“No to an economy of exclusion
53. 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? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.
Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a “disposable” culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”.
“54. In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase; and in the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.”
Matthew 26:11 For the poor you have always with you: but me you have not always.
Mark 14:7 For the poor you have always with you: and whensoever you will, you may do them good: but me you have not always.
John 12:8 For the poor you have always with you; but me you have not always.
As those of you who follow my writings know It is very rare for me to write about current events. However, I am making an exception here to not try to clarify what the Pope has said but to instead give an alternative perspective to the problem in society in regards to the poor. I agree with Pope Francis that the poor are often ignored and marginalized in all systems of government and all economic models. A solution to this problem has not been found in the 2000 year history of the Church whether the Church has been in a position of direct influence of government or just a moral conscience of government.But clearly according to the teaching of Jesus we are to be a moral conscience always and teach not only charity towards the poor but demand respect for their plight in society. Surely, as Christians, we are called to be charitable to the poor and to also do what we can to influence all segments of society in the plight of the poor so that they can be given not only the excess of prosperity but also the fruit of prosperity. We must also be aware that the prophetic words of the Bible recorded by these three disciples of our Lord is the reality of how society consists and will consist for all times. So, a call to be charitable by all people whether people of faith or not is appropriate by not only the Church but also by government. No one should suffer hunger or lack of shelter in our society regardless of the economic system in place. It has been my experience that regardless of the economic system the poor are with us and that more charity is needed towards the poor among us.
In the United States, "Trickle down economics” is a Democrat invention as it was first tried by John Kennedy, a Catholic, and it created a great economic expansion in the US. It was not tried again until it was tried by Reagan to thwart a near economic collapse caused by the Keynesian policies of the Democrat predecessors. This time it created the greatest and longest economic expansion in world history which lasted through the Clinton administration and was only ended by a return to the failed Keynesian policies of the past.
It is a fact that when people of faith prosper that more is given to the poor. Charity increases to the poor that will always be among us. Governmental economic systems historically regardless of ideology do little to help the plight of the poor but instead it is the heart of the individual that is moved to reach out to the poor among us with charity. The Church has a place to be the leader and example of charity and the teaching of our Lord and Savior tells us that we are to be there for our fellow men. May we as a Church be an example to the world and to governments in giving to the need of those who are among the poor. Government has no neighbors but we as individuals do and through our charity we corporeally can make a difference to the poor for there is no conscience in government equal to the conscience of the individual moved by God’s divine grace in our individual and corporeal lives. To depend on government to make a difference in the lives of the poor actually betrays the call of Christ to be charitable and loving to those who for whatever reason do not prosper in any society. There is no system of government that does or can eliminate the poor among us but we can do better with our love and charity to our fellow men.
Pope Francis is neither an economist nor a financial expert. He is a man of God and equipped to speak out against ignoring the plight of the poor. The poor will always be among us and that is not the result of any economic policy. All that the Church can do or the faithful individually is to be charitable to those who have not been as fortunate as some. For the Pope to speak out against greed and for charity is not a political statement but one of morality. Wealth is not immoral but greed and envy is immoral.
6 And having different gifts, according to the grace that is given us, either prophecy, to be used according to the rule of faith;
7 Or ministry, in ministering; or he that teacheth, in doctrine;
8 He that exhorteth, in exhorting; he that giveth, with simplicity; he that ruleth, with carefulness; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.
I think that most Catholics would agree wholeheartedly with Pope Francis’ call for charity and for evangelism as they are both sides to the same coin.
27 He that giveth to the poor, shall not want: he that despiseth his entreaty, shall suffer indigence.
Both lay and clergy do what we can to further the efforts of evangelism. There does need to be more involvement in the laity in evangelism as the clergy is already burdened with being shepherds for their flocks. The laity must become more involved in catechistical training and efforts to reach out to non-Catholics with the true Gospel message from the bark of the Church from which all men are saved from sin through the grace of the Sacraments of our Lord.
He seems very concerned about the poor of which all Christians should share that same concern. However, social engineering is not the mission of the Church and the Church can become sidetracked by such secular issues that the Church has little if any ability to change. The very efforts of the Church in the secular environment may inhibit the poor more in their struggles than helping them. What the Church can do is be an example of mercy and of generosity in continuing and increasing our charitable activities for the needy and the poor in the world. It is better to focus on what we can do rather than trying to influence the world to do better.
21 He that despiseth his neighbour, sinneth: but he that sheweth mercy to the poor, shall be blessed. He that believeth in the Lord, loveth mercy.
The spirit of the world is not the Spirit that inspires us as Christians and we follow a different leader. The world will never conform to the mission of the Church but the poor of the world will benefit from a increased effort of our charity. I think that the real message of Pope Francis here is that we should renew and emphasize our evangelism efforts as the way to make the world better for all people.
1 John 3:17
17 He that hath the substance of this world, and shall see his brother in need, and shall shut up his bowels from him: how doth the charity of God abide in him?
To know Christ is to know love which is woefully lacking in the world and only the Church can fill this need for love in Christ. We can make a difference by being an example to the world and that "shining city on a hill that cannot be hid".
Forgive me Holy Father