Did the pope say ‘inequality is the root of all social evil’?

30 April 2014

The following blog from a Catholic commentator about the Pope’s controversial tweet suggesting that “inequality is the root of social evil” puts the row about it on Twitter into context. But the real question is the language in which Pope Francis first tweeted: Spanish or Latin? In Latin, as the author of this blog observes, the critical noun is “iniquitas”, which you might as well call “sin”; come to that “malus” doesn’t mean social evil so much as any sort of evil. And to say that sin is the root of evil is sort of tautologous, at least for Catholics. But if the pope’s thought was first expressed in Spanish, desigualdad, well, that puts rather a different take on the thing; he is talking about inequality.

Latin is to all intents and purposes the first language of the church, the definitive version of most encyclicals, and until now I’d always thought it was pretty well perfect for that problematic medium Twitter, being lapidary by nature. But from the looks of things, there’s a gulf of meaning between the Latin text and the others; perhaps Francis should let us know which he really meant. Anyway, just goes to show that Twitter has its pitfalls for popes as well as the rest of us.

Give the perfect gift this Christmas. Buy a subscription for a friend for just £75 and you’ll receive a free gift too. Buy now.

Show comments
  • David Barkin

    Where does raising the price of a life and death medicine by 5,000 percent come from? Why does the head of a respected corporation tell us that water to drink is not a human right?

    What’s the problem? Having a hard time parsing eight words?

  • Mrs.JosephineHyde-Hartley

    “Did the pope say ‘inequality is the root of all social evil’?”

    Not quite, in my view.

    I suppose it’s very easy to mix up the one’s ” quals” with the “quites”.

  • Kennybhoy

    “Did the pope say ‘inequality is the root of all social evil’?”

    Regarding the translation. I was wondering the same thing three days back over on patheos..

  • Realpolitik/ fruitcake/ racist

    I remember watching “Rowan Williams”- the former Archbishop of Canterbury, addressing the evils of the rich, whilst holding a solid Gold cross.

    What’s always much more ironic is the leader of the richest organisation in the world; and therefore the Pope being the richest man in the world delivering a similar address. It’s almost as ironic as telling Africans condoms cause aids.

  • IfItPleasethThee

    So Adam’s Fall has nothing to do with it, then? Confused.

  • Ron Todd

    No more ultra hierarchical organisations with the man (always a man) at the top considering himself one step down from god then.

Can't find your Web ID? Click here