Pope sets out new vision for Catholic Church and attacks capitalism

Tue 26 Nov 2013
By Sarah McAllister

Pope Francis has issued his first document outlining his vision for the Catholic Church - saying its 'doors should always be open'. 

The Pope has attacked the greed of capitalism in a scathing new text in which he sets out his vision for the Catholic Church, in the first major written document of his papacy. 

Pope Francis chose the title The Joy of the Gospel for his 224-page document which addresses numerous themes, including evangelisation, peace, social justice, the family, respect for creation, faith and politics and the role of women in the Church. 

Referring to the financial crisis, the pontiff is urging  Catholics to say 'thou shalt not' to an economy of 'exclusion and inequality' that he says 'kills'.

The Pope also warns that society is also in a 'constant potential for disintegration and death' because of the 'worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy'.

He also urges political leaders to carry out a 'vigourious' reform of the system saying 'money must serve, not rule'.

Pope Francis also touched upon possible reform in the Vatican, saying he too 'must think about a conversion of the papacy', and what he has described as the 'excessive centralisation' in Rome, suggesting the current system 'complicates' the Church's life and its missionary outreach. Peter Williams from Catholic Voices told Premier's News Hour the message he thinks the Pope is trying to say:

 The Pope goes on to say that society's disenfranchised who live on the fringes are no longer connected, while also warning that poverty creates a 'fertile environment for conflict'. He adds that the Catholic Church needs to become more mission-orientated but this will only be effective if it really is in contact with the homes and the lives of its people, and does not become a useless structure out of touch with people.

In the document he said: "The parish is the presence of the Church in a given territory, an environment for hearing God's word, for growth in the Christian life, for dialogue, proclamation, charitable outreach, worship and celebration. "In all its activities the parish encourages and trains its members to be evangelizers. It is a community of communities, a sanctuary where the thirsty come to drink in the midst of their journey, and a centre of constant missionary outreach. 

"We must admit, though, that the call to review and renew our parishes has not yet sufficed to bring them nearer to people, to make them environments of living communion and participation, and to make them completely mission-oriented."

In the text, he also attacks society's 'individualistic culture' but admits that the Catholic church has also developed an 'unwelcoming atmosphere in some parishes and communities', in which he says an administrative approach has prevailed over a pastoral one.

He praised co-operation with Jews and Muslims and urged Islamic countries to guarantee their Christian minorities the same religious freedom as Muslims enjoy in the west.

Since his election, Pope Francis has set an example for austerity in the Church, living in a Vatican guest house rather than the ornate Apostolic Palace, travelling in a Ford Focus, and last month suspending a bishop who spent millions of euros on his luxurious residence.

He chose to be called Francis after the medieval Italian saint of the same name famed for choosing a life of poverty.

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