Pope Francis Calls Capitalism 'Tyranny'; Calls for End of Social Exclusion and Inequality
November 28, 2013
Reuters & The Guardian & Lizzy Davies / The Guardian
Pope Francis has attacked unfettered capitalism as "a new tyranny", urging global leaders to fight poverty and growing inequality in the first major work he has authored alone as pontiff. The Pontiff's first major publication calls on global leaders to guarantee work, education and healthcare. Pope Francis declaration constitutes a 'Magna Carta' of reforms attacking centralisation and urging an end to exclusion and inequality.
Pope Francis Calls Unfettered Capitalism 'Tyranny' and Urges Rich to Share Wealth
Reuters & The Guardian
ROME (November 26, 2013) -- Pope Francis has attacked unfettered capitalism as "a new tyranny", urging global leaders to fight poverty and growing inequality in the first major work he has authored alone as pontiff.
The 84-page document, known as an apostolic exhortation, amounted to an official platform for his papacy, building on views he has aired in sermons and remarks since he became the first non-European pontiff in 1,300 years in March.
In it, Francis went further than previous comments criticising the global economic system, attacking the "idolatry of money" and beseeching politicians to guarantee all citizens "dignified work, education and healthcare".
He also called on rich people to share their wealth. "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," Francis wrote in the document issued on Tuesday.
"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 two points?"
The pope said renewal of the church could not be put off and the Vatican and its entrenched hierarchy "also need to hear the call to pastoral conversion".
"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.
In July, Francis finished an encyclical begun by Pope Benedict but he made clear that it was largely the work of his predecessor, who resigned in February.
Called Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), the exhortation is presented in Francis's simple and warm preaching style, distinct from the more academic writings of former popes, and stresses the church's central mission of preaching "the beauty of the saving love of God made manifest in Jesus Christ".
In it, he reiterated earlier statements that the church cannot ordain women or accept abortion. The male-only priesthood, he said, "is not a question open to discussion" but women must have more influence in church leadership.
A meditation on how to revitalise a church suffering from encroaching secularisation in western countries, the exhortation echoed the missionary zeal more often heard from the evangelical Protestants who have won over many disaffected Catholics in the pope's native Latin America.
In it, economic inequality features as one of the issues Francis is most concerned about. The 76-year-old pontiff calls for an overhaul of the financial system and warns that unequal distribution of wealth inevitably leads to violence.
"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 wrote.
Denying this was simple populism, he called for action "beyond a simple welfare mentality" and added: "I beg the Lord to grant us more politicians who are genuinely disturbed by the state of society, the people, the lives of the poor."
Since his election, Francis has set an example for austerity in the church, living in a Vatican guest house rather than the ornate Apostolic Palace, travelling in a Ford Focus, and last month suspending a bishop who spent millions of euros on his luxurious residence.
He chose to be called Francis after the medieval Italian saint of the same name famed for choosing a life of poverty.
Stressing co-operation among religions, Francis quoted the late Pope John Paul II's idea that the papacy might be reshaped to promote closer ties with other Christian churches and noted lessons Rome could learn from the Orthodox church such as "synodality" or decentralised leadership.
He praised co-operation with Jews and Muslims and urged Islamic countries to guarantee their Christian minorities the same religious freedom as Muslims enjoy in the west.
Pope Says Catholic Church Must
Decentralise and Tackle Poverty
Lizzy Davies / The Guardian
ROME (November 26, 2013) -- Pope Francis has hit out at the "excessive centralisation" of the Catholic church and railed against what he described as a murderous "economy of exclusion and inequality" in a wide-ranging document likened by one Vatican observer to a "Magna Carta for church reform".
Criticising everything from defeatist Christian "sourpusses" to believers with "an ostentatious preoccupation" for doctrine and the church's prestige, the Argentinian pontiff presented a sweeping vision of the change he wants to introduce.
In an 84-page apostolic exhortation, his most important written intervention to date, Francis explored the issues he has made the pillars of his papacy, such as the need for ethical reform of the global financial system and a more pastoral church that gets "bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets".
Chastising an economic system which "tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits", he wrote: "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. 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 two points?"
He added that he prayed for secular leadership with a social conscience. "I beg the Lord to grant us more politicians who are genuinely disturbed by the state of society, the people, the lives of the poor."
In Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), Francis reiterated his desire to see a church that ministered more to its flock of 1.2 billion and went out to the margins of society to help people and spread Christianity. In comments that supported his desire to reform church governance, to make it more "horizontal", Francis said the pontiff should allow more room to bishops working in different areas.
"It is not advisable for the pope to take the place of local bishops in the discernment of every issue which arises in their territory," he said. "In this sense, I am conscious of the need to promote a sound 'decentralisation'." He added: "Excessive centralisation, rather than proving helpful, complicates the church's life and her missionary outreach."
The exhortation, written in his unfussy style, is the first lengthy document Francis has written on his own as pope. An encyclical entitled Lumen Fidei (The Light of Faith) and issued in July was written mostly by Benedict XVI before his resignation in February.
The document did not bring good news to supporters of women's ordination. While he praised women's "distinctive skill sets", the pope said the uniquely male sphere of the priesthood was "not a question open to discussion".
He said the Catholic leadership needed to make "a more incisive female presence in the church" possible, but gave no indication of what that might look like.
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