Moral Low Ground


Pope Francis Calls for Wealth Redistribution to Help Poor

(Photo: Catholic Church of England)

(Photo: Catholic Church of England)

Pope Francis on Friday appealed to world governments to redistribute wealth and benefits to the poor in order to combat the “economy of exclusion” in which economic inequality is increasing around the world.

Addressing United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and a delegation of UN agency heads meeting in Rome, the Pontiff called for “legitimate redistribution” as a means of remedying growing income and wealth inequality.

The Pope called on the UN to promote a “worldwide ethical mobilization” of solidarity with the poor.

“Equitable economic and social progress can only be attained by joining scientific and technical abilities with an unfailing commitment to solidarity,” the leader of the world’s 1.1 billion Catholics said, calling for the “legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the State, as well as indispensable cooperation between the private sector and civil society.”

“Much more needs to be achieved, since an important part of humanity does not share in the benefits of progress and is in fact relegated to the status of second-class citizens,” he added.

The Pope’s remarks rank among the most economically progressive statement ever made by any pope in the 2,000-year history of the Catholic church.

It is not the first time that Pope Francis, a vocal champion of the poor, has spoken out against economic inequality. Last November, he angered many US conservatives when he blasted the ‘trickle-down’ economic theories and practices that have exacerbated growing inequality, especially among blacks and Latinos.

“Some people continue to defend ‘trickle-down’ theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world,” the Pope wrote “This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.”

The Pope also urged the UN to promote development goals that address the root causes of poverty and hunger, as well as protect the environment and ensure dignified labor for everyone. He also spoke out against abortion. The Church’s continued opposition to the killing of embryos and fetuses stands at odds with the UN position that restricted access to birth control and abortion impedes women’s access to reproductive health care.

The Pontiff’s UN address comes just days after Vatican officials were subjected to a second round of questioning by a UN committee regarding their mishandling of the global clergy child sex abuse scandal. The committee, which compared the Holy See’s lack of meaningful action against child-raping and other pedophile priests to “torture,” was rebuffed by the Vatican, which released figures showing 848 priests have been defrocked and another 2,572 punished with lesser penalties, including “lifetime prayer and penitence.”

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