The protodeacon of the Catholic Church proclaimed on Wednesday, “I announce to you a great joy – we have a pope!”. The election of Pope Francis, an Argentinian, is certainly of great importance to the world’s 1.2bn Catholics. But does it matter to the City?
Certainly, the thinking of the Church influences the intellectual climate in which economic ideas are debated. Recently, the Church has been at the forefront of promoting the importance of ethics in financial markets. Indeed, the Catholic Church in England and Wales has been pursuing some interesting practical initiatives in the City. On a wider scale, whether the Church warms to, or is hostile to, a market economy and globalisation can make a difference to the debates about those issues.
But what does the new pope think? The BBC and other commentators have noted that the pope is a proponent of “social justice”. To the BBC this would mean that he is a proponent of socialism. However, the fact that Pope Francis cares deeply about the poor does not necessarily mean that he believes in a big state. In fact, he believes that government should create the conditions in which the poor can flourish. This is quite different from the social democrat view that sees the state as having a huge role in redistributing income and controlling the lives of the people.
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