Put people before profit, says Pope Benedict

Speaking during a Eucharisitic celebration on September 23 near Rome, Pope Benedict XVI implored that modern capitalism put people before profits.

Speaking to pilgrims at Castelgandolfo, he said, "Money is not of itself dishonest, but more than anything else it has the power to lead man into blind selfishness. What is needed, then, is to achieve a kind of 'conversion' of economic resources: instead of using them for our own interests, we must think of the needs of the poor, imitating Christ Himself Who ... 'though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that by His poverty you might become rich.'

"We could open a vast and complex field of reflection on the question of wealth and poverty, also on a world scale, in which two forms of economic logic come face to face: the logic of profit and that of the equal distribution of wealth. These do not contradict one another so long as their relationship is well regulated," Benedict said.

"Catholic social doctrine has always supported the idea that the equal distribution of wealth is a priority, although profit is, of course, legitimate and, in appropriate measure, necessary for economic development."

In this context, Benedict XVI recalled how, in his Encyclical "Centesimus Annus," John Paul II had written: "The modern business economy has positive aspects. Its basis is human freedom exercised in the economic field, just as it is exercised in many other fields."

Yet, Pope Benedict added, "capitalism must not be considered as the only valid model of economic organization."

"The urgent problems of hunger and the environment provide mounting evidence, that the logic of profit, if it prevails, increases the imbalance between rich and poor in a ruinous exploitation of the planet. When, on the other hand, the logic of sharing and solidarity prevails it is possible to alter and redirect our course towards equal and sustainable development."

Commenting on the day's gospel reading of the dishonest manager, Benedict reflected on the danger of excessive attachment to money and material wealth.

"In truth," he told the several thousand faithful who had gathered to hear him, "life is always a choice: between faithfulness and unfaithfulness, between selfishness and altruism, between good and evil. The end of this particular Gospel passage is incisive and peremptory: no servant can serve two masters," which in the final analysis means "you cannot serve God and wealth."

"A fundamental decision is, then, necessary," Pope Benedict proceeded, "the choice between the logic of profit as the ultimate criteria for our actions and the logic of sharing and solidarity. If the logic of profit prevails, the imbalance between poor and rich increases, as does the ruinous exploitation of the planet. When, on the other hand, the logic of sharing and solidarity prevails it is possible to alter and redirect our course towards equal development and the common good of everyone. Ultimately it is a decision between selfishness and love, between justice and dishonesty, ... between God and Satan.

"If loving Christ and our fellow man is not considered as a superficial accessory," he added, "but rather as the real and ultimate aim of our entire life, we must know how to take fundamental decisions, to be ready to make radical sacrifices, if necessary even unto martyrdom. Today, as yesterday, the life of Christians calls for the courage to swim against the tide, to love like Jesus Who went so far as to sacrifice Himself upon the cross."

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