Putting the Economy at the Service of the People and the Poor

by | Aug 1, 2016 | Formation, Poverty: Analysis and Responses, Reflections

During World Youth Day in Poland, Pope Francis kept communicating to thousands of young people throughout the world the message of joy and hope that comes from Jesus Christ and his Gospel.

Especially significant was his quiet, respectful and religious presence in Auschwitz, the site of the horror of the industrial-style system of death of human beings perpetrated by the Nazis. His prayer is a painful expression of genuine mercy.  It is, at the same time, a sign for young people and for the world, so that no one may forget the memory of the Crucified One and of the crucified peoples today. Pope Francis’ predecessors did the same. That is because Auschwitz is the “Golgotha of the modern world,” as St. John Paul II called it.

The remembrance of Auschwitz should always challenge us in the depths of our human spirit, because in an equally quiet and no less lethal way the same phenomenon keeps occurring repeatedly as thousands of victims die every day in the world just because they are poor. As we search for the causes of the new Golgothas, we find that the principal cause is the senseless greed that nestles in the heart of humanity when we live as if God did not exist. Pope Francis says it repeatedly, as he did last year when he was in Bolivia at the Second World Meeting of Popular Movements.  He said then: “Behind all this pain, death and destruction there is the stench of what Basil of Caesarea – one of the first theologians of the Church – called ‘the dung of the devil.’ An unfettered pursuit of money rules. This is the ‘dung of the devil.’ 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.” The Pope added later: “The first task is to put the economy at the service of peoples [and the poor]. … The economy should not be a mechanism for accumulating goods, but rather the proper administration of our common home…. The available resources in our world, the fruit of the intergenerational labors of peoples and the gifts of creation, more than suffice for the integral development of ‘each man and the whole man.’ … Working for a just distribution of the fruits of the earth and human labor is not mere philanthropy. It is a moral obligation…. The universal destination of goods is not a figure of speech found in the Church’s social teaching. It is a reality prior to private property. Property, especially when it affects natural resources, must always serve the needs of peoples.”

Author: José Cervantes,
missionary priest.

Tags: WYD2016