On Thursday, Pope Francis lambasted unscrupulous businesses that deny health-care access to employees. Per the National Catholic Reporter, the Vatican leader delivered his impassioned rebuke while performing homily at Casa Santa Marta Thursday evening.
During his speech, an indignant Pope Francis outlined an unfortunate, yet all-too common scenario in which uninsured employees work for a period of time before being let-go “to eat air.” Pope Francis’ poignant speech was highlighted by the 79-year-old’s comparison of employer inequity with the barbaric practice of antebellum slavery.
“Exploitation of people today is a true slavery. We thought that slaves do not exist anymore. They exist. It’s true, people don’t go to Africa to take them and then sell them in America, no. But it’s in our cities.”
As recently as 2014, the amount of uninsured non-elderly working Americans was listed at 32 million. Of these uninsured individuals, 48 percent claim they lack coverage due to either unaffordable premiums or because their employer simply does not provide insurance as an option to them.
Sadly, this demographic often becomes burdened with untenable medical expenses when choosing to seek care. Recently, almost 36 percent of low-or-middle-income uninsured adults admitted having difficulties paying medical bills. These burdens can quickly give way to debt since most of the uninsured possess meager incomes with little, if any savings.
When describing the actions of employers who deny reasonable health care options to employees, Pope Francis, per Think Progress stated the following.
“Living off the blood of the people: This is a mortal sin. And it takes much patience, much restitution to convert ourselves from this sin.”
Pope Francis’ comments then reached a crescendo as the Argentinian leader called such practitioners of injustice “true leeches.”
“Those who do that are true leeches, and they live by spilling the blood of the people who they make slaves of labor.”
During Francis’ sermon, he focused upon the “theology of prosperity,” while not only deriding the global financial system, but condemning what he describes as greed and unjust desire for wealth within his own church ranks.
The Argentine pope’s comments continue a linear personal theology of his papacy, during which he has attempted to create a church that rejects the idolatry of capitalism. Pope Francis has long been an advocate for the poor and underprivileged. Francis’ first regarded act as pope focused on reformist economics and the plight of the downtrodden.
In Pope Francis’ compassion for the fiscally oppressed, he has often linked the issue of health care with larger concerns facing struggling families. In early 2016, Francis staunchly pined for poor working families who lacked insurance coverage to care for their families. Pope Francis’ most recent comments come mere hours following the Archdiocese of Chicago announcing it will roll out a new parental leave policy for thousands of eligible church employees, offering parents three months paid leave.
Pope Francis is noted for his humility, emphasis on mercy, concern for the impoverished, and commitment to creating inter-religion dialogues. It was announced on Thursday by the Vatican that Pope Francis has selected Ireland as the location for 2018’s World Meeting of Families.
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