Markets and Morality

Papal encyclical: excellent theology, confused economics


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Philip Booth responds to the papal encyclical

Commenting on the release of Pope Francis’ encyclical, Philip Booth, Editorial and Programme Director at the Institute of Economic Affairs, said:

“Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato si’, is an important contribution to the theology and morality of the earth’s ecology in the context of an holistic conception of the human person. It follows in the footsteps of the contributions of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI.

“The political-economic analysis, however, is unduly pessimistic. Nowhere is it recognised that the models of development that are criticised have led to rapidly falling rates of poverty, global inequality and deaths from natural disasters whilst improving access to education and healthcare. Indeed, many environmental indicators have also improved dramatically.

“Pope Francis proposes some specific political-economic measures and opposes the privatisation of water and devices such as cap-and-trade to limit carbon emissions. This is a pity. Such policies, together with the better definition and protection of property rights, have been some of the most successful policies when it comes to dealing with environmental problems efficiently.

“There are lessons to be learned from where there has been success in dealing with environmental problems. But, this encyclical does not propose copying the successful models. This is a shame because, as Pope Francis points out, the future of the planet is a moral as well as an economic issue.

“However, this encyclical is not intended to be a political-economic document. Its theological message is important and transcends politics and economics.”

Notes to Editors:

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