Two days after his Sept. 20 homily, in which he denounced the idolatry of money, Pope Francis took on the same theme in a speech to 20,000 workers in Cagliari, capital of Sardinia – Italy's second largest island (after Sicily).
A special link binds Cagliari to Pope Francis who, until last year, was Archbishop of Buenos Aires in Argentina. The patron saint of Cagliari is Our Lady of Bonaria (in English, Good Air). The founders that established Buenos Aires wished to name it the city of Holy Spirit, but the sailors, who had brought the founders there, were Sardinians and wanted it to be named the city of the Madonna of Bonaria. In the end, a compromise was reached, and the city was "City of the Holy Trinity and Port of Saint Mary of Buon Aria", but it was so long that only the last words survived: Buon Aria, Buenos Aires.
Putting aside his prepared text, Pope Francis made one of his strongest attacks on the global economic system, saying it could no longer be based on a "god called money". Here are large excerpts from his speech:
Where there is no work, dignity is lacking! And this isn't only a problem of Sardinia – but it's strong here! (Editor's note: Cagliari has a youth unemployment rate of about 51 percent) – it's not only a problem of Italy and of some countries of Europe, it's the consequence of a worldwide choice, of an economic system that leads to this tragedy; an economic system that has an idol at the center, which is called money. God did not want the center of the world to be an idol, but man, man and woman, who lead the world forward with their work.
However now, in this system without ethics, there is an idol at the center and the world has become idolatrous of this god-money. Pennies command! Money commands! All these things command that serve it, this idol.
And what happens? To defend this idol they all crowd at the center and the last fall, the elderly fall because in this world there isn't a place for them! Some speak about this habit of "hidden euthanasia," of not taking care of them, of not taking them into account… "Yes, we let them lose…" And young people fall who don't find work and their dignity.
But think of it, a world where young people – two generations of young people – don't have work. Such a world has no future. Why? Because they don't have dignity! It's difficult to have dignity without working. This is your suffering here. This is the prayer you cried out from over there: "Work," "Work," "Work." It's a necessary prayer. Work means dignity; work means bringing the bread home; work means to love!
To defend this idolatrous economic system, the "throw away culture" is installed: grandparents are discarded and young people are discarded. And we must say "no" to this "throw away culture." We must say: "We want a just system! A system that makes everyone go forward." We must say: "We don't want this globalized economic system, which does us so much harm!" Man and woman should be at the center, as God wishes, not money!
(...) But let us be cunning, because the Lord tells us that the idols are more cunning than we are. The Lord invites us to have the cunning of the serpent, with the gentleness of the dove. We have this cunning and we call things by their name. At this moment, in our economic system, in our proposed globalized system of life, there is an idol at the center and this isn't right! Let us struggle all together so that at the center, at least in our life, are man and woman, the family, all of us, so that hope can go forward. Don't let yourselves be robbed of hope!