Today’s section and the six that follow (through EG 208) begin to address “The economy and the distribution of income.” And I type “begin” because these matters must ultimately be decided and moved on the level of people outside those who have studied theology, morality, and economics. Why? These matters are too important to be left in the hands of oligarchs. And morality is not a study of theory, but something believers are actually called to practice in their everyday lives.
202. The need to resolve the structural causes of poverty cannot be delayed, not only for the pragmatic reason of its urgency for the good order of society, but because society needs to be cured of a sickness which is weakening and frustrating it, and which can only lead to new crises. Welfare projects, which meet certain urgent needs, should be considered merely temporary responses. As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality,[This implies a commitment to “eliminate the structural causes of global economic dysfunction”: Benedict XVI, Address to the Diplomatic Corps (8 January 2007): AAS 99 (2007), 73.] no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems. Inequality is the root of social ills.
The moral diagnosis is spot on. Even if capitalism was working for more than the 1%, it is clear that the impact of the Crash of ’08 is still crushing many people. And that’s just what I see in this country. Our societies are not as strong as they might be.
I also agree that civic projects are intended to be temporary solutions, programs that can and should be abandoned the day when the poor stand tall to contribute to the welfare of self and society on their own. We are nowhere near that day.
It’s not just a matter of inequality being the problem. It’s an unfair and unjust inequality. The kid with pockets stuffed with candy extorts from the one who wants to enjoy the one confection brought from home.
Pope Francis is not inventing a morality here. He’s just saying what B16 said, only today more people are paying attention, and not just looking for gaffes.