The Common Good
September-October 2013

A Heartless Cult of Money

by Pope Francis | September-October 2013

'Not to share one's goods with the poor is to rob them.'

[T]HE MAJORITY OF THE men and women of our time continue to live daily in situations of insecurity, with dire consequences. ... One cause of this situation, in my opinion, is in our relationship with money, and our acceptance of its power over ourselves and our society. Consequently the financial crisis which we are experiencing makes us forget that its ultimate origin is to be found in a profound human crisis, in the denial of the primacy of human beings. We have created new idols. The worship of the golden calf of old (Exodus 32:15-34) has found a new and heartless image in the cult of money and the dictatorship of an economy which is faceless and lacking any truly humane goal. The worldwide financial and economic crisis seems to highlight the distortions and above all the gravely deficient human perspective, which reduces [people] to one of [their] needs alone, namely, consumption. Worse yet, human beings themselves are nowadays considered as consumer goods which can be used and thrown away. We have begun a throw- away culture. This tendency is seen on the level of individuals and whole societies; and it is being promoted ...

While the income of a minority is increasing exponentially, that of the majority is crumbling. This imbalance results from ideologies that 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. ... I encourage the financial experts and the political leaders of your countries to consider the words of Saint John Chrysostom: “Not to share one’s goods with the poor is to rob them and to deprive them of life. It is not our goods that we possess, but theirs.” ...

Money has to serve, not to rule! The pope loves everyone, rich and poor alike, but the pope has the duty, in Christ’s name, to remind the rich to help the poor, to respect them, to promote them. The pope appeals for disinterested solidarity and for a return to person-centered ethics in the world of finance and economics. ... The church encourages those in power to be truly at the service of the common good of their peoples.

From Pope Francis’ May 16, 2013, address while receiving new ambassadors to the Vatican.

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