What type of culture do we want? One capable of generating renewal and change.  Profit & capital are not a good over and above the human person but should serve the common good

February 18, 2016

The Pope has made many interesting remarks on his trip to Mexico to help point us to a better, more fulfilling and life-giving existence.  He said, wealth, vanity and pride “lock us into a cycle of destruction and sin.”  The three temptations “seek to destroy what we have been called to be,” the pontiff was particularly harsh towards wealth, which he said is “seizing hold of goods destined for all, and using them only for “my own people.'”

It is “‘taking the ‘bread’ based on the toil of others, or even at the expense of their very lives,” said the pope. “That wealth which tastes of pain, bitterness and suffering — this is the bread that a corrupt family or society gives its own children.”  Vanity, he said, is “the futile chasing of those five minutes of fame that do not forgive the ‘reputation’ of others.” And pride: “Putting oneself on a higher level than one truly is on, feeling that one does not share the life of ‘mere mortals.'”

“Lent is a time of conversion, of daily experiencing in our lives of how this dream is continually threatened by the father of lies, by the one who tries to separate us, making a divided and fractious society,” said Francis. “A society of the few, and for the few.”  “How often we experience in our own lives, or in our own families, among our friends or neighbors, the pain which arises when the dignity we carry within is not recognized,” said the pope. “How many times have we had to cry and regret on realizing that we have not acknowledged this dignity in others.”  After outlining the temptations, the pontiff said we should use Lent to ask ourselves: “How much have we become accustomed to a lifestyle where we think that our source and life force lies only in wealth?”

“For this reason, the Church gives us the gift of this Lenten season, invites us to conversion, offering but one certainty,” said Francis. [God] is waiting for us and wants to heal our hearts of all that tears us down.”  “He is the God who has a name: Mercy,” said the pope. “His name is our wealth, his name is what makes us famous, his name is our power and in his name we say once more with the Psalm: ‘You are my God and in you I trust.'”

he former pontiff called on Mexican Christians to “always be on the front line of all efforts … to improve the situation of those who suffer need.”  “I invite you once again today to be on the front line,” said Francis.  “To be first in all the initiatives which help make this blessed land of Mexico a land of opportunities, where there will be no need to emigrate in order to dream, no need to be exploited in order to work, no need to make the despair and poverty of many the opportunism of a few,” the pope continued.  “A land that will not have to mourn men and women, young people and children who are destroyed at the hands of the dealers of death,” he said.

With regard to business, the Pope listed to remarks from Juan Castañon, national president of the Business Coordinating Council, who told Francis that one in two Mexicans live in poverty and six out of ten Mexican workers are in the “informal” economy, working without benefits like healthcare.  “What do we need as a society?” Castañon asked. “Dignified work, with decent salaries and productivity. Human beings are the beginning and end of any economic and political activity.”

Married couple Daisy Flores Gámez and Jesus Gurrola Varela brought their two children with them to speak with Francis, with Gurrola holding them both on his hips. Gámez told the pope that because of the economic situation it has become increasingly hard to care for them.  “We want peace, fair salaries, eight-hour days so we can spend more time with our families,” they said. “In exchange we will teach values, love and the importance of community life to our children.  Francis responded that the seeking of profit at any human cost “forgets that the best investment we can make is in people, in individual persons and in families.”

“The best investment is creating opportunities,” said the pope.  Defending Catholic social teaching, the pontiff said that “the only aspiration of the Church’s social doctrine is to guard over the integrity of people and social structures.”  “Every time that, for whatever reason, this integrity is threatened or reduced to a consumer good, the Church’s social doctrine will be a prophetic voice to protect us all from being lost in the seductive sea of ambition,” said Francis.

Asking what future the Mexicans want for their children, the pope asked: “What type of culture do we want for those who will come after us?”  “What air will they breathe?” he asked. “An air tainted by corruption, violence, insecurity and suspicion, or, on the contrary, an air capable of generating alternatives, renewal and change?”

The pope then praised processes of negotiation and discussion between workers and their employers.  “I know it is not easy to get along in an increasingly competitive world, but it is worse to allow the competitive world to determine the destiny of the people,” said Francis. “Profit and capital are not a good over and above the human person; they are at the service of the common good.”

“When the common good is used only in the service of profit and capital, the only thing gained is known as exclusion,” he said.

Thank you to Josh McElwee and the National Catholic Reporter for the above excerpt.  Read the whole article here.