Pope Francis recently called for the “legitimate redistribution of wealth,” while speaking to agatering of United Nations agency leaders. He cited numerous passages from the Bible that argue for an economic system that provides for the “poorest and those most excluded.” While at the United Nations, Pope Francis commented on the U.N.’s goal to create “future sustainable development goals.” In his talk he stated that the U.N. should be focused on counteracting the “structural causes of poverty and hunger.”
The pope stated that focusing on political and economic strategies to improve the livelihood of individuals across the globe needs to be more serious, as much of humanity does not benefit from technological progress. As a result, the rest of humanity serves as second-class world citizens when compared to those residing in first-world countries. Francis stated that “in the case of global, political and economic organization, much more needs to be achieved.” This is because a large percentage of humanity does not benefit from progress achieved, and those not living in first-world nations are excluded to the rank of second-class citizens.
Pope Francis used the biblical account of Zacchaeus to show how the tax collector was shocked by Jesus’ kindness, and that this pushed the rich man to publicly state that he would hand over half his belongings to the poor and promised to pay back everyone who he defrauded “four times over.” In the story, Zacchaeus underwent a dramatic transformation, changing his behavior in favor of exercising “sharing and justice.” As Pope Francis states that “this same spirit should be at the beginning and end of all political and economic activity.”
As the story of Zacchaeus points to places in the Bible where redistribution of wealth is demanded, Pope Francis asks this of the entire world population. His message points directly to an unavoidable worry regarding economic inequality throughout the world. The United States has an especially vast gap between the wealthiest and the poor, with the wealthiest 1 percent of the population owning over 40 percent of the country’s wealth through stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. The rest of the country is expected to fend for themselves, despite obvious economic hardships imposed on them by the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans.
As this sort of issue has become a global problem, Pope Francis calls for a redistribution of wealth that will level out the current extreme disparity in income across nations. The current wealth disparity is also a global problem, and according to a new study released by Oxfam, the 85 wealthiest people in the world are actually worth more than the poorest 50 percent of the world’s population.
While Pope Francis calls for the redistribution of wealth, many others, especially in the Western world, have yet to follow his requests. Since many self-proclaimed Christians in the United States have rejected programs to help the poor and disadvantaged, one has to ask whether the U.S. is truly a Christian nation. Pope Francis, citing Jesus’s teachings, says the opposite.
Opinion By Scott Gaudinier
The Huffington Post