Pope Francis spoke out against trickle-down economics on Saturday, writing in an official papal declaration that the economic structure only leads to vast inequality.
The declaration, known as an encyclical, addressed the subject of “human fraternity,” according to Reuters, and the pope concluded that such harmony is impossible so long as a system that favors the rich remains in place.
The pandemic, he said, has made this abundantly clear: “There were those who would have had us believe that freedom of the market was sufficient to keep everything secure (after the pandemic hit),” he wrote.
The pope said the 2008 recession had been an opportunity to rethink this economic model, which promotes tax cuts and benefits for the rich based on the belief that those benefits will eventually “trickle-down” to the rest of society. But instead, governments’ response to the financial crisis only “increased freedom for the truly powerful, who always find a way to escape unscathed.” Trickle-down economics, Pope Francis continued, persists as “the dogma of neoliberal faith.”
But it’s not too late! The pope said there’s still time to redistribute the wealth of the global elite and “administer it for the good of all.”
Pope Francis has decried trickle-down economics before, saying that conservatives’ unflagging defense of the economic theory has “never been confirmed by the facts.” But it’s a disavowal worth restating over and over again, especially given all that we know about the rich getting richer during a pandemic that has devastated the middle and working classes.
Still, there’s some irony to the pope’s statements on wealth inequality. According to the Associated Press, the U.S. Roman Catholic Church used an “unprecedented exemption from federal rules” to collect as much as $3.5 billion in coronavirus relief funds, a portion of which reportedly went to dealing with the financial fallout of sexual abuse allegations among the clergy.
If the pope is looking for some wealth to redistribute, the church is as good a place as any to start.