(Reuters) - Pope Francis called for renewal of the Roman Catholic Church and attacked unfettered capitalism as "a new tyranny", urging global leaders to fight poverty and growing inequality in the first major work he has authored alone as pontiff.
The 84-page document, known as an apostolic exhortation, amounted to an official platform for his papacy, building on views he has aired in sermons and remarks since he became the first non-European pontiff in 1,300 years in March.
In it, Francis went further than previous comments criticizing the global economic system, attacking the "idolatry of money" and beseeching politicians to guarantee all citizens "dignified work, education and healthcare".
He also called on rich people to share their wealth. "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," Francis wrote in the document issued on Tuesday.
"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 2 points?"
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Pope Francis is rattling cages all over the world. His plain speaking about the effects of "unbridled capitalism" and the "idolatry of money" is such a breath of fresh air in the present stifling financial atmosphere of this world.
A favorite quote of mine in The Urantia Book is the following (bolding is mine):
156:5.10 Religion is the exclusively spiritual experience of the evolving immortal soul of the God-knowing man, but moral power and spiritual energy are mighty forces which may be utilized in dealing with difficult social situations and in solving intricate economic problems. These moral and spiritual endowments make all levels of human living richer and more meaningful.
I think this passage speaks to the need for religionists to practice their religion in such a consistent way that it will translate into the fiber of society--injecting love and brotherhood into our civilizations. All economic problems are human problems, and it is only by rallying humanity to the need for caring for the least of its members that the world can solve the terrible challenges that beset us and divide us. We simply must begin seeing ourselves as our brothers' keeper, displaying the moral power needed to stand up for them and the spiritual energy to accomplish the seemingly impossible.
The Urantia Book offers the following teachings about how capitalism evolved
The Beginnings of Capitalism At the end of the section, we read the following:
69:5.15 Though capital has tended to liberate man, it has greatly complicated his social and industrial organization. The abuse of capital by unfair capitalists does not destroy the fact that it is the basis of modern industrial society. Through capital and invention the present generation enjoys a higher degree of freedom than any that ever preceded it on earth. This is placed on record as a fact and not in justification of the many misuses of capital by thoughtless and selfish custodians.
Jesus spoke at some length to the apostles and others about wealth - the different types of wealth, and the different uses of wealth. All of us who find ourselves the possessors of disposable income, would do well to learn what Jesus taught about money.
In this following section, Jesus is counseling the rich man, and says, among other things:
132:5.18 “4. No mortal who knows God and seeks to do the divine will can stoop to engage in the oppressions of wealth. No noble man will strive to accumulate riches and amass wealth-power by the enslavement or unfair exploitation of his brothers in the flesh. Riches are a moral curse and a spiritual stigma when they are derived from the sweat of oppressed mortal man. All such wealth should be restored to those who have thus been robbed or to their children and their children’s children. An enduring civilization cannot be built upon the practice of defrauding the laborer of his hire.
Jesus' economic attitude is described as follows:
140:8.15 4. Economic attitude. Jesus worked, lived, and traded in the world as he found it. He was not an economic reformer, although he did frequently call attention to the injustice of the unequal distribution of wealth. But he did not offer any suggestions by way of remedy. He made it plain to the three that, while his apostles were not to hold property, he was not preaching against wealth and property, merely its unequal and unfair distribution. He recognized the need for social justice and industrial fairness, but he offered no rules for their attainment.
And so, we see that even in Jesus' day, there were those who would exploit the less fortunate for their own gain. And even after 2000+ years, this is still happening. So, it is indeed a wonderful development when the leader of the largest Christian denomination in the world--a man who Catholics deem to be the earthly representative of Jesus--is so frank and candid about the economic problems of this world, and how to solve them.
Here is a further section regarding Jesus' teachings about wealth, wherein we read
163:2.11 Jesus never taught that it was wrong to have wealth. He required only the twelve and the seventy to dedicate all of their worldly possessions to the common cause. Even then, he provided for the profitable liquidation of their property, as in the case of the Apostle Matthew. Jesus many times advised his well-to-do disciples as he taught the rich man of Rome. The Master regarded the wise investment of excess earnings as a legitimate form of insurance against future and unavoidable adversity. When the apostolic treasury was overflowing, Judas put funds on deposit to be used subsequently when they might suffer greatly from a diminution of income. This Judas did after consultation with Andrew. Jesus never personally had anything to do with the apostolic finances except in the disbursement of alms. But there was one economic abuse which he many times condemned, and that was the unfair exploitation of the weak, unlearned, and less fortunate of men by their strong, keen, and more intelligent fellows. Jesus declared that such inhuman treatment of men, women, and children was incompatible with the ideals of the brotherhood of the kingdom of heaven.
Finally, in the story of the cleansing of the Temple, Jesus' economic attitude is further revealed:
173:1.11 This cleansing of the temple discloses the Master’s attitude toward commercializing the practices of religion as well as his detestation of all forms of unfairness and profiteering at the expense of the poor and the unlearned. This episode also demonstrates that Jesus did not look with approval upon the refusal to employ force to protect the majority of any given human group against the unfair and enslaving practices of unjust minorities who may be able to entrench themselves behind political, financial, or ecclesiastical power. Shrewd, wicked, and designing men are not to be permitted to organize themselves for the exploitation and oppression of those who, because of their idealism, are not disposed to resort to force for self-protection or for the furtherance of their laudable life projects.
There is quite a lot of information in The Urantia Book when it comes to economics and the relation of economics to religion, angels, brotherhood, the profit motive, and social reconstruction. We have put together a compilation of this information in a topical study called ECONOMICS
It might give you a whole new perspective on the present situation on our dark planet, and a new appreciation regarding the emergence of Pope Francis, who is presenting a new and refreshing way to view Jesus for all the world to see.