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That hat's really coming in handy latelyWould you believe we have another New Pope Says Awesome True Thing story? Yeah, we know, it’s getting sort of routine. But listen: Pope Francis is condemning excessive wealth and income inequality again, and calling on nations to reduce the gap between rich and poor. New Pope (that’s his name, no matter how long he’s Pope) released his message for the Jan. 1 World Day of Peace today, calling for an increased emphasis on “fraternity,” the sense of connection between people. Srsly, we’ve heard so much crap about the Parable of the Talents as a justification for getting rich that it’s nice to see a religious leader getting back to biblical questions like “where is your brother?” instead of “what was your return on investment?”

And no, he’s not selling off the Vatican art collection — yet — but he’s calling for fundamental change in the way we think about money and our obligations to other human beings:

“The grave financial and economic crises of the present time … have pushed man to seek satisfaction, happiness and security in consumption and earnings out of all proportion to the principles of a sound economy,” he said.

“The succession of economic crises should lead to a timely rethinking of our models of economic development and to a change in lifestyles,” he said.

We’re pretty sure we never saw Benedict ever say anything like this (though, OK, we’ll admit we never particularly wanted to read anything he wrote, either):

What is needed is the willingness to ‘lose ourselves’ for the sake of others rather than exploiting them, and to ‘serve them’ instead of oppressing them for our own advantage. ‘The other – whether a person, people or nation – [is to be seen] not just as some kind of instrument, with a work capacity and physical strength to be exploited at low cost and then discarded when no longer useful, but as our neighbour, a helper’.

Which sort of makes us wonder if there are many Catholic Ayn Rand readers, and if so, how badly their heads have imploded?

Yr Doktor Zoom won’t pretend that he’s any more open to the invisible sky-daddy part of the message, but as far as the “unto the least of these” part of Christianity goes, New Pope feels like the Real Thing.

[National Catholic Reporter / Reuters]

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