VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Economic development and growth have never automatically meant a greater gap between the rich and poor, so there is no reason today for people to throw up their hands and simply accept increasing inequality, Pope Francis said.
Greater inequality and a more rapid destruction of the environment “are not destiny nor even a historic constancy,” the pope told members of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. “There have been periods in which, in some countries, inequalities diminished and the environment was better protected.”
Pope Francis addressed academy members Oct. 20 during a three-day meeting devoted to the study of “changing relations among market, state and civil society.” The meeting topic was inspired particularly by retired Pope Benedict XVI’s 2009 encyclical letter, “Caritas in Veritate” (“Charity in Truth”), which upheld the right and obligation of governments and groups to intervene with policies to ensure the market economy leads not only to the creation of goods and services, but that it benefits all members of society.
The discussion was particularly timely, Pope Francis said, given “the widespread and systemic increase of inequality and of exploitation of the planet, which is greater than the increase in income and wealth.”
The process is not automatic, the pope said. It depends on individual actions and also on the economic regulations that states impose.
Individuals and governments make all sorts of interventions in the economy through choices about energy, labor policies, the banking system, taxes, social welfare programs and education, he said. “Depending on how these sectors are programmed, there are different consequences in the way income and wealth are distributed among those who helped produce them.”
In societies where profit is allowed to be the only concern, he said, “democracy tends to become a plutocracy, where inequality and the exploitation of the planet grows.”
“The development of clean energy to resolve the challenge of climate change” is one area where both workers and the planet would benefit, the pope said. But that cannot happen unless governments “liberate” themselves from lobbies that continue to promote the fossil-fuels industry.
“Political action must be placed truly at the service of the human person, the common good and respect for nature,” he said. “Basically, we must aim at civilizing the market, working for an ethic that is friendly toward the person and his environment.”
In a time of crisis CatholicPhilly.com keeps the information flowing
During the current coronavirus crisis, you can help CatholicPhilly.com deliver the kind of news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live ― every day.
Budgets are tight at this time, and CatholicPhilly's is no different than those of most families. We make sure your donation in any amount will go a long way toward continuing 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.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103