Fr. Francesco Pesce
The British NGO Oxfam has recently published a new report on global wealth on the eve of the World Economic Forum taking place in Davos in the presence of many top world economists and politicians. «Reward work not wealth», is the title of the report using data prepared by Credit Suisse based on the latest information on the nouveau riche in China, Russia and India. The wealthiest 1% of the world population owns as much as the remaining 99% and their wealth continues to grow. Every day the arrival of a new billionaire is registered.
As Christians we have the duty, not only to give good witness but to speak out clearly. Riches are not the end the means in the hands of men; they have often become an iniquitous instrument because man has used wealth to dominate other men and subject entire populations to the power of the privileged few. We have even reached, in our history, the planned and calculated extermination of the poor, as the prophet Amos reminds us. Thanks to God the cultural progress of populations is increasing awareness about the need for a more equal distribution of global. Some international organizations and some of the more developed nations are fighting for new social equilibria but the battle is still a long and difficult one. Jesus invited his disciples to be “shrewd” in managing wealth. He asks each one of us to have a different relationship with riches both on an individual and community level. Indeed, it is for this reason that a personal charitable gesture is not enough, we must act to ensure that wealth becomes an instrument of liberation and reconciliation among peoples. This is the substance of the Gospel which is by its very nature a social reality. History teaches us that many have become estranged from the Church and the Faith because they have been shown a bad example in the use of money and wealth. We have witnessed during the past years as Christians and citizens of the world two important facts. Pope Francis is showing us the concrete possibility of a poor Church for the poor; he is an extraordinary gift from the Lord, an example encouraging new conversion. Moreover, at the same time we are witnessing the fact that many poor people are – we could state it like this – going back to the Gospel, often hidden to them behind words of circumstance and humiliating charity. The poor today are aware that the Gospel is first and foremost for them and they are no longer willing to wait for their rights and their dignity. We have read and meditated carefully in this regard on the prophetical words of Father Mazzolari, a poor priest among the poor:”I have never counted the poor because the poor cannot be counted; the poor must be embraced, not counted. And yet there are those who keep statistics of the poor and are afraid of them; afraid of their patience which could also tire, afraid of their silence which could erupt into a scream, afraid of their complaints which could become a song, afraid of their rags which could become a flag, afraid of their tools which could become a barricade”. I believe this is already happening.