17 May 2013

Pope Francis Speaks Out against Immoral Monetary Policy




Again, this Pope is mysterious, formidable, and full of surprises; this is a gutsy play. I don't know the endgame here, but may Mary guide him and us. If you haven't yet read this talk, you should. He makes some very good points that probably won't sit well with many.

From Vatican Radio comes the English translation of the Holy Father's remarks to some ambassadors whose credentials he accepted Thursday:

...Ladies and Gentlemen, our human family is presently experiencing something of a turning point in its own history, if we consider the advances made in various areas. We can only praise the positive achievements which contribute to the authentic welfare of mankind, in fields such as those of health, education and communications. At the same time, we must also acknowledge that the majority of the men and women of our time continue to live daily in situations of insecurity, with dire consequences. Certain pathologies are increasing, with their psychological consequences; fear and desperation grip the hearts of many people, even in the so-called rich countries; the joy of life is diminishing; indecency and violence are on the rise; poverty is becoming more and more evident. People have to struggle to live and, frequently, to live in an undignified way. One cause of this situation, in my opinion, is in the our relationship with money, and our acceptance of its power over ourselves and our society. Consequently the financial crisis which we are experiencing makes us forget that its ultimate origin is to be found in a profound human crisis. In the denial of the primacy of human beings! We have created new idols. The worship of the golden calf of old (cf. Ex 32:15-34) has found a new and heartless image in the cult of money and the dictatorship of an economy which is faceless and lacking any truly humane goal.

The worldwide financial and economic crisis seems to highlight their distortions and above all the gravely deficient human perspective, which reduces man to one of his needs alone, namely, consumption. Worse yet, human beings themselves are nowadays considered as consumer goods which can be used and thrown away. We have begun a throw away culture. This tendency is seen on the level of individuals and whole societies; and it is being promoted! In circumstances like these, solidarity, which is the treasure of the poor, is often considered counterproductive, opposed to the logic of finance and the economy. While the income of a minority is increasing exponentially, that of the majority is crumbling. This imbalance results from ideologies which uphold the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation, and thus deny the right of control to States, which are themselves charged with providing for the common good. A new, invisible and at times virtual, tyranny is established, one which unilaterally and irremediably imposes its own laws and rules. Moreover, indebtedness and credit distance countries from their real economy and citizens from their real buying power. Added to this, as if it were needed, is widespread corruption and selfish fiscal evasion which have taken on worldwide dimensions. The will to power and of possession has become limitless.

Concealed behind this attitude is a rejection of ethics, a rejection of God. Ethics, like solidarity, is a nuisance! It is regarded as counterproductive: as something too human, because it relativizes money and power; as a threat, because it rejects manipulation and subjection of people: because ethics leads to God, who is situated outside the categories of the market. These financiers, economists and politicians consider God to be unmanageable, unmanageable even dangerous, because he calls man to his full realization and to independence from any kind of slavery. Ethics – naturally, not the ethics of ideology – makes it possible, in my view, to create a balanced social order that is more humane. In this sense, I encourage the financial experts and the political leaders of your countries to consider the words of Saint John Chrysostom: “Not to share one’s goods with the poor is to rob them and to deprive them of life. It is not our goods that we possess, but theirs” (Homily on Lazarus, 1:6 – PG 48, 992D).

Dear Ambassadors, there is a need for financial reform along ethical lines that would produce in its turn an economic reform to benefit everyone. This would nevertheless require a courageous change of attitude on the part of political leaders. I urge them to face this challenge with determination and farsightedness, taking account, naturally, of their particular situations. Money has to serve, not to rule! The Pope loves everyone, rich and poor alike, but the Pope has the duty, in Christ’s name, to remind the rich to help the poor, to respect them, to promote them. The Pope appeals for disinterested solidarity and for a return to person-centred ethics in the world of finance and economics.

For her part, the Church always works for the integral development of every person. In this sense, she reiterates that the common good should not be simply an extra, simply a conceptual scheme of inferior quality tacked onto political programmes. The Church encourages those in power to be truly at the service of the common good of their peoples. She urges financial leaders to take account of ethics and solidarity. And why should they not turn to God to draw inspiration from his designs? In this way, a new political and economic mindset would arise that would help to transform the absolute dichotomy between the economic and social spheres into a healthy symbiosis...


12 comments:

Badger Catholic said...

I love it, I hope he takes the Vatican Bank .... to the bank!

Anonymous said...

This is excellent. Very reminiscent of the US bishops 1986 pastoral "Economic Justice for All." The unfortunate thing is, those who need to hear this most will simply pass it off as "social justice Catholicism" which their beloved glenn beck told them to run away from.

Jane Chantal said...

Does anyone know what exactly is meant by the word "solidarity" that appears so many times in this translation?

Elizabeth said...

This is all well and good. A worthy topic and teaching. But why has he been so completely and strangely silent on the biggest scandal (aside from abortion) that is raging worldwide ~ homosexual so-called marriage? I've not heard or read a peep about something so crucial, so gravely important. Has anyone else? Perhaps I missed it.

Elizabeth said...

Jane, the Catechism discusses solidarity in numbers 1939 to 1942.

Karen said...

This was wonderful! He can really lay it out if he wants to. I hope he continues to do so and uses this same, as you say, gutsy approach to other topics such as homosexuality as mentioned above. The press, of course, will use the many opportunities of this speech to take certain remarks out of context and spin them to their usual defensive ends. Thank you, the timman, for bringing this to our attention. It was heartening at a time when I cannot even bear to turn on the tv or radio for fear of the news.

Jane Chantal said...

Thank you, Elizabeth.

Curmudgeon said...

Blah, bal, blah. No specifics. What is the Holy Father had mentioned the nature of money as a human, not divine institution and attacked usury? What if he talked about currency debasement as theft? He didn't. He just prattled on in generalities like the USCCB bishops or the liberation theology bishops.

Mary's slave said...

Time has come for the leadership to lead...

A worthy read. Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Beautifully said by the Holy Father. (I especially liked his reference to a "throw away culture", which is true on multiple levels.) Admittedly, though, I have a couple of prudential worries:

1) The first is the common critique of "income inequality", which is a dangerously elastic term. Someone who makes $100 million per year is 100 times richer than someone who makes $1 million per year, but I'm not terribly worried about either. However, someone who makes $1 million is 100 times richer than someone who makes $10,000 per year, and I am worried about that, because it is strongly possible the latter person cannot afford necessities. I'm afraid "income inequality" can be a cover for the satisfaction of wants, whereas the core problem to be addressed is whether people have what they need.

2) When the Holy Father speaks of a "right of control to States", it seems to hint at an instinct for government to solve the inequality mentioned above. I'm not making an argument against the existence of government programs and regulation, I'm just wondering if - given what we have seen from governments over the past few years - we really want government to have MORE leverage over human activity.

I guess my enthusiasm for such things is somewhat tempered by the belief that much of our current middle-class crisis is self-inflicted (or collateral damage from that self-inflicted wound). The very materialistic, "throw away" culture that the Pope speaks of is at the core. When 70% of an economy depends on consumer spending, much of it non-essential, then over two-thirds of that economy is primed to freeze up when a shock (such as 9/11, the housing burst, etc.) causes wallets to slam shut. Our income inequality stems from that same root - by buying so much "stuff", we voluntarily send our income to corporations, meaning we also cannot use those dollars to save or buy stock, which would spread the balance of wealth in our society.

All that said, I'm one of the worst violators of the simplicity principle, so I'm not necessarily doing my share to fix the problem. It just seems to me that the best economic system is capitalism populated by humane capitalists. If people are currently measuring their cleverness and self-worth by how many dollars they can make or how much they can inflate stock price, then how do we transform things such that we instead measure by the human-centric good we accomplish?

Bryan Kirchoff
St. Louis

wildvortex said...

I was astounded by the Pope actually taking on monetary policy. We have been stuck in the multistory outhouse and its sewer of debt and perversion so long we've forgotten what money and the love of it is all about.

Money at its core is a medium of exchange as a true convenience. Money should never be borrowed into existence which only means the debtors - you and me - are payinf tribute to evil. Our Founding Fathers made the creation of money a Congressional rsponsibility - meaning it should be spent into existence on infrastructure and other things for the common good of the nation. That is done at a rate not to exceed the edonomy's ability to absorb new money based on growth and demand.
We all must strive to be poor in spirit - not poor in economy.

For those who worship the return to horse manure and flies, keep in mind, God told our first parents to subdue the earth. That didn;lt mean beat it to death, but to be both good stewards and to explore, discover, and learn to utilize the gifts of creation, coupled with our infinite range of gifts and talents as humanity. From there we use our talents to create things of value, hire others to help, share in the fruit of our labor and see great masses of people with not just jobs, but careers and vocations and avocations - all to give glory to God.

Oh, I could go on, but suffice it to say, I thank God for Pope Francis. That brilliant Jesuit Math teacher knows far more than he's talking about in public.

Anonymous said...

Actually, the Pope excommunicated a Brazilian priest for openly defending homosexuality and gay marriage. Article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/30/brazil-priest-excommunicated_n_3187812.html

mrs