Home Uncategorized Viewpoint: Pope Francis and the ‘economy of exclusion’

Viewpoint: Pope Francis and the ‘economy of exclusion’

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Think about it. According to the United Nations, approximately 1.2 billion people live in extreme poverty throughout the world. Clean water and sanitation, adequate nutritious food, a safe job with fair pay, an education, medical care, and a decent place to call home are unfulfilled dreams to these brothers and sisters of ours.

Every day they must somehow find a way to survive on less than $1.25. Even in the poorest countries it is almost impossible to live on this meager amount. In fact, many do not make it.

A girl in Mexico eats a meal provided by the Helping Hands Association and Caritas, the Catholic relief and development organization. Caritas Internationalis launches its campaign against hunger Dec. 10 with a worldwide prayer. Nearly 1 billion people — about one in every eight — experienced chronic hunger or undernourishment during 2010-2012, according to Caritas. (CNS photo/courtesy of Caritas Internationalis)

Everyday, approximately 21,000 fellow human beings die from hunger and hunger related diseases. And according to the United Nations Children’s Fund, some 300 million children go to bed hungry every night.

According to the Christian anti-poverty organization Bread for the World, more than 48 million Americans, including 15.9 million children, do not have enough nutritious food to eat. And more than one in five children live in poverty.

Yet, earlier this year Congress cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for poor Americans by $8 billion over a 10-year period. Reportedly, this will reduce food budgets for affected households by about $90 per month. That’s a big cut for low-income families.

In a recent meeting at the Vatican with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Pope Francis urged world leaders to commit to building a much more level playing field between the wealthy and the poor.

The pope encouraged world leaders to challenge “all forms of injustice” and resist the “economy of exclusion,” the “throwaway culture,” and the “culture of death,” which “sadly risk becoming passively accepted.”

Championing the cause for income equality, the pope called for “the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the state.”

But most politicians and wealthy people throughout much of the world, are strongly opposed to any “legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the state.”

In an article headlined “Inequality is holding back the recovery,” Nobel laureate in economics Joseph Stiglitz, shared his deep concern regarding the growing divide between the top 1 percent and the rest of us.

He wrote, “Obama bailed out banks but didn’t invest enough in workers and students. … And George W. Bush’s steep tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 and his multitrillion-dollar wars in Iraq and Afghanistan emptied the piggy bank while exacerbating the great divide.”

Stiglitz wrote that Bush’s party’s “newfound commitment to fiscal discipline, in the form of insisting on low taxes for the rich while slashing services for the poor, is the height of hypocrisy.”

Shortly after his election, Pope Francis said to a gathering of some 5,000 journalists, “How I would like a church that is poor and for the poor.”

Yes, indeed. For if a more humble, more simple-living church, doesn’t stand firmly with the poor, than who will?

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist.