Eleven scholars respond to Pope Francis’ clarion call for dialogue

OAKLAND, Calif. – In his speeches and encyclicals, Pope Francis has helped draw the world’s attention to the poor and oppressed, to the moral aspects of socio-economic issues, and to our relationship with the environment. Unfortunately, the media typically lacks a deep understanding of how these hot-button topics relate to doctrines of the Catholic Church. This shortcoming is remedied by the new book, POPE FRANCIS AND THE CARING SOCIETY, edited by economic historian Robert Whaples and with a foreword by the late Catholic scholar Michael Novak.

Compiling essays from professors, scholars, and economists from all over the world, POPE FRANCIS AND THE CARING SOCIETY delves into Pope Francis’ writings on these topics, particular his 2015 encyclical Laudato si’, explains why the pope approaches economics and the environment the way he does, and respectfully challenges some of his assertions about poverty, capitalism, and what he has called “our common home.”

Pope Francis’ experience in his home country of Argentina has greatly influenced his beliefs about economic matters, especially his views about the moral integrity and potential of markets and voluntary cooperation through civil society. That background, however, is only part of the rich context from which the pope interprets the world—a context with many unspoken assumptions, the book reveals.

POPE FRANCIS AND THE CARING SOCIETY expertly traces a variety of influences on the pope’s thinking, examines the pontiff’s factual claims about the economy and the environment, and offers a counternarrative to his widely shared pessimism on the environment, poverty, charity, and wealth creation.

Pope Francis has called for a worldwide dialogue on these subjects, and POPE FRANCIS AND THE CARING SOCIETY responds with clear, well-researched, and respectful replies even where it disagrees with the pope’s analyses and his interpretations of Catholic Church doctrine. 

Whaples (Professor of Economics, Wake Forest University) has assembled a book that shows why good intentions are not sufficient for creating good solutions, and why everyone has a stake in understanding the teachings of Pope Francis — and their implications for society.

“At a time when those today most responsible for transmitting Catholic social teaching need urgently to be reminded of some cause-and-effect realities essential to it, POPE FRANCIS AND THE CARING SOCIETY provides us with many necessary reminders, readably and soundly,” says John M. Finnis, Biolchini Family Professor of Law, Notre Dame, Law School.


For more information, to request a review copy, or to schedule an interview with Robert Whaples: