In a new 85-page document just released by the Vatican, Pope Francis strongly opposes the idea of a trickle-down economic structure, saying that it continues to exclude people rather than create a more inclusive society.
“Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world,” said Pope Francis in the statement. “This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.”
Trickle-down economics refers to the theory that tax breaks and financial benefits should be given to wealthier people and bigger businesses and, in turn, money will “trickle down” to middle and lower class people.
The theory is widely praised in U.S. politics by conservatives and has been criticized by those more towards the left. The majority of Catholics are generally pretty conservative, so the idea of trickle-down economics and personal responsibility is more appealing than widespread financial equality. Many of those Catholics are sure to be uncomfortable, however, as the leader of their church has now come out against the theory.
In the document, Pope Francis also expresses dismay for the path the church has gone down prior to his election, saying that he envisions the future of the church being more about the needy than about its own stability.
“I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security,” wrote Pope Francis. “I do not want a Church concerned with being at the center and then ends by being caught up in a web of obsessions and procedures.”
“In her ongoing discernment, the Church can also come to see that certain customs not directly connected to the heart of the Gospel, even some which have deep historical roots, are no longer properly understood and appreciated,” continued the Pope in his statement. “Some of these customs may be beautiful, but they no longer serve as means of communicating the Gospel. We should not be afraid to re-examine them. At the same time, the Church has rules or precepts which may have been quite effective in their time, but no longer have the same usefulness for directing and shaping people’s lives.”
In his short time since being elected leader of the church, Pope Francis has also adopted a more understanding and accepting stance on homosexuality in the church, most famously asking, “Who am I to judge?”