Holding My Fire, For Once

See, you can teach an old dog new tricks.

The other day when the Pope released Evangelii Gaudium, I was immediately directed by some to the paragraph deriding free-market economics and 'trickle-down' theories.

The paragraph I read said 54.
In this context, some people continue to
defend trickle-down theories which assume that
economic growth, encouraged by a free market,
will inevitably succeed in bringing about great
-er justice and inclusiveness in the world. This
opinion, which has never been confirmed by the
facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the
goodness of those wielding economic power
and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing
economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are
still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes
others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish
ideal, a globalization of indifference has devel
oped. Almost without being aware of it, we end
up being incapable of feeling compassion at the
outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s
pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though
all this were someone else’s responsibility and
not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens
My immediate thought was that this was silly formulation. As somebody who believes free markets are a very useful tool for spreading economic benefits, I don't any people, particularly Catholics, who think that free markets in and of themselves are the sufficient and exclusive method of helping the poor. Also, I believe that relinquishing more and more control of economies to centralized and insulated governments is, as the Pope would call it, a crude and naive and may I say foolhardy solution. Further, I think that a much more prevalent mindset among peoples is to cede responsibility for the poor to these centralized and insulated behemoths. "The government should really do something about that!"

But, having been burned before by poor translations, I decided to hold my fire. As it turns out, that was a prudent action for as Father Z. points out that a translation error changes some of the context of the quote.

Over at the other post a commentator pointed out that the official English rendering of EG 54 makes Spanish “por si’ mismo” into “inevitably”, but that it really means “by itself”.

Let’s swap in the “by itself” and read it again.

In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories ["trickle down economics"] which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will by itself succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world.

There is a big difference between “inevitably” and “by itself”!

There are uses of “mismo” that have to do with time, such as “ahora mismo” (“right now”). This is not one of those.

I think we can stipulate that “las teorías del «derrame»” is an adequate expression for English “trickle down” economics. We can drill, I suppose, into who generally uses the phrase “trickle down”. Some will say that only critics use the phrase. Let’s leave that aside. Also, I am not convinced that “justice and inclusiveness” does justice to “equidad e inclusión social”. ”Equidad” is not “justice”.

But the real point here is that in EG 54 the author says that “trickle down” economics cannot by itself produce the desired result.

That is, of course, correct.
So , yes, the Pope is correct in that free-markets alone are insufficient.  Still, I don't know many people who hold that it is but many people who hold that government solutions and control are sufficient.  Many people.  I see the latter as a much more prevalent abdication of our Christian obligation to the poor.

So while the Pope is technically correct in so far as the amended translation provides, I still think that his economic focus seems off.  Perhaps such attitudes are more prevalent in his native South America, but at least among free-market advocates in the developed West, I don't see this attitude.

More and more, investing all of our personal responsibilities in the Government is the problem.  I don't think many people will realize how big a problem this is until it is too late.  Perhaps the Pope is among them.
*subhead*What did the Pope really say?*subhead*


  1. I'm so disappointed that So many Catholics are seemingly unaware of church social and economic teaching. Francis is completely in line with Leo XIII.

  2. I'm so disappointed that So many Catholics are seemingly unaware of church social and economic teaching. Francis is completely in line with Leo XIII.

  3. 55 million abortions in USA alone and bergoglio is urging statism. Insane.

  4. This by the way from a man who, like all clergy, has had his every waking need paid for from the 'immoral' private sector. He has never run a business or created material wealth in his life.

  5. That's because JB preaches the prosperity gospel nonsense.

  6. Drip. Drip. Drip. It never stops with this pope. Francis has undermined my faith. It's not this wading into economics that bothers me so much. It's everything else, especially EG 94 and 95. He creates a straw man where "[in] some people we see an ostentatious preoccupation for the liturgy, for doctrine and for the Church’s prestige." That a pope would write this is heartbreaking. That a love for the Mass, for Christ's doctrines, for the beauty and majesty of he Church could ever lead one astray is unfathomable to me. This is not Catholic. This is straight from hell.

    A decade ago a wave carried me to the shores of the Catholic Church. In March it abruptly halted, and the tide of indifferentism and apathy that pulled and then kept me away for 20 years has returned. If what this pope has been teaching the past 9 months is true, then all the painstaking hours I've spent, re-learning the faith and trying to live it out is false. Pope Francis wanted to make mess: well, He has in this Catholic's life. After 10 years of certainty, I again question whether the Church is the one true faith - or, more correctly, that a 'one true faith' even exists. Either Francis is right and the Church is not what I thought it was, or He is wrong and.... the Church is not what I thought it was. I am stuck. Fatherless, Motherless, rudderless, confused... I thought I had rediscovered the pearl of great price... now, I don't know what it is. This doubt and questioning could not have come personally at a worse time. I am desperately afraid.

    I ask for your prayers, please.

    1. Many are going through this trial as we struggle with very few holy leaders in the Church. Our Faith is not dependent on having a good Pope at any point in time. The remnant must keep the one, true Faith and remain loyal to Christ's Holy Church. God bless you.

    2. Beachcomber, I have been feeling the same. Or at least very similarly. It is not Pope Francis alone, but what I have seen from him and from many I the church and the world. I am questioning much, and in a bad place.

  7. ^One man can shake your faith? Looks like it wasn't that strong to begin with...

    I'm a historian. If individual Popes could shake my faith, there are certainly far worse ones who could do the job than Pope Francis

  8. Instead of being concerned about the economic remarks maybe instead we should look at what he said yesterday in his homily. He said Jesus was angry with his disciples but PRENTENED NOT TO BE so he could question them on being slow to believe. He was referring to the signs of the times verse.

  9. Ulysses Dismas, that was sort of a jerky thing to say to beachcomber. No...it was a dick thing to say.

  10. On the matter at hand, I wish this Pope would stick to things he understands. However much that reduced his body of work, so be it.

  11. Beachcomber...I will pray for you. Please stand strong. Holy Mother Church has survived Popes who were much worse than Francis (who I personally think to be naive but not evil). She also survived the season of silliness (otherwise known as the 50 years after Vatican II) She will survive this pontificate as well.

  12. I agree with Wendi, Beachcomber.

  13. Govery slowly now, beachcomber, and stay close to the Holy Eucharist.

  14. I understand reservations on efficacy to souls relative to how Pope Francis has articulated (or purported to articulate) a particular teaching of the Church. But I'm not sure it is helpful to caricature the situation as 'the Church will survive this pontificate' to those we meet who are suffering from despair. I

    First, it is an unfair caricature (to put it mildly) of our Pope which appears to imply he is unfaithful. From what we can see now, his rudder is sailing on faithful and he will guide souls to set their rudder to sail on faithful.

    The man is trying to break through the diabolical disorientation. I wouldn't describe myself as a cheerleader on some of his tactics, but he has heard our criticism and been more thoughtful about what he is saying in the public square. He has won over the hearts of the media, shifted the tide of venom that was building in the public square - possibly saving lives by slowing the vigilantes and enemies of the Church.

    Perhaps he was wise enough to know that was an emergency. Wiser than we are, perhaps.

    More importantly, for the poor suffering soul who is digesting the situation through this kind of despair, it probably is more helpful to lift them out of the hole by pointing out the course corrections of the Pope, his affirmation on Church teaching and the magnificent Liturgies in the public square (not counting the antics at world youth day - LOL).

    Prayers and peace.


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