The not-quite-so-new Pope Francis has been making waves ever since he was elected in March. Not only has he expressed his desire to avoid focusing on the largely controversial issues of Abortion and Gay Rights, beyond saying that he doesn’t feel the need to bash them, but lately he has been spending a lot of time singling out the world’s economic systems and declaring a war on economic inequality. His latest advancement on the battlefield was a sermon in which he decried the evil that is greed. Much of the world worships money, and it is this “idolatry,” an idolatry fully embraced by TEApublicans and their wealthy backers, that is hurting this country and the world.
The message that the pope conveys is not one of swearing off material possessions and living as a hermit or an ascetic, but rather one of humility and compassion. As he said it in the sermon,
“The Lord teaches us the path: not the path of poverty for poverty’s sake. No! It is the way of poverty as an instrument, so that God may be God, so that He will be the only Lord! Not the golden idols! And all the goods that we have, the Lord gives them to us to advance the world, to advance humanity, to help, to help others. Today may the Word of the Lord remain in our hearts: ‘Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.”
So as he says, the parables of poverty — like the one in which it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven — are not to teach people to give up everything they own, but rather to help them understand that the material world is impermanent and attachment to material things is not the true path to God.
The point he makes is that it is not wealth that is evil but the worship of it. It is not hard to translate what the Pope is saying into a diatribe against the gods of the Conservative political movement. While they claim to follow the teachings of Jesus, the fact of the matter is that they worship money over virtually anything else.
They have bastardized the Protestant Work Ethic and twisted it into an excuse to idolize anyone who is rich and attack anyone who isn’t. Instead of valuing hard work they value work that pays good money, because in their minds the mere fact that someone is wealthy is a sign of God’s grace and blessing, despite the hundreds of examples of people with money doing evil things.
For decades there has been a consistent beating of the drums of capitalism. They have brainwashed many into believing that pure, unbridled economic “freedom” is not only good for us, but what God wants from us. Luckily the very high-profile Pope is now standing up for the truth of it. Greed is what causes most, if not all, conflict and without combating it this country, and this world, are doomed. You don’t have to be religious to understand that, and hopefully Pope Francis’ battle-cries will not go unheeded.
A transcript of the sermon can be found here. A video of it is below.