Pope Francis warned that in efforts to amass wealth, little care may be given to where the money comes from. As a result, said the Pontiff, “…in touching money, we get blood on our hands”. Pope Francis was addressing the Committee of Experts of the Council of Europe for the evaluation of measures taken to counter money laundering and the financing of terrorism, known as Moneyval.
The supremacy of money
Describing the work carried out by Moneyval as ‘particularly dear to my heart’, Pope Francis said that the work this team of experts does is closely linked to the protection of life, peaceful human co-existence and a financial system that does not oppress the weakest. The Pope said that it has now become important to reflect again on humanity’s relationship with money. “It seems that in many places the supremacy of money over human beings is taken for granted. Sometimes, in the effort to amass wealth, there is little concern for where it comes from, the more or less legitimate activities that may have produced it, and the mechanisms of exploitation that may be behind it. Thus, situations can occur where, in touching money, we get blood on our hands, the blood of our brothers and sisters,” observed Pope Francis.
It can also happen, said Pope Francis, that financial resources are used to spread terror, to shore up the strongest, the most powerful and those prepared to sacrifice the lives of others without scruple, all in a bid to hold onto their power. Referring to his newly minted encyclical Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis said that this proposes that monies destined for armaments are re-directed “to put an end to hunger and favour development in the most impoverished countries so that their citizens will not resort to violent or illusory solutions, or have to leave their countries in order to seek a more dignified life.”
Money must serve, not rule
Pope Francis said that in its social teachings, the Church has shown that the economy is intrinsically linked to morality. “In light of the present circumstances, it would seem that “the worship of the ancient golden calf has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose.” Indeed, added the Pope, “financial speculation [which is] fundamentally aimed at quick profit continues to wreak havoc.”
Pope Francis said that policies aimed at countering money laundering and terrorism are a means of monitoring movements of money and of intervening in cases where irregular or even criminal activities are detected. Once the economy loses its human face, added the Pontiff, then we are no longer served by money, but ourselves become servants of money: “This is a form of idolatry against which we are called to react by re-establishing the rational order of things, which appeals to the common good, whereby “money must serve, not rule”.