Pope calls for global, ethical finance reform, end to cult of money

From the Catholic News Service.



“You can’t serve both God and mammon.” - Matthew 6:24

Sadly, since Drudge took up the story, it didn’t take long for all the Ayn Randroids and Ron Paulunatics to flood the combox at the Telegraph with declarations that the Pope’s a crypto-Communist… :frowning:

Correct me if I’m wrong, but little in his remarks hinted at government control – he was instead arguing that people need to stop chasing money as an end in itself and have concern for the least among us. Why do people have to go straight to the “In Case Of Bolshevism, Break Here” box any time anyone says that perhaps we could exercise a bit of self control within our capitalist system,?

Edit in: I do have to admit to a little bit of worry, though, when the Pope starts talking about “the control of states” – are we really going to let a USA that thinks Planned Parenthood is a good idea and couldn’t manage its way out of a wet paper bag have more control over the economy? Fiscal Cliff, anyone?

Well, to be fair, the way it’s being reported does make it sound like he’s opposed to capitalism in all its forms.

Perhaps that’s not what he meant, but as an unabashed capitalist myself (one who believes that the money I earn belongs first to me and my family, and then to the government - not the other way around) - I did find this story a bit disturbing.

And having never read Ayn Rand, or supported Ron Paul, I hope you will reconsider your presuppositions. :rolleyes:

Note that I’m not saying capitalist = “objectivist” or “libertarian”, but in particular, Objectivists have heaped loads of scorn upon the Catholic Church for this very issue. I have read some of Rand’s writings and I still have yet for my fingers to heal from the vitriol oozing from the pages directed at the Church.

Pope Francis said was the Church was against communism in his book ‘On Heaven and Earth.’

Capitalism is the best economic system that we have. But it is far from perfect. What I take from the Holy Father is the message that we need to look at the problems in our capitalist system, such as the exploitation of workers in third world countries in the name of almighty profits over anything else. We need to find ways to fix these issues. I do not think he is saying that we should do away with capitalism but that we should acknowledge that people are abusing it and come up with a way to end those abuses of the system.

Pope John Paul ll said in Centesimus Annus about capitalism

‘The answer is obviously complex. If by “capitalism” is meant an economic system which recognizes the fundamental and positive role of business, the market, private property and the resulting responsibility for the means of production, as well as free human creativity in the economic sector, then the answer is certainly in the affirmative, even though it would perhaps be more appropriate to speak of a “business economy,” “market economy” or simply “free economy.” But if by “capitalism” is meant a system in which freedom in the economic sector is not circumscribed within a strong juridical framework which places it at the service of human freedom in its totality, and which sees it as a particular aspect of that freedom, the core of which is ethical and religious, then the reply is certainly negative.’

I doubt Pope Francis would not support capitalism when it is enshrined by a strong judicial framework.

What he said isn’t any different from what B16 said… It was just said in a more direct and likely more colorful way. Unfettered capitalism is bad. It isn’t a sin to be wealthy. It is a sin to care only for money ala Scrooge.

Pope Francis’ address

Your Excellencies,

I am pleased to receive you for the presentation of the Letters accrediting you as Ambassadors Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Holy See on the part of your respective countries: Kyrgyzstan, Antigua and Barbuda, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and Botswana. The gracious words which you have addressed to me, for which I thank you heartily, have testified that the Heads of State of your countries are concerned to develop relations of respect and cooperation with the Holy See. I would ask you kindly to convey to them my sentiments of gratitude and esteem, together with the assurance of my prayers for them and their fellow citizens.

Ladies and Gentlemen, our human family is presently experiencing something of a turning point in its own history, if we consider the advances made in various areas. We can only praise the positive achievements which contribute to the authentic welfare of mankind, in fields such as those of health, education and communications. At the same time, we must also acknowledge that the majority of the men and women of our time continue to live daily in situations of insecurity, with dire consequences. Certain pathologies are increasing, with their psychological consequences; fear and desperation grip the hearts of many people, even in the so-called rich countries; the joy of life is diminishing; indecency and violence are on the rise; poverty is becoming more and more evident. People have to struggle to live and, frequently, to live in an undignified way. One cause of this situation, in my opinion, is in the 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 (cf. Ex 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 their distortions and above all the gravely deficient human perspective, which reduces man to one of his 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! In circumstances like these, solidarity, which is the treasure of the poor, is often considered counterproductive, opposed to the logic of finance and the economy. While the income of a minority is increasing exponentially, that of the majority is crumbling. This imbalance results from ideologies which 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. A new, invisible and at times virtual, tyranny is established, one which unilaterally and irremediably imposes its own laws and rules. Moreover, indebtedness and credit distance countries from their real economy and citizens from their real buying power. Added to this, as if it were needed, is widespread corruption and selfish fiscal evasion which have taken on worldwide dimensions. The will to power and of possession has become limitless.

Concealed behind this attitude is a rejection of ethics, a rejection of God. Ethics, like solidarity, is a nuisance! It is regarded as counterproductive: as something too human, because it relativizes money and power; as a threat, because it rejects manipulation and subjection of people: because ethics leads to God, who is situated outside the categories of the market. These financiers, economists and politicians consider God to be unmanageable, unmanageable even dangerous, because he calls man to his full realization and to independence from any kind of slavery. Ethics – naturally, not the ethics of ideology – makes it possible, in my view, to create a balanced social order that is more humane. In this sense, 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” (Homily on Lazarus, 1:6 – PG 48, 992D).

Dear Ambassadors, there is a need for financial reform along ethical lines that would produce in its turn an economic reform to benefit everyone. This would nevertheless require a courageous change of attitude on the part of political leaders. I urge them to face this challenge with determination and farsightedness, taking account, naturally, of their particular situations. 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-centred ethics in the world of finance and economics.

For her part, the Church always works for the integral development of every person. In this sense, she reiterates that the common good should not be simply an extra, simply a conceptual scheme of inferior quality tacked onto political programmes. The Church encourages those in power to be truly at the service of the common good of their peoples. She urges financial leaders to take account of ethics and solidarity. And why should they not turn to God to draw inspiration from his designs? In this way, a new political and economic mindset would arise that would help to transform the absolute dichotomy between the economic and social spheres into a healthy symbiosis.

Finally, through you, I greet with affection the Pastors and the faithful of the Catholic communities present in your countries. I urge them to continue their courageous and joyful witness of faith and fraternal love in accordance with Christ’s teaching. Let them not be afraid to offer their contribution to the development of their countries, through initiatives and attitudes inspired by the Sacred Scriptures! And as you inaugurate your mission, I extend to you, dear Ambassadors, my very best wishes, assuring you of the assistance of the Roman Curia for the fulfilment of your duties. To this end, upon you and your families, and also upon your Embassy staff, I willingly invoke abundant divine blessings.


Just finished reading this book, and yes, he says something to the effect that the Church is as against unrestrained capitalism as it is against communism. But he is pretty clear that it is the abuses that can happen in unrestrained capitalism that are the problem, not capitalism itself.

and they will be showing up here shortly ,in my relativity short time as Catholic i realized early that the Republican party isn’t my Lord and Savior .

The other football team is better?


I’m quite happy that Papa Francis is taking the stand that he is…

I’m not advocating for a return to the ways of the first Christians who practiced “goods in common” which is more of a socialist system. However, when you think about Adam Smith’s economic theories, he always talked about “the invisible hand of the market” and in book “the Theory of Moral Sentiments” which put forward the idea that the economy exists to benefit the society as a whole, not only the individual. For example, it shouldn’t be true that I work very hard, therefore I receive much benefit, it should be** I work very hard, therefore I benefit and my brothers and sisters benefit.** The primary calling should be the good of the other…or Love, as Thomas Aquinas defined it.

Further Smith puts forward the idea that the rich must be led by an invisible hand to make nearly the same distribution of the necessaries of life, which would have been made, had the earth been divided into equal portions among all its inhabitants, and thus without intending it, without knowing it, advance the interest of the society…I think it is fair to say that the invisible hand that Smith talked about has become, well,* invisible*.

These are pretty bold ideas by the father of modern economics… although they align perfectly with Catholicism and the idea that “Whatsoever you do to the least of my people, that you do unto me.”…I feel like the Pope is simply calling for a system that serves all, not just those who are motivated to achieve the highest heights in a capitalist system. I know plenty of hard working people that barely get by and who’s lives are filled with stress and anxiety over money… I think the Pope is calling for that problem to be fixed and for the people in power to fix it.

Thank you. People are not just walking piles of money that you can use or throw away. Got some stocks or mutual funds? Read your reports carefully. Buried in the fine print, which requires a 25X microscope or better, you read about fees, commissions and other “cuts” taken out by whoever manages your investments.

All of the crooks involved in the planned financial collapse of 2008 did not get any jail time as of 2013. The worst they got was fines and half their Christmas bonus in 2008!. But the SEC recently went after a certain bank when it tried to go back to the way things were. More fines.

When people become “marks” whose only value is their net worth then you lose ethics, you lose sight of your “customer” as a human being, and deny his dignity, while worshipping and feeding the golden calf.


don’t put words in my mouth

It would seem to me that Pope John Paul is against libertarian ideology.

as is Pope Francis

Maybe one step further… it is a sin to be wealthy and not do good with your money. Or said another way… to live in excess while others go without necessities.

Pope Francis is talking like Jesus did and not all people are going to like.

The Catholic Church is neither capitalist nor Marxist. George O’Brien, a Catholic academic from the 20th Century promotes the idea that both capitalism and Marxism were results of / couldn’t have developed without the protestant reformation in his “Essay on the Economic Effects of the Reformation”, which can still be ordered online.

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