Speaking in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, on Thursday night, Pope Francis used his harshest language yet to denounce unfettered capitalism and the situation for the world’s poor, at one point calling the pursuit of money the “dung of the devil.” That was just one of the many bombshells contained in the hour-long speech, presented to the second World Meeting of Popular Movements.
Although the speech had many highly-charged quotes, one that’s gotten a lot of media attention focuses on the pursuit of money.
“And behind all this pain, death and destruction there is the stench of what Basil of Caesarea, one of the church’s first theologians, called ‘the dung of the devil.’ An unfettered pursuit of money rules. That is the dung of the devil.”
It’s not clear if the Pope was making a hidden homage to Greece and its tattered economy when citing Basil of Caesarea, an ancient Greek bishop, but the current crisis there is no less relevant. The Holy Father went on describe the world’s new form of colonialism — which dropped even more hints about the Pope’s feelings on the EU bailout negotiations, among other things.
“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.”
Pope Francis made another reference to Basil’s devil’s dung analogy in a speech to Italy’s social services cooperatives after explaining that the organizations needed money to satisfy the needs of the people under their care. He made the case that money at the service of life — rather than the other way around — can bring good to people.
The reference highlights the Pope’s complicated relationship with money and capitalism, especially the unfettered kind. As previously reported by the Inquisitr, he has said the current capitalist system is near collapse, a theme in his speech in Bolivia as well, and that real structural reform was in dire need.
Still, the Catholic leader is careful to distance himself and the church from Communism, which was recently difficult thanks to Bolivian President Evo Morales. On Wednesday, the leader presented Francis with a crucifix made to look like the hammer and sickle symbol of Soviet Russia.
According to CNN, the Pope’s words to Morales while receiving the gift aren’t entirely clear, but went something like “that’s not right” or “I didn’t know that.”
Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi clarified the awkward moment, saying that the controversial crucifix would certainly not go in any church.
Still, the Pope insists that it’s up to all Christians to work towards a just distribution of the “fruits of the Earth,” explaining to his audience in Bolivia that it is of the highest moral obligation.
The full speech from Pope Francis can be found here.
Aside from calling money the devil’s dung, the pope also apologized for the crimes of the early church against the America’s indigenous populations — which will likely receive a luke-warm reception as the Vatican prepares to make Junipero Serra a saint — and blasted the environmental destruction of the planet.
[Image Credit: Getty Images]