Australian bishops have welcomed the Pope's Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, which has called for decentralising of Vatican authority and also critcised global capitalism for its impact on the poor.
In a statement released yesterday, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has welcomed the publication of the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium by Pope Francis. 'Pope Francis speaks with a voice that is very direct and very personal. He gathers up the work of the Synod on the New Evangelisation, and the voice of the universal Church is heard in what he writes.
'The Bishops not only recommend this very readable document to all people, but will do all we can to ensure that its teaching is widely known. The document is long; there are many words. But it is geared essentially to action. That is why the Bishops are keen for it to be known as widely as possible. We need action – in our own lives, in the Church and in society as a whole.
'There is much in what the Pope writes that is challenging, especially to us as Bishops. We will read and re-read his words as an examination of conscience.'
The Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal Pell, has also welcomed the document, describing it as 'seriously original' and that he expected people inside and outside the church would respond to it well.
The Times/Australian reports that Francis has warned of social explosion if inequality is not addressed. As part of his 224-page radical manifesto for the Church, the Pope wrote that anyone who believed in the theory that economic growth automatically and eventually trickled down to enrich the poor was 'naive.'
The Argentine pontiff, who has led by example by embracing a simple lifestyle, sounded the alarm in his apostolic exhortation after last year's synod of bishops in Rome. He denounced the 'new tyranny' of an economic system based on the 'survival of the fittest'. He wrote: 'The poor and the poorer peoples are accused of violence, yet without equal opportunities the different forms of aggression and conflict will find a fertile terrain for growth and eventually explode.
'When a society - whether local, national or global - is willing to leave a part of itself on the fringes, no political programmes or resources spent on law enforcement or surveillance systems can indefinitely guarantee tranquillity. This is not the case simply because inequality provokes a violent reaction from those excluded from the system, but because the socio-economic system is unjust at its root.'
Since Francis was elected in March, he has reached out to those whom he feels have been neglected by the Church, such as single mothers, and has promised to clean up the scandal-ridden Vatican.
He prayed for more politicians to be genuinely disturbed by the lives of the poor. 'Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world.
'This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralised workings of the prevailing economic system,' he wrote.
'As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world's problems or, for that matter, to any problems. Inequality is the root of social ills.'
Francis called for a decentralised church that would open its arms to the poor, and said he was 'open to suggestions' about how he exercised his own ministry.
While reiterating traditional Catholic teaching against abortion and divorce, he argued for understanding for those who found themselves in such situations. He repeated that women could never become priests, but called for 'broader opportunities for a more incisive female presence in the Church'.
He added: 'I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security.'
Rampant capitalism killing poor, warns Pope Francis (The Australian)
Cardinal George Pell welcomes Pope's call to 'decentralise' Vatican (The Australian)
FULL TRANSCRIPT OF EVANGELII GAUDIUM
Evangelli Gaudium (Vatican Hompage)