I am a big fan of automobiles, and have always kept up with the latest innovations in the auto industry. I have always wanted to drive an exotic supercar, but am content to motor around town in my 2005 Honda CRV. Pope Francis has certainly been frugal with his mode of chosen transportation with a Ford Focus over the Mercedes-Benz Popemobile. Pope Francis recently wrote in the opening of his Apostolic exhortation The Joy of The Gospel:
1. The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness.
2. The great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience. Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor.
The Catholic Church is NOT against the wealthy, we all need wealthy citizens to help in making a robust economy for a nation, as well the need to be generous in giving in charity. I think that Pope Francis is saying that the disparity of the wealthy and the middle/poor class has gotten to be too great. Does a wealthy person really need a home of 50,000 square feet, or a $1,400,000 automobile? Could they buy something of fine quality and perhaps still have money left to give to charity or invest in jobs?
Here is a suggestion for the wealthy to live closer to living the Gospel Life that Pope Francis suggests. Following is a video of one of the most expensive and exotic sports cars with a $1,400,000 price tag called the 2014 Pagani Huayra. I admit that after viewing the video about this incredible hyper car, it creates a desire to own and drive one, BUT this is the type of excess that Pope Francis is preaching against. This car will be owned by very few people, and employs very few people in its production and maintenance.
Now here is a video of the new 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Z-51 with a $70,000 price tag, which is still an incredible car with a much more reasonable price.
Could there be a happy medium for the wealthy that still allows for enjoyment of toys travel, and technology, and also helps the middle-class and poor? Here is a suggestion to the wealthy in living the Gospel Life, that will bring driving joy, as well as a joy in life of giving to the needy:
- Buy a 2014 Corvette Z-51 at $70,000 and help build a more just society with the savings.
- Suggested donations & investments of $1,330,000 to charities and industries that help the poor and middle-class from remaining savings from buying a Pagani:
- Invest $1,000,000 in salaries for new or existing employees (helps economy & employment)
- Donate $200,000 to Catholic Charities (helping feed, shelter, and clothe many of the poor and homeless in many areas of the world including Haiti, Syria, Sudan, and Afghanistan)
- Donate $130,000 to St. Jude Children’s Hospital (helping pay for children who can’t afford needed healthcare)
This Christmas reminds me of a quote from Henry Ford who invented the mass production process for automobiles with the Model-T and believed in paying good wages, so his employees could afford to buy the products he manufactured. Henry Ford sent the following Christmas message in 1923:
“Christmas stands for the human factor which makes life tolerable midst the hurry of commerce and production. All of us need the annealing effect of Christ’s example to relieve the hardening we get in the daily struggle for material success.”
Pope Francis has certainly been an inspiration with his choice of vehicles and purchased a Renault 4 that runs in bio-diesel, and requested that priests purchase modest cars for their use.
My own pastor recently needed a replacement for his car, and purchased a Toyota Prius which is economical and environmentally friendly. Apparently an artist agreed with this choice and made this mock-up ad for Toyota:
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May we all help to build a more just society in 2014 and the years to come.