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The “Golden Calf of old” that Pope Francis refers to is a reference to an event in the Book of Exodus in the Bible. According to the story, while Moses was receiving the Ten Commandments from God on Mount Sinai, the Israelites grew impatient and made a golden calf idol to worship. Pope Francis is drawing a parallel between the Israelites worshipping a false idol of gold back then and people worshipping the “false god” of money and wealth today above all else.
Pope Francis is criticizing the way some people worship money and wealth above all else. He sees this as a new form of idolatry, where money has become like a false god that people are devoted to. He also views the current economic system as a dictatorship of money, meaning it is dominated by the pursuit of profit and wealth rather than human values like fairness, justice and caring for people in need. By saying money has “no value to humankind,” he is arguing that wealth alone does not make society better if it is not used to help others through charity and social programs.
He argues that too often today, people and societies worship “the golden calf” of money and view the economy solely as a means to accumulate wealth, without considering broader human or moral purposes. By saying money now lacks “a truly human purpose,” the Pope means that making and spending money has become an end in itself, rather than a means to help and improve people’s lives. He believes we should think more about how economic activity and wealth can benefit humanity, for example by reducing inequality and poverty.