Beware the "Idolatry of the Market," Warns John Paul II

Says Real Development Isn’t Just Economic

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 29, 2003 ( John Paul II says the great danger posed by the «civilization of consumption» is the so-called idolatry of the market.

In contrast, the Pope advocates a «civilization of love,» which requires «the recognition of the spiritual nature of the human person» and «the appreciation of the moral character of development.»

The Holy Father offered his views on Monday when he received Pavel Jajtner, 55, the new ambassador of the Czech Republic to the Vatican. Jajtner was once vice president of the National Assembly of what was then Czechoslovakia.

In his address, John Paul II began by referring to the political liberty enjoyed by the Czechs since their independence from Slovakia in 1993, and after years of enduring the Communist yoke.

«History teaches us that the journey from oppression to liberty is arduous, often marked by the lure of false forms of freedom and hollow promises of hope,» the Pope said.

«While economic development and the accompanying social transformation have benefited many in your country, the weaker members of society, particularly the poor, the marginalized, and the sick and elderly, must be protected,» he stressed.

«Authentic development can never be attained solely through economic means,» the Holy Father warned. «In fact, what has become known as the ‘idolatry of the market’ — a consequence of the so-called civilization of consumption — tends to reduce persons to things and to subordinate being to having.

«This seriously detracts from the dignity of the human person and makes promotion of human solidarity difficult at best.»

«Instead, recognition of the spiritual nature of the human person and a renewed appreciation of the moral character of social and economic development must be acknowledged as prerequisites for the transformation of society into a true civilization of love,» John Paul II said.

The Pontiff also referred to the crossroads European countries now face, which he says offers them the possibility to reflect on «the fundamental and defining role of Christianity in their particular cultures.»

In this regard, the Holy Father stressed the importance of Christian education, which «vigorously affirms and defends the source of the human person’s dignity and his place in God’s design.»

«In this context we cannot fail to be concerned that an eclipse of the sense of God has resulted in an eclipse of the sense of man and of the sublime wonder of life to which he is called,» the Pope lamented.

«While the tragic calamities of war and dictatorship continue to disfigure violently God’s loving plan for humanity, so too the more subtle encroachments of increasing materialism, utilitarianism and marginalization of faith gradually undermine the true nature of life as a gift from God,» he added.

«As the nations of Europe move toward a new configuration,» he said, «the desire to respond to the challenges of a changing world order must be informed by the Church’s perennial proclamation of the truth which sets people free and which enables cultural and civic institutions to make genuine progress.»

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