Economy gives birth to warmongers

June 23, 2014

Pope Francis said the world economic system inevitably promotes military conflict as a way to enrich the most powerful nations.

"We are in a world economic system that is not good," Pope Francis said. "A system that in order to survive must make war, as great empires have always done.

"But since you cannot have a Third World War, you have regional wars. And what does this mean? That arms are made and sold, and in this way the idolatrous economies, the great world economies that sacrifice man at the feet of the idol of money, obviously keep their balance sheets in the black."

Pope Francis' words appeared in a wide-ranging interview published June 12 in the Spanish daily La Vanguardia.

Yet the pope reiterated one of his signature themes, that globalization's failings are not only material but cultural, since it "cancels differences." He called for an economic system that preserves each person's "particularity, richness, identity."

The interview with correspondent Henrique Cymerman was conducted June 9, the day after Pope Francis presided over an "invocation for peace" at the Vatican with Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.


The pope also said opening Vatican archives relating to the Holocaust "will shed much light" on that subject, particularly the record of Pope Pius XII, who critics argue did not say or do all he could to oppose the Nazi genocide.

"I am not saying that Pius XII did not make mistakes – I myself make a lot – but you have to interpret his role in the context of the time."

Pope Francis voiced irritation at what he characterized as a double standard for judging the wartime pope: "Sometimes I get a slight case of existential hives when I see that everybody has it out for the Church and Pius XII, and they forget the great powers," who failed to bomb the train lines leading to the Nazi death camps.


Pope Francis also discussed his priorities and leadership style as pope.

"I don't have any personal agenda that I carried in under my arm, simply because I never thought they were going to leave me here, in the Vatican," he said.

"What I am doing is carrying out" the recommendations made by cardinals prior to the March 2013 conclave. Among those recommendations, the pope said, was greater consultation with outside advisers.

The pope acknowledged his accessibility to crowds leaves him vulnerable to attacks, but said his safety "is in God's hands. I cannot greet a nation and tell it I love it from inside a sardine can, even one made of glass. It's true something can happen to me. But let's be realistic, at my age I don't have much to lose."