‘Don’t become a slave to possessions’

Pope Francis at the general audience yesterday (CNS/Paul Haring)

Life is for loving, not amassing possessions, Pope Francis said yesterday during his weekly general audience in St Peter's Square at the Vatican. Source: CNS.

In fact, the true meaning and purpose of wealth is to use it to lovingly serve others and promote human dignity, he said.

The world is rich enough in resources to provide for the basic needs of everybody, he continued. “And yet, many people live in scandalous poverty and resources – used without discernment – keep deteriorating. But there is just one world! There is one humanity.”

“The riches of the world today are in the hands of a minority, of the few, and poverty – indeed, extreme poverty, and suffering – are for the many.”

The Pope continued his series of talks on the Ten Commandments, focusing on the command, “You shall not steal,” which reflects respect for other people’s property.

However, he said, Christians should also read the commandment in the light of faith and the Church’s social doctrine, which emphasises the understanding that the goods of creation are destined for the whole human race.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that the “primordial” universal destination of goods does not detract from people’s right to private property, he said. However, the need to promote the common good also requires understanding and properly using private property.

“No one is the absolute master over resources,” he said, which reflects the “positive and wider meaning of the commandment, ‘Do not steal.'”

Owners are really administrators or stewards of goods, which are not to be regarded “as exclusive to himself but common to others also, in the sense that they can benefit others as well as himself,” the Pope said, citing the catechism.

Being in possession of material goods brings with it much responsibility, the Pope said.

If hunger exists in the world, the Pope said, it is because the needs of the economic market come first, for instance, when keeping prices up means demanding that food be destroyed or thrown away.

What is lacking, he said, is “a free and farsighted business sense that assures adequate production and fair planning, which ensures fair distribution.”

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People unable to give have become slaves to possessions, Pope says (CNS) 

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