I think its fair to say he takes the distributist view point that Leo and all the others have put forth...of course its mainly theory, but in some places in Spain it has been implimented and seems rather successful imo

Michael Ortiz said...


I would only add to this first comment: free markets will not remain free unless they seek to follow the natural law inscribed on the heart, promulgated by the Mosaic covenant, and definitely perfected by Our Lord on the Mount of Beatitudes.

Sarah said...

It reminds me of Pope Benedict XVI's encyclical "Caritas in Veritate," which I love. I seriously doubt he's in favour of Stalinist redistribution of wealth. Why is it that whenever anyone suggests that economics should serve man and not the reverse there are plenty of people--even Catholics--who assume the speaker is pro-socialism? Try reading "Rerum Novarum" by Pope Leo XIII, who spoke very clearly AGAINST socialism in that document, even as he warned diehard free market capitalists that putting profit ahead of people is a lose-lose.

BONIFACE said...

It's stupid how many people automatically assume that anything other than an absolutely free market is ipso facto Statist-socialism. Shows how conditioned we have become to thinking there are two and only two ways.

mackquigley said...

Evidently Saint Paul was mistaken who wrote, "But godliness with contentment is great gain.... And having food and raiment let us be therewith content." 1 Timothy 6:6,8.


Economic policy doesn't create "human freedom" (whatever that means). Christ said, "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." (John 8:36). And, "without me ye can do nothing." John 15:5.

Since when was money a prerequisite for "praising God"?? Job said, "Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD." 1:21.

The bible's economic policy is based on property rights ("thou shall not steal," Exodus 20:15; "Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own?," Matthew 20:15; "Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power?" Acts 5:4), and hard work ("thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth", "Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work"), and giving charity ("He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever" 2 Corinthians 9:9).

The world is blaspheming Jesus Christ, ignoring the Bible, aborting children, legalizing sodomy, and committing every abominable sin possible -- but the pope doesn't warn them about God's wrath? He doesn't tell them that God is punishing the world for sins? NO!

Instead he tells them they need to revise the world economic system to match the failed soviet union!!

Michael Ortiz said...



Your web banner of Pius XII is really excellent.

And yes, I admit it, I want a Pope like him again

Mike said...

"Why is it that whenever anyone suggests that economics should serve man and not the reverse there are plenty of people--even Catholics--who assume the speaker is pro-socialism?"

Amen to that insight. Who in their right mind still believes that America operates with a free market economy?? Free market? yeah, right - nothing but a tired and worthless slogan. And false! Why are so many Catholics unwilling to address the global corporatist entity whose agenda rob individuals and whole nations every hour of every day, poisoning our food and water, rabidly destroying God's magnificent natural creation for fossil fuel profit, extracting massive national wealth through greed and manipulation, and enslaving mankind in ways more wicked and far subtler than communism ever dreamed of? Where is the 'free' in that?

I love the Holy Father's words here. I pray that he continues to speak often and loudly about the poor, and against the greed of oligarchy. In so doing, he preaches the Gospel. May Almighty God help him!

Adfero said...

Mike, I agree with you on much of this. However, to say our free market, free or not, is more wicked than communism only proves you have no idea what it is to live under communism.

While yes, there are downsides in the free market, it has also ensured, in America, that there really are no poor. No real poor, like in third world countries.

So, yes, there are problems. But worse than communism? Not even in the same universe.

poeta said...

Countdown until Jeffrey Tucker either calls the Pope a socialist or alleges that the letter was written by one...

Ordo Antiquus said...

The point of this post should be obvious from the passage that is highlighted -- the one that mentions the unborn.

How interesting that the emphasis got lost in this combox in a discussion about socialism and capitalism. It says a lot about the REAL agenda even of many "traditionalist Catholics".

Luke Togni said...

I too agree with much of what Mike says. I think HH is dead on; the economy has become and end in itself, in turn reshaping humanity in its image. A certain vision of prosperity is upheld and the summum bonum, in whose way not even the unborn can stand.

Moreover, I think HH is right to be point out that the human well-being is a regular requisite to a society which is able to praise God. Tribulation can chasten and transform, but a culture and stability serve the life of the Church in the ordinary course of things. It was the relative peace of the Empire that served the Church's growth in the past, and it was the Church that took up the yoke of stability when the Empire crumbled.

New Catholic said...

This excerpt follows the beautiful tradition of papal concerns expressed in particular since Rerum Novarum. And, as recalled above, the emphasis on the unborn on a short message to the leaders of the world's most developed nations, all of which have abortion on demand in some level, is not something irrelevant.

NC

yoink! said...

Amen Papa Francis! Thank-you!!

Unknown said...

The problem with any economic system in the world today, and the challenge that the Catholic Church faces, is that economics, in their desperate attempt to be a science or some other balderdash, ALWAYS tries to remain 'morally neutral.' Adam Smith's assertion that one man's greed is the source of another man's living is false upon its face.

Barring original sin, any economic system could be made to work, if it were guided by the Gospel. Free markets work well enough, but they have a tendency to promote their successes and hide their failures. Just look at the media for proof of that. Libertarians get good traction out of showing the injustice of the current paradigm, but they hide very destructive immorality behind the 'rights of man.' Destructive enough to bring down society. As a matter of fact, libertarians would leave all of the destructive influence intact, and would clear away most of the hindrances to such immorality and the death of society, if they could remove gov't from the picture.

We can't get a good economy until the rights of GOD are recognized. Then everything else will fall into place.

JM said...

" the emphasis on the unborn"

This bold face was added here, and I might add, since the Western World is busy dismantling this emphasis, it will get lost amidst the Pope's other comments. More of the Church acting like the UN. A very, very bad idea.

New Catholic said...

The bold face was, the expression "even in their mother's wombs" was already present, of course.

Anders Hamberg said...

Almost correct. However, the way the Holy Father expresses himself in this is focused only on this World that -dieszeitigkeit- damages what otherwise is a good and correct statement. The goal is not as much the providing of earthly means as the salvation of souls. Economical and political systems can either help or get in the way of this. Quite humanist the way it is expresssed here.

New Catholic said...

Not at all: praising God is explicitly mentioned as a foremost human activity. Mankind is the focus, but man must fulfill his ends.

Nancy Danielson said...

"As the family goes, so goes the Nation and this World". There is a direct link between the break down of the family, corrupt government and poverty. You will not hear pope Francis speak about this, (see page 117 of his book Between Heaven and Earth) We do have a Pope like Pius XII, only it appears he is under the control of the "gay socialist lobby", which is why he did not have the power to do what needed to be done for Christ and His One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

Dr. Timothy J. Williams said...

To paraphrase Churchill, I think that capitalism is the worst economic model possible... except for all the others. No system will work without a Christian conscience. The economic history of the United States has amply demonstrated that an unfettered, largely unregulated economy can have vast benefits for everyone when it is combined with a sense of altruism and social responsibility that promotes philanthropy on a truly massive scale. The result has been a society that people desire to enter from every corner of the globe. Of course, if you replace conscience with ego, the result can be a Darwinian nightmare. But what is undeniably true, and has been proven over and over throughout the last two centuries, is that state socialism - irrespective of its "good intentions" - is nothing but shared poverty, on EVERY level: economic, moral, religious, familial...

John R said...

Anyone ever read "Capitalism, Catholicism, and Protestantism" by Amintore Fanfani? He makes the case that the "Capitalist Spirit" (not necessarily capitalism per se) is what has wreaked havoc on the economic well being of societies, not to mention the living of the liturgical year (i.e. Catholic holidays, sanctification of Sunday, etc.). I think HH may be speaking with this concept in mind, even if not explicitly so; at least, I hope that to be the case.

Steven said...

To quote Christopher Ferrara, Esq: "capitalism is not 'private property'. Capitalism is not 'freedom'. [...] nor is any departure from capitalism 'socialism' - lets not play that game." Great talks on this topic on keepthefaith.org by people like Archbishop Fulton Sheen, Christopher Ferrara, etc.

mad trad said...

"Communism, the long hard road between Capitalism and Capitalism,"
sign carried by demonstrator during the fall of the Soviet Union. The government must be based on capitalism tempered by the Church's teaching of free will offerings to aid the poor and down trodden.

Mad Trad

sjgmore said...

All of this discussion makes me wonder if anyone is familiar with Giuseppe Toniolo? He was recently beatified, and he was an economist who grappled with a lot of these issues, but so far as I know his writings aren't available in English and I don't read Italian.

Is there anyone who is familiar with him who could relate his insights into these issues?

sjgmore said...

All of this discussion makes me wonder if anyone is familiar with Giuseppe Toniolo? He was recently beatified, and he was an economist who grappled with a lot of these issues, but so far as I know his writings aren't available in English and I don't read Italian.

Is there anyone who is familiar with him who could relate his insights into these issues?

Unknown said...

"No system will work without a Christian conscience. The economic history of the United States has amply demonstrated that an unfettered, largely unregulated economy can have vast benefits for everyone when it is combined with a sense of altruism and social responsibility that promotes philanthropy on a truly massive scale."

I love Dr. Williams to death, and I used to agree with this assessment, but now I don't. We never had it right, we just were able to fake it due to the free land, which boosted us above Europe. And England did the same thing at the very dawn of imperialistic capitalism, with the boost given by the land and wealth ripped off from the religious orders Henry VIII destroyed. And what was the call then? What was the economics of that period? Free Market--that was the economic sin, to accompany the heresy. The Catholic state took care of the poor, and controlled the economy to the degree that it did not continually churn out more of them than a kind of natural average ("the poor we shall always have with us")and there were always those elements, from about the ninth century on according to some sources, agitating, breaking out into excess profit-taking, fighting the system of restraints on both profit and wage exercised by the Catholic state through the guilds and other mechanims. But the chickens always come home to roost, as they have now. We are seeing the fruit of the protestant rebellion, the economic rebellion that accompanied it. Pius XI, in Quas Primas, lay down this thesis: unless Christ is at the center of the state, which is the first and most important justice, there can be no subsequent justice. Secularism is impossible. One Catholic wing has been trying to deny this from the get-go, first the Appellants who are called that because they actually sued the Vatican to stop messing with their comfortable game in England, and I am beginning to think GK and Belloc et al are their charming offspring, because distributism is simply not possible in secularism and I think the boys wobbled on that point. Not possible. And we need to get it straight and separate ourselves from those who still think it can be and form a third party and do what Hungary is doing, albeit with a temporary compromise (I pray it is temporary) with the protestants among them. Please google FIDESZ and persist until you break through the bs. There is no solution outside the Catholic state, and it is more possible now than it was in 1700 because people see through the lie of secularism more and more clearly. We have come to the end of a long rope. And there never was a 'good US.' There was just a US a little further up the rotting slope of decay. I know our fathers died for it, mine, too. But there has been such a long period of confusion, taking the social encyclicals and applying them to a secular state. It has to remind us of the confusion of the English, waking up one morning and going to church and finding all those changes without realizing exactly what had happened. We're still in that state of confusion. Que viva Cristo Rey, that's all. Without Christ at the center, nothing is possible. The White Lily Blog.

Dr. Timothy J. Williams said...

I don't think I have any disagreement with "Unknown" (who "loves me to death" hopefully in a Christian and not a Muslim sense). I was speaking of our contemporary societies of the past few centuries, with the understanding that there is not likely to be any restoration of Christendom. If the latter does prevail through some miraculous turn of events (and I do not deny that this is possible - with God, all things are possible) then obviously, a radically different, free-market, agrarian, and non-consumerist economy may arise again. I was merely expressing my complete confidence that the modern controlling state, with the best intentions of the world, ALWAYS produces hell on earth.

Unknown said...

"Anyone ever read "Capitalism, Catholicism, and Protestantism" by Amintore Fanfani?"

Yes, and everyone should. This is the text to which I was referring that discusses the first strains of imperialism as far back as the 900's.

And to Dr. Williams: 'love you to death' in the southern sense, of course. Regarding the Restoration: it doesn't matter if we think we can do it, or think we can't do it, we are obliged to try. That is the meaning of Quas Primas and the challenge of our times. Nothing has changed. Only some try to make us think so. Dr. Tim for president, yes?

Edward More said...


@ Dr Williams:

"No system will work without a Christian conscience."

Bingo. You got it spot on there, my friend. Without a Catholic conscience, even with the theoretically best economic system, the devil will always rear his ugly head to sow misery on mankind through greed, corruption, and the unfettered human passions. Unless and until Christ the King is present at the center of society, humanity as a whole will not be able to flourish, and a great part of humanity will continue to suffer being exploited through inhuman working conditions, inhuman wages, and so on.

@ Unknown:

"And there never was a 'good US.'" No kidding. How could there ever have be one, when Christ the King has never been at the center of the country's political life, not only because Catholicism has always been a minority religion, but also because of the nefarious separation of church and state?

Orate Fratres said...

Economics is simply the distribution of scarce or finite resources. It can be a means by which we decide to allocate the earths resources. The systems such as capitalism and communism live or die based on whether they accept God and Christian principals at their centre. As we know communism couldn't survive because it is an atheistic system. Capitalism has become an atheistic system having started out as a system which accepted the coexistence with Christianity. It too will die because of its change into a solely atheistic system. I think Pope Francis is actually saying that whatever system comes along next will go the same road unless Jesus Christ is put back in the centre. I.e. he is trying to tell the powers that ne to stop wasting their time fiddling with novelties and ask for the Lords help.

Orate Fratres said...

Economics is simply the distribution of scarce or finite resources. It can be a means by which we decide to allocate the earths resources. The systems such as capitalism and communism live or die based on whether they accept God and Christian principals at their centre. As we know communism couldn't survive because it is an atheistic system. Capitalism has become an atheistic system having started out as a system which accepted the coexistence with Christianity. It too will die because of its change into a solely atheistic system. I think Pope Francis is actually saying that whatever system comes along next will go the same road unless Jesus Christ is put back in the centre. I.e. he is trying to tell the powers that ne to stop wasting their time fiddling with novelties and ask for the Lords help.