“An economy of Christian inspiration”
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“An economy of Christian inspiration”

During his pastoral journey to Ecuador, Paraguay and Bolivia Pope Francis has been delivering one strong speech after another. No one should be surprised. He has said and written over and over again that the Christian message should not be preached in generalised terms. It should be applied to concrete situations otherwise it risks to become irrelevant.

During his journey Francis stressed three most important tasks in the course of his message:

1. The economy must be put at the service of people, not people at the service of the economy.

2. Local peoples must be respected in their dignity, not viewed and used as tools of consumerism (consider constant media advertising in this light!).

3. The earth itself must be defended and protected for the good of all.

Let us take two examples one from an address delivered in Ecuador and the other delivered in Bolivia.

His visit to Ecuador came at a time when environmental NGOs and the Catholic Church are locked in controversy with President Correa who wants to open up for exploitation by miners one of the most beautiful natural reserves in his country. The Pope did not mince his words. He is strongly on the side of the environmental NGOs and the Church.

Francis told the civil society leaders last Tuesday that the goods of the Earth "are meant for all and even though some might claim property, they are always under a social mortgage."

"Exploitation of natural resources, so abundant in Ecuador, must not seek immediate benefit.

"Being administrators of this richness we have received, we have an obligation towards society as a whole and towards future generations, to which we cannot hand down this heritage without a proper care of the environment," he told those at that event.

In Bolivia he took part in the Second World Meeting of the Popular Movements at the Expo Feria Exhibition Centre. The participation in this meeting is controversial in itself. But, as we all know, Francis does not shy away from controversies. He did not stay on the proverbial fence. Francis clearly and explicitly took the side of the Popular Movements. In a world dominated by neo-liberal discourse Francis spoke a totally different type of discourse: that inspired by the Gospel.

He began by saying that things are anything but right in the world today and that there is need of change, radical change. He then continued to attack the causes and the symptoms of what it wrong.

“An unfettered pursuit of money rules. The service of the common good is left behind. Once capital becomes an idol and guides people’s decisions, once greed for money presides over the entire socioeconomic system, it ruins society, it condemns and enslaves men and women, it destroys human fraternity, it sets people against one another and, as we clearly see, it even puts at risk our common home.”

His appeal for change is rooted on fraternal love and in local realities, rather than imposed from outside. He proposed “three great tasks which demand a decisive and shared contribution from popular movements.”

Pope Francis called for “a truly communitarian economy, one might say an economy of Christian inspiration.”

Pope Francis said that “the first task is to put the economy at the service of peoples. Human beings and nature must not be at the service of money. Let us say No to an economy of exclusion and inequality, where money rules, rather than service.”

The goal of economics, the Pope said, should not be the accumulation of wealth, but the service of the common good.

According to the Pope the second task is to promote respect for local peoples and their sovereignty in the face of the increasingly globalized power exercised by multinational corporations. “Similarly, the monopolizing of the communications media, which would impose alienating examples of consumerism and a certain cultural uniformity, is another one of the forms taken by the new colonialism,” he said.

“The third task, perhaps the most important facing us today, is to defend Mother Earth,” he continued. “Our common home is being pillaged, laid waste and harmed with impunity. Cowardice in defending it is a grave sin. We see with growing disappointment how one international summit after another takes place without any significant result.”

These are just two examples from two addresses by the Pope.

You owe it to yourselves, I think, to read the real thing and not just to depend on such commentaries or short media reports. Two websites which will help you no end to know what the Pope is really saying are http://www.vis.va/vissolr/index.php?lang=en and http://www.catholicculture.org/news/

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