Rostrum: Pope Francis Edition
Pope Francis has angered conservative right-wing nutjobs and confused his own Catholic peers after lashing out at people’s obsession with wealth and material possessions.
Pope Francis has this week released a 224-page policy statement condemning as “tyranny” unfettered capitalism and greed, and encouraged the wealthy to take care of the poor. The Pope loaded his “Evangelii Gaudium” with biblical quotes, lest anyone thing he was redefining Catholicism.
Pope Francis wrote that “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.”
“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,” the Pope writes.
“Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own.”
“The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase; and in the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.”
“No to an economy of exclusion,” “No to the new idolatry of money,” “No to a financial system which rules rather than serves,” and “No to the inequality which spawns violence.”
A deeper reading into the text reveals even stronger statements. For example, Pope Francis mentions the poor more than 80 times.
“I encourage financial experts and political leaders to ponder the words of one of the sages of antiquity: ‘Not to share one’s wealth with the poor is to steal from them and to take away their livelihood. It is not our own goods which we hold, but theirs.’”
Francis calls for “an ethical approach which favours human beings,” and insists “that the rich must help, respect and promote the poor.”
He finds the “current financial crisis…originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person!”
And the Pope blasted conspicuous consumption.
“Today’s economic mechanisms promote inordinate consumption, yet it is evident that unbridled consumerism combined with inequality proves doubly damaging to the social fabric.”
“Inequality eventually engenders a violence which recourse to arms cannot and never will be able to resolve. This serves only to offer false hopes to those clamouring for heightened security, even though nowadays we know that weapons and violence, rather than providing solutions, create new and more serious conflicts.”
“Some simply content themselves with blaming the poor and the poorer countries themselves for their troubles; indulging in unwarranted generalizations, they claim that the solution is an “education” that would tranquilize them, making them tame and harmless.”
“All this becomes even more exasperating for the marginalized in the light of the widespread and deeply rooted corruption found in many countries – in their governments, businesses and institutions – whatever the political ideology of their leaders.”
Pope Francis’ words would put a chill in those religious institutions and especially the “mega-churches” that preach the message that god wants people to be wealthy.
So, naturally of course, Republicans and the happy-clappy mob at Hillsong are apoplectic — because their real God isn’t Jesus, it’s money.