VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Families who have lots of children do not cause poverty, Pope Francis said.
The main culprit is “an economic system that has removed the human person from its focus and has placed the god of money” as its priority instead, he said Jan. 21.
The pope dedicated his general audience talk to a review of some of the highlights from his visit to Sri Lanka and the Philippines Jan. 13-19.
Speaking to some 7,000 people gathered in the Paul VI audience hall, the pope recalled his second apostolic journey to Asia after visiting South Korea last August.
He said he wanted to encourage Catholics in their faith and missionary zeal as well as promote interreligious dialogue, peace, unity and social development by highlighting the important role families and young people should play.
Meetings with families and young people in Manila were a major high point on his trip, he said, because they showed how “healthy families are essential to the life of society.”
“It gives consolation and hope to see so many large families that welcome children as a true gift of God. They know that every child is a blessing,” he said.
He criticized as “simplistic” claims that high birth rates caused poverty.
Rather, an economic system that creates “a culture of disposal,” where men, women and children are excluded “is the main reason for poverty, not large families,” he said to applause.
He reiterated the importance of showing “the beauty of the family in God’s plan” and defending it from the many threats and new forms of “ideological colonization that attack its identity and mission.”
On the flight back from Manila to Rome, the pope told journalists Jan. 19 that “for the people who are the poorest, a child is a treasure” and “God knows how to help them.”
But he also underlined that being a good Catholic did not mean married couples “had to be like rabbits,” that is, have children “one after the other” without any sense of responsibility.
Through dialogue with each other, their pastors and church groups, each couple can seek to discern its own “parental responsibility” and recognize there are “licit” means, through natural family planning, to be “prudent” and generous in welcoming life, he said on the papal plane.
In his audience talk Jan. 21, Pope Francis said another important message he highlighted on his trip to Asia was that “taking care of the poor is an essential element of our Christian life and witness.”
This entails “refusing every form of corruption because corruption steals from the poor and demands a culture of honesty,” he said to applause.
The main motivation for his trip to the Philippines was to meet with survivors of Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban and “pay homage to the local people’s faith and ability to recover,” he said.
He again prayed for an “innocent victim” of local storms — the 27-year-old Catholic Relief Services worker, Kristel Padasas of Manila. She had worked with a recovery project for victims of Typhoon Haiyan and died Jan. 17 after the papal Mass in Tacloban when high winds blew over scaffolding.
Meanwhile, he said the importance of reconciliation was the focus of his trip to Sri Lanka, which is seeking to rebuild unity after its 26-year-long civil war ended in 2009.
The nation’s different religions have “a significant role” to play in fostering a spirit of cooperation and helping bring healing with “the balm of forgiveness,” the pope said.
Dialogue, respecting human dignity and involving everyone in seeking solutions and promoting the common good are critical, he said he told government officials.
But the high point of that trip, he said, was canonizing “the great missionary,” St. Joseph Vaz.
The pope said he hoped the new saint’s “holiness and love for the other would continue to inspire the church in Sri Lanka, in its apostolate of charity and education.”
He said St. Vaz is a model for all Christians who are “called today to propose the saving truth of the Gospel in a multireligious context, with respect for others, with perseverance and humility.”
Before the general audience, in the lobby of the Domus Sanctae Marthae residence, Pope Francis received two lambs who had been blessed earlier in the day in Rome’s Basilica of St. Agnes Outside the Walls, where they were placed on the altar over the martyr’s tomb.
Every year on the feast of St. Agnes, the pope blesses two lambs raised by Trappist monks on the outskirts of Rome.
The wool of the lambs blessed on the feast day is woven by a community of nuns and becomes the fabric for the “pallium,” a circular stole, which the pope gives each June to new archbishops from around the world.
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
PREVIOUS: Irish government says no referendum on blasphemy before election
NEXT: Pope names former top prosecutor to head board for clergy abuse appeals
Bravo for Pope Francis’ insightful and unapologetic endorsement of the importance of the family to society, the blessing of children, and his dismissal of the false premise that high birth rates cause poverty. Lack of economic opportunity for everyone causes poverty.
As to an economic system that creates “a culture of disposal”, hopefully Pope Francis will come to realize that this is not the definition of capitalism as it might seem to his South American mindset. No, today’s throw away and exclusionary culture is the combination of a decadent society and a corrupted and perverted monopolistic economic system of big central governments, state run institutions, large politically connected corporations, and a myriad of special interest groups, all of whom are working together for the same things. Power and wealth and self pleasure. In the US this economic system is called crony capitalism, but it really should be called for what it truly is, crony corruption in high places!
History has shown that the best solution to poverty, injustice, death and destruction is a free enterprise system that is based on strong moral principles. Like the self help hard work system of early America that created the highest middle class and highest standard of living, including for the poor, that the world has ever seen. A uniquely different system that treats everyone equally and rewards hard work and initiative instead of status or class. A unique system called capitalism that worked in the beginning because it was instituted in a unique country called America. A country that was founded on God instead of man, and was based on a Christian moral code of truth, justice, equality for all, neighborly love and charity, and the God given right for the pursuit of happiness by all, based on individual hard work, self reliance, and personal initiative.
Pope Francis would do well to study early America and he will see that true capitalism that is tempered by a strong moral code is the best answer to the world’s poor, needy, and marginalized.