Pope: The Bible Demands the Redistribution of Wealth

PopeRedistributionofWealth051014

Pope: The Bible Demands the Redistribution of Wealth

By Jack Jenkins — NationofChange

Pope Francis called for “the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits” on Friday, arguing that the Bible demands an economic system that cares for the “poorest and those most excluded.”

Francis made the comments while speaking before a gathering of several United Nations agency leaders, including U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. As he reflected on the U.N.’s target for Future Sustainable Development Goals, the first Latin American pope asked those present to resist participating in an “economy of exclusion” and to strive to have “a real impact on the structural causes of poverty and hunger.”  

“In the case of global political and economic organization, much more needs to be achieved, since an important part of humanity does not share in the benefits of progress and is in fact relegated to the status of second-class citizens,” Francis said.

Francis grounded his argument in the biblical story of Zacchaeus, a rich (and likely corrupt) tax collector who dramatically altered his economic behavior after encountering Jesus Christ. According to Luke 19:1-10, Zacchaeus was overcome by Jesus’ kindness, prompting the wealthy man to publicly proclaim that he would give half his possessions to the poor and pay back anyone he defrauded four times over.

“…Zacchaeus made a radical decision of sharing and justice, because his conscience had been awakened by the gaze of Jesus,” Francis said of the story. “This same spirit should be at the beginning and end of all political and economic activity.”

The Zacchaeus story is but one of many instances where the Bible demands for the redistribution of resources to those in need. In Matthew 19:21, Jesus tells a young man “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven,” and in Luke 3:10-11, he proclaims to an assembled crowd “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” In addition, one of Jesus’ most famous miracles is a the “feeding of the multitude,” or where he and his disciples manage to feed five thousand hungry people with five loaves of bread and two fish.

Francis’ words speak directly to growing concern over economic inequality. In the United States alone, the richest 1 percent of the population—a group which controls about 40 percent of the country’s wealth and owns about half of all stocks, bonds, and mutual funds—saw their income grow by 86.1 percentbetween 1993 and 2012. In that same time period, the incomes of the rest of the country—the bottom 50 percent of which own only .5 percent of investments—grew just 6.6 percent. This sort of wealth disparity is also a global problem: according to a recent study by Oxfam, the 85 richest people on the planet are worth nearly as much as the poorest 50 percent of the world’s population.

Pope Francis has made moral economics and concern for the poor a chief focus of his ministry since he ascended to the papacy in March 2013. Stories abound of him dining with the homeless and sneaking out of the Vatican to serve the needy, and he even published an entire apostolic exhortation on just economic practices late last year. In it, he argues that trickle-down economics has “never been confirmed by the facts” and asks “How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?”

This article was published at NationofChange at: http://www.nationofchange.org/pope-bible-demands-redistribution-wealth-1399732852. All rights are reserved.

 

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Comments

  • nelo123456  On May 11, 2014 at 3:20 am

    Starting with the Catholic church let them distribute their wealth to their poor congregation.

    • Rosaliene Bacchus  On May 11, 2014 at 5:39 pm

      I had the same thought, Nelo. The hierarchy of the Catholic Church should lead the way by divesting some of that wealth in Vatican City.

  • Thinker  On May 11, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    The Pope is using his position to make people around the world more conscious of the fact that the growing disparity in wealth will have horrible consequences. Moneyed classes controlling politics, information, health, education, technology, etc. will mean an end to real social mobility. The masses will increasing be voting against their own interests when dumbed down further by the mass media.

    Lawsuits will probably put an end to the Church’s wealth anyhow. Understanding of the implications of Science will also help in that regard. Europe is already in a post-Christian era. North America and the rest of the world will gradually start taking religious belief (as opposed to cultural observance) with several grains of salt.

  • Albert  On May 11, 2014 at 4:21 pm

    The American problem seem a bit more complex than say income inequality as seen in say Venezuela or Brazil where less than 5 percent of the people own almost everything.

    Our people are on a picnic overfed and overweight having a good time while the Chinese are working overtime in sweatshops to produce what we need to enjoy the good life. We are living on Chinese credit cards and would have to pay off the debt sometime. The only thing preventing the Chinese from demanding payment, of say of say a US state, is our strong military.

    We have to get off our fat rear and produce new things the world needs, if we don’t our children or grandchildren would have to pay the bill.

  • Thinkler  On May 11, 2014 at 9:28 pm

    North America has the illusion that the gap between the rich and the poor is not that great and will not be getting greater. No point in blaming the masses. The BBC recently had a program on “the Men who made us fat”. The big corporations are leading everyone by the nose as their t.v. programs dumb down the masses. Americans will vote against their own interests due to the manipulations of the Koch brothers and others of their ilk.

  • Ron. Persaud  On May 11, 2014 at 11:30 pm

    It used to be said that capitalism creates wealth; socialism redistributes it.
    My opinion is that each on its own is not sustainable. After all, wealth has to be created before it can be redistributed; and it has to be redistributed in order to be (re)created.
    And now to segway to my very personal take on a social paradox.
    America in the 21st. century instinctively wants to ‘give back’; but the nation has this abhorrence for the term “Socialism”. (I am old enough to recall the “Daily Chronicle” picture of the caskets of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg; and that Janet Jagan’s maiden surname was ‘Rosenberg’).
    So, capitalists like Oprah Winfrey and Bill Gates do their redistributions in places remote from the United States for fear of being branded as ‘Socialists’, or worse – ‘Communists’.
    And the inequality will persist as long as, and as far as, we languish in that ‘no man’s land’ bounded on the one hand by “an eye for an eye……” and on the other by, “turn the other cheek”.

  • Albert  On May 12, 2014 at 5:27 pm

    In Response to Ron and Thinker. Cannot disagree with much of the above reasoning. The US corporations and their wealthy owners have always controlled America by electing and controlling politicians for decades. Their main objective is really, not allegiance to the American flag, but to be in a position or location where they could make more profits, or get more wealthy. Its the nature of the capitalist beast.
    What has changed noticeably, according to an Harvard research group, is opportunity for the middle class to move upward economically. Upward mobility.
    Its in part a structural problem due to the changes in digital technology. Computers are doing much of what humans once did. Also its much cheaper and profitable for US corporations to operate in countries like India, China, Mexico where engineers and operational costs are much lower.
    So income inequality has a two edge sword. Increase income for the masses and America can become that less competitive.
    As I see it darker days are ahead for the masses. Its more evident in the US south, where I live, than the North where I lived. Two different worlds. In the South the republican strategy is to keep the poor folks uninformed and blame Obama. They fool them about such things as the Affordable Care Act, the healthcare services from which they badly need, and they have no idea what they are losing.

  • Wycliffe Thomas  On May 13, 2014 at 2:20 am

    I would agree with what is written above and can add nothing more except to say that we have another Mother Theresa in our midst which is good for the poorer classes of people.

  • Gloria Y Fredericks  On May 13, 2014 at 11:52 pm

    Wish that Pope Francis would gather everyone on Wall Street, every Republican, the millionaires and billionaires who fund Republicans, the Republican Party, the Tea Party, lock them in a room to prevent them from walking out, and hammer his message into them. It just MAY stick with some of them and their conscience MAY propel them into action.
    He should travel to Guyana, and do the same with Jagdeo, the PPP, and all those persons who have accumulated obscene wealth not from hard work, but from drugs, theft, and nefarious means.

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