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'Cult of money' produces injustice and misery, Pope warns

Catholic World News - May 16, 2013

“We have started down the path of a disposable culture,” Pope Francis said in a May 16 address to four new ambassadors to the Holy See.

In his remarks to the new envoys, the Pope spoke about injustice in the world economy, and especially in a socio-economic system in which “human beings themselves are nowadays considered as consumer goods which can be used and thrown away.”

The Pope accepted the diplomatic credentials of Bolot Iskovich Otunbaev of Kyrgyzstan, Davis Shoul of Antigua, Jean-Paul Senninger of Luxemburg, and Lameck Nthekela of Botswana. He addressed them as a group, insisting that economic systems cannot be divorced from ethical concerns.

The Pope acknowledged the positive achievements of the modern economy, particularly “in fields such as those of health, education, and communications.” But he said that in spite of material advances, “the majority of the men and women of our time continue to live daily in situations of insecurity, with dire consequences.” He went on to list some of those 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.

Many of these problems, the Holy Father argued, can be traced to “our relationship with money, and our acceptance of its power over ourselves and our society.” The cult of money has become our idol, he said, and has allowed the growth of “the dictatorship of an economy which is faceless and lacking any truly humane goal.”

Pope Francis denounced “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.” He underlined the importance of ethical concerns, and of a recognition that those who possess wealth have a moral obligation to help those in need.

However, the Pope continued, many wealthy and powerful people do not recognize their obligations. Their attitude, he said, betrays “a rejection of ethics, a rejection of God.” The rich and powerful think of God as “unmanageable,” he said, and therefore treat God and his law as dangers to their status.

Pope Francis concluded that “there is a need for financial reform along ethical lines.” Such a reform, he promised, “would produce in its turn an economic reform to benefit everyone.”

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