Pope: the craving for wealth is at the root of every war

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During the Angelus, Francis pleaded once more “to stop and negotiate” to bring peace to the “suffering and battered Ukrainian people”. Similarly, “the arms trade [. . .] is a scandal that we must never resign ourselves to.” In a warning against the temptation of greed, he asks: “what legacy do I want to leave” after me?

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Speaking today before the faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square, Pope Francis centred his Angelus address on “material goods, money, riches, [which] can become a cult, a true and proper idolatry.” Likewise, he noted that, “The lust for resources and wealth are almost always behind” war.

The pontiff took the opportunity to express his gratitude for the welcome he received on his “penitential pilgrimage” to Canada, which ended yesterday, thankful also to all those who accompanied him with prayers.

“[D]uring this journey, I did not cease praying for the suffering and battered Ukrainian people, asking God to free them from the scourge of war. If one looked at what is happening objectively, considering the harm that war brings every day to those people, and even to the entire world, the only reasonable thing to do would be to stop and negotiate. May wisdom inspire concrete steps toward peace.”

Before the Angelus, Francis spoke about the passage in Luke’s Gospel about a dispute over inheritance (Lk 12:13) in today’s liturgy, inviting the faithful to meditate over Jesus’s call to keep away from greed.

“What is covetousness?” Francis asked. “It is the unbridled greed for possessions, always desiring to be rich. This is an illness that destroys people, because the hunger for possessions creates an addiction. Above all, those who have a lot are never content, they always want more, and only for themselves. But this way, the person is no longer free: he or she is attached to, a slave, of what paradoxically was meant to serve them so as to live freely and serenely.”

Greed is a dangerous disease, not only for individuals, but for society as well. Because of “covetousness, we have today reached other paradoxes: an injustice never before seen in history, where few have so much and so many have little or nothing. Let’s consider wars and conflicts as well. The lust for resources and wealth are almost always behind them. How many interests are behind war! Certainly, one of these is the arms trade. This trade is a scandal that we must never resign ourselves to.”

By contrast, Jesus teaches us that, at the heart of all this, “are not only some who are powerful, or certain economic systems. The covetousness that is in everyone’s heart is at the centre.” Hence the call to each and every one of us to ask ourselves: “Do I complain about what I lack, or do I know how to be content with what I have? In the name of money or opportunity, am I tempted to sacrifice relationships and sacrifice time with others? And yet again, does it happen that I sacrifice legality and honesty on the altar of covetousness?”

It is an altar, because material goods themselves can in fact become a cult. But “Jesus [. . .] says, you cannot serve two masters, [. . .] he does not say God and the devil, no, or even the good and the bad, but, God and wealth.”

So, should no one want to get rich? “Certainly, you can; [or] rather, it is right to want it. It is beautiful to become rich, but rich according to God! God is the richest of anyone. He is rich in compassion, in mercy. His riches do not impoverish anyone, do not create quarrels and divisions. It is a richness that knows how to give, to distribute, to share.”

Last but not least, the pontiff urged the faithful to ask themselves: “what legacy do I want to leave? Money in the bank, material things, or happy people around me, good works that are not forgotten, people that I have helped to grow and mature?”

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