Photo by AFP/Vincenzo Pinto
MANILA, Philippines – Half a month before Christmas, Pope Francis challenged the rich to choose a “sober” lifestyle and to share their wealth with those who make do with the “crumbs.”
In his first message for the World Day of Peace on Jan 1, 2014, Francis also attacked the widening income gaps between rich and poor. The Pope said this hinders fraternity, which he called “the foundation and pathway to peace.”
He said “there is yet another form of promoting fraternity – and thus defeating poverty – which must be at the basis of all the others.”
“It is the detachment of those who choose to live a sober and essential lifestyle, of those who, by sharing their own wealth, thus manage to experience fraternal communion with others. This is fundamental for following Jesus Christ and being truly Christian,” the Pope said in his message released Thursday, December 12, and signed last Sunday, December 8.
He said this call is not exclusive to priests, nuns, or brothers with a vow of poverty. It is also true for “the many families and responsible citizens who firmly believe that it is their fraternal relationship with their neighbors which constitutes their most precious good.”
The Pope issued this call in the face of widening income gaps, especially in the world's leading economies after the global economic crisis. (READ: OECD says crisis worsens income inequality.)
In the Philippines, income inequality is among the highest in the Southeast Asian region. (READ: Poor Filipinos not only income poor.)
Pope: 'Rethink development'
Francis, whom Time Magazine named as its Person of the Year for 2013, thus called for policies “which can lighten an excessive imbalance between incomes.”
“The grave financial and economic crises of the present time – which find their origin in the progressive distancing of man from God and from his neighbor, in the greedy pursuit of material goods on the one hand, and in the impoverishment of interpersonal and community relations on the other – have pushed man to seek satisfaction, happiness and security in consumption and earnings out of all proportion to the principles of a sound economy,” the Pope said.
“The succession of economic crises should lead to a timely rethinking of our models of economic development and to a change in lifestyles. Today’s crisis, even with its serious implications for people’s lives, can also provide us with a fruitful opportunity to rediscover the virtues of prudence, temperance, justice, and strength,” he added.
Francis explained that these virtues show that human beings “are capable of something greater than maximizing their individual interest.”
He slammed “the abomination of human trafficking, crimes and abuses against minors, the horror of slavery,” and the “globalization of indifference,” among others.
“We need, then, to find ways by which all may benefit from the fruits of the earth, not only to avoid the widening gap between those who have more and those who must be content with the crumbs, but above all because it is a question of justice, equality, and respect for every human being,” the Pope said. – Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.