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Cardinal Turkson: we tolerate irresponsible consumerism as we once tolerated slavery

March 09, 2016

The president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace spoke recently at a New York college on “Catholics, capitalism, and climate.”

Drawing on the papal encyclical Laudato Si’, Cardinal Peter Turkson spoke about “Catholics and creation,” “Catholics and care,” and “climate and the USA” before addressing the topic of capitalism.

Recalling President Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address, Cardinal Turkson said that “150 years ago, slavery, and the political ‘interest’ that came from its profits, represented a profound ‘offense.’ Today, irresponsible financial and commercial practices are the offenses that we now tolerate, because of the interests in the profits and lifestyle of excessive consumerism that they promote. These Pope Francis sums up as the dominant technocratic paradigm.”

Cardinal Turkson added:

150 years ago, failure to provide a “fundamental and astounding” solution to slavery would lead inexorably, through the justice embedded by God in the nature of things, to the awful bloody cataclysm of the Civil War. Today, we must discover the “fundamental and astounding” steps we need to take to address global warming, environmental and social degradation, or else face cataclysms like the more frequent and higher coastal floods that are predicted here in New York.

Cardinal Turkson later traveled to Villanova University, where he spoke on the care of creation as a work of mercy and referred to care for our common home as both an eighth corporal work of mercy and an eighth spiritual work of mercy.

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  • Posted by: Bveritas2322 - Mar. 10, 2016 1:40 PM ET USA

    The solvency that maintain's an employer's ability to provide jobs is called profit, and employers have a moral obligation to pursue profit. Got it Cardinal?

  • Posted by: loumiamo - Mar. 09, 2016 5:26 PM ET USA

    Slavery was never thought of as a common good in the Northern U.S. states. They did all they could to eliminate it at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, but they didn't have the votes. Finally Northerners decided to risk their own lives just so Black Americans could be free, too. Turkson's ignorance of the honor and integrity of those Northerners, OUR ancestors, ends up as an insult to the entire country I love. His remarks are completely indefensible.

  • Posted by: bruno.cicconi7491 - Mar. 09, 2016 4:58 PM ET USA

    Whoa, but climate change is one thing, consumerism another. One does not have to be an "anthropogenic global warming believer" to decry consumerism. Then in principle, I agree with the pope and with the prelate on this. It must be remembered that, at the time of slavery, it was so much identified with the common good that in Brazil (the last in America to abolish it) and anti-slavery police deputy was once lynched by "decent town folks" for refusing to persecute runaway slaves!

  • Posted by: loumiamo - Mar. 09, 2016 3:19 PM ET USA

    The East Anglia emails have proven that global warming/climate change has always been a hoax and a fraud. If I were a Black American I would be fit to be restrained that this pathetic prelate equated the abomination perpetrated on my ancestors with a known and proven fraud. And he did it Not off the cuff, but in prepared remarks. He should be fired for his obvious incompetence.