pope

Monopoly with the Pope: Do not pass Go, do not collect $200

It seems like Pope Francis really is serious about cleaning things up in the Vatican as far as healthy use of money goes, as this new article from ‘The Fiscal Times’ suggests When he took over as head of the Roman Catholic Church last year, Pope Francis made it clear that he meant to be the leader of a “poor church” – meaning that the Vatican would focus less on its own splendor and more on finding ways to use its vast financial resources to benefit the world’s poor. What might have been viewed by critics as ‘a strategic move’ when Pope Francis came into power and made some significant changes to the banking structures, now seems to really be something that the pope is taking seriously as he has just fired all five directors of the Vatican’s Financial Information Authority [considered to be the primary watchdog in terms of the Vatican’s financial operations] as they were too closely tied to the previous leaders who were ousted and were getting in the way of reform. The article compares Francis’ actions to a similiar controversial incident that Jesus was involved in: The announcement on Thursday was only the most recent in a series of firings, replacements, and arrests that have rocked the Vatican’s financial hierarchy. It turns out that for Francis, casting the...

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To increase the size of the pie or share the pie more equally?

a Guest Post by Nigel Branken of Hillbrow, South Africa [Nigel and Trish Branken live together with their 6 children in the inner-city suburb, Hillbrow, in Johannesburg, South Africa.] A friend of mine once did a study which found that your income level is the greatest predictor of your economic view. He found that people who earn over a certain amount per month almost exclusively believed the key to dealing with poverty is to increase the size of the pie, while people who earned under a certain amount almost exclusively believed that in order to address poverty, the pie needs to be more equally divided. In other words, our view of solutions to the economic challenges we face is more likely determined by self-interest than hard facts. I have found this very interesting in my informal conversations with friends from the suburbs. They keep telling me that the key to dealing with poverty is to create economic growth. My friends on the margins, however, are often quick to complain about how much bosses earn and wonder why they can’t just share some of their wealth. Theologian Robert McAfee Brown once said “where you stand will determine what you will see; whom you stand with will determine what you hear; and what you see and hear will determine what you...

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pope

Show me the [pope’s] money!

Some of you may have already seen this article titled ‘I knew Pope Francis was good, but when I found out everything he did in 2012 I was blown away’ which lists 19 aspects of Pope Francis’ 2013 and some of the impressive things he did [especially perhaps, when viewed through the lens of previous popes]. What was interesting to us at Two Cents was that four of the 19 dealt directly with money-related  ideas and acts: 1. He spoke out against frivolous spending of the church 9. He auctioned his motorcycle to benefit the homeless 11. He condemned the global financial system. 14. He redirected employees bonuses to charity. And three of them a little more indirectly, but conservation and the homeless are both very finance-related areas: 6. He urged the protection of the Amazon Rainforest  8. He snuck out of the Vatican to feed the homeless 18. He invited homeless men to his birthday meal All of this showing quite a strong emphasis on the ongoing intersection that seems to take place between FAITH and FINANCES. Jesus Himself often made specific references to the kingdom of God and the lure of money, reminding us that it would be an area where we would regularly have to make a choice and that it was not possible to reach for both, or worship both...

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pope

Pope slams capitalism as ‘new tyranny’

I’m not going to lie – I really enjoy Pope Francis. So much so that it is strange to me that no-one has started calling him the anti-Christ or the beast yet cos that is what usually happens, right? And to set the record straight, I have not traditionally been “a pope person”. So why do I like this guy? Because in what he says and how he lives his life, he so frequently seems to resemble Jesus. Is he perfect? Absolutely not. Is there going to be some story that surfaces at some time in his time as pope to let us know exactly how that is so?  Very possibly. But in the meantime, in the words he speaks, and the prophetic actions he takes and the tweets that get tweeted on his behalf, there continues to be a very strong Jesus flavour. And so this article where he describes ‘not sharing wealth’ as ‘stealing’ is yet one more example of the character of Jesus that is to be found in this man. Read the whole article – it is a gem. And sits so well alongside another article I read recently that spoke about how the pope was caught sneaking out at night to spend time with the homeless people. Imagine if our pastors started ditching church sermons...

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Pope Francis on the idolization of money

Recently, in a visit with workers in the Italian city of Cagliari, Pope Francis shared some strong words on the topic of unemployment and the global economy. The pope acknowledged the suffering that accompanies prolonged unemployment, and denounced an economy that has placed the pursuit of money above the well-being of men and women. For those interested, the full text of the Pope’s statements can be found here (warning: they are in Italian, but google translate can provide you with a pretty decent English translation). While the Pope is not saying anything essentially new here (in fact, some of this all sounds very familiar… Matthew 6:24 and Luke 16:13 familiar), his words do give new voice to an age old sentiment that has taken on a peculiarly modern manifestation. How can we make sure that our economy does was it is intended to do – serve the interests of humanity, and provide for our well being? How can we keep people at the center of our...

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