By Devin Watkins
Pope Francis denounced usury and financial exploitation in an address to an Italian organization dedicated to its elimination.
His words came during an audience in the Vatican on Saturday morning with the “John Paul II” Anti-Usury Non Profit Association that provides support and assistance to victims of financial exploitation.
Usury humiliates and kills
“Usury humiliates and kills,” the Pope said. “Usury is a grave sin. It kills life, stomps on human dignity, promotes corruption, and sets up obstacles to the common good.”
He said this type of financial exploitation – which involves lending money at unreasonably high rates of interest – is an ancient evil that must be prevented through education.
The need for financial education
The Holy Father said teaching people to live a simple lifestyle, which “knows how to distinguish between what is superfluous and what is necessary” is the first step in preventing this evil.
He said financial education must make people responsible for their actions and help them not to take on debts only to buy things which can easily be done without.
The “virtues of poverty and sacrifice”, he said, need to be rediscovered. He said poverty prevents one from becoming “a slave to things”, while sacrifice makes one not expect everything from life.
Pope Francis said education against usury involves instilling an honest and legality-driven mindset, along with a desire to help those in need through volunteer work.
Gratitude for the service provided by the Association
The Pope thanked the Italian National Anti-usury Group for their 26 years of service in combatting financial exploitation.
He said their efforts have saved more than 25 thousand families and small-businesses from usury and helped them recover their dignity.
“By confronting usury and corruption,” he said, “you can transmit hope and strength to victims, so that they are able to recover trust and pick themselves up out of need.”
Finally, Pope Francis appealed for “a new economic humanism, which ‘puts an end to the exclusionary and unfair economy’ that kills” and reduces people “to tools of a culture of waste”.