Pope Francis I has restored the Church’s historical commitment to the poor. In the United States we are conditioned by our Corporate media to avoid structural questions about our economy and society. We assume, because we are told to assume, that we live in the best of all possible worlds. Injustice, oppression and abject poverty are dismissed as things that “just happen”, the result of the normal functioning of a value-free natural market. Francis reminds us that such things are not value-free, that we choose to tolerate poverty and can choose to alleviate it.
In the most recent papal encyclical, Francis counters the ideology of the Republican Right in this country:
In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase. In the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.