Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Faith and Economics

Fairness and justice are topics we hear a lot of these days, especially in the world of finances, as more of us are talking about the will of God and the apparent will of society to move in an opposite direction with regard to the common good. The Scriptures clearly show that unfairness and injustice should have no place in our lives.

In the weekly column Faith and Economics, in the Catholic Times, the bishop mentions the growing interest in this topic in many parts of the world, and refers to the comment of Pope Francis in his Exhortation on Joy of the Gospel. "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?" And he continues: "This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized, without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape."

The pope has continually expressed his disapproval of the injustices in the world. And the bishop mentions the United States, in the capitalistic vanguard, and its great influence on the world economy. He would like more Christians to examine the current impact of capitalism on the world's economy and its unfortunate consequences for most people of the world. He mentions that President Obama quoted from the Exhortation of Pope Francis, citing the need for a common goal to help rid ourselves of the injustices in society.

The pope stressed the dangers of a capitalism that is allowed to function without imposing restrictions on its free use in the international marketplace. The bishop mentions that even some in the U.S. Republican party have taken the pope's words to heart.

In the pope's Peace Day message, he again returns to the economic problems in the world: "This means not being guided by a desire for profit or a thirst for power. What is needed is the willingness to 'lose ourselves' for the sake of others rather than exploiting them, and to serve them instead of oppressing them for our own advantage. The other–whether a person, people or nation–is to be seen not just as some kind of instrument, with a work capacity and physical strength to be exploited at low cost and then discarded when no longer useful, but as our neighbor, a helper....We need, then, to find ways by which all may benefit from the fruits of the earth, not only to avoid the widening gap between those who have more and those who must be content with the crumbs, but above all because it is a question of justice, equality and respect for every human being."

It is the lack of fraternal charity, the love we should have for one another, the pope said, that is the major problem. When we renew the bonds we have with all others in society, and have an attitude of service to everyone on earth, we will have taken the first step at solving the problems of society.

The bishop ends the article with a quote from the Joy of the Gospel (#183): "The earth is our common home and all of us are brothers and sisters. If indeed 'the just ordering of society and of the state is a central responsibility of politics', the Church cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice. All Christians, their pastors included, are called to show concern for the building of a better world. This is essential, for the Church’s social thought is primarily positive. It offers proposals, it works for change, and in this sense it constantly points to the hope born of the loving heart of Jesus Christ. At the same time, it unites its own commitment to that made in the social field by other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, whether at the level of doctrinal reflection or at the practical level."

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