In his first encyclical released on Tuesday, Pope Francis laid out a broad mission statement which restated the church's opposition to abortion but also emphasized what it can do for the poor and oppressed trapped in a world of growing income inequality.
"It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new," the pontiff wrote in the 85-page document. "Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the 'exploited' but the outcast, the 'leftovers'.
The pope also denounced "trickle-down" theories of economics promoted by many conservatives and politicians who espouse an unregulated free market.
"In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world," he said. "This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting."