The Devil’s Dung?? By Peter West
As part of my “Pope watch,” I note that the Pope has taken a well-earnt break from advocating open borders, to attacking the money system. At first, I was pleased, but something does not feel right about the depth and intensity of the critique:
“Pope Francis returned to his criticisms of the economy Sunday, saying that money is “dishonest wealth,” also known as “the devil’s dung.” Speaking in Saint Peter’s Square in the Vatican, the pontiff told the tens of thousands of pilgrims and visitors to beware of riches in reference to the gospel reading of the day. “The key to understanding this story lies in Jesus’ invitation at the end of the parable,” the pope said. “‘I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth, so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.’” “This seems a bit confusing, but it is not,” he added. “‘Dishonest wealth’ is money, also called ‘the devil’s dung,’ and in general, material goods.” “Wealth can drive people to erect walls, create divisions, and discriminate,” Francis continued. “Jesus, on the contrary, invites his disciples to change course: ‘Make friends with riches,’” he said. “It is an invitation to learn how to transform goods and riches into relationships, because people are worth more than things and count more than the wealth they possess. Sunday’s speech was not the first time that Pope Francis has used colorful language in speaking about money, or even for the reference to “the devil’s dung,” a quotation from Saint Basil the Great. “It is not easy to talk about money,” Francis said in an address to the Italian Confederation of Cooperatives in 2015. “Money is the devil’s dung of the devil! When money becomes an idol, it rules over a person’s choices. And then it ruins a person and condemns him, turning him into a slave.”
The pope called for a “creative imagination” to find new methods, attitudes and tools to combat the “culture of waste,” in which the world is immersed, “fueled by the powers that govern the economic and financial policies of the globalized world, whose center is the god of money.” Likewise, in a homily given in September 2013, the pope used the same expression to decry wealth. “Money becomes an idol and you worship it. This is why Jesus tells us: ‘You cannot serve the idol of money and the living God.’ Either one or the other.” Here, too, Francis called money “the devil’s dung,” insisting that “it turns us into idolaters, sickens our mind with pride and makes us enthusiasts of frivolous things that pull us away from the faith.” Nonetheless, the pope has also recognized the necessity of capital to make financial enterprises run. After outlining a series of tasks for the members of cooperatives, the pope acknowledged: “To do all these things requires money!” He noted that according to Catholic social teaching, “profit is not a god, but only a compass and a yardstick of business.”
Now there are good points here, namely that a focus upon the material over the spiritual will lead to the impoverishment of the spiritual. Still, material things within reason and moderation are needed to keep body and soul together, and it is all too easy to use the pollical speculations as justifying the coming poverty of the West, produced by deindustrialisation to serve the global climate change agenda. I am suspicious of the Pope and operate on the principle of “guilty until proven innocent” now. Then there are the Vatican billions, or is it trillions now, perhaps the richest entity on earth, outside of the Dark Lords of finance and banking, where infinite wealth is available at the tap of a keyboard:
In short, it does not add up.