Insights from the dashboard: Economic inequality and leadership

Reading time: 5 minutes

Insights from the dashboard: Economic inequality and leadership

Pope Francis appeared in a TV talk show for the first time in history. He addressed economic inequality, a key topic for many religious leaders.

For the first time in history, Pope Francis was a guest in a television talk show in February 2022. During his TV appearance in the Italian programme Che tempo che fa, he touched upon the topic of economic inequality. More specifically, he explained how ending weapon production for a year would reduce the gap between rich and poor. According to the pope, stopping production would allow for the provision of food and education across the globe. [1] [2] [3]

Insights from the dashboard

Pope Francis’s appearance in the talk show is a good example of how religious leaders are finding ways to discuss a variety of topics, including inequality. Let’s take a look at the connection between leadership and economic inequality on the EARS dashboard. The EARS dashboard is a collection of summaries from European media articles on religion and society. Until 11 February 2022, 11,954 summaries were published on the dashboard.

Economic inequality and leadership

As can be seen in the graph below, leadership is a major topic in the dashboard. In fact, it even appeared in 45% of all summaries added to the dashboard. This indicates that European media regularly publish about religious leaders. Economic inequality, on the other hand, is less visible on the dashboard. Only 3% of all summaries cover this subject.

166 summaries, or 1% of the total, contain both the search terms leadership and economic inequality. This overlap is shown in the diagram below.

Let’s take a look at how this overlap is made visible in the EARS dashboard.

A pandemic of inequality

39% of the summaries about economic inequality and leadership also link to the topic of COVID-19. From many of these summaries, it can be seen how the pandemic has increased inequality, with leaders calling for solutions.

Pope Francis’s actions and words are closely followed by many European media. In fact, he is one of the leaders appearing on the dashboard most often. Francis commented on the situation in various statements and messages. For example, in his 2020 Christmas message, the pope urged the faithful to be generous and supportive, especially towards the most vulnerable people. This included those affected by the economic consequences of the pandemic.[4] Moreover, Francis called for the debt of the most vulnerable countries to be erased in light of the health, social, and economic crises resulting from COVID-19.[5] [6]

Widening economic inequality

Other leaders have commented on pandemic-related inequalities as well. For instance, around 500 UK church leaders wrote to the government to highlight the vulnerable position of many families. They urged the government to provide more support and outlined how churches are already offering food and other essentials.[7] In addition, Spanish priest Father Angel held a service in November 2021 to mark the fourth annual World Day of the Poor. During the service, he spoke of how the COVID-19 pandemic had increased poverty and mainly impacted the poorest people in society.[8]

Additional examples include the Archbishop of Valladolid, Spain, asking that the management of the pandemic does not “deepen the gap between the poor and the rich.”[9] Also the Bishop of the Diocese of Algarve, Portugal, denounced the widening economic and social inequality due to the coronavirus pandemic. He asked for solidarity and compassion.[10] Furthermore, over 20 religious leaders in the Netherlands have called the Dutch government to support emerging countries in the wake of the economic crisis caused by the pandemic.[11] Finally, both the Diocese of Salamanca in Spain and Pope Francis created funds to support those who have been most impacted by the economic effects of the pandemic.[12] [13] [14]

The pope and inequality

Besides his calls for decreasing equality resulting from the pandemic, Pope Francis has also discussed other forms of economic inequality. For instance, in February 2022, he urged religious women to keep committing themselves to help the poor, even if they may not be treated equally in the religious world.[15] A month earlier, in January, Francis noted how taxes should work towards the redistribution of wealth in order to protect the poor.[16]

Already in December 2020, a book was published in which the pope called for a universal basic income. According to him, this would be an important step towards reforming the economy and reducing poverty.[17] In November of the same year, on the occasion of World Day of the Poor, the pope also urged the faithful to help the poor.[18]

Beyond Pope Francis

Even though Pope Francis appeared in many of the summaries on leadership, other religious leaders have also called for closing the gap between rich and poor. For example, at the end of 2021, the Catholic bishops of Albania sent a message to discuss poverty in the country. It included a request for a policy to fight poverty and the bishops offered cooperation to tackle this issue.[19] [20]

Some leaders and organisations have gone beyond calling for action and took it upon themselves to reduce economic inequality. For instance, during Christmas 2021, Spanish Christian institutions and communities offered initiatives for less fortunate people, including Christmas dinners for those without homes.[21]

Gap between rich and poor

Therefore, religious leaders and organisations have taken up the task to highlight economic inequality. Many see the COVID-19 pandemic as a source of a widened gap between rich and poor. With the virus continuing to spread, economic inequality will remain a key issue across the globe. Actions taken by religious organisations can help to lighten the burden on those most affected.

Learn more on the EARS dashboard

The EARS dashboard allows you to gain insights into a large number of topics, including leadership, economic inequality, and COVID-19. It is a free tool that enables you to make similar connections as described above, and to find out about new relationships between interesting subjects across Europe. Please visit the dashboard to learn more.

Anne Clerx

To all news items ->

To the EARS dashboard ->


[1] Pope Francis makes first TV talk show appearance | Catholic News Agency

[2] Papa Francesco da Fabio Fazio: l’intervista a «Che tempo che fa», in diretta- Corriere.it

[3] Po raz pierwszy w historii papież wziął udział w telewizyjnym talk show. Mówił m.in. o tym, co uważa za największe zło w Kościele

[4] L’appello del Papa: “Vaccino per tutti, vulnerabili e bisognosi per primi” – la Repubblica

[5] Papa Francesco: condonare i debiti altrui. Allarme sull’avidità dei consumi – Il Sole 24 ORE

[6] Osterbotschaft: Papst ruft Europäer zu Solidarität auf | tagesschau.de

[7] Exploitation of the poor borders on evil, say clerics driven to tears by debt crisis | Household bills | The Guardian

[8] El padre Ángel: “Se ha incrementado la pobreza pero también la solidaridad”

[9] Blázquez pide que la gestión de la pandemia “no ahonde la brecha entre pobres y ricos”

[10] Bishop of the Algarve decries “long-standing deep imbalance” in world economy “only made worse” by COVID-19 – Novena

[11] Religieuze leiders: Help in coronacrisis arme landen

[12] La Diócesis de Salamanca crea un fondo con 500.000 euros para ayudar a las familias más afectadas por la crisis

[13] Il Papa istituisce un Fondo per la dignità del lavoro a Roma. E dona un milione

[14] Paus schenkt fondsen aan transgendergemeenschap | De Standaard Mobile

[15] Paus roep zusters op tot strijd tegen oneerlijke behandeling | Kerknet

[16] Vaticano, Papa all’Agenzia delle Entrate: la tassazione è segno di legalità e giustizia – Il Sole 24 ORE

[17] Paus pleit in nieuw interviewboek voor universeel basisinkomen | Kerknet

[18] Zum Welttag der Armen: Papst fordert mehr Einsatz für Bedürftige – Vatican News

[19] Thirrja nga Kisha Katolike, Presidenti Meta: Duhet një politikë që lufton varfërinë dhe ndalon shpopullimin e vendit | Gazeta Koha Jone

[20] Kisha katolike thirrje qeverinë të kthejë sytë nga të varfërit: Radhët nga nevojtarët bëhen më të gjata në qendrat tona | Gazeta Koha Jone

[21] La Iglesia de Madrid se vuelca con los más pobres en la segunda Navidad de la pandemia