Just Say No to an Economy of Exclusion

Pope Francis53. Just as the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. 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 is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.

Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a “disposable” culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised—they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers.”

54. 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 naive 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; and in the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.

—Pope Francis (Jorge Mario Bergoglio)
First Apostolic Exhortation: Evangelii Gaudium


Normally, I don’t comment on these and even here I have nothing to add except that it is hard not to love this man. What he says is very much what I’ve been saying the last few years: our economic system kills. He has a more expansive view, of course—as you would expect. The Catholic Church must really be worried about its image to put this thoughtful man in charge. And it isn’t about what he believes; it is about what he emphasizes. I’m sure he’s against abortion. But he rightly sees that (1) poverty is a bigger problem and (2) abortion has been way over-emphasized for the last 30 years.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

0 thoughts on “Just Say No to an Economy of Exclusion

  1. He’s a very clear writer too, at least in these passages. Reading John Paul was like reading Nostradamus.

    Of course, it’s not what the church says that matters, it’s what it does. Acta non verba. There are a lot of people in the church (the laity, mostly) who really do care about these issues. Will the church say nice things to them, or use their energy for social good? We’ll see.

  2. @JMF – I think words do matter. It matters a great deal that he isn’t going all around Africa talking about the evils of condoms. And I think he is sending a message to the church that it needs to change. As it is, he’s already taken on corruption in the Vatican, which is winning him many powerful enemies. I’m very hopeful.

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