Although Pope Francis’s 50,000-word apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (“The Joy of the Gospel”) was addressed to “bishops, clergy, consecrated persons and the lay faithful,” secular news media were quick to comment on it. They were interested especially in the pope’s critique of unfettered capitalism, consumerism and globalization.

What the pope has to say about economics is particularly salient at a time when the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer in industrialized countries. This imbalance between the rich and poor, the pope said, “is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. . . . In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.” This system not only rejects ethics; it rejects God as well.

Francis declared that “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.” And it is not just the speculative investors on Wall Street who worship the golden calf, said Francis. Some among the “consecrated”—the ranks of clergy—are also seduced by it.