Monday, March 1, 2021

Reflections for the Second Week of Lent by His Holiness and Eminence the Archfather

FIRENZE-NUOVA ROMA 1 March 2021 (NRom)

Reflections for the Second Week of Lent
His Holiness and Eminence the Archfather


in the epistle lesson for the second Sunday of Lent, the Apostle Paul gives several admonitions. Among those is that we should not overreach or circumvent our brother in business, for the Lord is the avenger thereof. In this present period in world history, it seems that the notion of leaving everyone alone to provide for themselves and their families has been lost as humanity turns further and further away from God. While it is absolutely true that neither communism or socialism in any form are compatible with the Christian faith, so also is it true that nationalism and excessive, extreme capitalism are likewise incompatible with the Christian faith.

We as Christians must not worship money or at the altar of commerce, for as our Lord tells us, no man may serve two masters. Money is indeed a tool to provide for the needs and even appropriate wants for ourselves and our families, and it is a tool to do good in the world. If we seek money for its own sake, corporate dominance as a purpose to itself, and ever-larger market shares, then we have lost our way as individuals and as a society. While appropriate competition can have many benefits, trying to put one’s competition out of business is plainly wrong. In some cases, survival indeed mandates a legitimate defence in commerce, just as we may legitimately protect our bodies. Yet, if we harm the body of another out of desire and not necessity, and we would not wish harm upon another if we could not find another way, even in defence of ourselves, then we sin against our brethren and against God. Similarly, if we do harm to others in business and in labour when it is not necessary in legitimate defence, or if it is necessary in legitimate defence, but we would not wish to find another way sincerely if it were possible, then we likewise sin against our fellow man and against God.

The rampant excesses of extreme capitalism in the Western world have reached new heights during the pandemic of last year that is now extending into the current year. Particularly due to government measures, massive corporations are making windfall gains, and others are going out of business, with so many people losing their businesses and the jobs, deprived of their rights to provide for their families. Indeed, depriving workers of their just wages is a sin rightly crying out to heaven for vengeance. What is being done to countless people around the world right now is just that. It was happening before, and the pandemic has made it dramatically worse. 

It is often said in excuse for this extreme capitalism that it is that very form of commerce and economic structure that has provided so many material benefits for society and even has furthered the ability to do so much good around the world. While there is indeed some truth to that, such benefits are not an excuse for wrong – and it is hardly true that such tactics are indeed necessary to generate benefits and to do good. Additionally, neither is the cure for extreme excessive forms of capitalism the evils of communism and socialism. These days, society is actually getting whiplash from bouncing back and forth between extremes.

To the Christian faithful who have their eyes open, the answer is very clear. It is only through the application of the faith of Christ that we may reach a free market economy that allows as many people as possible to have as much control as possible over their own financial future. Some may challenge this by saying that we can never achieve full independence in terms of the ability to provide for oneself and one’s family. Yet, that also is not even remotely an excuse for not employing appropriate, ethical, Christian principles to the economy as Christian people. This approach We propose is not another panacea such as those that so many revolutionaries from the 18th century to the present time have promised to justify their intolerable violence and the chaos they cause, only to have a new system that is no better and is even often worse than the one it replaced. Rather, this is the tried-and-true peaceful Way of Christ. That we may not achieve a full realisation of this does not in any way reduce the merit of trying to the best of our abilities.