“I cannot fail to speak of the grave risks associated with the invasion of the positions of libertarian individualism at high strata of culture and in school and university education,” the Pope said in an message sent to members of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences meeting in the Vatican and subsequently shared with Breitbart News.
“A common characteristic of this fallacious paradigm is that it minimizes the common good, that is the idea of ‘living well’ or the ‘good life’ in the communitarian framework,” Francis said, while at the same time exalting a “selfish ideal.”
Members of the Pontifical Academy are currently engaged in a workshop bearing the title “Towards a Participatory Society: New Roads to Social and Cultural Integration,” which began Friday and will run through May 2.
Francis said that libertarianism, “which is so fashionable today,” is a more radical form of the individualism that asserts that “only the individual gives value to things and to interpersonal relations and therefore only the individual decides what is good and what is evil.”
Libertarianism, he said, preaches that the idea of “self-causation” is necessary to ground freedom and individual responsibility.
“Thus, the libertarian individual denies the value of the common good,” the pontiff stated, “because on the one hand he supposes that the very idea of ‘common’ means the constriction of at least some individuals, and on the other hand that the notion of ‘good’ deprives freedom of its essence.”
Libertarianism, he continued, is an “antisocial” radicalization of individualism, which “leads to the conclusion that everyone has the right to extend himself as far as his abilities allow him even at the cost of the exclusion and marginalization of the more vulnerable majority.”
According to this mentality, all relationships that create ties must be eliminated, the Pope suggested, “since they would limit freedom.” In this way, only by living independently of others, of the common good, and even God himself, can a person be free, he said.
This isn’t the first time that the Pope has taken issue with popular social and political trends.
In March, Pope Francis told leaders of the European Union that the populist movements that are sweeping many parts of Europe and other areas are fueled by “egotism.”
Populism, he said, is “the fruit of an egotism that hems people in and prevents them from overcoming and ‘looking beyond’ their own narrow vision.”