BY FREDDY GRAY
POPE BENEDICT XVI has called on Catholics to reject unjust forms of usury.
In his general audience he told 30,000 people that Christians have a duty to help the poor and not to exploit those in need through loans.
He said: “Loyalty to the divine word consists of a fundamental option, which is active love towards the poor and needy, respecting the biblical call to be generous towards the poor and to those in need.” The Pontiff criticised “the usury that destroys the lives of the poor”.
The rights and wrongs of money-lending have long been a contentious subject in Christian theology. There are many scriptural injunctions that appear to prohibit the charging of interest. For example, Exodus 22:25 says: “If you lend money to a fellow Hebrew in need, do not be like a money lender, charging interest.” However, the Protestant reformer John Calvin defended usurious practices, and many historians have made the link between the growth of Protestantism and the rise of capitalism.
The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church says that the quest for profit is acceptable in economic activity but “recourse to usury is to be morally condemned”.