Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Is the New Pope Anti-Free Market?

In December 2011, Alberto Benegas Lynch wrote a paper titled, About the post of Archbishop of Buenos Aires. That archbishop, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, is now Pope Francis I.

The paper was written in Spanish and I am using a Google translation of the paper. Given the limitations of such a translation, it may be the case that I am misinterpreting the paper. However, from what I can determine, the new Pope has a decidedly anti-free market bias.

Here's Lynch from the translation (bold in original)
In a keynote address at the Alvear Palace Hotel Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now leaves office, drew on "social debts". No doubt the good intentions of the Archbishop and his genuine interest in solving the distressing issue of poverty , which is shared by all people of good. Unfortunately, what he proposes and the lifts of their reasoning, far from mitigating the problem, aggravated in the extreme. In these areas and in many others, the purest intentions are irrelevant, what matters is results.

We think that the conclusions misguided in economic and social affairs are due to poor study the role and significance of private property and the free market in the coordination of information by its nature fractionated and dispersed as opposed to lives and schedules haciendas outside rights not only affect but, first, create poverty for the whole community but so very special for the needy and, second, concentrated ignorance thus impossible project evaluation, accounting and general economic calculation through the dismantling of prices as indicators in the allocation of scarce resources provided.
Here's Lynch quoting from that 2011 speech delivered by, now, Pope Francis I :
Said Cardinal Bergoglio in said speech that "The economic and social crisis and the consequent increase in poverty has its causes in ways policies inspired neoliberalism considering profits and market laws as parameters, to the detriment of the dignity of individuals and peoples. In this context, we reiterate the conviction that the loss of the sense of justice and lack of respect for others have worsened and led us to a situation of inequity. " Later stressed the importance of " social justice ", the" equal opportunity "damage" transfers of capital abroad, "which should be required" distribution of wealth ", said the damage of economic inequalities and the need to "prevent the use of financial resources is shaped by speculation," especially in the context of the "social debt"-which in his opinion is of eminently "moral" - is to reform "economic structures" in expressed the sense before.
Again, I may have lost something in the translation, but it appears the new Pope fails to understand markets and holds the concepts of social justice, equal opportunity and distribution of wealth, as important. Concepts which, of course, generally lead to advocacy of much government intervention and much central planning. It as though the new Pope has somehow given up on the good in people, and perhaps even in God, and has decided to replace both with a central role for the coercive state.


  1. Contemporary Catholic social teaching is pretty weak on its understanding on how markets work and how they benefit everyone who participate through the marketplace, including - perhaps especially - the poor. The fact that the new Pope holds similar views is not too much of a surprise. As far as I can tell, his views aren't that dissimilar to Benedict's. Having said that, I'm hopeful that Francis I will be willing to allow for, and better yet, listen to any views that seek to improve the poor's lot. For starters, I believe there's an opportunity to distinguish between two types of disparities of income: one born through free markets (yet everyone can make a living, or at least people have the ability to help others out through charitable works) and one born through cronyism (where those who aren't in are really out). So long as there is opportunity, there's hope.

    1. "So long as there is opportunity, there's hope."

      Whatever opportunity used to exist has been quashed thanks to central banking and a command economy. Now, people have only an outside chance at getting "rich". The majority of the population is actually getting poorer through inflation, market manipulation, and outright fraud.

    2. Fizzywig, please grab the nearest paper bag and breath into it. My point was focused on whether Francis would be open to hearing ideas, including yet particularly free-market ones, that would lead to helping the poor. If anything, by highlighting the fact that cronyism kills opportunities for the poor to help themselves, Francis could be all the more receptive to these ideas.

      By the way, Tom Woods recently posted an excerpt from a George Weigel article that provides an interesting perspective on how Bergoglio was used by progressive elements of the Church during the last election of the Pope, which led ultimately to Ratzinger becoming the Pontiff. I would encourage you to read Weigel's piece in its entirety as it's very informative.

      I also encourage you to read post by an Austrian economics blogger, whose father was Catholic but who had lapsed for theological reasons, on his impressions on Francis's election. The post's title says it all.

      Francis' focus is going to be on preaching the Gospel at all times; when necessary he'll use words. The extent to which those words as Pope may provide clues as to whether he understand economics remains to be seen. If his understanding on economics is wanting, I see no reason why we can't call him on that. However, we have in Francis a potential, and frankly powerful, ally and leader in nonviolent action. We just need to see what he does as Pope before we decide how to respond.

  2. The hard left loves to use and throw around the term "neoliberalism". Run whenever you see that term being used.

    As this commie dingbat from England, Philip Pilkington explains, the entire planet went to hell due to Hayek and his "neoliberalism".

  3. In a keynote address at the Alvear Palace Hotel, Cardenal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who now leaves office, elaborated on "social debts." There's no doubting the Archbishop’'s good intentions and his genuinely interest to solve the distressing issue of poverty, which is shared by all good people. Unfortunately, what he proposes and the driving line of his reasoning, far from mitigating the problem, will aggravate it in no small measure. On these issues and others, the purest of intentions are irrelevant, whereas what counts are the results.
    We believe that the wrong conclusions in economic and social issues are the result of a deficient knowledge of the role played by private property and free markets in coordinating information, due to its dispersed and divided nature, compared to central planning of life and of other people's property which not only affects human rights, but also in one part causes poverty in a whole community and especially to those more disadvantaged, and in another, concentrates ignorance which makes impossible the evaluation of projects, accounting and economic calculation due to price dislocation which happen to be the indicator for the allocation of the always scarce resources.
    Said Cardenal Bergoglio during the aforementioned allocution that "The social-economic crisis and, as consequence, the increase in poverty, have their causes in policies inspired by forms of neo-liberalism that consider profits and market laws as absolute parameters in detriment to the dignity of people. In this context, we reiterate our conviction that the loss of the sense of justice and lack of respect towards others has worsened and have led to a situation of inequality." After this, he underlined the importance of "social justice," the "equality of opportunity," the damage done by the "foreign transfer of capital," the damage due to wealth inequalities and the need to "stop the usage of financial resources to follow a speculative mold," all of this within the context that the "social debt" – which by his judgment, has a moral character – must consist in reforming the "economic structures" in the sense mentioned previously.

  4. With the election of Pope Francis, the Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina, the Rev. Robert A. Sirico released the following statement.

    “Pope Francis is a man of great spirituality who is known for his commitment to doctrinal orthodoxy as well as for his simplicity of life,” Rev. Sirico said. “Like Benedict XVI, he combines concern for the poor with an insistence that it’s not the Church’s responsibility to be a political actor or to prescribe precise solutions to economic problems. In that regard, he’s a model for all Catholic bishops and clergy throughout the world.”

  5. It's really a shame that you can only use a translator to read the article to which you link, because it is pretty good in explaining the basic fallacies behind each of the terms used by then Cardinal Bergoglio, if sometimes sinning of using a somewhat flowery and complicated grammar which is not strange in many Latin American essays. I translated some of the text so it can be better understood but, really, it is not that easy, even for a Spanish-speaker like myself!

  6. I am not excited at all by the election of Bergoglio, a Jesuit.

    Most Jesuits today are the antithesis of traditional, and have known to be enemies of the market.

    Yet, who knows what the new Pope will say or do. I was hoping for American Raymond Cardinal Burke, a staunch traditionalist who favors the Tridentine Mass. It is possible he would have launched a major effort to expel kid-touchers and Modernists opposed to traditonal doctrine.

    The Roman Church requires a massive new Counter-Reformation. Experts in the Church also need to make a deep study of their own history/doctrine in Thomism, and the proto-development of sound economics at the School of Salamanca, as Murry Rothbard documented.

    Traditional bishops, such as Richard N. Williamson, are cognizant of the fact that governments are out of control, and in his words, "run by wicked men."

    Williamson was expelled from the traditional "fraternity" of the Society of St. Pius X, for statements on the Holocaust. Naturally, the media branded him as a Holocaust denier when he simply stated that based on his understanding of historical evidence, he believes that 200-300 thousand Jews were murdered in Germany, as opposed to the official record of 6 million. He has never denied the existence of murder in Germany at that time, nor made light of it.

    Williamson, citing the Leuchter Report, has serious reservations on the possiblity of the existence of gas chambers at that time in Germany.The Leuchter Report is questionable.

    Whether Williamson is right or wrong, he is not imposing his views on Catholics as a matter of doctrine. He has openly stated he believes in conspiracy based on historical evidence, and has said that the "lie of 9/11 is enslaving Americans."

    This was once a Church that railed against a global, secular world government. It is in shambles, except for small worldwide groups that hold on. Their numbers are inconclusive, but perhaps reach in the very low millions.

    For evidence of Catholicism against world government, check out Benedict XV's motu proprio, Bonum Sane (1920):

  7. Anyone else see the humor of having a pope from Buenos Aires, meaning "good air" that has only one lung?

  8. Well, I'm waiting to see Tom Woods' take. (He's gonna HATE that single "S").
    The author of "The Church and the Market" should have something worthwhile to say about this.

  9. He's a Jesuit? Makes sense, per Gary North, per Malachi Martin, Liberation Theology has overtaken the order and, not to be that guy, has been totally seized by Marxism to promote itself or at least it's core ideas.

    See the brief mention at the end of this classic and excellent lecture:

  10. As with every group, the Jesuits are a mixed lot, many preaching Marxism, many others very orthodox Catholics. He seems to be mostly of the latter. It is comforting that there are a good number of paleo-libertarians who are also staunch Catholics, myself included, as well as the aforementioned Tom Woods. When a document came out of the Vatican last year seemingly advocating a centralization of banking worldwide, the chorus of protests from Catholic free-marketers was wonderful. Much more of the same, I hope.

    I have studied Catholic social teaching since the 70s. Nearly all the most recent papal encyclicals have been predominantly about social issues. I see them as substantially in agreement with Rothbardian libertarian thought. Not surprising since the Catholic scholastic School of Salamanca seems to have played a major role in the development of the Austrian School.

    One of Benedict’s encyclicals used the term “fiscal subsidiarity”, meaning a control of expenditures are a lower (people) rather than higher (government) level. Fantastic!

    1. Good to see you're here, Dwight. I would also describe myself a staunch Catholic/Rothbardian. Since it seems you have been around a longer then me (I didn't exist in the 70's) I was wondering if you have found any resources such as authors/books/speakers/institutes that offer Catholic/free market analysis. I am aware of Tom Woods, Gerard Casey, and The Acton Institute.

  11. Anyone ever noticed that alot of high profile religous leaders are very ignorant in economics? However a post on Lew Rockwell's blog shows that Pope Francis like John Paul II and Benedict will continue to be a thorn in the side for the chickenhawk warmongers.