Why Is God Missing in the Economy of Francesco?

The Economy of Francesco is the name of an initiative of Pope Francis in which he invites “young economists, entrepreneurs and change-makers of the world” to address the world’s economic problems. The project seeks to be an explosive source of energy and new ideas for a tired world in need of change.  

The primary vehicle for communicating this message is a multilingual website of the same name that presents the results of “listening” to “peoples” and “hearts” to construct a better world. Occasional online events and videos also populate the site and give the appearance of youthful exuberance.   

However, not all that glitters is gold. Looking beneath the surface of the project reveals old and familiar errors. While the stated goals might seem laudable, the underlying ideology is questionable. Everything on the site would appear much fresher if its recycled ideas were not so stale.  

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The Economy of Francesco is like wading through a confusing mixture that seems to be a jumble of U.N. commission reports, Laudato Si’ ecological manifesto, Green New Deal activism, and Amazon Synod tribal boilerplate. Like most of Pope Francis’ “listening” projects, this one only takes notice of what he wants to hear.   

The core of the Economy of Francesco is found in a message made “in the name of the young people and poor of the world.” While the website is made to appear youthful, it has a childish overtone and reads like Greta Thunberg. The introductory message on the site calls for change with the same desperate and urgent tone: “Our times are too difficult to ask for anything but the impossible.”

However, the appeal delivers what seems to be the impossible: a Vatican-inspired message that contains nothing identifying it as Catholic—or even religious. Indeed, nowhere in this nearly 900-word appeal do the words “God,” “Jesus,” “Mary” or “Catholic” appear. Sin and vice are also not mentioned. The document is not even directed to Church members but to “economists, entrepreneurs, political decision-makers, workers and citizens of the world.”

The project is all about humanity and nothing about divinity. It is so willing to be inclusive yet excludes God from the solution to the world’s problems. 

The materialist aspect is especially apparent since the project’s sole focus is building a better world through the economy. The project is divided into twelve “villages,” which are workgroups that discuss specific themes.

The twelve themes of the villages are management and gift, finance and humanity, work and care, agriculture and justice, CO2 of inequality, vocation and profit, business and peace, women for economy, energy and poverty, businesses in transition, life and lifestyle, and finally, policies and happiness.

The village themes highlight some legitimate areas of concern. However, the language employed to express them reflects the secularist, ecological, socialist, and “woke” schemes. To describe the project more accurately, perhaps it would be better to consolidate the twelve villages into four collectives or kolkhozes with themes that better reflect the egalitarian reality of their proposals.  

Thus, the first kolkhoz might highlight the theme of class struggle and equality. A constantly reoccurring theme of the Economy of Francesco is the division of the world into rich and poor or conflicts generated by identity politics. Instead of harmonizing society, this collective seeks to highlight class struggle as a means of realizing social justice. 

Thus, the inequality of nations is emphasized by the demand that advanced technologies be shared with low-income countries. Such technologies will be used to reach “sustainable production” and “climate justice.”  

The project also criticizes “economic ideologies” that “offend and reject the poor, the sick, minorities and disadvantaged people of all kinds.” The unnamed offender is not communism but those who seek profit in their labors. It further calls upon “economic organizations and civil institutions not to rest until female workers have the same opportunities as male workers.” 

Everywhere there is the constant call to equality. The emphasis implies that just and ordered inequalities that God desires, such as those based on talent, intellect, effort, and so forth, are illegitimate and unnecessary for human progress. Instead, these legitimate inequalities are condemned as not conducive to creating “authentically human and happy places.”

The kolkhoz for ecology and sustainability promotes a new ecological dictatorship that seeks to orient all things toward earth worship. Thus, there is the demand for stewardship of common goods, specifically the areas of “the atmosphere, forests, oceans, land, natural resources, all ecosystems, biodiversity and seeds.” These topics are at the center of concerns for achieving “climate justice.” 

The Economy of Francesco calls upon national and international institutions to promote and even “provide prizes” to those who can best bring about “environmental, social, spiritual and, not least, managerial sustainability” that will make possible “global sustainability of the economy.”

The goals and plans of the kolkhoz for Socialism and global regulation go beyond mere suggestions. Socialism engenders regulation and executive action. Like all socialist masterplans, this collective imagines laws, charters, and global treaties to enforce the good intentions of the project’s authors. 

Thus, there are calls for social policies “recognized worldwide by an agreed charter that discourages business choices based solely on profit.” A new global tax pact must be made to immediately abolish tax havens, which steal from “the present and the future.” There is no mention of eliminating communism.

New financial institutions, and existing ones like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, must “be reformed in a democratic and inclusive sense to help the world recover from poverty and imbalances produced by the pandemic.” Big companies and banks should “introduce an independent ethics committee in their governance with a veto on the environment, justice and the impact on the poorest.”

The last kolkhoz would call for the abolition of war and the establishment of peace. It rounds out the Economy of Francesco’s set of demands. “We young people can no longer tolerate resources being taken away from schools, health care, our present and our future to build weapons and fuel the wars needed to sell them.” 

War is seen from the Marxist materialist perspective of systemic causes. Inequality, poverty, and economic vulnerability endanger peace. War is never just. War is not “the wages of sin,” fallen human nature, or evil ideologies (like communism).

Thus, free markets are labeled unbalanced and seen as sources of conflict, while more egalitarian social structures foster peace. Social and environmental sustainability will usher in peace and eliminate war forever. 

The Economy of Francesco is a project without a soul. It is a collection of catchphrases taken from ecology, Socialism, and “woke” politics. The website reflects a forced enthusiasm that characterizes modern-day “youth activities” proposed by the progressivist, post-Second Vatican Council Church. And behind the appearance of youthful exuberance are the tired Marxist and ecological errors of times past and present.  

Such projects are shallow and unattractive because they are not center in eternal goals. There is no call to a return to personal virtue and sanctity or to combat sin and vice. The Economy of Francesco’s initial appeal does not invoke God or seek the aid of His Grace. 

The result is a bland appeal to an egalitarian material existence. The project’s young promoters are asked to commit “to living the best years of our energy and intelligence so that the EoF can increasingly bring salt and leaven to everyone’s economy.”

Such an appeal is contrary to the Church’s traditional call to holiness. In times when the principles of the Gospel informed society, Christendom’s hearts and minds were turned to the sublime spirit of the Way of the Cross. It permeated economy, art, and thought, and gave value, meaning, and beauty to all things human. Thus, a “Way of the Cross” economy found expression in the sacrifices and restraint linked to supplying human economic needs. 

Humanity will never find peace—the tranquility of order—until it returns to God, the center of all things. It must obey once more the Divine counsel: “Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).

[Image Credit: Economy of Francesco promotional video]


  • 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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