Is the Pope an enemy of Capitalism? Evangelii Gaudium explains his views
Pope Francis issues his first self-authored letter.
Pope Francis has authored his first letter and in it he makes a bold statement Tuesday, calling upon world leaders to fight unrestricted capitalism, which he called "a new tyranny." He also called for moving power away from the Vatican and renew of the Church.
For Americans, especially conservatives, this may sound like an ominous sign, but it must be viewed in a Catholic light. Capitalism, if unchecked, enables the wealthy to become increasingly powerful without any substantial net benefit to the balance of society. It promotes a form of inequality in which only the wealthy profit by work and all others merely subsist.
Pope Francis referred to this as "a new tyranny" pointing out concerns that as capitalist movements gain ground, many people are being left behind, shut off from opportunity. Meanwhile, those with access to opportunity and wealth commit "idolatry of money" by doing that which is most profitable without regard for the rest of society.
"Such an economy kills" the pope wrote. "how can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses 2 points?"
It's a good question, and a fitting one for all of us to ask of ourselves. What is the true Christian answer?
Although the media is making much of the pope's economic commentary, he also had much to say about the Church itself. Pope Francis called for the renewal of the Church, saying that it could not be put off. He also explained what he thought that Church should be like.
"I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security," he wrote.
Several analysts have referred to the Pope's message as a "manifesto" or even a "Magna Carta" for the Church. It is no such thing, really. Letters such as these are issued from time to time and they serve to clarify papal positions on important matters. Pope Francis is not condemning capitalism, nor endorsing some Marxist view of economics. Nor is he calling upon the Church to make immediate, drastic changes.
Instead, the Holy Father is doing what he has always done, which is to challenge each of us to follow Christ. To follow Christ means to leave all that we have behind and to serve our neighbors. In particular, the poor, the prisoners, the sick, and the outcast.
This call to action is consistent with the original Christian message. In fact, it couldn't be more so. Pope Francis gets it. The question is, do we?
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Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lord’s invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
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