Although the timing of its release may be a coincidence, Pope Benedict XVI’s recently published encyclical, “Caritas in Veritate” (Charity in Truth), sets the stage for his meeting on July 10 with President Obama. As readers around the world continue to reflect on the 30,000-word encyclical, many would like to read in it support for Obama’s all-out push for massive government intervention in the economies of the world’s nations. But the encyclical makes strong endorsements of the market-based economic principles necessary for people everywhere to enjoy economic freedom and growth.
As George Weigel notes, in the encyclical the Pope does not “regard the market as morally problematic in itself” but faults “the moral culture in which markets exists” in part for the global economic crisis. The well-being of humanity is “the source, the focus and the aim of all economic and social life,” the Pope writes, and he looks to “the market to promote [the] emancipation” of the poor.
When the Pope says “Charity in Truth,” he means absolute truth. The Pope rejects relativism and, as Sam Gregg of the Acton Institute has blogged, insists that the market economy be based not just on any value system but on the foundational truths revealed in the Christian scriptures and the teachings of the Church.
The encyclical makes clear that this Pope, like his predecessor, defends the same clear moral vision and principles that undergird the annual Index of Economic Freedom, published by The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal. As Gregg notes, the Pope also rejects protectionism and faults the traditional foreign aid models used by developed counties for creating an atmosphere of dependency among Third World governments. Since assuming office, President Obama has supported large increases in traditional foreign aid budgets and has failed to stand against protectionist labor unions and other anti-trade advocates in Congress.