Pope Rails Against Craving for Wealth and Power

Pope Rails Against Craving for Wealth and PowerPope Rails Against Craving for Wealth and Power

Pope Francis on Friday condemned the craving for material gains and power, warning an annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations that greed is destroying the Earth’s resources and aggravating poverty.

On his first trip to New York, the Argentine pontiff also prayed at the Sept. 11 memorial in perhaps the most poignant moment of his six-day visit to the United States, Reuters reported.

Addressing dozens of world leaders at the UN General Assembly, the spiritual head of 1.2 billion Roman Catholics railed against the “grave offense” of economic and social exclusion.

The first pope from Latin America, Francis has often criticized unbridled capitalism in the two years of his papacy.

The 78-year-old pontiff urged government leaders to ensure their people enjoy the minimum material needs. “In practical terms, this absolute minimum has three names: lodging, labor, and land,” Francis said to applause.

He said humanity’s future is in danger.

“The ecological crisis and the large-scale destruction of biodiversity can threaten the very existence of the human species,” said Francis, who this year published the first papal encyclical, a letter to the church, dedicated to the environment.

  Palpable Grief

He led an inter-religious prayer service at the site of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijacked plane attacks by militants that brought down the World Trade Center.

“Here grief is palpable,” Francis said, after viewing the reflecting pools that mark the footprints of the Twin Towers.

“In opposing every attempt to create a rigid uniformity, we can and must build unity on the basis of our diversity of languages, cultures and religions,” Francis said, flanked by representatives of other religions in traditional dress or vestments.

On his US trip, he has also emphasized conservative values and Catholic teachings on the family.

He warned in his UN speech against imposing Western liberal values on the rest of the world via “an ideological colonization by the imposition of anomalous models and lifestyles.”

Francis called on government leaders to fight human trafficking, ban nuclear arms and promote the education of girls.

  Full of Hope

Pope Francis has capped a packed tour of New York by celebrating mass at Madison Square Garden, after greeting crowds in Central Park and praying for world peace at the 9/11 memorial.

Once again, the hugely popular pope focused on society’s most vulnerable during his last public remarks in the country’s financial capital.

He praised big cities for their diversity but called on worshippers not to forget “the faces of all those people who don’t appear to belong, or are second-class citizens.”

“They are the foreigners, the children who go without schooling, those deprived of medical insurance, the homeless, the forgotten elderly.”

The head of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics led a multi-faith prayer for world peace bringing together Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Greek Orthodox, Muslim and Jewish leaders.

“In this place of pain and remembrance I am full of hope,” said the Argentine pope.

“I hope our presence here sends a powerful sign of our wish to share and reaffirm the wish to be forces of reconciliation, forces of peace, of justice.”