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Here Are 5 Pope Francis Quotes On the Economy and Inequality

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Everyone’s favorite pope (sorry, Benedict) is making his first trip stateside next week and officials in the three cities hosting Pope Francis are already gearing up for huge crowds — and a huge boost in tourism revenue.

Starting next Tuesday, Pope Francis will pass through Washington, D.C., New York City, and Philadelphia over the course of six days. The arrival of the so-called “people’s pope” — with the subsequent increase in tourism, hotel and restaurant spending — is expected to generate anywhere from $400 million to half a billion dollars in Philadelphia, while D.C. and New York should also see major tourism boosts.

In addition to the effect he can have on local economies simply by showing up, Pope Francis has also had plenty to say about matters of finance and economics during his papal reign. In honor of Pope Francis’ American visit, here are five quotes from the head of the Catholic Church on issues such as the global economy, capitalism, and poverty.

In 2013, Pope Francis wrote a massive statement, called an apostolic exhortation, in which he decried what he called the “idolatry of money”:

“The worship of the ancient golden calf has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption.”

From the same 2013 writing, on the theory of trickle-down economics:

“[S]ome 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. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacra­lized workings of the prevailing economic system.”

In a speech in Bolivia earlier this summer, the pope sounded off on a single-minded obsession with money. (His quoting of Saint Basil the Great resulted in a backlash, but Pope Francis defended his comments as following the tenets of the Catholic Church.):

“[B]ehind all this pain, death and destruction there is the stench of what Basil of Caesarea called ‘the dung of the devil’. An unfettered pursuit of money rules. The service of the common good is left behind. Once capital becomes an idol and guides people’s decisions, once greed for money presides over the entire socioeconomic system, it ruins society, it condemns and enslaves men and women, it destroys human fraternity, it sets people against one another and, as we clearly see, it even puts at risk our common home.”

And, in the same speech, speaking (in Bolivia earlier this summer) about economic inequality:

“Working for a just distribution of the fruits of the earth and human labor is not mere philanthropy. It is a moral obligation. For Christians, the responsibility is even greater: it is a commandment.”

Last year, a Fortune magazine story investigated the finances of the Vatican, the seat of the Catholic Church, and Pope Francis’ efforts to steer financial reform. From that article:

“‘When the administration is fat, it’s unhealthy,’ he said. Francis wanted a leaner, more efficient Vatican administration that would be solidly ‘self-sustaining.’ That, he said, would free up more money for his charities.”

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