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Pope Francis: audience, wealth and power are “instruments of corruption and death”

“Wealth and power can be good for the advancement of the common good if they are used to serve the poor and society, with justice and charity. But when, as it often happens, they are used selfishly and arrogantly, as a sort of privilege, they become instruments of corruption and death”. Pope Francis said this during his general audience catechesis today, in which he continued his reflection on mercy in the Sacred Scripture. The Pontiff considered those “passages” in the Bible that talk about powerful people, kings, high-ranking officers, and also about their arrogance and tyranny”. He focused on the episode of Naboth’s vineyard in the First Book of Kings, which “tells the story of Ahab, King of Israel, who wants to buy the vineyard of a man named Naboth because it is next to his royal palace”. But “the land is sacred, because it is a gift from the Lord, and as such must be preserved and protected, and passed on from generation to generation as a sign of divine blessing, as a guarantee of the dignity of all”, Pope Francis recalled. For this reason, Naboth refuses to give his land to the king. And Ahab, for his part, is “outraged and angry at his refusal”. He “sees it as an attack on his authority as king, he feels offended and frustrated because he can no longer satisfy his desire for power”. Which is why his wife Jezebel, – “who was beautiful but evil”, the Pope added off the cuff, “notice how cruel this woman was” – says to the king: “I will obtain the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite for you”. She insists on the “prestige, on the power of the king, a power that she sees as absolute, by virtue of which any desire becomes a right”.

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