18. (Our) personal and collective fulfillment could be jeopardized if the proper scale of values were not maintained. The pursuit of life’s necessities is quite legitimate; hence we are duty-bound to do the work which enables us to obtain them: “If anyone is unwilling to work, do not let (them) eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10) But the acquisition of worldly goods can lead (people) to greed, to the unrelenting desire for more, to the pursuit of greater personal power.
Quite correct. It happens more often with people who have a certain quantity of something: perhaps not merely the rich, but those who feel entitled to more. There are likely very wealthy people who are quite free with regard to not being mastered by a desire for “more.” And less wealthy persons who hoard and scrape together power and influence to the detriment of others.
And it can happen on any level of human population from one to a billion or more.
Rich and poor alike—be they individuals, families or nations—can fall prey to avarice and soul-stifling materialism.
This encyclical letter is © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana, and can be found in its entirety at this link. The image is of Lady Justice at the Central Criminal Court of London.