Klaus Hart Brasilientexte

Aktuelle Berichte aus Brasilien – Politik, Kultur und Naturschutz

„Francis and Market Economy“. Frei Betto, Brasiliens wichtigster katholischer Befreiungstheologe.

 Pope Francis recently published the Apostolic Exhortation ‘Evangelii Gaudium’ in which he shows what he is about. His prophetic voice bothered the CNN, the powerful US news agency, which gave him a ‘Paper Medal’ awarded to persons who talk nonsense in matters of economy…

 What is the ‘nonsense’ presented by Pope Francis? Let the reader judge:

“Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away when people are starving? This is a case of inequality.





Frei Betto beim Website-Interview im Dominikanerkloster von Sao Paulo.


“Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.

“Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a ‘throw away’ culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the ‘exploited’ but the outcast, the ‘leftovers’.” (53)

Francis immediately condemns the logic that the free market manages, on its own, to promote social inclusion:

“This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.

“To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own.

“The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase. In the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.” (54)

The pope emphasises that the interests of capital cannot be placed above human rights: “One cause of this situation is found in our relationship with money, since we calmly accept its dominion over ourselves and our societies. The current financial crisis can make us overlook the fact that it originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person!

“We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient gold calf (cf. Ex 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption.” (55)

Without mentioning capitalism, Francis defends the role of the state as social provider and condemns the absolute autonomy of the free market: “While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the market place and financial speculation. Consequently they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control.

“A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules. Debt and accumulation of interest also make it difficult for countries to realize the potential of their own economies and keep citizens from enjoying their real purchasing power. To all this we can add widespread corruption and self-serving tax evasion which have taken on worldwide dimensions. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenceless before the interests of a deified market, which becomes the only rule.” (56)

Concluding, a prophet who places a finger in the wound, for nobody denies that capitalism has failed for 2/3 of humanity: four billion people who, according to the UN, live below the poverty line.

*Frei Betto is a writer, author of the novel “Minas de Ouro” (Gold Mines) (Rocco).



Frei Betto*

Christmas is a childhood feast, even when we are 90 or 100 years old. The child we once were never dies in us. Over time he/she even releases us from our lacklustre life when we evoke him/her in our memory. We never forget the people who showered us with love and care during our childhood.

I speak about myself, a mid 20th century child in Belo Horizonte, a town with under a million inhabitants, covered with trees and adorned by silver bracelets formed by tram lines. Time would stretch out and with many small hills and few buildings, our eyes could admire the polychrome twilight which justifies its name.

We used to climb the Serra[1] do Curral marked by a cross torn down by predatory mining. In the Municipal Park, we would rent canoes and learn to row. In the Dolabella’s garden, we feasted on mangoes. We played soccer on the grassy median which divided the Contorno Avenue. In the Minas Tennis Club Mr. Macedo taught us to swim and to use the wooden horse, the bars and rings in the gym. At the Pathé Cinema, the darkness of the Sunday matinee protected our first flirtations. We’d end the evening with the unbeatable ice cream at Domingo’s (which still exists and should be registered by the Minas Gerais[2]Gastronomy Heritage Patrimony).

Christmas was defined by religiosity. Church bells rang loudly, especially the Carmo church carillon. We wrote letters to Santa Claus to guarantee our gifts, but we were fully aware that the feast was the birth of Jesus. In the living room the manger was placed next to the decorated Christmas tree. In the town centre there was the magnificent Nativity scene of the Pipiripau (today the Minas Gerais Federal University’s Natural History Museum) which enchanted children and adults. At night, Midnight Mass, followed by the family meal which always included French toast.

We grew to adulthood and many of us became indifferent to religion and insensitive to the liturgy. We permitted the date’s ‘Santaclausing’ to hide its Christian origin. Children and grandchildren are no longer able to recite a prayer from memory. What was the joy of a feast became anxious consumerism which even tries to cover up our debt to others: since I am unable to make myself present to you, I give you a present.

What was expectation, advent, have turned into worry not to forget anyone to whom we feel obliged to give a gift. What ought to be free becomes obligatory. And a week later we are forced into celebrating a new year, eating and drinking to excess, making new resolutions. We have to take advantage of the school holidays (and, in Brazil, the summer), to leave home, travel, take a holiday from work, in search of leisure at the beach, in the country or in some tourist resort, facing dangerous highways and excessive prices.

How about visiting the child we were? If we risked it, things would be simpler. Free from prejudices, we would become, and would make others, more happy. Perhaps that friend would have preferred a good conversation and not a present wrapped with an expensive brand name. Free from aggression, jealousy and envy, we would discriminate nobody. We would even pay attention to those who forego feasts in order to guarantee ours: waiters, cooks, chamber maids, cleaners, highway patrol men, porters and security guards.

Then, yes, our hearts, like mangers, would be opened and ready to receive God who became one of us in the Child from Bethlehem.

[1] Serra is a low mountain range.

[2] Belo Horizonte is the capital of the state of Minas Gerais (MG)

*Frei Betto is a writer, author of “Um Homem chamado Jesus” (A Man Called Jesus) (Rocco).

“The Pope and the usefulness of marxism.” Brasiliens wichtigster Befreiungstheologe Frei Betto über Katholizismus und Marxismus. **


Pope Benedict XVI is right: Marxism is no longer useful. True – Marxism as many in the Catholic Church understand it: an atheistic ideology which justified Stalin’s crimes and the barbarities of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. To accept that Marxism according to Ratzinger’s view is the same Marxism as Marx’s view would be like identifying Catholicism with the Inquisition.



“Ich befürchte, daß wie im Falle von Bin Laden ein solches Kommando in Libyen eindringt, um Gaddafi zu töten.” http://www.hart-brasilientexte.de/2011/05/12/das-system-libyens-die-dortige-regierung-ist-popular-hat-im-lande-die-mehrheit-hinter-sich-ich-befurchte-das-wie-im-falle-von-bin-laden-ein-solches-kommando-in-libyen-eindringt-um-gaddafi-zu-to/

>It could be said today that Catholicism is no longer useful. Because it is no longer justifiable to send women believed to be witches to the stake nor to torture suspects of heresy. Happily Catholicism cannot be identified with the Inquisition or with the paedophilia of priests and bishops. Similarly, Marxism is not to be mistaken with the Marxists who used it to spread fear or terror or to suffocate religious freedom. One must go back to Marx to know what Marxism is, just as one must go back to the Gospels and to Jesus to know what Christianity is and to Francis of Assisi to know what Catholicism is.Throughout history, in the name of most beautiful words, the most horrendous crimes were committed. In the name of democracy, the USA seized Puerto Rico and the Cuban base at Guantánamo. In the name of progress, Western European countries colonised African peoples leaving a trail of poverty. In the name of freedom, Britain’s Queen Victoria promoted the devastating Opium War in China. In the name of peace, the White House committed history’s  most daring and genocidal attack: dropping atomic bombs on the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In the name of freedom, for three decades, the USA implanted bloody dictatorships in almost all of Latin America (1960-1980). Marxism is a method for analysing reality. And it is more than ever useful for understanding the present crisis in capitalism. Capitalism, yes, is no longer useful for it promoted the most outstanding social inequality amongst the world’s population; it centred the world balance on nuclear arsenals and disseminated neo liberal ideology, which reduces the human being to a mere consumer who submits to the enchantments of merchandise.Capitalism is today hegemonic in the world. Of the 7 billion people who inhabit the planet, 4 billion live below the poverty line and 1.2 billion suffer from chronic hunger. Capitalism failed for 2/3 of humanity who do not have access to a life of dignity. Where Christianity and Marxism speak of solidarity, capitalism introduced rivalry; where they speak of cooperation, it introduced competition; where they speak of respect for the sovereignty of peoples, it introduced globocolonisation. >Religion is not a method for analysing reality. Marxism is not a religion. The light that faith projects on reality is, whether the Vatican likes it or not, always mediated by an ideology. The neo liberal ideology which identifies capitalism and democracy today prevails in the conscience of many Christians and hinders them from seeing that capitalism is intrinsically perverse. The Catholic Church is often  in connivance with capitalism because it covers it with privileges and grants it a freedom which is denied, through poverty, to millions of human beings.>Now, it has been proved that capitalism does not assure a future of dignity for humanity. Benedict XVI admitted this when he affirmed that we must seek new models. Marxism, when it analyses the contradictions and insufficiencies of capitalism, opens a door of hope to a society which Catholics, when they celebrate the Eucharist, characterise as a world where all will “share the fruits of the Earth and the work of human hands”. This is what Marx called socialism.>Reinhard Marx, the Catholic archbishop of Munich, in 2011 launched a book entitled “Das Kapital – a legacy in favour of humanity”. The front cover has the same colours and graphics as the first edition of Karl Marx’s “Das Kapital”, published in Hamburg in 1867.<“Marx is not dead and it is necessary to take him seriously” said the prelate at the book’s launching. “We must confront Karl Marx’s work which helps us to understand the theories of capitalist accumulation and of mercantilism. This does not mean allowing ourselves to be attracted by the aberrations and atrocities committed in its name in the Twentieth Century The author of the new “Das Kapital”, who became a cardinal under Benedict XVI in November 2010, qualifies as “social-ethical” the principles defended in his book, he criticises neo liberal capitalism, qualifies speculation as “savage” and “sinful” and advocates that the economy needs to be re-designed according to the ethical rules of a new economic and political order.“The rules of the game must have ethical quality. In this sense, the social doctrine of the Church is critical of capitalism” the archbishop affirms.>The book begins with a letter from Reinhard Marx to Karl Marx whom he calls his “dear namesake” and who died in 1883. He begs him now to acknowledge his mistake regarding God’s existence. What he suggests, between the lines, is that the author of the “Communist Manifesto” might well find himself amongst those who enjoy the beatific vision of God on the other side of life.

Frei Betto is a writer, author of the novel “Um homem chamado Jesus” (A Man called Jesus) (Rocco).  www.freibetto.org <http://www.freibetto.org/> twitter: @freibetto.   

 ABOUT FREI BETTO>He is a Brazilian Dominican with an international reputation as a liberation theologian.Within Brazil he is equally famous as a writer, with over 52 books to his name.  In 1985 he won Brazil’s most important literary prize, the Jabuti, and was elected Intellectual of the Year by the members of the Brazilian Writers’ Union. Frei Betto has always been active in Brazilian social movements, and has been an adviser to the Church’s ministry to workers in São Paulo’s industrial belt, to the Church base communities, and to the Landless Rural Workers’ Movement (MST).


Guido Westerwelle:  http://www.hart-brasilientexte.de/2013/12/26/guido-westerwelle-war-gestern-der-spiegel-westerwelle-in-brasilien-keinerlei-kritik-an-gravierenden-menschenrechtsverletzungensystematische-folter-todesschwadronen-liquidierung-von-menschen/


Greenpeace: http://www.hart-brasilientexte.de/2013/12/30/von-rusland-freigelassene-brasilianische-greenpeace-aktivistin-ana-paula-maciel-kritisiert-pre-sal-olforderprojekte-ihres-landesernstes-risiko-eines-umweltdesasters-mit-dimensionen-wie-bei-der-bp/



Dieser Beitrag wurde am Sonntag, 29. Dezember 2013 um 22:48 Uhr veröffentlicht und wurde unter der Kategorie Kultur, Politik abgelegt. Du kannst die Kommentare zu diesen Eintrag durch den RSS-Feed verfolgen.

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