Pope Francis has folks swooning again, this time because he criticized capitalism and greed:
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.To many observers, this must seem like a radical new stance for the Church. However, it really isn't. Look back to what Francis's immediate predecessor said on New Year's Day of this year:
The 84-page document, known as an apostolic exhortation, amounted to an official platform for his papacy....
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?" ...
Pope Benedict XVI said in his New Year's peace message today that the world was under threat from unbridled capitalism.And that phrase "idolatry of money"? John Paul II, the famous anti-communist, used it years before Francis did. Here's John Paul in a 1998 encyclical letter:
The pope said "hotbeds of tension and confrontation caused by the growing inequality between rich and poor and the prevalence of a selfish and individualistic mentality also expressed by unregulated financial capitalism."
... A longer version of the Pope's annual message was sent to heads of state, government and non-governmental organizations on December 14th.
Reuters reports that in that message "the Pope called for a new economic model and ethical regulations for markets, saying the global financial crisis was proof that capitalism does not protect the weakest members of society."
The pope said economic models that seek maximum profit and consumption and encourage competition at all costs had failed to look after the basic needs of many and could sow social unrest.
"It is alarming to see hotbeds of tension and conflict caused by growing instances of inequality between rich and poor, by the prevalence of a selfish and individualistic mindset which also finds expression in an unregulated financial capitalism." ...
"Among the actions and attitudes opposed to the will of God, (and) the good of neighbor ... (are) the all-consuming desire for profit and ... the thirst for power (which) ... in today's world are indissolubly united.... We would see that hidden behind certain decisions, apparently inspired only by economics or politics, are real forms of idolatry: of money, ideology, class, technology."And last year, Pope Benedict said in Mexico that an "idolatry of money" fueled the drug trade.
Popes have been warning against the excesses of capitalism for years. (Go here to read about John Paul doing it in 1991.) It would have been nice if it had changed some hearts and minds, but I can't say I've noticed anything of the sort. I sincerely hope I'm wrong about this, but what Francis is saying just seems like more of the same, and I don't expect it to make a damn bit of difference.