Pope Francis urges legitimate redistribution of wealth to the poor

Pope Francis

Pope Francis (Jorge Mario Bergoglio) appealed to governments worldwide to redistribute wealth to the poor in order to curtail the "economy of exclusion" so widespread today.

Specifically, the Pope called for "worldwide ethical mobilization" that "will spread and put into practice a shared ideal of fraternity and solidarity, especially with regard to the poorest and those most excluded."

The Pontiff strongly urged the United Nations to promote this worldwide ethical mobilization of solidarity with the poor in a new spirit of generosity.  He made the plea during a speech at the biannual meeting for strategic coordination of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board held in Rome and attended by heads of major agencies of the UN and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

He argued that a more equitable form of economic progress can be achieved through "the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the state, as well as indispensable cooperation between the private sector and civil society."

He urged the UN to promote development goals that attack the root causes of poverty and hunger, protect the environment and ensure "dignified" labor for all.

The Pope praised the goodness of the work carried out by the international organizations, "especially in terms of education and the decrease in extreme poverty." He urged these organizations to continue their work because they "deserve and expect even greater results."

Future goals must be formulated with generosity and courage, "so that they can have a real impact on the structural causes of poverty and hunger" that leads to results favoring the protection of the environment, and to "ensure dignified and productive labor for all, and provide appropriate protection for the family, which is an essential element in sustainable human and social development."

The Pope said future sustainable development goals "must be formulated and carried out with generosity and courage, so that they can have a real impact on the structural causes of poverty and hunger, attain more substantial results in protecting the environment, ensure dignified and productive labor for all, and provide appropriate protection for the family, which is an essential element in sustainable human and social development.

"Specifically, this involves challenging all forms of injustice and resisting the "economy of exclusion", the "throwaway culture" and the "culture of death" which nowadays sadly risk becoming passively accepted."

Turning to the Bible for an analogy, Pope Francis quoted the Gospel of Saint Luke (19:1-10) in which Jesus Christ encountered the rich tax collector Zacchaeus. As a result of this meeting, Zacchaeus made a radical decision of sharing and justice, because his conscience had been awakened by the gaze of Jesus.

"This same spirit should be at the beginning and end of all political and economic activity," said the Pope. "The gaze, often silent, of that part of the human family which is cast off, left behind, ought to awaken the conscience of political and economic agents and lead them to generous and courageous decisions with immediate results, like the decision of Zacchaeus. Does this spirit of solidarity and sharing guide all our thoughts and actions, I ask myself?"

The Pontiff believes that "an awareness of the dignity of each of our brothers and sisters whose life is sacred and inviolable from conception to natural death must lead us to share with complete freedom the goods which God's providence has placed in our hands, material goods but also intellectual and spiritual ones, and to give back generously and lavishly whatever we may have earlier unjustly refused to others.

"The account of Jesus and Zacchaeus teaches us that above and beyond economic and social systems and theories, there will always be a need to promote generous, effective and practical openness to the needs of others.

"Jesus does not ask Zacchaeus to change jobs nor does he condemn his financial activity; he simply inspires him to put everything, freely yet immediately and indisputably, at the service of others.'

Pope Francis said he does not hesitate to state "that equitable economic and social progress can only be attained by joining scientific and technical abilities with an unfailing commitment to solidarity accompanied by a generous and disinterested spirit of gratuitousness at every level.

"A contribution to this equitable development will also be made both by international activity aimed at the integral human development of all the world's peoples and by the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the State, as well as indispensable cooperation between the private sector and civil society."

The Pope made a similar pro-poor appeal at the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland last January and in his apostolic exhortation "The Joy of the Gospel." The exhortation denounced trickle-down economic theories as unproven and naive. Pope Francis has frequently attacked the injustices of capitalism and the global economic system that excludes so much of humanity.

At Davos, the Pope said it's important to praise the steps being taken improve people's welfare in areas of health care, education and communications and to recognize the fundamental role that modern business activity plays in bringing about these changes.

Nonetheless, the successes achieved have often led to widespread social exclusion while too many men and women still experience the dramatic consequences of daily insecurity.

Pope Francis underlined the important role politicians and economists play in promoting an inclusive approach that takes into account the dignity of every human person and the common good. This concern, he said, should shape every political and economic decision "but which at times seems to be little more than an afterthought."

"Those working in these sectors, he insists, have a precise responsibility towards others, particularly the most frail, weak and vulnerable. It is intolerable, he adds, that thousands of people continue to die every day from hunger, even though food is available and often simply wasted. We cannot but be moved, he says, by the refugees seeking minimally dignified conditions, who not only fail to find hospitality but often tragically perish in moving from place to place."

The Pontiff said that what is needed "is a renewed, profound and broadened sense of responsibility on the part of all. Business is, in fact, a vocation, and a noble vocation, provided that those engaged in it see themselves challenged by a greater meaning in life."

In closing, he asked the business and government leaders at Davos "to ensure that humanity is served by wealth and not ruled by it."

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