Accumulation of property

Exclusive pursuit of possessions
Acquisition of temporal goods
1. The accumulation of money and property by the wealthy is always at the expense of the poor. The rich have a superfluous store of things which they do not need and which are neglected and wasted, while millions are starved to death for want of sustenance. Whether a person owns few or many possessions is not the issue. The basic problem is that the quest for more and varied possessions takes the form of an addiction to wealth, rather than legitimate need for and enjoyment of material things.

2. Personal and communal development would be threatened if the true scale of values were undermined. The desire for necessities is legitimate, and work undertaken to obtain them is a duty: "If any man will not work, neither let him eat". But the acquiring of temporal goods can lead to greed, to the insatiable desire for more, and can make increased power a tempting objective. Individuals, families and nations can be overcome by avarice, be they poor or rich, and all can fall victim to a stifling materialism. Increased possession is not the ultimate goal of nations nor of individuals. All growth is ambivalent. It is essential if man is to develop as a man, but in a way it imprisons man if he considers it the supreme good, and it restricts his vision. Then we see hearts harden and minds close, and men no longer gather together in friendship but out of self-interest, which soon leads to oppositions and disunity. The exclusive pursuit of possessions thus become an obstacle to individual fulfillment and to man's true greatness. Both for nations and for individual men, avarice is the most evident form of moral underdevelopment. (Papal Encyclical, Populorum Progressio, 26 Mar 1967).

(C) Cross-sectoral problems