Pope says world financial system ‘built on sand’

The Pontiff said the banking collapse shows that ‘money is nothing’

Richard Owen in Rome Pope

Benedict XVI today said that the global credit crisis shows that the world’s financial systems are “built on sand” and that only the works of God have “solid reality”. Opening a Synod of Bishops in the Vatican the Pope referred to a passage from St Matthew’s Gospel on false prophets, saying ”He who builds only on visible and tangible things like success, career and money builds the house of his life on sand”. He added: ”We are now seeing, in the collapse of major banks, that money vanishes, it is nothing. All these things that appear to be real are in fact secondary. Only God’s words are a solid reality”.

He was referring to Jesus’s words in Matthew Chapter 7, beginning “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” Jesus adds: “Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock ?but everyone that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand.” On Sunday the pontiff launched a marathon reading of the Bible on Italian television at the basilica of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme in Rome by reading aloud the opening passages of Genesis. More than 1,200 people are reading the entire Old and New Testaments from beginning to end this week, including Church and political figures, actors and volunteers from all walks of life drawn from the ranks of Catholics, Protestants, Jews and Muslims. The Pope was followed among others on the first evening by the actor and film director Roberto Begnini, who said he had been awed at reading the Bible “in the house of the author”. However Riccardo Di Segni, the Chief Rabbi of Rome, who was to have been one of the readers, pulled out last month, saying that the arrangements for the marathon were too “rigorously Roman Catholic.”

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