In the first lengthy writing of his papacy — also known as an "apostolic exhortation" — Francis says such economic theories naively rely on the goodness of those in charge.
"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," the pope wrote. "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."
The pope also attacked economic inequality, suggesting Christians have a duty to combat it to comply with the Ten Commandments — specifically the prohibition on killing.
"Just as the commandment 'Thou shalt not kill' sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say 'thou shalt not' to an economy of exclusion and inequality," the pope wrote. "Such an economy kills."
History suggests, however, that placing naive trust in an economic system based on equality and "trickle-up" economics is actually more deadly.