Pope Francis Has the World Talking About the Right Things

Pope Francis continues to subvert conservative politics as it relates to the Christian faith. Income Inequality, consumerism, and individualism played a major role in Pope Francis’ latest writings, an Apostolic Exhortation called Evangelii Guadium. Here are a few highlights:

 

THE CHURCH

“I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security.” 49

INCOME INEQUALITY

“While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation.” 56

INEQUALITY LEADS TO VIOLENCE

“Today in many places we hear a call for greater security. But until exclusion and inequality in society and between peoples is reversed, it will be impossible to eliminate violence. The poor and the poorer peoples are accused of violence, yet without equal opportunities the different forms of aggression and conflict will find a fertile terrain for growth and eventually explode. When a society – whether local, national or global – is willing to leave a part of itself on the fringes, no political programmes or resources spent on law enforcement or surveillance systems can indefinitely guarantee tranquility.” 59

TRICKLE-DOWN ECONOMICS IS A FAILURE

“In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.” 54.

THE VULNERABLE/FRAGILE PAY THE HIGHEST PRICE

“The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.” 56

INDIVIDUALISM

“The process of secularization tends to reduce the faith and the Church to the sphere of the private and personal. Furthermore, by completely rejecting the transcendent, it has produced a growing deterioration of ethics, a weakening of the sense of personal and collective sin, and a steady increase in relativism. These have led to a general sense of disorientation, especially in the periods of adolescence and young adulthood which are so vulnerable to change.” 64.

About Tim Suttle

Tim Suttle is a pastor, writer, and musician. He is the author of several books: Shrink: Faithful Ministry in a Church Growth Culture (Zondervan 2014), Public Jesus (The House Studio, 2012), and An Evangelical Social Gospel? (Cascade Books, 2011). Tim's work has been featured at The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, Sojourners, and other magazines and journals. Tim is also the founder and front-man of the popular Christian band Satellite Soul, with whom he toured for nearly a decade. He has planted three successful churches over the past 13 years and is the Senior Pastor of Redemption Church in Olathe, Kan. Tim's blog, Paperback Theology, is hosted at Patheos.

  • scott stone

    Hey Tim,

    So where do we start? I completely agree that the Pope is talking about issues that need to be discussed but just raising the issue is different than solving it. How do we break down the barriers that we’ve created around income distribution, rich vs. poor, haves vs. the have nots? How do I stay engaged, along with my friends, when we feel some sense of animosity directed at us because we may have more than the guy down the street.
    I’m not trying to be flippant with my comments but too often when this subject is discussed it seems as though the ire is directed at conservative politics (your lead sentence and by the way I think when it comes to secularization and relativism the left owns that) or capitalism (let’s make no mistake, capitalism, with all of its flaws, has freed more people from the shackles of poverty than any other economic system), or CEO pay. (Not to get off the subject but here is a great little factoid for you per Fortune Magazine. Did you know that in 2012 top 10 CEO’s took home a combined income of $616M! Unbelievable. What is more unbelievable is that the top 10 entertainers in 2012 took home a combined income of $933M. Not sure if I’ve ever heard anyone rail against those greedy entertainers like I have about greedy CEO’s.) Sorry for going off the deep end.
    I’m serious about the question where do we start. But let’s not throw out the tired idea of paying people a living wage and that will solve all the problems because that just isn’t going to happen and won’t work. If it were possible I’d take a job at McDonalds in Palm Springs and live stress free. How do we discuss the issue without hyperbole from the left and the right? I still think the best way to improve peoples economic situation and overall quality of life is through universal health care, a dead horse I’ve been beating for way too long.
    There is more to this problem than just the sound bites. I know you’ve written about this multiple times but what are your ideas for solving the problem. My guess is that you are involved in a micro level, community driven, but what are the answers from a macro sense?
    It’s a tough subject and the answers vary based upon your own cultural context but there should be some fundamental things we can do to improve the lives of those who live on the margins. Are we willing to be brave enough to talk about the internal and external problems within a community that contribute to inequality? I’m not sure many of us are. It would be great if we could have a healthy discussion about what to do.

    Scott

    • BosqueNorse

      Well, may I suggest if you haven’t already done so: Get active in the
      Democratic Party and never vote for a Republican.

      • scott stone

        Let’s be serious about the issue. Party affiliation is irrelevant. California has the highest poverty rate in the country at 23.8% along with the greatest disparity in income. The Democrats own the state. They now have a super majority in the house and the senate. I’m not saying it’s their fault I’m just saying that neither party has a monopoly on the issue of social justice. Try not to be a cliche. This is a serious issue that needs serious thought and intellect.

        • BosqueNorse

          And, believe me Mr. Stone, The Democratic Party has always had a much better monopoly than the Republicans on just about every damn issue I can think of. And, just look at their pathetic lack of action in Congress. Everything Obama tries to help with, they say NO. So, don’t ever tell me party affiliation is irrelevant. I sensed your train of thought from your response to Tim, and that is why I spoke up. You won’t be seeing any serious thought and intellect (good Christian) coming from most all Republicans.

          • scott stone

            You may need anger management therapy. Just a thought.

  • scott stone

    Now I’m going to sound like a smart aleck but I wonder if the tax exempt status the Catholic Church receives to the tune of $71B a year “trickles down” to the poor. Just a random thought.

    • BosqueNorse

      Yes, Mr. Stone, You know good and well you are a smart aleck, but you sure as hell are more of a “dumb aleck.” The Catholic Church has always made special preference for the poor. I don’t notice any Republicans doing so.

      • scott stone

        Reduced to name calling? Here’s one for you. Are you really that obtuse? My point was in regard to the Pope mentioning “trickle down” economics, a comment certainly directed toward the United States. I was trying to highlight the irony. I’m well aware that the Catholic church does a tremendous amount for the poor. Part of the reason they are able to do so much is because of the $71B in taxes they are exempt from. I’m sure some of that money trickles down to the poor.


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