28 November 2013

Thou shalt not have an economy of exclusion and inequality

I am no fan of the Roman Catholic Church, nor can I avoid cringing at some of Pope Francis's views, particularly on women, but occasionally I do have to applaud the old boy. Such was the case with his recent apostolic exhortation when he criticized the world economic system, referring to unfettered capitalism as "a new tyranny"and proclaiming, "Just as the commandment 'Thou shalt not kill' sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say 'thou shalt not' to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills." Amen to that, Francis.

His comments on markets, an obsession with our current government, deserve a quote: "As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world's problems or, for that matter, to any problems."

He begged his Lord for, "more politicians who are genuinely disturbed by the state of society, the people, the lives of the poor." Reading these words, I immediately thought of a string of Catholic politicians in last year's U.S. presidential election who went on at length about God but who never manifested the slightest interest in the lives of the poor.

Can the Pope reach such people, I wonder. Maybe not. While he preaches his message of inclusion and equality, they will preach their message of exclusion and inequality, both preaching primarily to the converted. With the advent of Francis, the Church has seen a surge in attendance around the world except, apparently, in the United States. Nonetheless, with time, perhaps his good words will inspire the faithful even there.

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