My commentary on environmentalism and the Eucharist (here) has generated some interesting responses. While most have been favorable some has been decidedly less so.Here is my expanded and edited response to one such critic who contacted me via social media.
Let me say up front, I think the free market is only free to the degree that men and women are themselves truly free–that is to say, virtuous. It does seem to me though that want to define the argument in such a way that makes the free market inherently evil. You quote Pope Francis is support of this (“the socioeconomic system is unjust at its root”) but I’m not sure you and he are making the same argument. You only quoted a small part of the passage:
Today in many places we hear a call for greater security. But until exclusion and inequality in society and between peoples are reversed, it will be impossible to eliminate violence. The poor and the poorer peoples are accused of violence, yet without equal opportunities the different forms of aggression and conflict will find a fertile terrain for growth and eventually explode. When a society – whether local, national or global – is willing to leave a part of itself on the fringes, no political programmes or resources spent on law enforcement or surveillance systems can indefinitely guarantee tranquility. This is not the case simply because inequality provokes a violent reaction from those excluded from the system, but because the socioeconomic system is unjust at its root.
If I understand him correctly, the Pope is arguing that social exclusion and economic inequality lead to violence and are the result of inequality of opportunity. He is not condemning the free market as such but, as he say at the end of the section quoted above “unjust social structures, which cannot be the basis of hope for a better future.” He concludes not by asking us all to embrace voluntary poverty but rather the need to create wealth through morally good forms of economic development:
We are far from the so-called “end of history”, since the conditions for a sustainable and peaceful development have not yet been adequately articulated and realized (Evangelii Gaudium, 59).
In fact, I would guess that Pope Francis and I are probably closer on this point then are you and he. Continue reading