The documentary “Pope Francis: A Man of His Word” depicts the Pope’s worldview on social, spiritual, and political issues.
It shows Pope Francis reciting a litany of ills. Wars, violence, terrorism, environmental destruction, and poverty are major themes. He says Earth will soon have 8 billion people, and 1 billion will be poor.
A leftist canard the Pope repeats is that 20 percent of people own 80 percent of wealth. He blames that on capitalism.
But capitalism reduces poverty. Capitalism reduced poverty first in Great Britain, the United States, and Europe with the Industrial Revolution. When it spread to Asia and elsewhere, it reduced poverty there, too.
There is evidence that capitalism also reduces income inequality. But suppose it didn’t. Are the poor better off just because the rich are less rich?
In contrast, socialism increases both poverty and income inequality. For example, minimum wage laws reduce the number of jobs and people’s income. Why? Because businesses replace people with machines and reduce work hours. The destruction of Venezuela’s capitalist economy by socialism is one of many such failures.
Also, the specific people in the top and bottom 20 percent, change over time. After 15 years over 95 percent of people who start in the bottom 20 percent rise out of it. More will reach the top 20 percent than remain in the bottom 20 percent.
The inequality the Pope wrongly blames on capitalism has other causes. About 10 percent of people live in regions, like mountains or deserts, where production is difficult. That leads to high levels of poverty. Poverty is common in Sub-Saharan Africa partly because it lacks natural seaports. That limits trade and capital investment.
Wealth can depend on cultural and population differences, too. Young people tend to be less productive than older people. So younger populations tend to be poorer than older populations.
Pope Francis and producer Wim Wenders also talk about the evils of pollution and manmade climate change. They support the Paris climate accord. Yet President Donald Trump abandoned it. Why? Because at over $70 trillion this century it would make no measurable difference in global temperature.
Wenders claims population growth causes rapid species extinction. But experts dispute this. They worry that the false claim will erode science’s credibility.
Wenders shows images of human pollution and waste, like landfills where the poor pick through garbage, or masses of plastic waste in the ocean. He depicts them as common. He then shows Pope Francis pleading for people to stop consuming and wasting so much.
Accumulation of plastic in our oceans is a valid concern. But environmentalists exaggerate it badly. And modern landfills greatly lessen wastes’ negative impact on the environment. Engineers discover more ways to reuse waste all the time.
Capitalist countries have far better environmental records than socialist countries. E. Calvin Beisner of the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation demonstrates this in his chapter in the book “Counting the Cost: Christian Perspectives on Capitalism.”
There are some good things in “Pope Francis: A Man of His Word.” For example, the Pope promotes the value of family and a hard day’s work. But false, politically correct, socialist, radical environmentalist claims badly mar the film.
Tom Snyder, Ph.D. (Film Studies and Popular Culture) is editor of MOVIEGUIDE®: The Family Guide to Movies and Entertainment and a 25-year veteran journalist. Ted Baehr, J.D., is chairman of the Christian Film and Television Commission and publisher of MOVIEGUIDE® and an advisory board member of The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation.