Every year Time magazine designates a “Person of the Year” — someone who has impacted the world and the news over the last 12 months. This year, that iconic title was given to Pope Francis.
I am not Catholic, but I adore Pope Francis. I love the way his face lights up with his heartfelt smile, the way his eyes twinkle, and the way he demonstrates to the world what it means to be a Christian in the truest sense of the word. He is humble. He is unpretentious. He is loving. He is compassionate. He cares deeply about the downtrodden, the forgotten and the poor.
However, most importantly maybe, is his willingness to not only provide comfort for the downtrodden, the forgotten and the poor, but to also challenge the very economic system that creates these categories.
Pope Francis recently authored a 50,000 word paper criticizing the global economic system, confronting the “idolatry of money” and beseeching politicians to guarantee all citizens “dignified work, education and healthcare.”
He also called upon rich people to share their wealth: “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,” Francis wrote in the document issued last month.
He solemnly 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 2 points?”
“As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems,” he wrote.
Denying this was populism, he called for action “beyond a simple welfare mentality” and added: “I beg the Lord to grant us more politicians who are genuinely disturbed by the state of society, the people, the lives of the poor.”
This man is my hero. Not only is he a divine example of compassion, grace, joy and intelligence, he is finally saying what has been needed to be said by a powerful world leader for a long, long time — that the current economic system is failing the large majority of the world’s people and that greed is not godly. I just hope the world’s Catholics and others take heed and we can collectively alter our course to a more equitable future where we ALL flourish – all people and all life.
Next page: Video of Pope interacting with Child