In his strongest remarks yet concerning the world’s economic and financial crises, the pope said, “Money has to serve, not to rule.
“We have created new idols,” Pope Francis told a group of diplomats gathered at the Vatican on May 16, and the “golden calf of old 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.” According to Pope Francis, a major reason behind the increase in social and economic woes worldwide “is in our relationship with money and our acceptance of its power over ourselves and our society.” He called for global financial reform that respects human dignity, helps the poor, promotes the common good and allows states to regulate markets.
The Vatican spokesman, Federico Lombardi, S.J., told journalists it was the pope’s “first forceful speech on the economic and financial crisis,” social justice and the attention needed to the world’s poor. Father Lombardi described the speech as “in continuity with his previous talks on these subjects” as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina. “But as pope it is his first powerful and explicit speech,” touching on such themes in-depth, he said. The pope made his remarks during a speech welcoming four new ambassadors as they presented their credentials to the Vatican.
The pope highlighted the root causes of today’s economic and social troubles, pointing to policies and actions that stem from a “gravely deficient human perspective, which reduces man to one of his needs alone, namely, consumption.
“We have begun this culture of disposal,” he said, where “human beings themselves are nowadays considered as consumer goods which can be used and thrown away.”
The wealth of a minority “is increasing exponentially,” while the income of the majority “is crumbling,” he said. This economic inequality is caused by “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.”
The lack of adequate economic regulation or oversight means “a new, invisible and at times virtual, tyranny is established, one which unilaterally and irremediably imposes its own laws and rules,” Pope Francis said. Ethical principles and policies of solidarity are “often considered counterproductive, opposed to the logic of finance and economy” and “ethics, like solidarity, is a nuisance,” and so they are rejected along with God. “These financiers, economists and politicians consider God to be unmanageable, even dangerous,” he added, “because he calls human beings to their full realization and to independence from any kind of slavery.”
Pope Francis called on the world’s political and financial leaders to consider the words of St. 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.”
The pope said he “loves everyone, rich and poor alike,” but that as pope he “has the duty, in Christ’s name, to remind the rich to help the poor, to respect them, to promote them.” Why shouldn’t world leaders “turn to God to draw inspiration,” the pope asked. Looking to God and “his designs,” he said, would help create “a new political and economic mindset” that would bring economics and social concerns back together in a healthy and harmonious relationship.