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Pope Francis warns of the dangers of ‘unbridled capitalism’

By on Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Pope Francis talks with nuns during visit to Missionaries of Charity soup kitchen in the Vatican (Photo: CNS)

Pope Francis talks with nuns during visit to Missionaries of Charity soup kitchen in the Vatican (Photo: CNS)

Unbridled capitalism has taught people that money is more important than anything else, said Pope Francis during an event to mark the 25th anniversary of the Missionaries of Charity soup kitchen and women’s shelter at the Vatican.

“Unbridled capitalism has taught the logic of profit at any cost, of giving in order to receive, of exploitation without looking at the person,” said Pope Francis, before adding that the results of such attitudes can be seen “in the crisis we are now living through.”

The Dono di Maria (Gift of Mary) facility, where the nuns who work for the Missionaries of Charity are based, is situated inside the Vatican walls near the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Paul VI audience hall; it serves meals to about 60 people each day and offers accommodation to 25 women.

“In these years, how many times you have bent down to those in need like the good Samaritan?” the Pope told the sisters on Tuesday. “You have looked into their eyes, you have given them a hand to help them up. How many mouths you have fed with patience and dedication? How many wounds, especially spiritual ones, you have bound up.”

Pope Francis said modern men and women need to recover their understanding of what a gift is, what it means to offer something without expecting anything in return and what it means to be in solidarity with the suffering.

Following the Indian tradition, the sisters placed a garland of flowers around the Pope’s neck as he arrived for the visit.

Pope Francis said the shelter should be “a strong reminder to us all – the Church and the city of Rome – to be ever more a family, a ‘home’ that is ready to welcome, to give attention, to foster brotherhood.”

Blessed John Paul II gave the building to Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta May 21, 1988, and visited the facility and the people it serves eight times. Benedict XVI also visited the shelter.

  • Manny

    Yeah, when you consider that a poor person in a developed country has a roof over his head, free education, free medical care, food on the table, clothing, entertainment in television, internet, and so on, when you consider the standard of living and access a poor person has in developed countries today he does have the standard of living of an aristocrat. I stand by that statement.

  • Peter

    You are becoming hysterical.

    Perhaps you ought to tell Pope Francis that our elder brothers, the Jews, who reject Church membership, actually hate God.

    I sure he will be surprised as will the Jews themselves.

    The Muslims also adore the same God, for there is only one Creator. They certainly do not hate him as you claim.

    In fact the only hatred I am aware of is the hatred of the Holy Mass of Pope Paul VI, and such hatred does not come from without the Church, but from within.

  • Benedict Carter

    Oh dear oh dear oh dear.

    Moslems adore the same God, do they?

    One can’t easily deal with this level of willful ignorance, because it proceeds from a mind filled with error.

    Moslems explicitly reject the Blessed and Holy Trinity. They deny that God can “beget or was begotten”. They acknowledge Jesus Christ only as human prophet, not God, and they deny He died on the Cross.

    “There is only one name under Heaven by which men can be saved ……”.

    The God of the Moslems is NOT the God of the Christians.

    The Modernist-ecumaniac’s position that they DO worship the same God is known to be opposed by many in the Curia itself ( but is seen by its proponents as a useful position to take as they seek to build our old friend “dialogue”.

    If one denies the Holy Trinity, how exactly is one worshipping the same God?

    No, not hysterical Peter. Just pointing out evident nonsenses within your ideology which I am more and more convinced is not only NOT Christianity but is opposed to it.

  • Julian Lord

    I have myself not always had access to those things, and contrary to your naïve, rose-tinted view, there are many poor in the “developed countries” that have no roof above their head, or no access to free education, or no free medical care, no food on no table, are clothed in rags, or are deprived of such secondary luxuries as TV, the internet, and etc.

    he does have the standard of living of an aristocrat

    Utterly ludicrous !!!

    Clearly, you have not the FOGGIEST idea what real poverty is like in the Western world.

  • Julian Lord

    This syncretist view whereby all religions worship the same “god” is of Masonic origin, Ben — though it’s hard to tell if his purpose is to deliberately spread this heresy, or if he has simply been infected by it.

    Though his repetitious insistence on his *false* poor-centric salvation mantra is not suggestive of the latter, but rather of some more systematically organised heterodoxy.

  • Peter

    Are you rejecting Church teaching?

    “The Church regards with esteem also the Muslims. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in himself; merciful and all-powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth” (Nostra Aetate)

  • Julian Lord

    Nostra Aetate‘s description of the muslim religion is inaccurate (Islam’s relationship with its god is NOT based on “adoration”, but on obedience), and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has furthermore declared the section of the document describing the non-Christian religions as being flawed by its failure to point out the flaws and Errors in these false religions.

  • Peter

    So Muslims do not worship Allah?

  • Julian Lord

    Not in the Catholic sense of the word “worship”, nor is it at all clear that “Allah” is God.

  • Manny

    Not the foggiest, huh? I grew up with my father blind and unable to work, and yes we were on public assistence.

    You obviously have no economic literacy. When you consider that today’s poor in developed countries have all that I mentioned above and access to meat and nutritious foods, access to transportation, access to heated homes, access to care if and when they become delibitated, access to clean water, access to clothing (the average person didn’t even have a change of clothes; even the aristocracy only had a handful of clothes), access to furniture, access to kitchen utensils, and so on and so on. You bet today’s poor had a higher standard of living than the aristocracy of three hundred years ago.
    I’m not going to respond again. Do yourself a favor and learn something about economics.

  • Julian Lord

    You obviously have no economic literacy

    Ironic, coming from someone imagining that his own personal circumstances during childhood (!) are the lowest degree of poverty imaginable in “developed countries”.

    Not the foggiest, no.

  • Manny

    Don’t put words in my mouth. I never said that was the lowest, but just that I understood poverty.

  • Julian Lord

    When you claim that to be poor is to live like an aristocrat of former centuries, you can make no believable claim to understand poverty.

    Try spending a night in a shelter for tramps, as I was once forced to do, and *then* tell me that the poor live like aristocrats…

    Try telling me that living in 9m² and with not even enough money for food at every end of the month is an “aristocratic” lifestyle…

    Try telling me that those living in cardboard boxes under the Embankment are living like the nobility of yore.

    You can certainly try — but all that you’ll succeed in doing is to post some ghastly offenses against the very nature of Compassion, and Charity, and Humanity themselves.

  • Scyptical Chymist

    It seems to me that there is a confusion here about whether Pope Francis was condemning capitalism as an economic concept or “unbridled capitalism” the latter being seen as an unacceptable form of capitalism. I think Manny is quite justified in pointing out the material benefits enjoyed in the west as capitalism progressed (though not without hiccups). ALL people in the west in our time are materially considerably better off (or have the opportunities to be so) because of advances in science and technology funded through capitalism. We eat better, we are clothed better, we have better health and so on. I am old enough to remember the considerable progress in prosperity from even when I was a child, By today’s standards we would have been considered poor yet as a family we got along and my parents realised how much worse things could have been. Just compare that to the record of State direction in the former Soviet Union in those same years from the 1930s. Let it not be forgotten either that some of the wealth generated and falling into the hands of ordinary people, as well as the rich, is voluntarily channelled into aiding the poor in other parts of the world, as well as aiding those unfortunates at home who find themselves incapable of benefiting from the work opportunities when available, and even the state aid when not. I rather hope that Pope Francis did not mean to condemn the system which has brought material prosperity to people but only those who take immoral advantage of their power. Of course prosperity does not make a person good but neither does poverty and surely as Christians we should welcome improving the lot of humanity. Those who condemn all capitalism would do well to consider the alternatives, some of which are autocratic or anarchic. I thank God for the progress of material prosperity in alleviating hardship. There is much more to be done but condemning he progress made through capitalism is short sighted because like all human endeavour it is imperfect but it has helped rather hindered overall.

  • Manny

    Yeah, aristocracts starved like the general population when crops failed. I can’t speak to the specifics of why you were in a shelter, but shelters here are for transient circumstances, and once entered into the system you get public assistance, where you do get shelter, food, and medical. I don’t know how many charitable organizations exist in your country, but there are food kitchens around here for the poor. Taking money through government force to redistribute is not charity. No one charitbly pays their taxes. In fact nothing but anger and hatred comes out of paying taxes. Christ is met in true human compassion, one where it’s not a bureaucrat that measures out parcels for vague numbers of people but through human one on one contact.
    By the way go and compare people in transient circumstances today with those three hundred years ago and see how different they are. Consider yourself lucky compared to those in previous eras.

  • Julian Lord

    So basically, you’re comparing the lives of the starving poor today with, say, the lives of the starving poor emigrant aristocrats in southern England during the French Revolution, living in garrets and on hand-outs ?

    This is just a circumstancial comparison, devoid of any general meaning. The lives of some younger sons in some backwater impoverished noble households out in the sticks were often quite indistinguishable from those of the local peasantry, just as even today there are “aristocrats” living in complete financial ruin (I know one personally), though I doubt this was what you were nattering on about.

    Still, if your point is to try and save the face of your argument, then feel free, and don’t let me stop you…

  • Manny

    LOL, I’m not trying to save face. I whole heartedly believe as many economist, that the poor in today’s world have a better standard of living than the aristocracy fo three hundred years ago. I stand firmly by it, and I repeat, go get an economic education.
    Plus you keep comparing transient situations of today with stable situations of the past. I’m comparing stable situations of both eras to each other. Transient situations by their natures are difficult to address for many obvious (perhaps not so obvious to you, but I couldn’t care less) reasons.
    I’m tired of talking to you. Go learn something before you argue on a subject.

  • Donna G

    There is not and has never been laissez faire capitalism? What about the children who worked in cotton mills and down mines in the early 19th century? That was a systemic issue. And what about all the child labourers in developing and increasingly properous countries such as India today?

  • Manny

    Apparently the value system at the time justified it. Laws modifying capitalism have always existed. If there was no law at the time, it reflects on the culture. It takes time for problems to come to knowledge and for values to change. Apparently people felt comfortable in allowing such a situation and more importantly parents sending their children to do that work.

  • $46579571

    Neo-conservatives, but Catholic – Michael Novak and George Weigel are good examples, heeding Rome’s message when they want to, but ignoring it when they don’t (e.g. over the invasion of Iraq or Rome’s doubts about Capitalism).

  • Benedict Carter

    I have no time for either Novak or Weigel. The latter still sees the world in terms of geo-politics a la JP II and Gorbachev.