Pope Francis is out with a new apostolic exhortation, Laudate Deum, with the subtitle "To all People of Good Will on the Climate Crisis."
It's ostensibly about climate change, but there's plenty of economics and politics embedded in it. For example, "Regrettably, the climate crisis is not exactly a matter that interests the great economic powers, whose concern is with the greatest profit possible at minimal cost and in the shortest amount of time."
And, "This situation has to do not only with physics or biology, but also with the economy and the way we conceive it. The mentality of maximum gain at minimal cost, disguised in terms of reasonableness, progress and illusory promises, makes impossible any sincere concern for our common home and any real preoccupation about assisting the poor and the needy discarded by our society."
And, "If we consider that emissions per individual in the United States are about two times greater than those of individuals living in China, and about seven times greater than the average of the poorest countries, we can state that a broad change in the irresponsible lifestyle connected with the Western model would have a significant long-term impact."
Maybe the pope will have greater success winning over Americans to his agenda of combatting climate change if he doesn't denounce them as irresponsible for not living as poorly as Chinese Communists? Or maybe he's actually not looking to win over Americans but rather to make gains in the rest of the world by bashing America and the economic system that has enabled its prosperity.
My own religion, especially at this time of year, also makes the point that there's more to life than material comfort. So I am less dismissive than I might be. But Francis's letter comes as the latest Forbes 400 list emerged with an American, Elon Musk, at the top who became the world's richest person in part by selling electric cars. It comes as Donald Trump is campaigning attacking President Biden for mandates to hasten the transition to electric cars. It suggests it's a mistake to depict either America or the profit motive as obstacles in the fight against climate change. That fight has a better chance of success if it finds ways to ally with capitalism and the United States rather than attack it. If it goes the alternative route, plenty of people may conclude, with some reason, that at bottom it's about something other than climate.