Evangelii gaudium 54 (“trickle-down economics”). Significant translation error changed meaning.

I have mentioned that people have raised translation problems with the new Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium. I posted under another entry about problems with par. 54, which in the English translation mentions “trickle-down” economics.

Since that other post delved into more things – the discussion there has been interesting – I thought it useful to pull out of EG 54 just the first part.

Let us assume that the original composition was Spanish:

54. En este contexto, algunos todavía defienden las teorías del «derrame», que suponen que todo crecimiento económico, favorecido por la libertad de mercado, logra provocar por sí mismo mayor equidad e inclusión social en el mundo.

Official English…

In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world.

Over at the other post a commentator pointed out that the official English rendering of EG 54 makes Spanish “por si’ mismo” into “inevitably”, but that it really means “by itself”.

Let’s swap in the “by itself” and read it again.

In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories [“trickle down economics”] which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will by itself succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world.

There is a big difference between “inevitably” and “by itself”!

There are uses of “mismo” that have to do with time, such as “ahora mismo” (“right now”).  This is not one of those.

I think we can stipulate that “las teorías del «derrame»” is an adequate expression for English “trickle down” economics.  We can drill, I suppose, into who generally uses the phrase “trickle down”.  Some will say that only critics use the phrase.  Let’s leave that aside.  Also, I am not convinced that “justice and inclusiveness” does justice to “equidad e inclusión social”.  “Equidad” is not “justice”.

But the real point here is that in EG 54 the author says that “trickle down” economics cannot by itself produce the desired result.

That is, of course, correct.

No economic plan will solve the problems of the poor by itself.  Economic plans must be carried out by people who have good, solid morals and values.

I submit that these morals and values must be rooted in religion.

Bottom line: Whoever did the English translation of EG 54 did Pope Francis and the watching world a grave disservice and caused confusion.  The use of “inevitably” for “por si’ mismo” changes the meaning of the key phrase in a significant way.  The confusion will be difficult to rectify.

The Pope is not so much condemning a specific approach to helping the poor, though I think it is fair to assume that he isn’t a fan of “trickle-down” economics.  What he is really going after is the notion that markets, plans, schemes, theories, what have you, can be relied on to help the poor by themselves, that is, without our personal engagement and choice to take responsibility actually to help the poor in concrete ways.


In the meantime, we still don’t have Latin on the Vatican site.  I suspect we won’t get the Latin.

Moreover, it seems you can’t read the document online any more at the Vatican site.  Now you have to download a pdf.

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  1. mamajen says:

    Very very interesting. Checked just now and even Google Translate rendered that phrase as “itself”.

    So, how on earth did this happen? Is it what Rush was speculating–people with ulterior motives playing with the words? Someone’s bias shining through?

  2. Eliane says:

    It falls upon Pope Francis to speak and write with clarity and lack of ambiguity and to have his words translated to the world by competent, honorable translators. This cottage industry of people explaining that he “really means” has gone on too long. One must suspect that he intends for this. Perhaps he sees some good coming out it, or at least one hopes that could be the case.

  3. mamajen says:

    One must suspect that he intends for this.

    No, one really mustn’t.

  4. Fr. Bryan says:

    Hence the importance of having documents released by the Pope and the Holy See released first in Latin, then only after in the vernacular.

  5. J_Cathelineau says:

    That expression, “teoría del derrame” (trickle down theory) was widely and commonly used in Argentina during the 90s. It was like a mantra and it should be understood in that context.
    On that days our country was in a great, but quite artificial economic expansion driven by privatizations and heavy indebtment. Many economists on that time used that expression meaning both rendered senses: “by itself” and “invitably” as well, like “automatically”. National macro-economy improved, but many poor families suffered especially in the countryside. The common thinking was that “Market forces will do it (inevitably, by itself, and automatically) and its just a matter of time”. That time never came, the trickle never happened and the result was the worst economic catastrophe of our catastrophic history. Government defaulted its debt, companies go bankrupt. Something like the subprime, but much worst, because common people lost all their bank savings,their jobs, their houses, and everything. Many middle class families ended in the slums. A huge Detroit.
    And now the expression is used in a pejorative and ironic way.

    As i said before, Pope Francis is a peronist, and peronism believes in the state intervention in the economy. That is a fact, but he is not a Liberation theologist (if that is what is feared here), he believes in community, not in class struggle, and he is sympathetic to the poor but he does not believes in the sanctity of proletarism.

    Its ideological used in both ways (when the “derrame” is praised by ultramarket minded analysts, and when is rejected by socialists), and lacks of common sense. The art of government needs a context and realism. Sometimes you would need some intervention or keynesianism, sometimes to let the markets freewheel is healthy.
    Anyway, I think it should not be used in a pontificial document, because its ideological.

    Wish my english is better, so i would help more. The point is that the expression should be put in the context of the mind of an argentine pope. And believe me, that is not an easy task. Not even for argentines.

  6. Supertradmum says:

    Well, sadly, several local papers have already picked up the mistranslated phrase and some people have seen it as a direct assault on Reaganomics. This was part of a discussion yesterday from which I withdrew being solidly outnumbered.

  7. NickD says:

    I was about to say it but Fr Bryan beet me to it…this is why the documents have got to be in Latin!

  8. Lepidus says:

    I am probably totally off base for this thought, but I’ve always wondered about the Church getting involved politics, specifically. I’m not just referring to the present Holy Father, but his predecessors and Church leadership in the US. I don’t mean things on which the Church has a defined position, but on things where good Catholics can have a variety of opinions fully in line with Church teaching. Yes, speak on the duty to help the poor – but positions on whether or not that should be done via charitable actions or government mandates? Yes, speak on the need to be mindful of the needs of immigrants, but taking a position on how that relates to illegal behavior? I keep coming back to the thought that the comments should be addressed to the responsibility of individuals living under various circumstances, rather than comments on what those circumstance should be. (Of course, this again means things open to discussion, rather than mandates on immoral behavior).

    Again, I could be way off base on this….

  9. jhayes says:

    Further on, Francis explains what he means by “equidad” (this is the only other place where he uses that word)

    204. Ya no podemos confiar en las fuerzas ciegas y en la mano invisible del mercado. El creci- miento en equidad exige algo más que el crecimiento económico, aunque lo supone, requiere decisiones, programas, mecanismos y procesos específicamente orientados a una mejor distribución del ingreso, a una creación de fuentes de trabajo, a una promoción integral de los pobres que supere el mero asistencialismo. Estoy lejos de proponer un populismo irresponsable, pero la economía ya no puede recurrir a remedios que son un nuevo veneno, como cuando se pretende aumentar la rentabilidad reduciendo el mercado laboral y creando así nuevos excluidos.

    204. We can no longer trust in the unseen forces and the invisible hand of the market. Growth in justice requires more than economic growth, while presupposing such growth: it requires decisions, programmes, mechanisms and processes specifically geared to a better distribution of income, the creation of sources of employment and an integral promotion of the poor which goes beyond a simple welfare mentality. I am far from proposing an irresponsible populism, but the economy can no longer turn to remedies that are a new poison, such as attempting to increase profits by reducing the work force and thereby adding to the ranks of the excluded.

    [You used the official translation. However, translation problems remain. For example, “equidad” does not seem to mean “justice”. Furthermore, the words “por si’ mismo” remain hovering over all of this.]

  10. Supertradmum says:

    Lepidus, you need to read encyclicals. The Church has and should be involved in politics, as politics and the running of governments should be under the rule of natural law and Revelation. Also, the ideal of separation of Church and State is not a Catholic teaching at all. Religion informs the governance of men and women.

  11. slainewe says:

    I do not understand why the Vatican tolerates mistranslations. How hard is it to have objective translators retranslate all vernacular translations back into Spanish for the Pope’s secretary to verify before they are released?

  12. jhayes says:

    A more literal translation of “equidad” might be “equity” or “fairness”, but, Francis explains in 204 that, to him, it means things like “better distribution of income”, etc. which are part of “social justice” as described in Rerum Novarum, Quadragesimo Anno, Centesimus Annus, Caritas in Veritate , etc., so that may be why the translator chose “justice.” [I am not convinced that that works.]

  13. Matt R says:

    I realize the difficulties of not having the authoritative Latin version, though I do think that it will come. It took about a month for one of the encyclical letters of BXVI to be issued in Latin, IIRC.

    Also, Google Evangelii Gaudium and then click the little green arrow. That brings up the cached version, which as of right now is the online version, not the awfully-formatted PDF.

  14. Cosmos says:

    I am not a hard-core advocate for the American economic system. But is there anything more exhausting than listening to philosophers talk about economics? It’s amateur hour. Everything is over-simplification, always in one direction.

    All that can really be said is that economies tend to do well over the long-term when wealth is spread-out among lots of hard-working, virtuous people who use thier money wisely. Poor people benefit from such economies. But what is always, “inevitably” implied is that free-market capitalism has failed. Well, if it has failed, than state-regualted, socialism has failed too by any similar standard. If greedy-capitalists hurt the poor, so do the over-confident, know-nothing, power-hungry polititians of the “people.”

    We need to be preaching to Capitalists to convert and to remmeber the poor, being generous with their gifts. What we don’t need to continue doing is empowering leftist political parties through shallow economic discourse full of truisms.

  15. Bosco says:

    I trust this comment of mine is in-line with this thread dealing with significant translational errors.

    Today the Holy Father reportedly delivered himself of a homily at Mass today in the Casa Sanctae Martha during which, the Vatican Radio website reports, Pope Francis said: “In the Gospel, Jesus does not become angry, but pretends to when the disciples do not understand him.” http://en.radiovaticana.va/articolo.asp?c=751058

    I’m sure ‘pretends’ (to get angry) is some sort of mistranslation too and to my mind a significant one. Jesus faked getting angry? C’mon now. Jesus faked His reactions?

  16. Geoffrey says:

    I hope and pray a Latin text makes its appearance, but I fear not, as there are apostolic exhortations that have only been promulgated in the vernacular, but these tended to be for a specific local church, as opposed to the universal Church. In a way, there is a precedent, and yet there is not…

  17. cdbeard01 says:

    Is there really that much of a difference in meaning between “inevitably” and “by itself”? [YES!] The sense of the passage seems the same to me either way. [?] I don’t think we should make a mountain out of a molehill. [Wrong wrong wrong.]

    Most of us aren’t called to be politicians or to participate in public life much past voting. I think the pope is saying that we should be dealing with structural poverty in some other way–not relying the government or private charities or the invisible hand of the free market. I took most of the document as a way to find another way to deal with poverty as individuals and as a society.

    As an aside, I don’t know if Francis has read Peter Maurin, but I thought there were several parts of the exhortation that Maurin could have written in its strong rejection of both capitalism and socialism.

  18. iPadre says:

    These translation problems are not new. I remember Fr. Z pointing out issues between the Latin and the English translation during the reign of Benedict XVI. Could it be there are no longer enough Latin scholars in the Vatican? I doubt it!

    It is interesting that the document is now only available in PDF. I wonder what that is all about. I already may myself an ePub version, but THEY should be doing it. Problem with the Vatican website, it is still in 1970. Wait, they didn’t have the internet in 1970.

    I hope someone in the Vatican is reading this – PLEASE give us a Vatican.va that is with the times (html, PDF, ePub, etc…) and easy to navigate! Please!!!

    No one wants to rip of the Holy Father’s words, but we want them and we want the world to have them!

  19. Bosco says:

    With all due respect, please not the ” I think the pope is saying that…” line again. If I had a Mystic Monk coffee for every time I read that line I’d be a happy man.

  20. excalibur says:

    I wish I could get this to Michael Savage, who also went off on Francis. Relying, naturally, on misinformed takes and bad translation. Savage has been quite firmly a friend to Catholics 95% of the time but he took this from the media and unfortunately ran with it.

  21. Bosco says:

    “Relying, naturally, on misinformed takes and bad translation.”

    Really? I didn’t know this matter had been settled definitively one way or the other as yet.

  22. majuscule says:

    Thank you excalibur. Someone in my household has Savage on every weekday. I found myself yelling at the radio! He reads a media report about the pope and rants as if he had read the original in its original language. If a talk show host can’t do the most basic research on something like this, why believe him on anything he talks about.

    Yeah, I know…he’s just an entertainer.

  23. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Re: “pretends” — The Italian is apparently “ma fa finta,” which is more like “makes a pretense” or “feigns” or “plays at.” I guess the Pope is saying that it was a rabbinical/rhetorical thing, or like my dad telling us kids that dessert is full of arsenic while fully expecting us to understand that it’s not.

    There’s certainly an argument for this. Jesus’ comment to the Syro-Phoenician woman about giving the children’s bread to dogs was not him really snarking at Syro-Phoenicians, but posing her a rabbinical challenge to get her to reply with something bold. Jesus often asks questions while already knowing the answer (and what the disciples will answer, of course!). These remarks aren’t for his own sake or to express his feelings, but to get his students to expand and think and learn.

  24. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Forgot to capitalize all the His-es! Sorry!

  25. farmer88 says:

    I really hope a Latin text is released. If this exhortation is meant for the universal Church, then why not use the universal language of the Church?

  26. jmgarciajr says:

    Two points:
    1- I keep hearing “well, if the Pope doesn’t want to be mistranslated, he should be more clear.” But that line of reasoning has a flaw: All the other translations are faithful to the Spanish, but English and only English has these problems. If the Holy Father wrote in so unclear a manner then how did the rest of the translations go one way while English went another?

    2- For what it’s worth, here is my translation from the Spanish which I’m led to understand that Fr. Lombardi had confirmed was the original.

    204. We can no longer have confidence in the unseen forces and the invisible hand of the market. Growth in equity [To my mind a better term for “equidad” would have to be an made-up word along the lines of “equitableness.”] requires more than economic growth, even though such [economic growth] is as a given [to an increase in equity]: it requires decisions, programs, mechanisms and processes specifically oriented to a better distribution [In Spanish, the word “distribution” is to be read with a certain measure of passivity, akin to the way we use it in English in phrases such as “frequency distribution.” Kindly note this, by not calling for a re-distribution of income makes more sense when viewed in light of 3rd world crony-capitalism.] of income, to the creation of sources of employment and an integral championing of the poor which goes beyond mere welfare. I am far from proposing an irresponsible populism, but the economy can no longer turn to remedies that are a new [in the sense of “different”] poison, like when seeking to increase returns by reducing the labor market and thereby creating new excluded [persons].

  27. Desertfalcon says:

    @ J_Cathelineau, is there anything specific that would cause you to believe that +Bergoglio was a supporter of the Peronist movement and party? I’m not saying he couldn’t be but it would be a bit unusual as the Peronists have clashed with the Church numerous times since the 1950’s and Cardinal Bergoglio has done so specifically, with the Kirchners. I would think it more likely that Pope Francis supports state intervention in the economy because that is part of Catholic social teaching, not because he is a Peronist.

  28. KingofCharity says:

    Why can’t the CDF take charge of all translations? It would make sense to have the CDF review, translate, and publish any and ALL official statements coming out of the Vatican. The Pope writes in Latin, then the CDF translates into global languages.

  29. Rich says:

    This may be splitting hairs, but I think that given how the word “inclusive” can be spun in modern nomenclature, I think there is another potentially misleading translation of words in #27 of the document. Again, assuming the original is in Spanish, our Holy Father calls for pastoral activity which “en todas sus instancias sea mas expansiva y abierta”. A literal translation calls for pastoral which “in every instance is more expansive and open”. Fair enough. But, in the English translation of Evangelii Gaudium, these word are rendered as “on every level more inclusive and open.” By itself, “expansive” indicates pastoral activity which reaches out to MORE people, not necessarily to different types of people. This isn’t to say that different types of people should not be reached out to, and to suggest such an idea would run counter to much of what is conveyed by Pope Francis in the apostolic exhortation. But “expansiva” just does not translate to “inclusive” without there being quite a bit of liberty taken by the translator in thinking what the document should say here, and no less doing so by choosing so loaded a word as “inclusive”, especially when the word “expansive” could have been used and understood just fine. Paired then with the word “open” – “more inclusive and open”- these words take a life of their own and may very potentially be read as meaning something foreign to what our Holy Father intended.

  30. Geoffrey says:

    “I really hope a Latin text is released. If this exhortation is meant for the universal Church, then why not use the universal language of the Church?”

    Amen to that!

  31. S.Armaticus says:

    Frankly speaking, t0 use of a term like “trickle down” economics or theory is very “un serious” to put it mildly. No serious (read rational) person would us a term like this any more than they would use the counter pejorative expression “trickle up poverty”. And to find it in a papal document is nothing short of definitive proof of the workings of an ideologically twisted mind. However is the editor of this document should be fired.

    From Wikipedia:
    “”Trickle-down economics” and the “trickle-down theory” are terms in United States politics to refer to the idea that tax breaks or other economic benefits provided by government to businesses and upper income levels will benefit poorer members of society by improving the economy as a whole.[1] The term has been attributed to humorist Will Rogers, who said during the Great Depression that “money was all appropriated for the top in hopes that it would trickle down to the needy.”[2] The term is mostly used ironically or as pejorative.”

  32. Praying4Mercy says:

    Hence, whenever the Pope or the Vatican comes out with some declaration, we need to wait until the dust settles, especially after the press has uttered their proclamations as to meaning, before jumping in with our thoughts and criticism. It also makes one wonder about what we can trust and not trust. Interestingly, however, is that such problems appear to be occurring more frequently with Pope Francis than with his predecessors.

  33. Kerry says:

    Interesting that when the Pope says something people already believe, (confirmation bias), he must be speaking the truth. When His words take people places they do not want to go, (ordination of Wymmen, contraception etc.) not so much.
    Four economists walking down a road fall into a very deep hole. One says, “I can get us out of here. First, assume a ladder.” Heh.

  34. bposullivan says:

    If “trickle down” cannot by itself provide the solution, doesn’t that logically entail that trickle down will not “inevitably” provide the solution? [No.] “Cannot by itself” implies something else has to happen–and unless the “something else” is “death and taxes” or the sun rising in the East, it’s not inevitable. So, while of course it would be better if mistranslations didn’t happen, I don’t really see why this one is such a bog deal.

  35. Andrew says:

    If someone asked me to translate this into Latin, I would insist on having the liberty of re-wording many parts: of translating concepts instead of words: for example speaking of “trickle-down theories” one might speak of “the increase of wealth overflowing on others” (opes reduntant). It would have to be a co-operation between the author and the translator. Otherwise you force the translator to come up with some weird expressions that are foreign to the Latin language. I have read at the Vatican website some recent Latin documents that make me cringe. They remind me of lobster meat made out of soya beans.

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  36. jhayes says:

    Andrew writes: If someone asked me to translate this into Latin, I would insist on having the liberty of re-wording many parts: of translating concepts instead of words

    Dynamic equivalence? The problem is that we would then get a clear statement of your understanding of the concepts – which may not be Francis’ understanding.

    If it is confirmed that Francis wrote the original in Spanish, I would just add a note at the end saying that the Spanish text is the official version and governs in case of any discrepancy with translations.

    It is important that there be an official version to which all others can be compared, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be Latin.

  37. BobP says:

    Fair points, Andrew. It should have been first released in Latin, not as an afterthought. There has to be some continuity with Church documents. One can’t tell what’s authoritative and what’s not otherwise.

  38. M. K. says:

    This may seem like a tangent, but since Fr Z raised this question in the post I think it’s fair game: why the shift to the PDF? I’m reminded of the rather persnickety response that the Vatican took regarding the republication of “Lumen Fidei” – having previously adopted what was de facto a broad acceptance of the principle of fair use, the Vatican has suddenly become very zealous about intellectual property issues. Is posting the exhortation in PDF form only meant to thwart efforts to copy the text onto other webpages? [I am pretty sure you are spot on.]

  39. KingofCharity says:

    Perfectly said, “It should have been first released in Latin, not as an afterthought. There has to be some continuity with Church documents. One can’t tell what’s authoritative and what’s not otherwise.”
    Latin was the Church’s safeguard against the confusion of languages after the Fall. Confusion, division, and “scattering” of unity is always the work of the devil. Language translation is no nit-picky, trivial issue within doctrine and the life of the Church. In fact, language goes to the heart of the Apostolic mission. The Body of Christ, the Church, needs to be certain that the information they are receiving is accurate. This goes to the heat of the indefectible nature of the Church and its infallible mission. What the church perceives to be the voice of Peter does matter. Perception is reality.
    That is why I think the CDF should take a larger role in ALL papal announcements. We need a Congregation for the Interpretation, Translation, and Transmission of Doctrine and Papal Thought, or The Congregation for the Interpretation, Translation, and Transmission of Doctrine and the See of Peter.
    As part of the development of doctrine, perhaps we have come to a point in history (the immediate availability of information in the Digital Age) where the Church must not only look at their infallible message, but how they can communicate and transmit that message with absolute clarity and certainty. How can anything be infallible, if we aren’t sure that the methods of transmitting the message itself is safeguarded and not prone to error?

  40. bposullivan says:

    If “trickle down” cannot by itself provide the solution, doesn’t that logically entail that trickle down will not “inevitably” provide the solution? [No.]

    Ha! Well, thanks for the answer, Father Z! :)

    I still don’t see, though, how we could simultaneously say 1. trickle down will “inevitably” solve the problem and 2. something else besides “trickle down” is required as part of the solution. Is it inevitable that the “something else” would occur? Or, I guess the desired outcome could be “conditionally inevitable”–as in “[b]if[/b] trickle down policies are implemented [b]and[/b] x, y and z also occur, then the problem will inevitably be solved. [This is overly complication. “por si’ mismo” is “by itself”.]

    Clearly the sentence doesn’t say that trickle down will inevitably fail or that it can’t be [/part] of the solution; but it doesn’t say that in either translation.

  41. lousaint says:

    I guess if that change clarifies it and is more accurate that’s fine. But, aside from that, I don’t see what’s objectionable about the statement as translated. Whatever link there might be between economic growth and justice and inclusiveness, there’s nothing “inevitable” about it. Am I missing a subtle heresy against Reaganomics?

    Anyway, there’s no news here. The popes have been consistent critics of capitalism from the beginning of capitalism. The only reason this makes the news is that the left wants Pope Francis to be a liberal. This doesn’t make him a liberal any more than Rerum Novarum made Pope Leo XIII a liberal or Caritas in Veritate made Pope Benedict XVI a liberal.

    Maybe we would be better served by trying to understand these statements in light of that long line of papal teaching instead of seeing it as something to be deconstructed in light of Pope Francis’s personal history, politics or “style”. If you’re looking for a hermeneutic of continuity, you’ll find it there.

  42. Dan says:

    Yes, when I think on the joy of the gospel, the great gift of salvation and the power of the resurrection, the very first thing that comes to mind is economic theories.

    “Sometimes we are tempted to find excuses and complain, acting as if we could only be happy if a thousand conditions were met.” – EG 7

    Sounds about right.

  43. M. K., that may be, but there are a few reasons to doubt that. First, there are other sites, I think catholic untrue is one of them, that have published html versions of the exhortation. Second, I have been hosting 1) a link to a digital locker with E.G. in various formats and 2) those same files themselves. The files have been downloaded from my site hundreds of times, and hundreds more from the digital locker. In addition, I have been doing the same for Lumen Fidei since the stupi kerfuffle occurred. Now, I barely blog, and my site gets minuscule traffic normally, but thousands of people have come to my site specifically for E.G. If I haven’t received a cease and desist by now, I don’t expect one.

    Lastly, I don’t like referring to those who told Vogt to stop distribution of L.F. as “the Vatican.” In all likelihood, they were people endowed with no Church authority. They were not bishops; they probably weren’t even ordained. As far as I am concerned, the distribution of Church documents by Church members is a Church matter. Maybe if somebody was selling copies…

  44. aviva meriam says:

    Thank you for the updated and corrected translation.

    I am generally appalled by the lack of understanding of economics in the popular press. There is NO perfect economic system, but the free market does the BEST job at providing opportunity and raising everyone’s living standards. Unfortunately, it frequently gets short shrift in the popular debate.
    Furthermore, the Peronist economics Pope Francis is accustomed to are not free market, nor do they allow for maximum opportunity for all. They’re corrupt. They create pain. They allow for those with influence to lock out others from innovating and entering markets (thereby bettering everyone’s standards) through that corruption (RENT SEEKING ala James Buchanan).

    Wish the free market champions were more vocal.

    Hope the Vatican can hire translators who understand the nuances better….

  45. MikeM says:

    These issues are inevitable, and they existed long before Pope Francis. Translations are never perfect. Additionally, Popes are in the awkward position of having to write one thing that everyone in the world will read… but we all look at them in our local context, and our situations can be quite different. It’s worth remembering that while the policies of the Reagan-Thatcher era were arguably the economic salvation of the US and UK, the policies in Latin America during that time, even from leaders who supposedly based their policies on the advice of the same Chicago School (and other similar) economists, were more of a mixed bag. The policies were promoted with the same basic lingo in many countries of the world, but the policies weren’t identical. This will naturally lead to some confusion. Even within the United States, different people think of different things when they hear even the most elemental phrases, like “free market.”

  46. Jeanna says:

    The question I have is how do you define “trickle down” economics? The MSM dubbed Reaganomics “trickle down economics” but when I look at Reagan’s policies and ESOP’s and how they work it doesn’t sound at all like “trickle down economics” but is more in line with enabling everyone with the ability (and natural human right) to become an owner in the means of production as Pope Leo XIII called for in Rerum Novarum section 46:

    “We have seen that this great labor question cannot be solved save by assuming as a principle that private ownership must be held sacred and inviolable. The law, therefore, should favor ownership, and its policy should be to induce as many as possible of the people to become owners.”

    I recently read Venerable Fulton Sheen’s “Freedom Under God” and it cleared up a lot of my misunderstandings about the Catholic approach to economics. I can’t recommend it enough.

  47. jmgarciajr says:

    P.S. In a correct translation of (likewise in the original Spanish) #54, the word “inevitably” does NOT appear.

  48. Pingback: Wait, was a key bit of the controversial Pope Francis economic statement wrongly translated? | AEIdeas

  49. kmcgrathop says:

    @ J Cathelineau – Thank you for your perspective, which I am assuming is from Argentina. We Americans frequently assume that everything is ‘all about us,’ and forget the other contexts the Pope himself has come from and to whom he is writing. Your description of Pope Francis as a ‘Peronist’ is intriguing and the distinctions you make about his ‘economics’ seem spot on. But in being something of a statist in economic matters, Francis is no different than Benedict, John Paul II or Paul VI or just about any modern pope.

  50. Pingback: Evangelii Gaudium and Trickling Translations | Opus Publicum

  51. Unwilling says:

    Just now, CNN’s top story online is Rush saying what Francis says is pure Marxism. Rush’s paraphrase of parts of EG might describe “pure Marxism” and that it is “sad”. I agree with that last adjective. An ex-SJ professor friend of mine, who began as a fan, said yesterday “Der Papst redet Quatsch”. Where is this going!?

  52. Nan says:

    @Lepidus, there’s a huge difference in addressing poverty through charity and through government programs; in the first, people give voluntarily, in the second, giving is forced through tax dollars. I think Pope Francis is right, something different needs to happen. When people on welfare are giving interviews saying it’s stupid to work when everything is provided for them, there’s something wrong with how the poor are helped in our society. People are no longer counseled to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and it is no longer shameful to seek a handout as an able-bodied adult. They keep saying the economy is improving and more jobs are out there but it seems many don’t feel the need to bother applying.

  53. Dan says:

    “In today’s world of instant communication and occasionally biased media coverage, the message we preach runs a greater risk of being distorted or reduced to some of its secondary aspects. In this way certain issues which are part of the Church’s moral teaching are taken out of the context which gives them their meaning. The biggest problem is when the message we preach then seems identified with those secondary aspects which, important as they are, do not in and of themselves convey the heart of Christ’s message.” – EG 34


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  55. Pingback: Source: Pope Francis Likely to Offer 'Clarification' to Distance Himself from 'Liberation Theology'

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