Two new stories now featured on the website: The editors comment on the canonizations and what they say about how Francis wants to lead the church, while Charles R. Morris assesses economist Thomas Piketty’s much-talked-about take on capital, income, and economic inequality.
First, the editors:
What seems increasingly clear … is that Francis has taken the reform mandate given him by the conclave that elected him and run with it. He also wants to place the mercy of the Gospel, rather than its strictures, front and center. This has made him immensely appealing to both Catholics and those outside the church, but it remains to be seen if this more conciliatory style of governance will help overcome the church’s internal divisions.
Despite official denials from the Vatican, there is little doubt that Francis’s decision to canonize John XXIII and John Paul II at the same time is part of a broader effort to reconcile warring factions within Catholicism. This aim was manifest in Francis’s homily during the canonization Mass, where he boldly enlisted the legacies of his two predecessors in support of his upcoming Synod on the Family. Pope John was open to and guided by the Holy Spirit in an unprecedented way, Francis noted, while John Paul II wanted to be remembered as “the pope of the family.” Shrewdly uniting these complementary visions, Francis insisted that the upcoming synod would be “open to the Holy Spirit in pastoral service to the family.”
According to Piketty, income inequality in the United States is now “probably higher than in any other society at any time in the past, anywhere in the world.” The concentration of U.S. capital, as opposed to income, is not as great as in pre–World War I Great Britain—the world of the first season of Downton Abbey—but taking income and capital together, the United States is now about as unequal as Belle Époque Europe. Indeed, according to Piketty’s data, we now take the laurels as the most inegalitarian nation in the world, and on current trends may soon become the most inegalitarian nation in history—this from a country that invented progressive income and wealth taxation and whose founding documents are a celebration of the common citizen.