Yes, I am cherry picking words from the recently published Apostolic Exhortation by Pope Francis.
I can’t slow dance with every statement in the document–I guess I’m too independent. Yet, when it comes to the well-being of humanity, I can not quit sloshing about in my happy dance upon hearing a person of immense influence speak against the loud vocalizations of what I must term as the politically far right.
Years back, when I first heard the bellowing of the likes of Limbaugh, a shock wave of horror ran from my ears to my feet. But I brushed it off to some clown looking for a schtick from which to make a whole lot of money. And Limbaugh does make a whole lot of money. His schtick, however, is the antithesis to everything I ever learned in 12 years of parochial school.
A choir of like-voices took to the airwaves and a new movement eventually conquered the softened ones. Belligerence, the quoting of Ayn Rand’s very boring fictional tales, and a bold belittling of those who dare think that economic justice is good for everyone, intolerance, and adoration of the dollar for the worthy, seems to be the new face of modern “christians.” Seriously? Prove me wrong, but I’ve always sensed some level of wickedness pumping power into this new status.
I try not to stand in judgement, but when our economic paths have grown exponentially obese in separation, and those that grovel to survive are painted as takers and unworthy, well, I’m just sayin’. It’s not how I learned the precepts of Christian faith.
When, in fact, a voice of this movement says, “He’s had some statements that to me sound kind of liberal, has taken me aback, has kind of surprised me,” (Sarah Palin in a CNN interview–who, to be fair later apologized for her off the cuff comment), I felt my view somewhat justified.
To be clear, I am hardly the perfect soul without a plethora of flaws. The following outtake from the Apostolic Exhortation applies directly to me and implores me to dig deeper into my own heart and help bring solace to those less blessed than I.
1) 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.
2) While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation.
3) Debt and the accumulation of interest also make it difficult for countries to realize the potential of their own economies and keep citizens from enjoying their real purchasing power. To all this we can add widespread corruption and self-serving tax evasion, which have taken on worldwide dimensions. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.
4) With this in mind, I encourage financial experts and political leaders to ponder the words of one of the sages of antiquity: “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 goods which we hold, but theirs.”
5) The Pope loves everyone, rich and poor alike, but he is obliged in the name of Christ to remind all that the rich must help, respect and promote the poor. I exhort you to generous solidarity and a return of economics and finance to an ethical approach which favors human beings.
6) Today in many places we hear a call for greater security. But until exclusion and inequality in society and between peoples is reversed, it will be impossible to eliminate violence. 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.