On Thursday, 19 May, Pope Francisco blasted employers who don’t provide health care as bloodsucking leeches, and he took aim at the popular “theology of prosperity” in a pointed sermon on the dangers of wealth. Referring to businesses that hire employees on part-time contracts so they don’t have to provide health and pension benefits, the pontiff said at morning Mass in the chapel of the Vatican guesthouse where he lives:
This is akin to sucking the blood from their workers’ veins, leaving them to eat air. Those who do that are true leeches; they live by spilling the blood of the people who they make slaves of labour.
Cutting staff during the summer months to avoid providing benefits is a phenomenon in Italy, but the pope said this type of mistreatment and enslavement of workers is happening all over the world:
We thought that slaves don’t exist anymore… they exist. True, people don’t go and get them from Africa to sell them in America anymore, no. However, they exist in our cities. There are traffickers, those who use people through work without justice.
From trafficking sex workers to failing to grant vacation to employees, Francisco criticised those who seek profit at any price:
(They’re) living on the blood of the people. This is a mortal sin. This is a mortal sin. This demands a great deal of penance, a great deal of restitution, to convert oneself from this sin.
Francis also focused attention on the “prosperity theology”, which, as the pope explained, says, “God shows that you’re good by giving you great wealth”. The so-called prosperity gospel is popular in the USA, where its preachers are often on cable television, and it’s a common phenomenon in Latin America, where the Argentine pope is from, and in Africa and Asia. Francisco said in his homily on Thursday:
The problem is that you can’t serve both God and riches because the love of money becomes a chain that makes it impossible to follow Jesus.
Francis took his cue from one of the day’s readings for Mass, a fiery passage from the Epistle General of St James about the punishments the rich will suffer for having exploited the poor. The pontiff summarised the broad meaning of homily with a simple image:
A glass of water in the name of Christ is more important than all the riches accumulated through exploiting people.
The Argentine pope’s comments continue a theme of his papacy, during which he has tried to create a “poor church” that rejects the idolatry of money. Francisco isn’t only critical of the global financial system; he’s also critical of the greed and the power-hunger of Catholic leaders themselves.
19 May 2016
RNS Religious News Service
I should note that His Holiness mostly agrees with the Pope of Rome on social issues. That is, all the loudmouthed rightwing caterwauling by the konvertsy isn’t only ignorant, it’s Antichristian and Anti-Churchly (I’m thinking about the Russian concept of protivotserkovnost and of theomachy). In short, instead of glorifying Our Lord Christ, they pervert His teachings into an unseemly Black Mass honouring the Evil One. One either internalises “lived Orthodoxy” or one has nothing at all, no matter how often one attends services. I think that Our Lord Christ called such “whited sepulchres”. We should attend to the social teaching of the Church, or we have no faith at all, we’re not real believers. That sounds harsh, but it’s true…