The Pope, Inequality and Social Evil

Pope Francis raised a few eyebrows today with a post that equated inequality with social evil. Some called for equal pay and labor unions (because of course they would) and some called the man a communist (because of course they would). But, are his thoughts really out of line with both Catholicism and society at large?

The problem with a broad statement like the tweet in question is that it can be interpreted in some many different ways. When it comes to what the Pope says, I just assume the Catechism of the Catholic Church is involved. What does it say about “social justice?”


1928 Society ensures social justice when it provides the conditions that allow associations or individuals to obtain what is their due, according to their nature and their vocation. Social justice is linked to the common good and the exercise of authority.

Right there, you can see what the Left will jump on, assuming they know that this text exists (which is honestly up in the air most of the time). But it continues, as all good texts do. This part is one that probably deserves more thought than it is given.

1931 Respect for the human person proceeds by way of respect for the principle that “everyone should look upon his neighbor (without any exception) as ‘another self,’ above all bearing in mind his life and the means necessary for living it with dignity.” No legislation could by itself do away with the fears, prejudices, and attitudes of pride and selfishness which obstruct the establishment of truly fraternal societies. Such behavior will cease only through the charity that finds in every man a “neighbor,” a brother. (Emphasis mine. -Joe)

That bolding is indicative of the problem the big government types have – they don’t see an idea that man should be responsible for man on a personal level. They would instead legislated equality to a society that has yet to eliminate it personally, due significantly to the fact that man has lost most of its moral guidance from religion. Worshiping man, or worse, mammon, has replaced worshiping a higher power that represents the good we can strive to be. Man and mammon are fixed on quantifiable, earthly things, and so too are their worshipers.

God, however, calls man to something more. He calls us to transcend what makes man a flawed race. You cannot legislate that because man cannot elevate itself above itself.

The Church acknowledges that there is evil in inequality, which makes criticism of the Pope’s words, particularly the part about “the root of all evil”, at best, an argument of semantics.

1938 There exist also sinful inequalities that affect millions of men and women. These are in open contradiction of the Gospel:

To call it the “root of all evil” may be extreme, but the differences between man have led to horrendous evils in the past, and in their greed, lust, ambition, or any other emotion they may feel, men will use anything to justify their actions. And while the Church does, in fact, recognize that these evils exist, it also encourages us to put our faith in God and help our fellow man out in ways that government cannot – out of love and personal devotion to each other in the solidarity both God and his son, Jesus, call for.

I believe that would be a little closer to what the Pope is calling for. He would most assuredly not be calling for state socialism or communism, considering those forms of civilization have been responsible for some of the most grotesque injustices in history.