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Cardinal Parolin links Pope Francis’s economic teaching to Aristotle, Pope Benedict

November 04, 2014

In a recent address, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, linked Pope Francis’s teaching on economics to Aristotle and the medieval scholastics.

He stated that for Pope Francis, as for Aristotle,

economic theory and policy are thus primarily “practical”, subordinated to the life of the pólis and morality, and meant to be directed by the virtues of justice and prudence. Ourpresent way of thinking, on the other hand, tends to see economics as a science whose method is phenomenological, charged with the task of finding the best means of directing human activity towards the goal of a maximum exploitation of resources.

Aristotle, on the other hand, whose thought, as taken up by the medieval scholastics, has served as an inspiration for Christian social theory, had already warned against what he called a second form of “chrematistics,” which would turn all human gifts and activities into means of making money (Politics, I, 9). This age-old temptation has returned to the fore in our own day, as Pope Francis observed when he pointedly called into question “our relationship with money, since we calmly accept its dominion over ourselves and our societies.”

Cardinal Parolin also emphasized the “profound harmony between the teaching of Pope Francis and that of his predecessors, particularly Benedict XVI.”


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  • Posted by: John J Plick - Nov. 04, 2014 11:35 AM ET USA

    The whole notion that the economy needs to be "controlled" and that the ensuing fruits then need to be "distributed" runs counter to the American concept of the freedom of the individual. A man is free to enrich himself by his own diligent toil & then to enrich others according to his own private benevolence.

  • Posted by: jg23753479 - Nov. 04, 2014 7:29 AM ET USA

    Yes, but many American "conservatives" may not realize just how profoundly CONSERVATIVE Francis' economic thinking really is; they have been taken in by the mistaken notion that Manchester School economics is an aspect of liberty-loving politics. In Europe, conservatives have (correctly) never bought this bill of goods, and Francis stands in that honorable tradition.