Be very leery of any social commentator who calls the pope a Marxist or a Socialist simply because he cares for the poor and he thinks everyone should have an equal chance at earning a decent salary. Pope Francis is a great Christian who is reminding us that wealth and material resources are not meant to be hoarded but rather shared for the good of the greater community.
The pope has flatly denied that he preaches a Marxist theology. “Marxist ideology is wrong, but I have met many Marxists in my life who are good people, so I don’t feel offended” at being branded one, Pope Francis said.
When he was criticized for his comments on economics in “Evangelii Gaudium” (“The Joy of the Gospel”), he simply said, “There is nothing in the exhortation that cannot be found in the social doctrine of the Church.”
While he acknowledges rejecting what he termed “trickle-down theories” of economic growth, he explains that such a position “does not mean being a Marxist.”
The Holy Father is not calling for an overreaching government structure to take away the salaries of working people and then redistribute that money to the poor. What the pope is really saying is that private business people should seek to create jobs so that others can work and earn a decent living. Greed can never be our motivation. Giving others a chance to live well is something to be strived for.
He recently told Christian business leaders that they must hold onto hope, increase their prayers and ask God’s grace so their decisions may benefit as many people as possible.
“The Christian entrepreneur is urged always to bring the Gospel to bear on the reality in which he works; and the Gospel asks him to put in first place the human person and the common good and to do his part so that there are opportunities for work, for dignified work,” the pope said.
Pope Francis pointed out that the global economic crisis has dimmed the hopes of many entrepreneurs, and the Church cannot leave them to fend for themselves. Parishes, dioceses and Catholic associations must be places where business leaders, and also politicians, professionals and union leaders, draw guidance and encouragement for moving forward together for the good of all.
While working in an economic environment, Catholic business leaders, like all Catholic laypeople, are called to bring the Gospel to social, economic and political life, he said.
“With the help of God and the Church, you can give effective witness in your fields because you would not be bringing only words – speeches – but the experience of individuals and businesses that try to concretely implement Christian ethical principles,” said Pope Francis.
He added that Christians should not be afraid of words like solidarity, fair distribution of goods and the priority of jobs. Instead, they must bring a Christian understanding to those concepts.
In last week’s readings, we heard about how the early Christian communities looked out for one another and allowed no one to be left behind. We are called to examine our own economic structures and by applying Christian principles to better the financial outlook of our neighbors.
As St. John Paul II constantly reminded us – human beings are not created for work, but work is created for human beings. You can bank on those words.