Here is a quote from the AP concerning a talk that Pope Francis gave recently:
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis has denounced the global financial system, blasting the “cult of money” that he says is tyrannizing the poor and turning humans into expendable consumer goods.
In his first major speech on the subject, Francis demanded Thursday that financial and political leaders reform the global financial system to make it more ethical and concerned for the common good. He said: “Money has to serve, not to rule!”
It’s a message Francis delivered on many occasions when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, and it’s one that was frequently stressed by retired Pope Benedict XVI.
Francis, who has made clear the poor are his priority, made the comments as he greeted his first group of new ambassadors accredited to the Holy See.
The problem with the capitalism that is being pushed in all too many circles is that of an unfettered capitalism. Any attempt to give any type of guidance or to set any limitations to capitalism is met with immediate cries of “socialism.” The people who push unfettered capitalism are unwilling to acknowledge either that there are models of capitalism that see the importance of setting limits or are unwilling to acknowledge that unfettered capitalism quickly uses the acquired power of money to move jobs to areas where there is such laxity about human life and existence that they can get away with forcing people to work for low wages in unsafe conditions. Witness the recent collapse of a factory in Bangladesh, with over 1,000 people dead. Many of the products of that factory came to this country. That tragedy is but only one of the examples that can be given of the results of allowing greed to reign unfettered as part of our economic policy.
But, one needs only look at the country songs of the early 20th century to see that the same thing was happening here. Who can remember Tennessee Ernie Ford singing songs inherited from that period, such as “Sixteen Tons” and “John Henry?” Miners of that period knew well the tragedy that could quickly hit an Appalachian mine, and the women knew just how quickly after the death of a husband they could be turned out of company housing without a dime. We decided back then that unfettered capitalism was not a good thing.
So unfettered capitalism took advantage of the increasing speed of travel, shipping, and communications to take its now forbidden practices to countries where they could still be practiced. We were told that it was the fault of our workers, for insisting on living wages, insurance, and safe working environments. But, it was not, and Bangladesh makes that clear.
So, it is good to read Pope Francis speaking out on this subject. Notice that the issue is not capitalism. The issue is how that capitalism is handled, and what protections are put in place within that capitalism to ensure that it will be a moral capitalism. I do not have good answers, but I am glad that there is now a conservative Pope who is more clearly addressing these issues. He is proof that one can be theologically conservative, but also concerned.