Pope Francis is not letting up. This guy is doing the Lord’s work, that seems for sure. This recent report of his visit to Bolivia, and his critique of unbridled capitalism being the “dung of the devil” is a direct challenge to our era’s competing theology of market fundamentalism. (though a spanish-speaking connection of mine has informed that was a mistranslation, that it was in reference to a “drug of the devil,” something I can’t confirm).
The notion of “unbridled” is the key here. Too many marketeers can’t take the disconcerting truth that their preferred system has metastasized out of control, and is a cancerous plague on human dignity, and on life itself. I’m all for market exchanges and the tools of capital within how we operate economically within society, but its truly diseased, fatally so, when capital becomes an “ism,” the dominant religion of society, and becomes not a tool in the system, but the system itself. It will, when left to its own devices and logic, turn into a revolutionary force, a cancerous process that eventually devours and destroys everything. That’s not an extreme position to take. That’s a rationally lucid analysis of what is happening right before our eyes; one not hard to see if we have the intellectual honesty to overcome the ideological blinders and incessant market propaganda that our society is saturated in.
“Let us not be afraid to say it: we want change, real change, structural change,” the pope said, decrying a system that “has imposed the mentality of profit at any price, with no concern for social exclusion or the destruction of nature”.
“This system is by now intolerable: farm workers find it intolerable, labourers find it intolerable, communities find it intolerable, peoples find it intolerable. The earth itself – our sister, Mother Earth, as Saint Francis would say – also finds it intolerable,” he said in an hour-long speech that was interrupted by applause and cheering dozens of times.
The pontiff appeared to take a swipe at international monetary organisations such as the IMF and the development aid policies by some developed countries.
“No actual or established power has the right to deprive peoples of the full exercise of their sovereignty. Whenever they do so, we see the rise of new forms of colonialism which seriously prejudice the possibility of peace and justice,” he said.
“The new colonialism takes on different faces. At times it appears as the anonymous influence of mammon: corporations, loan agencies, certain ‘free trade’ treaties, and the imposition of measures of ‘austerity’ which always tighten the belt of workers and the poor,” he said.
And not to get lost within this, was the striking declaration from the pontiff…
In one of the longest, most passionate and sweeping speeches of his pontificate, the Argentine-born pope used his visit to Bolivia to ask forgiveness for the sins committed by the Roman Catholic church in its treatment of native Americans during what he called the “so-called conquest of America”.