Sometimes you don’t have to say anything “new” to make news. Consider, for instance, the “apostolic exhortation” the Vatican released last Tuesday.
This statement from Pope Francis, observers note, didn’t really break any bold new theological ground. But the Pope’s exhortation, the first all his own since he stepped onto the world stage last March, still made front pages the world over – and fully merited all that attention.
What makes this new papal statement so significant? No global religious figure has likely ever before denounced economic inequality with as wide-ranging – and as accessible – an assault.
Commentators are already tracing the roots of the new exhortation, formally titled Evangelii Gaudium, or The Joy of the Gospel, in the Catholic religious tradition. But the statement also seems to draw inspiration from the world’s most insightful research into inequality’s economic, social, and political impact.
And just what insights can we take from what Pope Francis has to say about inequality? These five jump out most dramatically.
Inequality has no redeeming social value.
Our most clever apologists for maldistributions of income and wealth no longer argue that the richest among us have more brains – or get-up-and-go – than the rest of us. They argue instead that we need grand fortunes.