On Tuesday, Pope Francis released his first Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, Latin for The Joy of the Gospel. An Apostolic Exhortation is a papal document that exhorts people to implement a particular aspect of the Catholic Church’s teaching. He wrote Evangelii Gaudium in response to a meeting of the Synod of Bishops, which took place late last year.
Since the document’s release, there’s been widespread belief that Pope Francis seeks to attack capitalism with certain passages, such as his critique of people who “continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world.” He went even farther by saying that “we can no longer trust in the unseen forces and the invisible hand of the market.”
“If you read Evangelii Gaudium as primarily an indictment of free-market economics, you read it all wrong,” wrote Phil Lawler, director of CatholicCulture.org. “Some of his [Pope Francis] arguments are troublesome to Catholics like myself, who believe that entrepreneurs are more likely than government officials to lift people out of poverty,” he said, before recommending readers to check out Samuel Gregg’s critique in the National Review.
Robert A. Sirico, a Catholic priest and co-founder and president of the Acton Institute, offers some observations on the pope’s document in this short ten-minute video below. He clarifies that Apostolic Exhortations in Catholic theology don’t occupy the highest place in magisterial teaching but are still worthy of our consideration. Sirico says the pope is not driven by any political ambitions or ideology, but that he’s very sincerely expressing his concerns.