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News > Italy

Pope Francis Harshly Criticizes Free-Market Fundamentalism

  • Pope Francis in the Vatican City, Oct. 4, 2020.

    Pope Francis in the Vatican City, Oct. 4, 2020. | Photo: EFE

Published 5 October 2020

"The feelings of belonging to the same humanity are weakened, and the dream of building justice and peace together seems a utopia of other times," he pointed out.

Pope Francis presented his new encyclical letter "All Brothers" (Fratelli Tutti), a document that invites us to imagine "a new vision of fraternity and social friendship" and raises a strong criticism of ideologies that proclaim the convenience of non-regulated markets.


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"In today's world the feelings of belonging to the same humanity are weakened, and the dream of building justice and peace together seems a utopia of other times. We see how a comfortable, cold, and globalized indifference reigns," Pope Francis states in his most political encyclical so far.

The leader of the Catholic Church analyzes some features of the current globalization and emphasizes that "the market alone does not solve everything."

On the contrary, the indiscriminate promotion of economic policies for the liberalization of markets has generated global public evils such as the destruction of environmental common goods, contempt for migrants, and virtual control of the population.

In its invitation to build a fairer world, the encyclical reviews the major issues that the crisis prompted by the pandemic brought to light with respect to the functioning of societies. These are "trends in our world that hinder the development of universal fraternity."

The breakdown of a multilateral vision and its dangers

Pope Francis begins by emphasizing that the world seems to be moving away from the desires for integration between nations, which sought to eliminate the physical and immaterial barriers dividing peoples. They have become "shattered dreams."

"Our own days seem to be showing signs of a certain regression. Ancient conflicts thought long buried are breaking out anew, while instances of a myopic, extremist, resentful, and aggressive nationalism are on the rise."

“'Opening up to the world' is an expression that has been co-opted by the economic and financial sector and is now used exclusively of openness to foreign interests or to the freedom of economic powers to invest without obstacles or complications in all countries."

This corporate vision of globalization takes advantage of local conflicts to impose a single cultural model, which divides persons and nations. For “as society becomes ever more globalized, it makes us neighbors, but does not make us brothers”.

In this way, too, the "transnational economic powers" divide and conquer "the weaker and poorer regions, making them more vulnerable and dependent."

On the limits of neoliberal individualism

Simultaneously with the trend towards the resurgence of nationalisms, Pope Francis highlights the consequences of those conservative ideologies that promote individualism and conceive of society "as merely the sum of coexisting interests."

From this dominant logic, “those who defend the rights of the most vulnerable members of society tend to be criticized as populists. The notion of a people is considered an abstract construct, something that does not really exist."

Accompanying this rejection of the collective, neoliberalism promotes an attack on the State that paradoxically unprotects the individual person that neoconservatives claim to respect so much.

“Private life cannot exist unless it is protected by public order. A domestic hearth has no real warmth unless it is safeguarded by law, by a state of tranquility founded on law, and enjoys a minimum of well being ensured by the division of labor, commercial exchange, social justice, and political citizenship.”


Pope Francis
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