Pope Francis and Holding “Amoral” Subjects to a Moral Standard
Critics debate whether Pope Francis has any standing to comment on matters of world economics. Andrew Napolitano at Fox News questions whether Francis possesses the competency to discuss youth unemployment. Elizabeth Stoker of The Week argues that the pope has the duty to hold world economics to a moral standard.
Judge Andrew P. Napolitano penned an article last year for Fox News that declared Pope Francis “wide of the mark” in matters of economics. Napolitano’s criticisms of the pope reflect the thoughts of conservatives across America who question the pope’s economic “competency” while tip-toeing to avoid delving into harsher (blasphemous) irreverence. Napolitano’s article is seven months old yet The Week’s Elizabeth Stoker found it relevant enough to write a response posted earlier today. She contends that the arguments posed by Francis’ critics’ can be summed up as such:
…the church should stick to spiritual matters and shouldn’t dabble in “amoral” subjects like science, economics, or what have you.
What’s the Big Idea?
Stoker’s counterargument is that, for Francis and the church, there is no such thing as an amoral subject:
When Pope Francis comments upon economics, he doesn’t provide concrete, wonkish policy prescriptions. This is not because he lacks the insight or creativity to do so, but because his critiques are ultimately aimed at the subjects’ moral dimensions.
Francis consistently teaches that society puts itself at risk of committing the sin of idolatry — the object of our worship being the unholy dollar. While Napolitano argues that Francis should focus on more “important” issues such as war and abortion, Stoker believes it the pope’s duty to hold the supposed “amoral” subjects to moral standards. There already exists a moral debate about genocide; Francis may be trying to open the door to discussion about the injustices of modern economics. Stoker implies that folks like Napolitano don’t want that discussion to happen.
After all, why should anyone let a little old thing like morality get in the way of making a buck?
Ben Casselman of FiveThirtyEight analyzes the results of the latest American Time Use Survey and draws conclusions about the ways unemployment sap Americans. Not only do the unemployed possess a higher risk for depression, obesity, and suicide, they also tend to lead more inert lives than their employed counterparts.