THE letter of Pope Francis to the Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum on the occasion of its annual meeting that was held in Davos-Klosters in Switzerland last January was very pastoral. He was, in a way, talking to all economies of the world that admittedly have been too remiss and too exclusive in running financial systems as maybe seen in the perennial monetary imbalance and the worsening poverty threshold in all continents.
He appealed to the world’s economists to promote an inclusive approach “which takes into consideration the dignity of every human person and the common good.” Admittedly, human dignity and the common good had not been favorite considerations of world’s economists—and governments. Wall Street, for instance, had been in a rollercoaster of boom and bust without any slightest cue of the common good. That was precisely why the Occupy Wall Street protests that started at the Zuccutti Park in New York in 2011 snowballed against the greedy fundamentals of exclusive capitalism.
In his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, issued in November 2013, Pope Francis denounced what he calls “the economy of exclusion” that is rooted on the “new idolatry of money” in a capitalist system that is tyrannical. He says: “Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality.” This kind of economy, he says, breeds a financial system which rules rather that serves.
He called on the economists gathered in Davos-Kosters to make a difference. And the difference lies precisely in being able to draw up an economic system that is inclusive—one that takes into consideration the poor, the weak and the common good in every political and economic decision. Or better still, a system that accounts “a transcendent vision of the person because “without the perspective of eternal life, human progress in this world is denied breathing-space.”
Hereabouts, President Aquino reportedly rushed a meeting with his subalterns when the latest Social Weather Stations survey showed that the number of jobless Filipinos rose to 12.1 million during the last quarter of last year and that the incidence of involuntary hunger has spiked to 19.5 million—and this, in the face of a much publicized 7.2 percent economic growth measure by Gross Domestic Product of the same period.
By all looks of it, the wide discrepancy between a high GDP and extreme hunger and joblessness is one that tells of the chasm of difference between an exclusive and inclusive economic fundamental. And this, without even mentioning the seeming apathy for the poor and the victims of Yolanda that until today, three months after, have not yet seen a workable rehabilitation plan.