Pope: Wealth That is Not Shared Generates Corruption

May 25, 2015

Santa Marta


If you are wealthy, you should make sure your riches serve the "common good." An abundance of things lived selfishly is "sad", steals "hope," and is the origin "of all kinds of corruption," large or small. That was Pope Francis’ reflection in his Homily at this morning’s Mass celebrated in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta.

In his Homily, Pope Francis reflects on one of the most famous passages of the Gospel: Jesus meets the rich young man who enthusiastically asks to follow Him and assures Him he will always live by the commandments.  But when Jesus tells him one last thing is needed - to sell his things, give everything to the poor and then follow Him - the young man’s attitude and willingness swiftly change. Suddenly, "the joy and hope" in the rich young man vanish, because he does not want to give up his riches.

"The attachment to riches is the beginning of all kinds of corruption, everywhere: personal corruption, corruption in business, even small commercial bribery, the kind that shortchanges you at the counter, political corruption, corruption in education ... Why? Because those who live attached to their own power, their own wealth, they believe they’re in heaven. They are closed; they have no horizon, no hope. Eventually they will have to leave everything."

Rich and sterile

"There is a mystery in the possession of wealth," says Francis. "Riches have the ability to seduce, to take us to a seduction and make us believe that we are in a paradise on earth." Instead, says the Pope, that earthly paradise is a place without "horizon", similar to that neighborhood the pontiff  remembers seeing in the seventies, inhabited by wealthy people who had built walls and fences to defend their property from thieves:

"And living without horizons is a sterile life; living without hope is a sad life. The attachment to wealth makes us sad and makes us sterile. I say 'attachment,' I am not saying 'good administration of one’s riches', because riches are for the common good, for everyone. And if the Lord gives them to one person it is so that they are used for the good of all, not for oneself, not so they are closed in one’s heart, which then becomes corrupt and sad."

Open your hand and your horizons

Wealth without generosity, insists Pope Francis, "makes us believe that we are powerful like God. And in the end it takes away the best: hope." But Jesus, he concludes, indicates in the Gospel the right way to live.

"The first Beatitude: 'Blessed are the poor in spirit,' or the stripping off of this attachment and making sure that the riches that the Lord has given one are for the common good. It’s the only way. Open your hand, open your heart, open up the horizon. But if you have a closed hand, your heart is closed as the man’s who threw banquets and wore expensive clothes;  you have no horizons, you do not see others who are in need and you'll end up like that man: far from God. "

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.


Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

Long before Pope Francis earned the nickname, St. John Paul II was known as “the people’s pope.” St. John Paul II recognized the value of modern travel and mass media in spreading the Gospel and a global message of good will.
The EditorsMarch 22, 2018
Retired New York Auxiliary Bishop Gerald T. Walsh distributes Communion during a Mass on the March 17 feast of St. Patrick, patron of the Archdiocese of New York, at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)
“It is clear that what matters to Pope Francis is the transformation of individuals and communities through their attentive and communal participation in the sacramental mysteries."
Surveys suggest that younger Americans are turning away from religion, but they may not have been properly introduced to the church in the first place.
Robert David SullivanMarch 22, 2018
Photo: R2W FILMS
A feel-good film that actually reaffirms one’s faith in humanity
John AndersonMarch 22, 2018