Footnotes: the book recommended by the Pope during the Covid-19 crisis

This week, the Pontiff recommended a celebrated work on economics to governments around the world. Here's why.

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Responding to the Covid-19 crisis Pope Francis, who is in self-isolation, has written to the world's governments warning them not to put their economies before the welfare of their citizens.


The Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church, 83, sent his open letter to Judge Roberto Andrés Gallardo, the Argentinean-born president of the Pan-American Committee of Men and Women Judges for Social Rights, demanding leaders 'put people first', adding, 'it would be sad if they opted for the opposite, which would lead to the death of very many people, something like a viral genocide (genocidio virosico).'

Part of the solution, he claims, can be found in Mariana Mazzucato's groundbreaking book The Value of Everything: Making and Taking in the Global Economy. In it, the economist issues a direct challenge to the wealth creators of our world, urging them to reprioritise 'value' over 'price'. In other words, 'taking' wealth is not the same as 'making' wealth, and the world has lost sight of what value really means.

'I believe [her vision] can help to think about the future,' Pope Francis said.

The Value of Everything, published last year to critical acclaim, argues that modern capitalism is in a deep funk, and was so long before Covid-19. It's a rally cry for governments revolutionise their thinking, clamp down on greed and move towards a system of sustainable and inclusive growth for the mutual benefit of all of us, not just a few. 

In response to Pope Francis' recommendation, Mazzucato – an economics professor at University College London – tweeted: 'Deeply honoured that the Pope has read my book The Value of Everything: making and taking in the global economy, and that he agrees that the future – especially post-Covid 19 – has to see a re-prioritisation of “value” over “price”.'

The Pope is currently undergoing a period of strict social distancing in the Vatican due not only to his age, but also a badly damaged lung from an infection in his twenties. The Vatican has revealed he takes his meals in his private quarters and uses hand sanitizer before and after receiving guests.


Pope Francis, a former literature teacher, is well-known to be a voracious reader who never watches TV. In fact, in 2015 he told an interviewer that he hasn't turned on a television set since 1990. 'It’s a promise I made to Our Lady of Mount Carmel on the night of July 15, 1990 … I said to myself, “this isn’t for me."' Instead, he says, he reads for entertainment.

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