In veiled jab at Milei, Pope Francis says state’s role is to provide social justice

The Argentine president has repeatedly spoken out against the concept, calling it ‘unjust’

Pope Francis said that the state is called upon to deliver social justice and that profits and the market are “false deities” that lead to the destruction of the planet. He made these remarks in a video message sent to an association of judges, in what seemed to be a veiled jab at Argentina President Javier Milei, who has described social justice as “unjust.”

The pope also said that people in public office should remember that winning a legitimate election is not enough to adequately perform their job. “Legitimacy must also be sustained in everyday practice,” he stated in his speech to the Pan American Committee of Judges for Social Justice and Franciscan Doctrine (COPAJU, for its Spanish initials).  

Milei has repeatedly spoken out against social justice, calling it “unfair” and a way of taking away things from those who are successful. His most recent rant came at the Economic Forum in Davos last January, in which he stated that only free market capitalism can end poverty and that “social justice” does not lead to better outcomes.

“It is an intrinsically unjust idea because it is violent. The state is financed through taxes, and taxes are forcibly collected,” he said, adding that this means the state is financed through coercive means. “The higher the taxation, the more coercion there is.”

Asked about Pope Francis’ remarks in his daily press conference, Presidential spokesperson Manuel Adorni said that, while the government “respects and listens to” the pope, they “disagree” on certain ideas. 

Adorni called the pope a “spiritual leader” but said that the Milei administration must govern Argentina, which has problems “all over the place.” He added that the president has said that social justice, based on “taking compulsively from some to give to others,” has led the country to the current situation of a 50% poverty rate. 

In his message, sent to salute the opening of a COPAJU branch in Buenos Aires, Pope Francis lauded the work of lawyers, prosecutors, and judges, calling them society’s last resource when it comes to correcting wrongs and preserving “social and institutional balance.” He also railed against inequality.

“We are living in times of intense injustice, with the rich getting richer and the poor falling further,” he said, adding that no future is possible in a world where millions of children only “eat the scraps” left by those who can afford to eat. 

COPAJU is an association of judges created in 2019 with the goal of creating a “permanent tool” capable of demanding the social, economic, cultural, and environmental rights of the most vulnerable members of society be upheld. 


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