Does the pope do economics?

So we all know that the pope’s theological and social views are going to be the hardest of hardline. No way around that. But what about his economic views? Here’s a sample passage from the New York Times profile of Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) from Sunday: “Based on Cardinal Ratzinger’s record and pronouncements, his agenda seems clear. Inside the church, he would like to impose more doctrinal discipline, reining in priests who experiment with liturgy or seminaries that permit a broad interpretation of doctrine. Outside, he would like the church to assert itself more forcefully against the trend he sees as most threatening: globalization leading eventually to global secularization.”

That last clause is a bit of a mystery. The church should “assert itself more forcefully against… globalization”? Does that mean that, like John Paul II, he’s worried that much of globalization is becoming a modern-day form of colonialism? Or does it mean that he’s less concerned with the economic aspects of globalization per se and more concerned with the spread of less-than-fundamentalist culture? The former could turn the new pope into a useful ally for many progressives on global economic issues. The latter, obviously, not so much.

UPDATE: Stephen Bainbridge claims the new pope won’t be quite so close-minded as all that. Well, there are lots of people who pay lip-service to “diversity of opinion” who don’t actually respect diversity of opinion. But I suppose we’ll see.


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