Pope Francis rebukes finance leaders for rejection of God, ethics

(Photo: Reuters / Stefano Rellandini)Pope Francis holds a dove before his Wednesday general audience at San Peter's square at the Vatican May 15, 2013.

 Pope Francis has blasted economists, financiers and politicians for a lack of ethics, rooted in a rejection of God, which has led to dire circumstances for the majority of mankind.

In a speech, given to a group of new ambassadors to the Holy See on Thursday, the pontiff exhorted world leaders to look to God in order to design an ethical financial system that benefits everyone.

"While the income of a minority is increasing exponentially, that of the majority is crumbling," said the Pope.

"People have to struggle to live, and frequently, to live in an undignified way", he said.

The pontiff told the ambassadors, "I encourage the financial experts and the political leaders of your countries to consider the words of Saint John Chrysostom: 'Not to share one's goods with the poor is to rob them and deprive them of life. It is not our goods that we possess, but theirs'."

Pope Francis said the economic imbalance is due to ideologies which uphold the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and take control away from States, which he said are charged with providing for the common good.

The pontiff said that the current financial system has established "a new, invisible and at times virtual tyranny."

The Pope also decried the emphasis on consumption and a culture which allows human beings themselves to be considered "consumer goods which can be used and thrown away."

"We have created new idols," said Pope Francis referring to an old biblical story. "The worship of the golden calf of old has found a new and heartless image in the cult of money and the dictatorship of an economy."

In his speech the Pope also said that indebtedness and credit had created a situation where countries were distanced from their real economies and people from their real buying power.

"Added to this", said Pope Francis, "as if it were needed, is widespread corruption and selfish fiscal evasion which have taken on worldwide dimensions."

"The will to power and of possession has become limitless," he said.

Behind this attitude, he said, is the rejection of God and ethics by economic and political leaders.

Pope Francis also observed that the solidarity of the poor, something he called their "treasure," had been diminished by the consumer culture prominent worldwide.

He rebuked economic leaders for their perspective on ethics. To politicians, financiers and economists, he said ethics "is a nuisance," he said.

The Bishop of Rome also said that they see ethics as a threat "because it rejects manipulation and subjection of people" and "because ethics leads to God, who is situated outside the categories of the market."

"These financiers, politicians and economists consider God to be unmanageable", said Pope Francis.

"God is unmanageable, even dangerous, because he calls man to his full realization and to independence from any kind of slavery," he added.

Pope Francis encouraged politicians in particular to change their attitude and take the lead in economic reform.

"Money has to serve, not rule", he said.

Pope Francis came to the papacy two months ago with a reputation for his own frugal lifestyle and a concern for the poor.

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