From Deseret News:
NEW YORK — The Rev. Martin Schlag is a trained economist as well as a Catholic moral theologian, and when he first read some of Pope Francis’ powerful critiques of the current free market system he had the same thought a lot of Americans did: “Just horrible.”
But at a meeting on Monday at the Harvard Club, Schlag, an Austrian-born priest who teaches economics at an Opus Dei-run university in Rome, reassured a group of Catholics, many from the world of business and finance, that Francis’ views on capitalism aren’t actually as bad as he feared.
“You can get the impression that the pope is against capitalism,” said Schlag, who heads the Markets, Culture and Ethics Research Centre at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, located near the Vatican.
But he explained that what Francis — the first Latin American pope — understands as capitalism is in fact the “crony capitalism” that is found in the pontiff’s native Argentina and much of Latin America. Schlag defined “crony capitalism” as “a form of capitalism where people get rich not because of their work but because of their friendships and political connections and the privileges they have.”
That is quite different from the American system, he said.
“Does the pope understand the United States? I think he doesn’t know the United States,” said Schlag, who is also an adviser to the Vatican department that deals with social and economic issues.
Schlag’s view that Francis is conditioned by his Argentine experience is shared by many who seek to contextualize the pope’s criticisms, but it is not shared by all those who know the pope.
“Of course he knows” the U.S. because he has been meeting with U.S. bishops for years, and even more frequently since he became pope, Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras, a senior adviser to Francis, said during a visit to Washington last month. [So… His Holiness knows about economics in these USA because he has been meeting with US bishops?]
“He knows the Americans and he knows the culture as well,” said Rodriguez Maradiaga, who is also an outspoken critic of U.S.-style capitalism. [I am eager to see this knowledge of (USA) Americans made manifest!]
Still, Schlag said he believes that the pontiff’s Sept. 22-27 visit to the U.S., his first to the country, will be an opportunity for Francis to learn more about America and to appreciate the positive aspects of what Schlag said is the most successful economy in history.
Read the rest over there.