The popes have been right about materialism for 124 years, since Rerum Novarum in 1891. Yes, other writers described the destructive lure of goods in the marketplace, but Pope Leo XIII was right there. And Pope Francis is there today with Laudato Si'.
If you give the key to your heart to greed, it will leave the door wide open to vanity, arrogance and all of the other vices, squeezing God out of the way, Pope Francis said at his morning Mass.
Wealth isn't "a statue" that stands inert and has no impact on a person, the pope said Friday during the Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae.
"Wealth has the tendency to grow, to move around, to take a place in one's life and heart," and once it moves in, fanning the desire to always accumulate more, the heart becomes "corrupted," he said.
It has been 64 years since Reinhold Niebuhr published The Irony of American History. In 1952, many Americans remained haunted in a real way by the memories of what it had taken to defeat totalitarianism in World War II. They were still living in fear of a thermonuclear war and worried about the repressive communist regimes that had followed the Red Army into central Europe and taken over China. McCarthyism brought fear into America more directly, into our colleges and universities and unions and into the arts.