He said free-market capitalism had created a “tyranny” and that human beings were being judged purely by their ability to consume goods.
Money should be made to “serve” people, not to “rule” them, he said, calling for a more ethical financial system and curbs on financial speculation.
Countries should impose more control over their economies and not allow “absolute autonomy”, in order to provide “for the common good”.
The gap between rich and poor was growing and the “joy of life” was diminishing in many developed countries, the Argentinian Pope said, two months after he was elected as the successor to Benedict XVI.
“While the income of a minority is increasing exponentially, that of the majority is crumbling,” said Francis, who as archbishop of Buenos Aires visited slums, opted to live in a modest flat rather than an opulent Church residence and went to work by bus.
In poorer countries, people’s lives were becoming “undignified” and marked by violence and desperation, he said.
Francis made the strongly-worded remarks in his first major speech on finance and the economy, during an address to foreign ambassadors in the Vatican.
It underlined a reputation he has established in the last two months for showing deep concern for the plight of the poor and vulnerable.
“The worship of the golden calf of old has found a new and heartless image in the cult of money and the dictatorship of an economy which is faceless and lacking any truly human goal,” Francis told the ambassadors.
As the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Argentina, he often spoke out about the plight of the poor during the country’s economic crisis.
Unchecked capitalism had created “a new, invisible, and at times virtual, tyranny”, said the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio.