Pope Francis: Do not confuse utility and happiness

Pope hosts lunch for the homeless in Vatican – June 2020

Source: Vatican News

The Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences is organizing a meeting from October 3 to 4 entitled: “Caritas, social friendship and the end of poverty: science and ethics of happiness”.

The event opened today with a message from Pope Francis, in which he explains that happiness is the deepest desire of every man and woman, and the Lord promises it to those who live according to his “style” .

It is the same desire indicated in the Beatitudes, which for Saint Augustine represents “all the perfection of our life”. Everyone strives for happiness, but not everyone has the same conception of happiness, observed the Pope.

He noted that today we are faced with a dominant paradigm, widely spread by “one thought”, which confuses utility and happiness, having fun with living well. This claims to be the only valid criterion of discernment and constitutes “a subtle form of ideological colonialism,” the Pope said. “It is about imposing the ideology that happiness consists only in what is useful, in things and possessions, in abundance of things, fame and money,” he said. added.

Pope Francis went on to say that this pursuit of selfish gratification produces fear of not having enough and leads to greed and lust in individuals and countries, rich and poor, as well as “materialism. suffocating and a general state of conflict “. This undermines the dignity of people and the planet itself, and increases poverty and inequality, he continued.

“In these times of opulence, when it should be possible to end poverty, the powers of determination say nothing about the poor, the elderly, immigrants, unborn children, the seriously ill,” said Pope. They are invisible to the majority, said the Pope, and “when they are made visible they are often presented as a burden unworthy of public money.”

To get out of this situation, said the Pope, what we need is not to have more goods, but “to implement the ever new and revolutionary paradigm of the beatitudes of Jesus, starting with the first “.

“The spirit of poverty” is then “this turning point which opens the way to happiness through a complete paradigm shift”. It is “a sure way to achieve the fullness to which we are all called,” said the Pope.

Pope Francis underlined the distinction between the poverty of the spirit, of which Jesus speaks, and the material poverty, that is to say the deprivation of the necessities of life, which he described in harsh words.

“Poverty as deprivation of what is necessary – that is to say misery – is socially, as (Léon) Bloy and (Charles) Péguy have clearly seen, a kind of hell, because it weakens human freedom and places those who suffer from it in a situation of becoming the victims of new forms of slavery (forced labor, prostitution, organ trafficking, etc.) in order to survive. These are criminal conditions that must in all fairness be denounced and combated relentlessly. individual governments, multinational and national companies, civil society and religious communities – must do it. These are the worst degradations of human dignity and, for a Christian, the open wounds of the body of Christ, who cries out from his cross: I am thirsty. “

It is therefore a duty to help the poor, continued Pope Francis. “Everything will be measured by what they have done to help ‘their brothers in need’.”

The Pope went on to examine the growing gap between the rich and the poor, which causes social unrest, conflict and undermines democracy.

He explained that this is due to the gradual erosion of the relationships of brotherhood, social friendship, harmony, trust, reliability and respect which are the basis of all civil coexistence. “Of course, the greed that drives the system has long dismissed the main economic, social and political consequence of the” spirit of poverty “, that which demands social justice and co-responsibility in the management of the goods and fruits of human labor. .. “

Along with the generalized globalization of indifference, the Pope stressed that, although it is widespread, “throughout this period of pandemic, we have seen how the globalization of solidarity has been able to impose itself with its discretion. characteristic in the different corners of our cities ”. It is good that it is spreading and above all, noted the Pope, it is essential that it be embodied in the lives of young people. So we have to commit to it, he said.

Pope Francis concluded his message by stressing that the spirit of poverty, and therefore the limit imposed on profit, is the only way to guarantee “the very well-being of the individual, of the economy and of the local society. and global “.

We are all called to a commitment: “to create a worldwide movement against indifference which creates or recreates social institutions, which is inspired by the Beatitudes and which]urges us to seek the civilization of love.

Key words: Poverty, Pope Francis, Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, Caritas, Social Friendship, End of Poverty, Science, Ethics of Happiness’

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