In his latest effort to highlight a corrupt economic system that has produced vast global inequality, Pope Francis released his latest speech Thursday, slamming the wealth and resource accumulation of the super-rich, which he says is destroying hopes for peace, social stability and a sustainable natural environment.
The speech, written for the Roman Catholic Church's World Day of Peace and sent to national leaders, international organizations such as the United Nations, and NGOs, points to "the grave financial and economic crises of the present time" which "have pushed man to seek satisfaction, happiness and security in consumption and earnings out of all proportion to the principles of a sound economy."
According to Pope Francis, the system of "excessive imbalance between incomes," Wall Street corruption, and vast economic disparities, has lead to a world in which there is a "widening gap between those who have more and those who must be content with the crumbs."
The Pope writes:
New ideologies, characterized by rampant individualism, egocentrism and materialistic consumerism, weaken social bonds, fueling that “throw away” mentality which leads to contempt for, and the abandonment of, the weakest and those considered “useless”. In this way human coexistence increasingly tends to resemble a mere do ut des which is both pragmatic and selfish.
This mentality of greed, the Pope argues, has led to an increase in wars, human trafficking, destructive migration policies, vast wealth and resource disparities between nations, and the destruction of our natural environment, which alternatively has the capacity to equitably fulfill the needs of all the world's hungry.
"I think of the devastation of natural resources and ongoing pollution, and the tragedy of the exploitation of labor," he writes. "I think too of illicit money trafficking and financial speculation, which often prove both predatory and harmful for entire economic and social systems, exposing millions of men and women to poverty."
"The recent succession of economic crises should force us to rethink our economic models," the Pope argues, not double down on the trickle-down-economic-system that has left so many in need in an unstable planetary divide.
"How are we using the earth’s resources?" the Pope asks. "Contemporary societies should reflect on the hierarchy of priorities to which production is directed. It is a truly pressing duty to use the earth’s resources in such a way that all may be free from hunger."
The current system, which produces vast gaps between the rich and the poor, is not without alternatives, he urges:
Initiatives and possible solutions are many, and are not limited to an increase in production. It is well known that present production is sufficient, and yet millions of persons continue to suffer and die from hunger, and this is a real scandal.
In the speech the Pope calls for "effective policies" that promote equal "access to capital, services, educational resources, healthcare and technology so that every person has the opportunity to express and realize his or her life project and can develop fully as a person."
The speech comes on the heels of a 224 page document, The Joy of the Gospel, written by the Pope and released last month, which similarly rails against our current socioeconomic system that "is unjust at its root" and follows previous remarks against inequality.