By dwelling on inequality, the pope is promoting envy. The Catholic Church, I had always understood, disapproves of envy, deeming it one of the seven deadly sins. I would have expected Francis to urge people to think of themselves in relation to God and to their own fullest potential. Encouraging people to measure themselves against others only leads to grief. Resenting the success of others is a sin in itself.Obviously, one can say the Pope is promoting virtue, notably charity. But the pitch comes from a Harvard professor, Lant Pritchett, whose expertise is in alleviating poverty, but hear him out. This next part may win over even the Pope fans:
While Jesus repeatedly preached against the love of riches, he was urging people to respond to a call to God and to become “rich to God.” It was not an appeal for people to resent the riches of others and obsess about material inequality. Jesus, when asked to remedy inequality, turned the focus back on envy and greed.Mere inequality is beside the point.
“Someone in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.’ He replied to him, ‘Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?’ Then he said to the crowd, ‘Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.’” (Luke 12:13-15)
I am all for reducing poverty... What I’m against is talking about “inequality” as if that term denoted any of those concerns. Poverty matters; injustice matters. Mere inequality is beside the point.