Pope Francis is being portrayed as having expressed pro-Capitalist views based on some recent comments he made to workers in Genoa this past Saturday. Some on the right are even suggesting he changed his mind after speaking with President Trump.
The Pope hasn’t changed his views but people might understand him better after this. He’s fine with business but the workers will always be his main priority. He views business much as a union president, only from a solely moral, ethical and religious viewpoint. He’s a holy Richard Trumka.
The Pope values work.
“The world of work is a human priority,” Francis said, “and it’s also a priority for the pope. There’s always been a friendship between the church and work, starting with Jesus, who was a worker.”
Pope Francis professed deep admiration for entrepreneurs and business owners.
“There can’t be a good economy without good businessmen, without their capacity to create and to produce,” he said.
At the same time, he condemned: the exploitation and mistreatment of workers; the idea of meritocracy as the result of redistribution as a false concept; he noted there’s a difference between entrepreneurship and speculation with speculation being unethical; and, lastly, he sees successful businesses as essential to democracy.
Pope Francis believes there is too much emphasis on competition.
“Many of the new values of the great companies and financial systems aren’t consistent with human dignity and Christian humanism,” he said. “The accent on competition, beyond being an anthropological and Christian error, is an economic error because it forgets that a company is above all about cooperation.”
“When it’s a system of individual incentives that puts workers into competition among themselves, you can obtain some advantages, but it ends up ruining the trust that’s the soul of any organization,” the pope argued. “When a crisis comes, the company falls apart. It implodes, because there’s no longer any accord.”
On the second point, the Pope doesn’t see distribution as an outcome of merit.
“That fascinates us because it uses a good word, ‘merit,’ but it uses it in an ideological way,” he said. “Exploiting the good faith of many, it provides ethical legitimacy to inequality.
“The new capitalism, through the idea of ‘meritocracy,’ gives moral cover to inequality,” Francis said. “It sees the talents of people not as a gift but a ‘merit,’ determining a system of advantages and disadvantages.”
It colors the way we view the poor, he said. “The poor person is considered to not have merit.”
It is simplistic to say they are always tied but when one believes in redistribution and overly values the worker, merit becomes an issue.
The idea of speculation is an exclusively profit-driven mindset that ignores the needs and aspirations of the people was his third point.
“An illness of the economy is the progressive transformation of businessmen into speculators,” Francis said. “A speculator is a figure similar to what Jesus in the gospels called “money-changers” as opposed to pastors. He doesn’t love his company or his workers, but they’re solely a means for making profits. He fires people, relocates the company, because it’s instrumentalized and eats up people and products.”
Lastly, he drew a link between the entrepreneurship and a healthy democracy.
“When work is weakened, it’s democracy that enters into crisis,” he said. “There’s a social compact.”
While expressing some seeming opposition to the nanny state, he stated he wants work for everyone.
“A monthly check from the state that allows you to keep the family afloat doesn’t solve the problem. It has to be resolved with work for everyone.”
The Pope is a labor over management populist who questions the morality of crony Capitalism but believes in business that respects human dignity.
In the fight against poverty, Francis said:
It “goes without saying that part of this great effort is the creation and distribution of wealth. The right use of natural resources, the proper application of technology and the harnessing of the spirit of enterprise are essential elements of an economy which seeks to be modern, inclusive and sustainable.”
“Business is a noble vocation,” the Pope continued, “directed to producing wealth and improving the world. It can be a fruitful source of prosperity for the area in which it operates, especially if it sees the creation of jobs as an essential part of its service to the common good.”
Socialism also values business but looks to workers controlling all businesses. The Pope has never openly advocated for that but he is highly critical of crony Capitalism and is a strong believer in the socialist concepts of redistribution of work and compensation. The Pope has been very skeptical of for-profit business. His stance has always been from a moral standpoint, not political.