The Pope and his Radical Thinking

Published : 8:10 am  June 20, 2015 | No comments so far |  |  (410) reads | 

pope2Pope Francis on Thursday issued an encyclical, a letter traditionally addressed from St. Peter’s Square to  more than 1 billion Catholics across the globe, calling for action to curb climate change. While slamming a slew of modern trends — the heedless worship of technology, our addiction to fossil fuels and compulsive consumerism — the Pope said humanity’s “reckless” behaviour has pushed the planet to a perilous “breaking point.”

Exactly 50 years ago it was at the Vatican Council II that changes to transform the Church in relation to the modern world were introduced. Pope Francis on the 13th  of March while celebrating the second anniversary of his elevation to the Papacy, declared a jubilee year that was interpreted as a powerful signal of his commitment of reforming the church.

This simple living holy man who lived in a single roomed flat as the Archbishop of Buenos Aires and used public transport to go about is expected to continue the work begun at the Vatican Council II with more radical changes,

His Holiness the Pope visited Sri Lanka and went back last January. During his visit and before or immediately after, the print and electronic media of this country carried numerous articles and programmes depicting the cosmetic side of his life but very little or almost nothing about his radical thinking or social activism..


This simple living holy man who lived in a single roomed flat as the  Archbishop of Buenos Aires and used public transport to go about is  expected to continue the work begun at the Vatican Council II with more  radical changes.


In this article I am trying to shed light on both these aspects of the Holy Father’s life,. I think the life of Pope Francis needs thorough investigation as he is a unique person. With so many erudite priests and scholars in Sri   Lanka, it is incomprehensible to me how the Catholic Church missed this aspect of the holy fathers life.

It is worthwhile to scrutinise the ideas expounded by the Pope in his book “The joy of Gospel” to ascertain this matter. This book which runs into about 200 pages is divided into five chapters. Those are again divided into sub chapters. These sub chapters are again divided into 200 odd sub titles. In this article I am trying to discuss some of the interesting sub titles.



The imbalanced world
At the inception, the Pope tries to fault the servants of the church for the little interest shown towards the suffering masses exploited by world capitalism Since he is a religious leader he cannot ,promote revolutionary action As a result there may be impediments and limitations to his thinking and here I will assess his attempt to analyse his modern day social thinking.

The Pope expounds consumerism as the biggest threat that confronts the modern day man. Most people happily embrace consumerism forgetting their fellow beings. There is hardly any room in their hearts for the poor or down trodden. Their thinking is fashioned by modern day capitalism. Therefore, the Pope tells the world that the rich should arrive at a compromise with  God for redeeming the down trodden. Once talking to Latin American bishops he said,  “Go to the people without idling in churches.”

In his book the Pope was highly critical of the colonisation that took place in the last 500 years. He was equally critical of the Christianisation that took place  with colonisation which was a very violent project. The devastation that took place in the name of religion was difficult to comprehend. In the continent that the Pope was born in, the church in most places worked hand in glove with the colonialists. There were a few instances where the church took the side of these unfortunate natives in this part of the world. Anyhow, by going through the Popes book we can conclude that his Holiness has a clear cut understanding about the role played by the church during that questionable period.


His holiness the pope visited Sri Lanka and went  back last January. During his visit and before or immediately after, the  print and electronic media of this country carried numerous articles  and programmes depicting the cosmetic side of his life but very or  almost nothing about his radical thinking or social activism..


In his book the Pope stresses the importance given to human life in the Ten Commandments. Today, people give little importance to this aspect of life as money has come to the forefront and it is the thing that call the shots. This limitation is made to give human life its due importance. Today it has been interpreted in different forms. He says that it is no news for the media when tens of thousands of people perish due to adverse climatic conditions. But it is news that creates tremors when the stock market goes down by two points.
The Pope further says that the dictum ‘winner takes all,’ applies in this context too, very effectively. In this competitive world it is the strongest that wins everything and the weak and destitute are marginalized and left without any hope.



The Culture of Use and Dispose
The culture of disposing consumer goods after using them is widespread.. There are instances where people too are disposed after using them. This we cannot understand by theories such as exploitation and oppression that were effective in the world in the past. People who are disposed in this manner are not considered as part of the greater society. In this context, still there are people who believe that money trickles down from the upper strata of the society to the lower strata providing them with a substantial income sufficient for decent living.

They believe  this arrangement creates a very just society. But yet we have become a group insensitive to the plight of this segment of the society and does not think there is an obligatory duty to help them. Unknowingly we have become a set of human beings unable to discharge kindness.

In his book His Holiness is highly critical of consumerism and says it has become an evil necessity. In addition to consumerism man needs freedom, education, intellectual development, inner feelings and close association with fellow beings as equally important components for a decent living. But consumerism has surpassed all these aspects and  become the only important thing in life for many. He compares this to the life of Emma Bovari living by borrowing.

The gap between the haves and the have nots is ever widening as seen by his Holiness. The poor are being marginalised and are deprived of all riches and comforts. And he says that the gap, between these two groups are ever widening. This reality is a result  of the theory that markets should be given unrestricted freedom to operate .Fraudulent acts such as tax evasions and money laundering are added to this and it becomes uncontrollable and the Pope wants to limit this by all means, so that global greed for power and money could be contained..

A financial system that exploits  and brings misery to the poor and the marginalised should be censured according to the Pope. Furthermore, an economy that shows no respect for the bare morals followed by right thinking men should be abhorred. The Pope believes that it is the duty of the political leaders to open a discourse that will address this question and bring a sustainable solution.
The Pope thinks  we have not arrived at the End of History. The Pope refutes this theory that the world would develop up to the point that America has developed and will stop there. Without thinking of a sustainable economy that will serve  man, it is absurd to arrive at the conclusion that the present consumerist society is the end of history.

Though his Holiness condemns capitalism and the consumerism attached to it, the hierarchy of the Catholic church of Latin America have been supportive of right wing corrupt regimes mostly by military men, which were subsequently overthrown. This scenario had a direct link to the formation of Liberation Theology sometime back in that part of the world. Though his Holiness believes that his pontificate will be brief, I think he will be able to influence the thinking of the Catholic Church around the globe as no other Pope ever did with a radical change in human consciousness.

 

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