CAGLIARI, Sardinia – Pope Francis voiced strong criticism of the global economic system that values money more than human lives. The Pope came prepared with a speech, but instead improvised for 20 minutes before a crowd of unemployed workers after 45-year-old husband and father of three, Francesco Mattana said, “[unemployment]oppresses you and wears you out to the depths of your soul.”
The Pope empathized with the suffering, hopelessness and loss of dignity that comes with joblessness. He told the crowd about his father, who emigrated from Italy to Argentina full of hope, but lost everything when he arrived during the Great Depression of the 1930s. The crowd cheered each time he spoke up for workers’ rights, and condemned the causes of unemployment and underemployment.
“We don’t want this globalized economic system which does us so much harm. Men and women have to be at the center (of an economic system) as God wants, not money,” Pope Francis said. “The world has become an idolater of this god called money.”
With its sparkling beaches, summer mansions, and luxurious resorts, the coast of Sardinia is a favorite vacation destination for the rich, including former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Yet, with the economic slump, factories and mining operations have ground to a halt in cities and towns like Cagliari, where the youth unemployment rate is just over 50 percent.
Pope Francis pointed out that this is not just Italy’s problem: “it is the consequence of a world choice, of an economic system that brings about this tragedy.” He explained that globalization left the weakest to suffer and “fall away,” and that a “throw-away culture” has been born out of this global economic system. Not only do people throw away enough food to feed millions, and pile-up landfills with obsolete technology, but “we throw away grandparents, and we throw away young people,” said the Pope. “We have to say no to his throwaway culture. We want a just system that helps everyone.” He ended his speech with a prayer to God, “give us work and teach us to fight for work.”
Pope Francis has made helping the poor and the marginalized the top priority of his papacy, saying that the church has become “obsessed” with gay marriage and abortion, causing ministers to forget to have “mercy above all.”
– Jennifer Bills