Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Money Haters in the Pope's Inner Circle (Though None of Them Have Proposed that the Pope Stop Money Donations)

An EPJ reader emails:

Yesterday a local Belgian newspaper briefly mentioned that the Pope's personal priest, Raniero Cantalamessa, had identified money as the cause of most if not all evil in this world.

Here's an English translation of the sermon Cantalamessa gave in the St Peter’s Basilica in Rome last Friday:

Judas was chosen from the very beginning to be one of the Twelve. In inserting his name in the list of apostles, the gospel-writer Luke says, “Judas Iscariot, who became (egeneto) a traitor” (Lk 6:16). Judas was thus not born a traitor and was not a traitor at the time Jesus chose him; he became a traitor! We are before one of the darkest dramas of human freedom.

Why did he become a traitor? [...]

The Gospels — the only reliable sources that we have about Judas’ character — speak of a more down-to-earth motive: money. Judas was entrusted with the group’s common purse; on the occasion of  Jesus’ anointing in Bethany, Judas had protested against the waste of the precious perfumed ointment  that Mary poured on Jesus’ feet, not because he was interested in the poor but, as John notes, “because he was a thief, and as he had the money box he used to take what was put into it” (Jn 12:6). His proposal to the chief priests is explicit: “‘What will you give me if I deliver him to you?’ And they paid him thirty pieces of silver” (Mt 26:15).

But why are people surprised at this explanation, finding it too banal? Has it not always been this way in history and is still this way today? Mammon, money, is not just one idol among many: it is the idol par excellence, literally “a molten god” (see Ex 34:17). And we know why that is the case. Who is objectively, if not subjectively (in fact, not in intentions), the true enemy, the rival to God, in this world? Satan? But no one decides to serve Satan without a motive. Whoever does it does so because they believe they will obtain some kind of power or temporal benefit from him. Jesus tells us clearly who the other master, the  anti-God, is: “No one can serve two masters. . . . You cannot serve God and mammon” (Mt 6:24). Money
is the “visible god” in contrast to the true God who is invisible.

Mammon is the anti-God because it creates an alternative spiritual universe; it shifts the purpose of the theological virtues. Faith, hope, and charity are no longer placed in God but in money. A sinister inversion of all values occurs. Scripture says, “All things are possible to him who believes” (Mk 9:23), but the world says, “All things are possible to him who has money.” And on a certain level, all the facts seem to bear that out.

“The love of money,” Scripture says, “is the root of all evil” (1 Tim 6:10). Behind every evil in our society is money, or at least money is also included there. It is the Molech we recall from the Bible to whom young boys and girls were sacrificed (see Jer 32:35) or the Aztec god for whom the daily sacrifice of a certain number of human hearts was required.

What lies behind the drug enterprise that destroys so many human lives, behind the phenomenon of the mafia, behind political corruption, behind the manufacturing and sale of weapons, and even behind — whatv a horrible thing to mention — the sale of human organs removed from children? And the financial crisis that the world has gone through and that this country is still going through, is it not in large part due to the “cursed hunger for gold,” the auri sacra fames, on the part of some people? Judas began with taking money out of the
common purse. Does this say anything to certain administrators of public funds?

But apart from these criminal ways of acquiring money, is it not also a scandal that some people earn salaries and collect pensions that are sometimes 100 times higher than those of the people who work for them and that they raise their voices to object when a proposal is put forward to reduce their salary for the sake of greater social justice?
Like all idols, money is deceitful and lying: it promises security and instead takes it away; it promises freedom and instead destroys it. St. Francis of Assisi, with a severity that is untypical for him, describes the end of life of a person who has lived only to increase his “capital.” Death draws near, and the priest is summoned. He asks the dying man, “Do you want forgiveness for all your sins?” and he answers, “Yes.” The priest then asks, “Are you ready to make right the wrongs you did, restoring things you have defrauded others of?” The dying man responds, “I can’t.” “Why can’t you?” “Because I have already left everything in the hands of my relatives
and friends.” And so he dies without repentance, and his body is barely cold when his relatives and friends say, “Damn him! He could have earned more money to leave us, but he didn’t.”
And it goes on and on like that.

So that's the kind of people the Pope's got in his inner circle


  1. Doesn't the Roman Catholic church have a boatload of assets they could sell off for the sake of greater social justice?

  2. It's man's love of money (power, etc). To label an inanimate object evil is silly. I'm guessing the pope's inner circle is against guns too.

  3. Well they were hardly going to blame the State, were they?

  4. Geez, can't the Catholic Church just die already? It's completely useless.

  5. The Church and the State hate money.
    It only gets in the way.
    They want your soul and your labor respectively.

  6. -- Mammon is the anti-God because it creates an alternative spiritual universe; it shifts the purpose of the theological virtues. --

    Leaving the good Fr. Castalamessa's ignorance of basic economics aside, I am sure that if money were to disappear tomorrow and people returned to a barter economy, the Pope's personal priest would be heard bitching about people loving too much bushels of corn. It's the same thing with these socialists in Catholic's clothing: attack what they don't understand; misconstrue reality; misunderstand the process and malign the actions of man.

  7. Ridiculous. This priest is making scripture say something that it does not say.

    I Timothy 6:10: "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows."

    It is the sinful heart of man from which evil proceeds.

  8. Is the good father proposing we no longer pass the plate during mass?

  9. Contemporary Western civilization worships the false god of government. We praise big government, intervention, restraint of trade, violation of individual rights, etc.

    In light of the growth of government in the USA at least, I would argue that the statement "Money is the root of all evil" is the root of more evil than is money itself.

    Money is the means to sustain one's own life. There is nothing inherently "evil" about wanting to acquire and conserve it.

    And let's not get into the old red herring of how much is enough. If it's not your money, it's not your place to second-guess anyone else's estimation of their future needs, future purposes, or budgets. You don't *need* to understand anyone else's priorities, risk tolerance, time-preferences or resource allocation decisions to understand the simpler concept of respecting others and minding your own business.