Pope Francis has called on the faithful this week to act against the exclusion of millions of people from possessing the “bounty of the earth” as he hit a “sick economy” that causes inequality in the world.
In his weekly General Audience on Aug. 26, the Catholic Church leader spoke on the role of people as “stewards” of the earth and their “right to ownership for the sake of the common good.”
The pontiff said the world “cannot stand by and watch” while the world is dominated with “the fruit of unequal economic growth that disregards fundamental human values.”
He said the coronavirus pandemic has exposed and aggravated “the symptoms of social inequality.”
Pope Francis noted that while some people can work from home, “this is impossible for many others.”
“Certain children, notwithstanding the difficulties involved, can continue to receive an academic education, while this has been abruptly interrupted for many, many others,” he said.
The pope said that “when the obsession to possess and dominate excludes millions of persons from having primary goods … we cannot stand by and watch.”
He described as “distressing” that economic and technological inequality “are such that the social fabric is torn” and “dependence on unlimited material progress threatens our common home.”
Pope Francis said the world economy is “sick” because only a few individuals have control of majority of the world’s wealth.
“I will repeat this so that it makes us think: a few rich people, a small group, possess more than all the rest of humanity,” he said.
He urged the “human family” to work as one community and combat the “distressing” economic inequality with hope.
“We must act all together, in the hope of generating something different and better. Christian hope, rooted in God, is our anchor,” said the pope.
He said the present global economic inequality is connected with environmental destruction, adding that the planet is about to exceed its limits “with serious and irreversible consequences.”
Pope Francis said social inequality and environmental degradation “go together and have the same root.”
He reminded that faithful that God called on the human family to “dominate” the earth by “tilling it and keeping it like a garden, everyone’s garden.”
“‘Tilling’ refers to cultivating, ploughing or working, while ‘keeping’ means caring, protecting, overseeing and preserving,” he said.
The pontiff warned not to interpret it as an excuse to abuse the earth’s finite resources.
“There exists a ‘relationship of mutual responsibility’ between ourselves and nature,” he said. “We receive from creation and we give back in return,” added Pope Francis.
He reminded the faithful that the holder or steward of a property has the “task of making it fruitful and communicating its benefits to others.”
“To ensure that what we possess brings value to the community, political authority has the right and duty to regulate the legitimate exercise of the right to ownership for the sake of the common good,” he said.
The pope added that the subordination of private property to the universal destination of goods “is a golden rule of social conduct and the first principle of the whole ethical and social order.”
The pontiff said that “if we put what we possess in common in such a way that no one would be lacking, then we would truly inspire hope to regenerate a more healthy and equal world.”