The Pope’s “9 Commandments for a Just Economy” Forgets the First One


November 4, 2021

The “popular movements” are the vanguard of the Catholic social justice warriors. They consist of a vast menagerie of Leftist activists and community organizers found in political action groups, Basic Christian Communities, worker organizations, and indigenous peoples’ lobbies. They exist worldwide, especially in less-developed nations, and they implement the tenets of liberation theology.  

Pope Francis has just addressed these movements in a keynote talk outlining his proposals for a “just” economy. The forceful 38-minute video presentation was featured at the fourth World Meeting of Popular Movements in mid-October. The Argentine pope called for radical economic changes inside a class struggle framework. 

Gerard O’Connell, the Vatican correspondent for America Magazine, the far-Left Jesuit publication, noted the pontiff made nine proposals “in the name of God” and promptly dubbed them “the 9 commandments for a just economy.”  

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Like most of Pope Francis’ economic commentary, these nine commandments are full of problems. They resemble much more the planks from a Green New Deal bill than the stone tablets of a moral law. 

These nine commandments of Pope Francis’ Ennealogue (nine, ennea + logos, not ten, deca + logos) make demands on different sectors of the economy and mass culture. Predictably, they reflect the talking points that dominate Leftist agendas everywhere.    

The Ennealogue demands that

  1. Big Pharma release the patents for COVID-19 vaccines;
  2. Big Finance forgive the debts of poor countries; 
  3. “Great extractive industries” (mining companies) stop destroying the environment and “poisoning food and people”;
  4. Great food corporations stop “monopolistic systems of production and distribution that inflate prices” and cause hunger;
  5. Arms manufacturers stop all production; 
  6. Big Tech censor all hate speech, fake news, and conspiracy theories; 
  7. Telecommunications giants facilitate access to the internet to help educate poor children;
  8. Big Media censor all disinformation, defamation, slander, and scandal; 
  9. Powerful countries discontinue their blockades and sanctions against other countries.

Pope Francis’ Ennealogue attacks giant structures, automatically assigning them harmful roles. These are easy targets, specific enough to fit into Leftist narratives, sufficiently vague to demand dramatic and urgent action. 

Pope Francis added insult to injury when mentioning the death of George Floyd. For him, last year’s summer riots (often violent and destructive) constituted a “Good Samaritan” gesture on the part of protesters. Here is his statement:

Do you know what comes to mind now when, together with popular movements, I think of the Good Samaritan? Do you know what comes to mind? The protests over the death of George Floyd. It is clear that this type of reaction against social, racial or macho injustice can be manipulated or exploited by political machinations or whatever, but the main thing is that, in that protest against this death, there was the Collective Samaritan who is no fool! This movement did not pass by on the other side of the road when it saw the injury to human dignity caused by an abuse of power. The popular movements are not only social poets but also collective Samaritans.

Other proposals hidden inside the Ennealogue include a universal basic income, shorter work hours, green new deal topics, and wealth distribution through taxation.

It is not the case to denounce each commandment in this article since these are the Left’s constant demands and recriminations against capitalism and a free market economy. It seems more important to refute the Ennealogue’s profound errors. 

Thus, three major problems plague Pope Francis’ Ennealogue.

The first is its systemic approach to the problems. Pope Francis’ Ennealogue puts everything inside a framework of immense structures and then paints them as the cause of all social problems. 

According to this perspective, structures determine the behavior of the person in society. The individual can do nothing to avoid this influence and thus has no personal guilt for actions or reactions. Because of this, Critical Race Theory promoters, for example, claim that no matter how saintly they may be, white people cannot help being racist. They would still be racist because the color of their skin (structures) determines their attitudes.

This reduction of everything to systemic roots favors the class struggle dialectic that pits one class against another; one identity group against another; small “victims” against big “oppressors.” In the Marxist narrative, “systemic” problems cannot be solved by changing hearts and conversion but only by destroying the “oppressive” systems and structures, for they are not reformable. 

Such false reading of history contradicts Church teaching on free will and personal responsibility for good or bad actions. It insinuates a denial of fallen nature, the action of Grace, and the regenerative power of the Redemption. 

This outlook assumes an immaculate conception of the masses who can do no wrong. It desires to destroy all who are rich, for they can do no good. However, the Church has always recognized the need for just and harmonious inequalities in society. These inequalities are necessary so that all can develop according to their abilities and God’s Grace. This Leftist narrative shreds the Church’s call for the harmonizing interplay of all classes in society and the practice of charity by all. 

The second problem with Pope Francis’ Ennealogue is a lack of understanding of the nature of economics. The unfortunate labeling of the pontiff’s Leftist proposals as “the 9 commandments for a just economy” insinuates that changing economic structures along Marxist, ecological, and pacifist lines creates justice.

That is not the case. The focus of economics is limited to a process of wealth creation, acquisition, production, and consumption. The object of economics is commutative justice, whereby fair and equitable prices for goods or services inform the actions of all involved—producers, merchants, workers, and consumers. Contrary to this, Pope Francis’ Ennealogue would have companies working for their self-destruction. 

Moreover, some commandments demand charity from companies. Charity is a moderating influence on the economy. However, charity cannot be imposed like justice. Indeed, the virtue of justice governs economic transactions since each party must be strictly given its due for an economy to function justly. To insist that charity be made part of economic theory would be an injustice to the charitable, for it puts them at a disadvantage and hands over the marketplace and society to lazy and dishonest men. Forced charity is disguised theft.

Finally, the crafting of nine commandments conveniently leaves room for one more. The missing commandment is the First Commandment, the most important one. Every man is commanded to love God above all things with his whole heart and strength.

The First Commandment of the Law of God is not economic in nature but touches directly on the Author of the supreme law from which all other laws derive. If there is to be a truly just economy, it can only happen in a society where the worship and love of God reign supreme. There must be the observance of God’s law, the practice of virtue, and the suppression of vice. The God-given social structures of family, community, and the Catholic faith must prosper if the economy is to flourish. The Seven Sacraments must open up the fountains of Grace that can transform souls and all society.

All these powerful means found in a God-centric perspective are sadly missing from Pope Francis’ Ennealogue. This supernatural vision is smothered by the naturalistic and exhausted Marxist templates of the Catholic Left that are turned away from God and toward class struggle.

Loving obedience to the First Commandment is the only way out of the chaos and destruction of the present times. As requested by Our Lady at Fatima, the world must return to God and His Holy Mother. When They reign as King and Queen, not only is a sound and just economy possible, but it becomes inevitable. 

[Photo Credit: Vatican Media]


  • John Horvat II

    John Horvat II is vice president of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property and the author of Return to Order.

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