EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


May 25, 2013

Column:Let Pope Francis' disregard for wealth change the church

Just about everything about Pope Francis rings true. A mere two months into his papacy, he has shed many of the Roman Catholic Church’s gaudy and inapt symbols of materialism and returned the philosophical focus to where Jesus Christ would have wanted it to be: on the poor.

Banished to Vatican closets are his predecessors’ ornate Renaissance vestments, along with an assortment of un-Christlike, ostentatious adornments including a solid gold crucifix.

Francis spends little or no time in the chambered papal apartment filled with princely, museum-quality furniture. He prefers the more humble surroundings of a communal setting in a Vatican residence where he leads early morning Mass.

This month, Francis delivered a series of public pronouncements that have some radical anti-capitalist theologians salivating over his views on money and international finance. He told a small audience of ambassadors to the Vatican that free-market capitalism had created a “tyranny” and that human beings were being valued purely as consumers, not as real people, The Telegraph reported last week.

According to the British newspaper, Francis told his audience that money should be made to “serve” people, not to “rule” them. He called for a more ethical financial system and curbs on financial speculation. He urged national governments to impose more control over their economies and to end “absolute autonomy” of the free market and instead to provide “for the common good.”

In many respects, I agree with Francis on this line of thinking. I part company with him when he sees corporations as comprised entirely of evildoers. I appreciate what corporations have done to create employment. I utterly adore the fact that he, unlike his predecessors, is pointing out what commercialism and materialism have done to warp people’s values and turn them into monster consumers.

I fault him, however, for failing to mention, as he rails against mega-corporations, that he happens to run one of the wealthiest organizations in the world.

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