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Why political, business and religious leaders must hear the Pope on economics

Free market faithfuls like Jagdish Bhagwati will shake their heads. Inequality fighters like Amartya Sen will light incense sticks. Enterprise-friendly politicians like Narendra Modi will roll their eyes. Nanny-statists like Sonia Gandhi will kneel with delight. Across cultures and geographies, among leaders and policymakers, in universities and think tanks, the 224-page Apostolic Exhortation by Pope Francis is going to be read by the curious, critiqued by the entrenched, worshiped by those left behind.

In a 51,254-word document, Francis attempts to build a moral fibre for Christians, by offering a mix of religious values with economic introspection. While he addresses seven questions — reform of the Church in her missionary outreach; temptations faced by pastoral workers; the Church, understood as the entire People of God which evangelizes; the homily and its preparation; inclusion of the poor in society; peace and dialogue within society; and spiritual motivations for mission — it is his social and economic perspectives that will resonate louder. Addressing the contemporary challenges that people across rich and poor nations face, he uses rhetoric, labelling and common sense as tools to strengthen his message. To borrow a phrase from behavioural economics, Francis changes the frame, so we see a new reality.

My column in First Post

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