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Pope's challenge to UN: 'ethical mobilization' against a 'throwaway culture'

May 09, 2014

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Pope Francis has challenged UN officials to promote “a true, worldwide ethical mobilization,” to encourage help for the poor and preserve the dignity of human life against the inroads of a “throwaway culture.”

In a May 9 address to executive officers of UN agencies, the Pope praised the international organization for its work to promote the Millennium Development Goals, but urged the UN officials to go further, “with generosity and courage,” to promote human development.”

“Specifically,” the Pontiff said, “this involves challenging all forms of injustice and resisting the “economy of exclusion”, the “throwaway culture” and the “culture of death” which nowadays sadly risk becoming passively accepted.

Underlining his message about the “culture of death,” the Pope went on to say that “an awareness of the dignity of each of our brothers and sisters whose life is sacred and inviolable from conception to natural death must lead us to share with complete freedom the goods which God’s providence has placed in our hands.” Invoking the example of Zaccheus, the tax collector who was inspired by Jesus to share his wealth with those in need, Pope Francis emphasized the importance of voluntary charity, saying that “above and beyond economic and social systems and theories, there will always be a need to promote generous, effective and practical openness to the needs of others.”

In a report on the Pope’s talk, the Associated Press gave primary importance to the Pontiff’s call for government action to redistribute wealth. In fact, however, the Holy Father made that point in the context of a broader call for personal as well as private and civic charity:

A contribution to this equitable development will also be made both by international activity aimed at the integral human development of all the world’s peoples and by the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the State, as well as indispensable cooperation between the private sector and civil society.

In that context the Pope asked UN officials to look beyond particular programs, to spur an “ethical mobilization” on behalf of those in need, to resist the “economy of exclusion” and build a culture of solidarity.

In his address to the UN officials, Pope Francis did not mention recent clashes between the Vatican and UN commission monitoring the implementation of international agreements on the rights of children and the prevention of torture.


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Show 5 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: bruno.cicconi7491 - May. 10, 2014 10:32 AM ET USA

    I like it. The media, well, the media is terrible and the Pope knows it. I'm concerned here about the UN people hearing the Pope; he has a way of telling them "you're wrong" without accusing, and who knows which effect that may have in their hard hearts?

  • Posted by: feedback - May. 10, 2014 8:40 AM ET USA

    Pope Francis basically reminded the UN of its purpose. It's a wonderful reaction to the latest attempts to use the UN to impose atheistic agenda on the Church.

  • Posted by: Minnesota Mary - May. 09, 2014 8:22 PM ET USA

    This synopsis of what the Pope said regarding redistribution of the wealth is putting a very nice spin on his very controversial remarks. Sorry, but I am not buying it. This Pope is clearly in over his head when he makes pronouncements on economic issues. Fortunately, he is not infallible when he speaks his mind on this stuff, and we don't have to agree with him. The Church is in deep trouble, and he needs to tend to his own garden and do some weed pulling.

  • Posted by: FredC - May. 09, 2014 7:47 PM ET USA

    The pope called for the State to redistribute the economic benefits, not the wealth. For example, the State could enforce anti-trust laws rather than encourage large corporations that are too big to fail; reverse John Kennedy's order that allowed government unions; and reverse Obama's executive order that overturned Gingrich's welfare reform act of 1996 (PRWORA).

  • Posted by: normnuke - May. 09, 2014 6:39 PM ET USA

    The pope's message in this rendition emphasizes the importance of individual giving as a grace to the giver as well as a boon to the recipient. As usual the usual media distort the message to fit their agenda.