Pope calls for new economic order, criticizes capitalism

Pope Francis makes his speech during a World Meeting of Popular Movements in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, July 9, 2015.
Pope Francis makes his speech during a World Meeting of Popular Movements in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, on July 9, 2015. Pope Francis urged the downtrodden to change the world economic order, denouncing a "new colonialism" by agencies that impose austerity programs and calling for the poor to have the "sacred rights" of labor, lodging and land. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
Pope Francis makes his speech during a World Meeting of Popular Movements in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, July 9, 2015.

Pope Francis makes his speech during a World Meeting of Popular Movements in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, on July 9, 2015. Pope Francis urged the downtrodden to change the world economic order, denouncing a “new colonialism” by agencies that impose austerity programs and calling for the poor to have the “sacred rights” of labor, lodging and land. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

SANTA CRUZ, Bolivia (Reuters) Pope Francis on Thursday (July 9) urged the downtrodden to change the world economic order, denouncing a “new colonialism” by agencies that impose austerity programs and calling for the poor to have the “sacred rights” of labor, lodging and land.

In one of the longest, most passionate and sweeping speeches of his pontificate, the Argentine-born pope also asked forgiveness for the sins committed by the Roman Catholic Church in its treatment of native Americans during what he called the “so-called conquest of America.”

Quoting a fourth century bishop, he called the unfettered pursuit of money “the dung of the devil,” and said poor countries should not be reduced to being providers of raw material and cheap labour for developed countries.

Repeating some of the themes of his landmark encyclical “Laudato Si” on the environment last month, Francis said time was running out to save the planet from perhaps irreversible harm to the ecosystem.

Francis made the address to participants of the second world meeting of popular movements, an international body that brings together organizations of people on the margins of society, including the poor, the unemployed and peasants who have lost their land. The Vatican hosted the first meeting last year.

He said he supported their efforts to obtain “so elementary and undeniably necessary a right as that of the three “L’s”: land, lodging and labor.”

His speech was preceded by lengthy remarks from leftist Bolivian President Evo Morales, who wore a jacket adorned with the face of Argentine revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara. He was executed in Bolivia in 1967 by CIA-backed Bolivian troops.

“Let us not be afraid to say it: we want change, real change, structural change,” the pope said, decrying a system that “has imposed the mentality of profit at any price, with no concern for social exclusion or the destruction of nature.”

‘Intolerable’ system

“This system is by now intolerable: farm workers find it intolerable, laborers find it intolerable, communities find it intolerable, peoples find it intolerable  The earth itself – our sister, Mother Earth, as Saint Francis would say – also finds it intolerable,” he said in an hour-long speech that was interrupted by applause and cheering dozens of times.

Since his election in 2013, the first pope from Latin America has often spoken out in defense of the poor and against unbridled capitalism but the speech in this Bolivian city was the most comprehensive to date on the issues he has championed.

Francis’ previous attacks on capitalism have prompted stiff criticism from politicians and commentators in the United States, where he is due to visit in September.

The pontiff appeared to take a swipe at international monetary organizations such as the IMF and the development aid policies by some developed countries.

“No actual or established power has the right to deprive peoples of the full exercise of their sovereignty. Whenever they do so, we see the rise of new forms of colonialism which seriously prejudice the possibility of peace and justice,” he said.

“The new colonialism takes on different faces. At times it appears as the anonymous influence of mammon: corporations, loan agencies, certain ‘free trade’ treaties, and the imposition of measures of ‘austerity’ which always tighten the belt of workers and the poor,” he said.

Last week, Francis called on European authorities to keep human dignity at the centre of debate for a solution to the economic crisis in Greece.

He defended labor unions and praised poor people who had formed cooperatives to create jobs where previously “there were only crumbs of an idolatrous economy.”

In one of the sections on colonialism, he said: “I say this to you with regret: many grave sins were committed against the native peoples of America in the name of God.”

He added: “I humbly ask forgiveness, not only for the offenses of the Church herself, but also for crimes committed against the native peoples during the so-called conquest of America.

“There was sin and an abundant amount of it.”

The audience gave Francis a standing ovation when he put on a yellow miner’s hat that was given to him at the end of his speech.

The pope made his speech at the end of his first full day in Bolivia, where he arrived on Wednesday. On Thursday morning he said a Mass for hundreds of thousands of people and said that everyone had a moral duty to help the poor, and that those with means could not wish they would just “go away.”

Francis praised Bolivia’s social reforms to spread wealth under Morales. On Friday, he will walk into Bolivia’s notoriously violent Palmasola prison.

The pope looked bemused on Wednesday night when Morales handed him one of the more unusual gifts he has received: a sculpted wooden hammer and sickle – the symbol of communism – with a figure of a crucified Christ resting on the hammer.

Francis leaves on Friday for Paraguay, the last stop on his “homecoming” trip.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella and Sarah Marsh.)

About the author



Click here to post a comment

  • I wonder how much money the Pope keeps stored in the Vatican bank that he could give away to the poor.

  • Francis is showing his true colors, those of radical liberation theology. Imagine the inquisitors dressed in green and emblazoned with the hammer and sickle instead of the cross. True Christianity changes people by changing their spirit and heart and is the work of God alone. Pope Francis knows nothing of this but proposes to save his mother (earth) and mankind through religious and political coercion, in other words, the traditional way of the Vatican. Francis is not a Christian but very much an antichrist dressed in wool.

  • And the Pope’s “surprises” just keep on coming. Sigh.

    Every Catholic for himself/herself, I say.

  • A pittance compared to the trillions sitting on the sidelines while our country suffered through the worst recession since the 30’s. That money could have been put to use, invested, but then it might not have earned the kind of predictable returns the 1% expect. The welfare of the nation and the 99% are not a priority. Government and labor can serve as a governor on capitalism to prevent unbridled behavior. Unfortunately in our time government has been bought by the1% and labor severely weakened.

  • Pope Francis has read the scripture in a full and balanced manner. Bravo!!
    Jesus approves I am sure,
    Modern USA Christianity reflects the pagan Roman faith practice that Jesus spoke against. It is great to see a true Christian leader, lead.

  • So when is he donating the vast resources of the Vatican towards the relief of poverty in the developing world?

    Liberation theology makes far more sense at a ground level than higher up on the food chain. A destitute clergyman can make a better case for promoting charity and social justice than someone living off the largess of billions of dollars of investments and contributions.

  • The Bible scholar knows there must come a total alliance among-st all professing God. Reader beware. And that there will be an ‘image’ set up in the Holiest of Holies so that satan can be worshiped as God. Well, and Catholics understand how this will come to pass, here it is. The pope is constantly pushing for uniting. It is his goal for that end purpose. This pope endorses homosexuality. He endorses all political world powers and the bilderbergs, being a member himself. As unattractive as all this sounds, again reader beware, this is the tip of the iceberg. In every country the Holy See exists, and it is political. Pushing for communism is nothing more than control over the masses to confine through the monetary system, by way of ‘marking (on demand), to bring into captivity for worship on demand.
    Warning: seek the Kingdom while it may be found. Today is the day of salvation. The day is coming when there will be no light.

  • Capitalism as practiced on the corporate scale is fundamentally immoral.
    Which CEO could honestly say that he loves his workers as he loves himself, while paying wages that don’t allow for the dignity of home, health and family?
    There’s no moral foundation for a system built on satisfying equity markets at the expense of workers’ health and happiness.
    The $15 an hour wage should only be a starting point.
    If corporate profits dipped as workers’ salaries rose, there would still be many millions for the titans of industry.
    And businesses could thrive on justly earned workers’ dollars.

  • Wow, that is utterly ludicrous.

    Finally, a Pope who cares about the poor and the planet – as Christ called us all to do – and all the corporatist/capitalist greed-mongers start showing their true colors and freaking out.

  • Please do some research, your ignorance is showing. Catholic Charities already donates billions of dollars every year to poverty relief of all forms around the planet.

  • A pittance compared to the wealth of the organization. So when is the Pope and Cardinals, Bishops and the like, undergoing a vow of poverty?

  • C.S.Lewis of Narnia fame (but those were by no means his only works!), always wondered why usury (lending money for interest), is used when it was forbidden even in the Old Testament.
    Pope Francis is totally correct in his assessment of modern day economics and he should be heard and heeded.
    His apologies are sincere as well and sorely needed.
    This man is truly religious and relevant!

  • Jack,

    False Christianity did that, especially after the death of the last apostle, John, and it continues. That is very evident with such religious pagan holidays as Christmas and Easter (just Google their origins).

  • The Pope speaks the well known truth on how the world now operates. Wealthy nations take advantage of the poorer ones, taking their resources and undercompensating them. In the quest for ridiculous profits, wages are kept low and environmental concerns are ignored.
    The Pope asks the world to become less selfish, to share fairly, to shrink the gap between the hopelessly poor and the grotesquely rich. You can’t knock him for speaking the truth, and maybe, just maybe, someone will listen.

  • The day is coming, and soon, when God’s kingdom or heavenly government will put an end to all human governments and rule over man on earth in their place (Daniel 2:44).

    It will rule with love, justice and righteousness and not with corruption, greed or selfish self-interests, which is man’s governments (Isaiah 11:-1-9).

    Even better, God’s government will put an end to inherited sin and death, even old age and all sickness and disease (Rev. 21:3-4) of man on earth, which none of man’s governments can do.

  • Theocracy, or perfect, righteous, just and compassionate rule by God over man (through his heavenly government–Daniel 2:44), completely blows all of man’s forms of government out of the water (Isaiah 11:1-9).

  • He does not realize that God’s heavenly government will soon put an end to all poverty, hate, prejudice and wars, corrupt governments, all sickness, disease, old age and death on earth (Dan. 2:44; Isaiah 11:1-9; Rev. 21:3-4). Therefore, he is not telling the masses about such grand promises and blessings from God, as Jesus, his son, did while on earth (Matthew 4:17).

  • Well, in the Middle Ages, it wasn’t allowed except by Jews who had no other way of making a living in the medieval world. In what you call the “Old Testament” it forbids usuary in one place, but in a different place it forbids usury at unfair rates or in unfair or callous ways. I don’t think they ever pictured modern global economics on such a huge scale.

  • Why would the Pope relay such a meaningless message to the world? The end of days is an elusive day…..each generation believes it lives in the end times, yet the generations keep cropping up, over, and over. The Pope needs to address the world’s immediate crises combining faith and rational thought.

  • While I am not a Catholic nor ever will be one, “The Catholic Church” spends so much money on the poor and needy it staggers the mind that could have any money left at all in their bank.

    So until you see “secularists” stepping up with their non-tax dollars and digging into their personal bank accounts and building a structure for the poor and needy . . .

    Don’t write the garbage you did.

  • Jack,

    Catholicism maybe, certainly “Christmas is certainly pagan in origin as Jesus wasn’t born in December. But the assertion that the Jews that began the mission of Christ Jesus were pagan is stupidity that defies reality.

  • @TheCountess,

    Without doubt Satan is building his secular kingdom ever quicker. But so what? Are YOU going to cheer on gay pride? Are YOU going to cheer on abortion? Are YOU going to become an atheist? Are YOU going to endorse a Marxist view of life? Will you take the Mark of the Beast?

    Or are you going to call on the Name of Christ Jesus? And, be saved.

    All the bad stuff that is happening in the Bible is true. That means all of the good stuff is true too.

    Let “nature take its course,” keep preaching the truth of Christ and keep the joy of the Lord always in your heart and soul.

  • American based Catholic charities alone spend over 5 billion each year on relief services in the USA (Google the 2014 Forbes charitable giving rankings). Catholics worldwide give far more throughout the world.

    Hardly a pittance. How generous are you and your church?

  • When Christians stop possessing a “lack of knowledge” of Christian truth and start studying . . . they’ll not only know how weak and worthless secular activism is, that has been shown to strengthen the rich and powerful, they’ll start forming, joining and leading worthwhile Unions again. Pope Francis isn’t just dancing with the Devil, he is dancing with humans, Marxist and otherwise that desire to infect The Church as well as well as just destroy it outright. If Francis is part of the Beast, it will be exposed by good Christians. If he isn’t purely evil, then he won’t last long being yoked to anti-Christians.

    This is an interesting thing to watch. Real Christianity preached in so many lands that haven’t a clue what it is.

  • Rational thought? When a man can be another man’s “husband?” And that is not only accepted by the masses, but cheered on as well? When a man tries the impossibility of changing genders and he gets a sports award?

    Rational thought as has been raped out of the western mind.

    What we have left is the grasping of perversion as a civil right.

    Rational thought has been raped out of the western mind.

  • And yet, they do have money left in their bank and locked up in numerous assets which they don’t need.

    The next time you feel like expressing disgust because somebody calls the Catholic church (out any super-rich Christian organization) on its hypocrisy, recall the tale of the widow’s offering.

  • Compared to what they have, it is a pittance. Take of the widow’s offering ring any bells?

  • Pope Francis is a Jesuit. A member of the Jesuit Order; members of this order TAKE A VOW OF POVERTY when they join. Jesuits are missionaries and educators and the Pope is still performing those jobs and honoring his vows.
    Hence the simple cross he wears, the lack of a fancy papal ring, the simple crozier, the black shoes he’s always worn; he dresses like a Bishop instead of like the previous Popes, and lodges in a hostel in lieu of the Vatican.

  • That would be impressive if not for the fact that the Vatican has the equivalent resources of a small nation.

    No Church. The amount I give proportionally probably much more since I don’t have to keep people on the payroll or maintain various priceless artworks and gold bullion reserves. 🙂

  • And he flies around the world in a private jet, lives in a palace and has a coterie of mercenaries to provide personal protection.

  • You don’t care about the poor if you keep advocating redistributionist policies that have repeatedly failed the poor time and again, throughout history and especially over the past century.

    How many times, and in how many places, must socialism fail, often miserably, for grownups to act like grownups, admit it’s a mirage, and move on to policies that truly help uplift the poor rather than just tear down people who aren’t poor?

  • This is proof positive that the Vatican has never made peace with the way modern economies work. It’s still stuck in a medievalist mindset that sees wealth as based on finite things like land. Couple that with the longtime tendency of the Vatican bureaucracy to represent the views of the far left and what you have is a crude Robin Hood view which has zero relationship to the real world.

    The Vatican needs to learn the difference between having a childlike heart and having a childish head, especially when it comes to economics.

  • Liberation theology makes zero sense — which is precisely why even the most liberal theologians, both inside and outside the Vatican, long condemned it. It is an attempt to superimpose Marxism (not liberalism) onto Christianity, distorting its entire message from the preaching of the Gospel of salvation to the gospel of class conflict and revolution.

  • Be Brave, that’s not me but our delicate little board chameleon. Ever since he’s been humiliated in debates with Shawnie and me, he has been hiding behind new names, including the names of people who post on these boards.

    Thus we sometimes call the little fellow “the vanquished one.”

    He collects names the way Victorian women collects hats, so don’t be surprised if he borrows your name as well. Take it as an indicator that you have hit the mark.

    Some people think he’s really a she, but I think he’s probably a genuine he who may be struggling with identity issues.

  • Dominic,

    He would relay that message because that is what Jesus did when he was on earth (Matt. 4:17), as well as his disciples and apostles and first-century Christians (book of Acts). It is just what followers or disciples of Jesus would do, as footstep followers of Jesus, especially in the last days of this wicked era (Matt. 24, Mark 13, Luke 21), in which we now live.

    Jesus also foretold the good news of God’s kingdom would be preached to all the inhsbited earth for a witness to all the nations and then the end would come (Matt. 24:14). That work is now being accomplished, but certainly not by the Pope, who only gets involved in worldly politics. It appears to be meaningless to him as well.

  • Pastor Stephen,
    Pope Francis does not advocate any violent methods to change the system; rather a change of spirit and heart should naturally issue forth in genuine love for our deprived brothers and sisters realized in concrete and effective aids to uplift them. This is achieved by the Pope by saying that it is the moral duty of the believers in Christ to actively work for social justice and protection of the earth for future generations. You are quick in passing judgments without paying attention to what the Pope actually said!
    John P. S.