Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 22, 2008
Short-sighted policies demand overhaul – pope
Benedict says personal outrage needed to overthrow unjust system
BY CAROL GLATZ
'It is utterly foolish to build a luxury home in the midst of desert or decay.'
The world of finance has lost sight of its most important function which is “to sustain the possibility of long-term investment and hence development.”
He said the current economic and financial crises are the result of financial activities — on both the national and global level — that are “based upon very short-term thinking.”
Financial practices that are limited to the short term become “dangerous for everyone, even for those who benefit when the markets perform well,” he said.
By not taking into any long-term consideration of the common good, investments lose their “capacity to function as a bridge between the present and the future” and to stimulate new businesses and job opportunities in the long term, said the pope.
He said economic and legal structures must work together to come up with and implement strategies to fix current shortcomings in the financial and commercial world and create incentives for more appropriate behaviours.
Overcoming the scandal of poverty means addressing the institutional, material and cultural causes of poverty along with the spiritual and moral flaws that are “harboured in the human heart, like greed and narrow vision,” he said.
It is not enough to skim off one’s surplus to redistribute to the poor, he said. A real change of heart, “of lifestyles, of models of production and consumption and of the established structures of power” governing communities, is urgently needed, he said.
Pope Benedict said when people show a lack of respect for the transcendent dignity of every human person “the cruel forces of poverty are unleashed.”
He criticized some major causes of poverty and economic inequality, such as immense military spending, the inadequate distribution of food resources, price speculation in food commodities.
Because many have linked high birthrates to poverty, some family planning campaigns have used methods that violate the right of parents to responsibly choose how many children to have, the pope said. This has caused “the extermination of millions of unborn children, in the name of the fight against poverty,” he said.
The pope noted that despite marked demographic growth the percentage of the world’s population living under the threshold of absolute poverty has been cut in half since 1981.
In fact, some of the nations that have emerged today as new economic powers “have experienced rapid development specifically because of the large number of their inhabitants,” the pope said.
“Population is proving to be an asset, not a factor that contributes to poverty,” he added.
Some countries afflicted by pandemic diseases like HIV/AIDS are sometimes “held hostage, when they try to address them, by those who make economic aid conditional upon the implementation of anti-life policies,” he said.
While AIDS is a major cause of poverty in the world, the disease must be fought with educational campaigns and “a sexual ethic that fully corresponds to the dignity of the person,” he said.
Life-saving treatment and medicines must be made available to poorer populations, which may call for the “flexible application” of international rules protecting drug patents, he said.
Pope Benedict said people should also be concerned about forms of poverty that have nothing to do with a lack of basic physical necessities.
Even people living in wealthy societies can experience marginalization or “affective, moral and spiritual poverty.”
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.