The campaign against corporate criminals and their gluttonous greed just added a new speaker with a very loud voice, Pope Francis I.
After hearing stories from the jobless on the Italian island of Sardinia, the leader of the earth’s one billion Roman Catholics threw away his prepared text and denounced galloping globalization that impoverishes the masses of people worldwide.
“We want a just system, a system that lets all of us get ahead,” the pope said on Sept. 22, according to a story by the Rome correspondent for Catholic News Service. “We don’t want this globalized economic system that does us so much harm. At its center there should be man and woman, as God wants, and not money.”
Francis told the crowd in the port city of Cagliari that the present worldwide economic crisis is the “consequence of a global choice, of an economic system that led to this tragedy, an economic system centered on an idol, which is called money.”
And even his prepared remarks were pointed. In them, Francis emphasized “dignified work.” Instead, he said, the global economic crunch led to an increase in “inhumane work, slave labor, work without fitting security or without respect for creation.” That’s “creation” as in the creation of human beings in God’s image.
In a way, we shouldn’t be surprised at the Pope’s strong words against galloping greed and corporate despotism. He’s repeating what has been part of official church teaching for the last 130 years or so, Catholic Social Thought.
Catholic Social Thought, we should note, is very pro-worker and pro-union.
Not all popes have pushed Catholic Social Thought. Not all lay Catholics, Catholic politicians, or leaders within the Catholic hierarchy have paid attention to it.
And somehow we have the feeling Francis’ words will fall on deaf ears of the Walton family, “Chainsaw Al” Dunlap, the Koch brothers and other – to use Teddy Roosevelt’s words – “malefactors of great wealth,” regardless of whether they’re Catholic or not. We’re not sure about House Speaker John Boehner, who is a Catholic.
But that’s not the point. Pope Francis has provided a moral bully pulpit to rally the world’s workers in the ongoing crusade against corporate greed, in all its manifestations that beat us down. The presumed spiritual guide for one-seventh of the people on the planet has a certain legitimacy when he speaks, after all.
If Francis’ words can marshal more people into the streets to stand up for ourselves and against the capitalist chieftains who rob us of our money, dignity, self-respect, right to organize and right to keep the fruits – all the fruits – of our labor, all the better. He might even prick the conscience of a capitalist or two. Who knows?
Photo: Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, president of Argentina, appears with Pope Francis in March of this year. (CC)