Pope Francis

Pope Francis

March 9, 2015
CINDY WOODEN
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE

VATICAN CITY – Profit must never be a Christian's god, although it is one of the tools for measuring the effectiveness of business choices and the ability of a company to help workers feed their families, Pope Francis said.

"Money is the devil's dung," the pope said Feb. 28, quoting St. Francis of Assisi. "When money becomes an idol, it dictates people's choices."

The pope spoke to members of an Italian association of Catholic farm, credit, housing and shopping cooperatives.

He urged the co-ops to remain true to their original inspiration of modeling an economy where the needs of the human person are the absolute priority and where sharing and solidarity are at the centre of the business model.

When unemployment rates are high and there are long "lines of people looking for work," he said, workers are easily exploited. They will accept long hours for low pay, knowing that if they don't they will be told, "If you don't like it, someone else will."

Pope Francis urged the Catholic cooperatives to strive to develop creative approaches "to combat the 'throwaway culture' in which we live, the 'throwaway culture' cultivated by the powers that prop up the economic-financial policies of the globalized world where the god money is at the centre."

FREE MARKETS NOT WORKING

The predominant free market economic model is not working, the pope said; cooperatives need profits to survive, but they must ensure profits do not become an exclusive goal.

Catholic co-ops cannot be like "certain forms of liberalism" that believe "it is necessary first of all to produce wealth – and it doesn't matter how – and then to promote some redistribution policies on the part of the state," the pope said.

He described that approach as being one of "first filling up the glass, then giving to others."

SHARING CRUMBS

"Others think that companies themselves must share crumbs from the wealth they accumulate, absolving themselves in that way from their so-called social responsibility," he said.

"They run the risk of thinking they are doing good when, unfortunately, they are just doing an exercise in marketing without breaking the fatal cycle of people and businesses who are focused on the god money."