Pope Francis has been striving to implement different reforms since being elected to the papacy in March of this year. He just released his first major work since taking office and it is already causing controversy. In the Pope’s work, titled Evangelii Gaudium, he calls for a financial system that serves rather than rules, and tells financial experts to ponder the words of one of the ancient sages:
Not to share one’s wealth with the poor is to steal from them and to take away their livelihood. It is not our own good which we hold, but theirs.
The Pope’s words stand in direct contradiction to the far right’s assertion that the poor are the thieves and are the ones stealing from the hardworking rich.
He goes on to encourage financial reform and a return to ethical economics that favors human beings over money. These are very important and radical words coming from the leader of a church filled with financial controversy. Pope Francis also says inequality is one of the driving forces of violence. Much like the philosopher, Pope Francis says that:
The poor and the poorer peoples are accused of violence, yet without equal opportunities the different forms of aggression and conflict will find a fertile terrain for growth and eventually explode. When a society – whether local, national or global – is willing to leave a part of itself on the fringes, no political programs or resources spent on law enforcement or surveillance systems can indefinitely guarantee tranquility. This is not the case simply because inequality provokes a violent reaction from those excluded from the system, but because the socioeconomic system is unjust at its root. Just as goodness tends to spread, the toleration of evil, which is injustice, tends to expand its baneful influence and quietly to undermine any political and social system, no matter how solid it may appear. If every action has its consequences, an evil embedded in the structures of a society has a constant potential for disintegration and death.
Pope Francis makes a very bold statement here. He says that violence is not a product of people being excluded from the system, instead it is the result of the entire socioeconomic system being unjust at its root. The entire economic system that we are involved with is unjust at its root and this is the system that Pope Francis is attacking. He even goes further and says that:
Today’s economic mechanisms promote inordinate consumption, yet it is evident that unbridled consumerism combined with inequality proves doubly damaging to the social fabric. Inequality eventually engenders a violence which recourse to arms cannot and never will be able to resolve. This serves only to offer false hopes to those clamoring for heightened security, even though nowadays we know that weapons and violence, rather than providing solutions, create new and more serious conflicts. Some simply content themselves with blaming the poor and the poorer countries themselves for their troubles; indulging in unwarranted generalizations, they claim that the solution is an “education” that would tranquilize them, making them tame and harmless. All this becomes even more exasperating for the marginalized in the light of the widespread and deeply rooted corruption found in many countries – in their governments, businesses and institutions – whatever the political ideology of their leaders.
Our excessive consumerism is putting a strain on the poor. As Pope Francis said, it is damaging to our social fabric and is widening the gap between rich and poor. According to Pope Francis most violence is an economic problem and the only way to deal with it is to attack our system at its root and to create a more loving, generous and just socioeconomic system. The poor are not the one’s putting the strain on an already volatile system. The system is doing it to itself.
About the Author / Blake Buckner
Blake Buckner is an aspiring writer, student of religion, and passionate Marxist. He is a Christian and an Atheist and is currently pursuing a B.S. in Religion. When he is not writing, reading, or studying he enjoys spending time with his wife and two children. You can contact Blake at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook and Twitter.