Pope Francis issued another hectoring lecture to the world’s rich and beautiful, delivering a statement to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that placed the blame for poverty and inequality on the elites.
“To all of you I appeal once more: ‘Do not forget the poor!'”, he said.
The pope, who wrote a major encyclical on climate change and protection of the environment last year, also urged business leaders to see to it that the planet does not become “an empty garden.”
The annual Davos meeting brings together many of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful people to consider issues such as economics, climate change and war, with an eye to working on solutions to them.
It has been criticized by anti-globalization activists and others, however, as a forum for organizations that have been responsible for the problems in the first place.
They are boosted by reports such as one from charity Oxfam estimating that 1 percent of the world’s population owns 99 percent of the wealth.
Francis, who has made the defense of the poor a hallmark of his papacy and has in the past called money “the dung of the devil”, said businesses and wealthy societies must acknowledge their role in creating poverty.
“Weeping for other people’s pain does not only mean sharing in their sufferings, but also and above all realizing that our own actions are a cause of injustice and inequality,” he said in the text of a message read for him by a top Vatican cardinal.
“Once we realize this, we become more fully human, since responsibility for our brothers and sisters is an essential part of our common humanity. Do not be afraid to open your minds and hearts to the poor. In this way, you will give free rein to your economic and technical talents, and discover the happiness of a full life, which consumerism of itself cannot provide,” he said.
Francis, the first pope from the global south, has in the past excoriated unbridled capitalism, calling for the redistribution of wealth and for economic policies that put people above profits, positions that have prompted criticism from economic leaders.
“We must never allow the culture of prosperity to deaden us, to make us incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and sensing the need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own,” he said in the message read by Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, the Vatican’s justice minister.
The major cause of poverty in the world is bad government. Disregard for property rights, weak adherence to the rule of law, and the promotion of socialist policies that engender enormous opportunity for graft and corruption are the reasons why so many in the developing nations live on top of garbage dumps or in corrugated tin shacks.
Francis, as well as American and European leftists, sees wealth creation as finite. There are only so many dollars out there and the rich take the lion’s share and then steal from everyone else. The idea that the rich get richer by climbing on the backs of the middle class and poor is imagery from the old Soviet era, and has been thoroughly discredited.
There are reasons the rich get richer that have nothing to do with taking anything from anybody. And the decline of the middle class in America has more to do with the failure over the last 30 years of an educational system that hasn’t prepared our young people to succeed in the new economy than with corporations trying to maximize profits by moving overseas.
But don’t tell that to Francis, who obviously has never read Adam Smith but can probably quote Karl Marx with ease. And if he wants to do something about the desperately poor people of the world, perhaps he should start lecturing socialist governments that have done so much to exacerbate the problems of poverty and misery.