Commentary: Pope Francis’ advice about equality and justice, which 2016 hopefuls can use

Commentary: Pope Francis’ advice about equality and justice, which 2016 hopefuls can use
July 23
00:00 2015

In above photo: (L-R), Pope Francis, Hillary Clinton, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont)

Bill Turner, Guest Columnist

If the world looks like it’s going to hell in a hand basket, Pope Francis preaches that the path and speed there are driven by the excesses of capitalism.

The 78 year-old Argentina-born-and-bred pontiff, who worked among his country’s most marginalized citizens before becoming pope two years ago, spoke out against poverty, inequality, and official corruption recently while in Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay.

South America, which holds 40 percent of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, was an appropriate place for His Holiness to condemn the greed for money and call for “a global movement against the new colonialism that is rooted in an inequitable world economic order.”

Pope Francis will likely repeat those words when he visits America – ground zero for capitalism’s excesses – later this summer when he addresses the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, and then carry his message on to NYC and DC.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont), a self-described revolutionary and socialist, sings from the Pope’s songbook on income equality and is pushing front-runner Hillary Clinton on how the gap between the haves and have nots is corrupting everything and everybody.

Senator Sanders got a loud ring of cheers from a crowd of 10,000 in Wisconsin recently when he denounced the facts of income inequality in America: “58 percent of new American income goes to the top 1 percent, the top 10th of that 1 percent have more wealth than the bottom 90 percent, and the gap is wider than at any other point since just before the Great Depression.”

Pope Francis’ concern for the poor in South America applies, relatively speaking, to African- Americans: the typical black household has just 6 percent of the wealth of the typical white household.

On average, white households had $111,146 in wealth holdings in 2011, compared to $7,113 for blacks, according to the U.S. Census Bureau Survey of Income and Program Participation.

Pope Francis’ perspective on these matters places him in the center of global activities.

He calls out the masterminds of capitalism around the world, whom he says are not good stewards of the environment and are too greedy to share their wealth to create the conditions for equality, justice and decent lifestyles for the poor.

He visits Africa – Uganda and Kenya, where Catholicism is the fastest-growing religion – in November, just behind his trip to the USA. On the other side of the Pope’s world view is Republican presidential hopeful, Jeb!, one of five Catholics on the crowded GOP podium, who said recently, “I don’t go to Mass for economic policy or for things in politics. I’ve got enough people helping me along the way with that.”

Even if Mr. Bush’s way doesn’t consider His Holiness’ advice about the wickedness that springs from economic inequality, it’s quite likely that he, like most, recognizes the lines written by a modest friar canonized in the 12th century from whom the man born Jorge Mario Bergoglio took his papal name: “Lord make me an instrument of Thy peace” and the well-known saying also attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”

Pope Francis’ necessary words, to be repeated again and again during the 2016 presidential campaign, which will be in full swing when he gets here in early fall, might well be: “It’s the economic inequality, stupid!”

Dr. Bill Turner is a noted educator, writer and thinker who called Winston-Salem home for many years. Reach him at William H. Turner © 7/19/2015


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