Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Does the Pope Blast Capitalism?, by Fr. Robert Sirico. Acton Commentary. May 11, 2007:

"Pope's New Book Criticizes Capitalism" said the Associated Press. It was speaking of Jesus of Nazareth, the hot selling book that Pope Benedict XVI began writing before he was elected Pope. Now it is big news and selling in the millions.

The Boston Globe, MSNBC, Fox News, Miami Herald, and a hundred other outlets repeated the claim that the book knocks capitalism. He reportedly says that capitalism inflicts a kind of cruelty on people.

Now, in reading these stories, my first reaction was: What is meant here by capitalism? If by capitalism we mean a system where the elites own the wealth and the poor exist in a servile condition, yes, that sounds cruel. But if we mean the free economy, it is another matter entirely. The free economy (and you can call it capitalism if you want) has been the number one source of material liberation for the poor the world over.

We need only look at the last ten years in China, Eastern Europe, and Asia to see how the free economy has boosted life spans, reduced infant mortality, increased overall health, and fed millions in ways that would be unimaginable under controlled economies. The free economy is a life support system for the whole world. Could Benedict XVI really be departing from the teachings of John Paul II that economic freedom is but a part of a larger system of freedom and rights that is embraced by the Church?

What a surprise, then, awaited me when I actually received the book. . . .