Melanie McDonagh

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

Did the pope say 'inequality is the root of all social evil'?
Text settings

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.