Everybody loves Pope Francis: he’s practically a celebrity at this point. His visit to America was very highly anticipated, and the reason he’s so popular is because many of his views are considered to be modern and forward-thinking. Pope Francis is the breath of fresh air that the Catholic community needs, and his caring and open nature have made him a beloved figure who everyone—whether they are Catholic or not —can look up to.
One of the Pope’s most interesting calls has been for a change in the world’s economic order. Contrary to what many eye-rolling government officials must believe, the Pope believes that unbridled capitalism and the uninhibited pursuit of money is “the dung of the devil.” A huge advocate for the poor, Pope Francis believes that capitalism, especially modern, globalized capitalism, is an unjust system that disregards third-world countries. He has stated on multiple occasions that the poor have sacred rights to land, labor, and lodging. Currently, many third-world countries are being used as sources of cheap labor and raw materials. This has become the root cause of many social justice issues such as environmental degradation, unfair labor and trade, and a general lack of resources for third-world countries. Pope Francis sums it up quite nicely when he says that capitalism “has imposed the mentality of profit at any price, with no concern for social exclusion or the destruction of nature.”
Capitalism is tricky: it’s essential to how this country and much of the world runs and a crucial part of the American dream. If you work hard, capitalism should reward you well, so one would think, where’s the harm in that? But there are so many dirtier aspects that we tend to overlook. First of all, capitalism often takes away a crucial and overlooked component of every business transaction: humanity. Instead, everything becomes about material objects, technology, and money. The empathy for those who don’t have as much in the materialistic sense (normally the people overseas providing labor and resources) is forgotten, and causes much suffering among those people. Capitalism is based on competition, and the worst part is that there will always be someone who loses. For a world that’s striving towards equality, capitalism will always keep us from being completely equal. Because for somebody to be on the top, there must be someone on the bottom
I personally don’t think that capitalism is inherently evil. It’s an economic system, and the only way we will ever be equal is if we suddenly abandon capitalism completely and turn to some other economic system. I think that the major problem is the massive unequal distribution of wealth. The extreme wealth gap decreases the amount of opportunities and incentives for the lower class, and the elite upper class has become virtually inaccessible in terms of social and economic mobility. These two poles of our economic system need to be addressed, and there must be more of a push to get to some kind of middle ground.
I am proud to be one of the Pope’s biggest fans, and I’m glad that he’s pushing the boundaries on controversial issues that have been on our minds for a long time. Whether it be the economy, the environment, colonization, or even gay marriage, the Pope is not afraid to say what’s on his mind – and it is always something refreshing and new. As he says himself, “Let us not be afraid to say it: we want change, real change, structural change.” This change lies in our hands, so why not do something about it?