May 20, 2013

Taking on the "cult of money"

It's a little early in the game, but so far Francis I is shaping up to be my kind of pope, with his denunciations of unbridled capitalism and his concern for the poor. You can find some good NPR coverage of his priorities  here and here.

(As a friend of mine who is a member of a religious order pointed out, and I paraphrase, that Paul Ryan must be having a cow.)

By chance, I spent part of Monday at a conference on poverty sponsored by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. I am not a member of that church but I have the deepest respect for Catholic teachings on social and economic justice. It's not something that somebody made up yesterday. Or 500 years ago. And it's not negotiable.

It's not just or even primarily about charity or acts of compassion, although the diocese is the second largest provider of aid in the state (only the state Department of Health and Human Resources does more). It's also about justice and the demand for laws and policies that promote the common good.

One of the speakers today was Rev. Larry Snyder, head of Catholic Charities USA, who spoke of a better metaphor than the one we usually use regarding services and programs for low income people. The usual image is of a safety net. But if you think about it, nets have holes and things slip through. Fr. Snyder argued that we really need is not a net but a trampoline that helps people bounce back higher.

Works for me.

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