“The worship of the golden calf of old (cf. Ex 32:15-34) has found a new and heartless image in the cult of money …”


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Clementine Hall Thursday, 16 May  2013

Your Excellencies,

I am pleased to receive you for the presentation of the Letters  accrediting you as Ambassadors Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Holy See  on the part of your respective countries: Kyrgyzstan, Antigua and Barbuda, the  Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and Botswana. The gracious words which you have  addressed to me, for which I thank you heartily, have testified that the Heads  of State of your countries are concerned to develop relations of respect and  cooperation with the Holy See. I would ask you kindly to convey to them my  sentiments of gratitude and esteem, together with the assurance of my prayers  for them and their fellow citizens.

Ladies and Gentlemen, our human family is presently experiencing  something of a turning point in its own history, if we consider the advances  made in various areas. We can only praise the positive achievements which  contribute to the authentic welfare of mankind, in fields such as those of  health, education and communications. At the same time, we must also acknowledge  that the majority of the men and women of our time continue to live daily in  situations of insecurity, with dire consequences. Certain pathologies are  increasing, with their psychological consequences; fear and desperation grip the  hearts of many people, even in the so-called rich countries; the joy of life is  diminishing; indecency and violence are on the rise; poverty is becoming more  and more evident. People have to struggle to live and, frequently, to live in an  undignified way. One cause of this situation, in my opinion, is in the our  relationship with money, and our acceptance of its power over ourselves and our  society. Consequently the financial crisis which we are experiencing makes us  forget that its ultimate origin is to be found in a profound human crisis. In  the denial of the primacy of human beings! We have created new idols. The  worship of the golden calf of old (cf. Ex 32:15-34) has found a new and  heartless image in the cult of money and the dictatorship of an economy which is  faceless and lacking any truly humane goal.

The worldwide financial and economic crisis seems to highlight their  distortions and above all the gravely deficient human perspective, which reduces  man to one of his needs alone, namely, consumption. Worse yet, human beings  themselves are nowadays considered as consumer goods which can be used and  thrown away. We have started a throw-away culture. This tendency is seen on the  level of individuals and whole societies; and it is being promoted! In  circumstances like these, solidarity, which is the treasure of the poor, is  often considered counterproductive, opposed to the logic of finance and the  economy. While the income of a minority is increasing exponentially, that of the  majority is crumbling. This imbalance results from ideologies which uphold the  absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation, and thus deny the right  of control to States, which are themselves charged with providing for the common  good. A new, invisible and at times virtual, tyranny is established, one which  unilaterally and irremediably imposes its own laws and rules. Moreover,  indebtedness and credit distance countries from their real economy and citizens  from their real buying power. Added to this, as if it were needed, is widespread  corruption and selfish fiscal evasion which have taken on worldwide dimensions.  The will to power and of possession has become limitless.

Concealed behind this attitude is a rejection of ethics, a rejection  of God. Ethics, like solidarity, is a nuisance! It is regarded as  counterproductive: as something too human, because it relativizes money and  power; as a threat, because it rejects manipulation and subjection of people:  because ethics leads to God, who is situated outside the categories of the  market. God is thought to be unmanageable by these financiers, economists and  politicians, God is unmanageable, even dangerous, because he calls man to his  full realization and to independence from any kind of slavery. Ethics – naturally, not the ethics of ideology – makes it possible, in my view, to create  a balanced social order that is more humane. In this sense, I encourage the  financial experts and the political leaders of your countries to consider the  words of Saint John Chrysostom: “Not to share one’s goods with the poor is to  rob them and to deprive them of life. It is not our goods that we possess, but  theirs” (Homily on Lazarus, 1:6 – PG 48, 992D).

Dear Ambassadors, there is a need for financial reform along ethical  lines that would produce in its turn an economic reform to benefit everyone.  This would nevertheless require a courageous change of attitude on the part of  political leaders. I urge them to face this challenge with determination and  farsightedness, taking account, naturally, of their particular situations. Money  has to serve, not to rule! The Pope loves everyone, rich and poor alike, but the  Pope has the duty, in Christ’s name, to remind the rich to help the poor, to  respect them, to promote them. The Pope appeals for disinterested solidarity and  for a return to person-centred ethics in the world of finance and economics.

For her part, the Church always works for the integral development of  every person. In this sense, she reiterates that the common good should not be  simply an extra, simply a conceptual scheme of inferior quality tacked onto  political programmes. The Church encourages those in power to be truly at the  service of the common good of their peoples. She urges financial leaders to take  account of ethics and solidarity. And why should they not turn to God to draw  inspiration from his designs? In this way, a new political and economic mindset  would arise that would help to transform the absolute dichotomy between the  economic and social spheres into a healthy symbiosis.

Finally, through you, I greet with affection the Pastors and the  faithful of the Catholic communities present in your countries. I urge them to  continue their courageous and joyful witness of faith and fraternal love in  accordance with Christ’s teaching. Let them not be afraid to offer their  contribution to the development of their countries, through initiatives and  attitudes inspired by the Sacred Scriptures! And as you inaugurate your mission,  I extend to you, dear Ambassadors, my very best wishes, assuring you of the  assistance of the Roman Curia for the fulfilment of your duties. To this end,  upon you and your families, and also upon your Embassy staff, I willingly invoke  abundant divine blessings. Thank you.


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