Jeopardizes My Fulfillment


“Having” not “Being”

Opposes Truth, Beauty & Goodness

Calls for a Reviewal of Lifestyles

Why is it a Problem?

Consumerism “is always marked by a…less appropriate concept of man and of his true good.”

Pope St. John Paul II, 36

“Consumerism is a virus that tarnishes faith at its root”

Pope Francis

  • “The true danger…is what anaesthetizes the heart: it is dependence on consumption (Pope Francis)
  • “The apex of development is the exercise of the right and duty to seek God, to know him and to live in accordance with that knowledge.” (Pope St. John Paul II, 29)
  • Consumerism leads us to “shut out others“. (Pope St. Paul VI, 19)

We “become not the lords and masters but the slaves of material wealth”. (Pope Pius XII, 1a)

“The worship of mammon, possessions and power is proving to be a counter-religion…The desire for happiness degenerates…into an unbridled, inhuman craving”. (Pope Benedict XVI)

Our “technological society has succeeded in multiplying occasions of pleasure, yet has found it very difficult to engender joy.” (Pope St. Paul VI, 67)

“Those who look for the salvation of society from the machinery of the world economic market have remained thus disillusioned because…they served [it] without reference to the highest end of man, making it an end in itself.” (Pope Pius XII, 1a)

Consumerism “makes you believe that life depends solely on what you have…The Lord comes, but you prefer to follow the longing you feel; your brother knocks at your door, but he is a nuisance to you because he upsets your plans — and this is the attitude of consumerism.” (Pope Francis)

It’s Personal

Consumerism leads to attitudes and life styles… which are objectively improper and often damaging to physical and spiritual health.

Pope St. John Paul II, 36

People drink wine at a dinner table, showing the personal level at which consumerism could affect us

It’s Societal

“Nations can fall prey to…soul stifling materialism”.

Pope St. Paul VI, 19

People walk along a city street surrounded by billboards, showing the effect of consumerism on society as a whole

The Solution

“[E]ach of us is called to return to what is essential in our own lives, to discard all that is superfluous and a potential hindrance on the path of holiness. And that path of holiness is non-negotiable.

Pope Francis, 1

A woman gets rid of boxes of junk, showing how we could start dealing with consumerism

It Starts with Me!

“Neither individuals nor nations should regard the possession of more and more goods as the ultimate objective.” (Pope St. Paul VI, 19)

“One must be guided by a comprehensive picture of man which respects all the dimensions of his being”. (Pope St. John Paul II, 36)

No authentic progress is possible without respect for the natural and fundamental right to know the truth and live according to that truth.” (Pope St. John Paul II, 29)

What Must I Do?

Happiness means knowing how to limit some needs which only diminish us. When we become obsessed with possessing and enjoying – we cannot be free.

Pope Francis, 223

A row of blouses hanging on a rack, making us call into question whether our purchasing habits contribute to consumerism
  • Do I really need all these material objects and complicated recipes for living?” (Pope Francis)
  • We should “be spiritually detached from what we possess”. (Pope Francis, 222)
  • “Can I manage [to] live a life of greater simplicity?” (Pope Francis)

What Must Society Do?

Society is called to “a serious review of its lifestyle, which in many parts of the world is prone to hedonism and consumerism, regardless of their harmful consequences”.

Pope Benedict XVI, 51

People walk by garish billboards advertising a sale, showing how society is assaulted by consumerism
  • “A given culture reveals its overall understanding of life through the choices it makes in production and consumption”. (Pope St. John Paul II, 36)
  • “A great deal of educational and cultural work is urgently needed, including
    1. the education of consumers in the responsible use of their power of choice,
    2. the formation of a strong sense of responsibility among:
      • producers, and;
      • the mass media in particular;
    3. necessary intervention by public authorities.”  (Pope St. John Paul II, 36)
  • Every “decision to invest in one place rather than another, in one productive sector rather than another, is always a moral and cultural choice.” (Pope St. John Paul II, 36)
  • “A striking [and extreme] example of artificial consumption contrary to the health and dignity of the human person…is the use of drugs…as well as pornography and other forms of consumerism which exploit the frailty of the weak”. (Pope St. John Paul II, 36)

Let us be clear…

“It is not wrong to want to live better“. (Pope St. John Paul II, 36) “The pursuit of life’s necessities is quite legitimate”. (Pope St. Paul VI, 18)

In fact, “Such sobriety, when lived freely and consciously, is liberating.” (Pope Francis, 223) 

And, this “is not a lesser life or one lived with less intensity. On the contrary, it is a way of living life to the full”! (Pope Francis, 223)

What is wrong is a style of life…which wants to have more, not in order to be more but in order to spend life in enjoyment as an end in itself.”

Pope St. John Paul II, 36

The True Remedy

“Once Jesus dwells in our heart, the center of life is no longer my ravenous and selfish ego, but the One who is born and lives for love.”

Pope Francis 

“Every kind of progress is a two-edged sword. It is necessary if man is to grow as a human being; yet it can also enslave him, if he…cannot look beyond it.” (Pope St. Paul VI, 19)
Man must “subordinate[s] his material and instinctive dimensions to his interior and spiritual ones.” (Pope St. John Paul II, 36)

The Bottom Line

The goal of Catholic social teaching is for life-styles in which “the quest for truth, beauty, goodness and communion with others…determine [our] consumer choices, savings and investments.”

Pope St. John Paul II, 29

No authentic progress is possible without respect for the natural and fundamental…right to discover and freely to accept Jesus Christ, who is man’s true good.

Pope St. John Paul II, 29

Environmental Degradation

The ills caused by Consumerism do not stop at the personal, societal and spiritual
ones just described. Pope Francis identifies Consumerism’s “dynamic of dominion” (Laudato Si, 222) as a key cause of the degradation of our environment – the next Pathology we will explore.

The Answer to These Pathologies is the Family

The Four Pathologies

The Church identifies four dangers or major ‘risks and problems’ eating away at the cultural, economic, and political systems and begins to identify how to cure them.


“The exclusive pursuit of material possessions prevents man's growth as a human being and stands in opposition to his true grandeur.” (Pope St. Paul VI, 19) A person who is concerned solely or primarily with possessing and enjoying – who can no longer subordinate his instincts - cannot be free.

Environmental Degradation

Both our physical and human environment are at risk and the Church insists we ignore neither! “It is contradictory to insist that future generations respect the natural environment when our educational systems and laws do not help them to respect themselves. The book of nature is one and indivisible: it takes in not only the environment but also life, sexuality, marriage, the family, social relations: in a word, integral human development." (Pope Benedict XVI, 51)


We are losing the “authentic meaning of life”! When we refuse to transcend ourselves “and to live the experience of self-giving". (Pope St. John Paul II, 41)  when society “is marked by a ‘globalization of indifference’ that makes us…closed in on ourselves.” (Pope Francis, 1)  both the individual and society are alienated.

Radical Secularism

“The greatest challenge of our time is secularization” (Pope Benedict XVI, 3) Why? Radical secularism holds that there is no such thing as an objective truth. But, “Without truth, without trust and love for what is true, there is no social conscience and responsibility, and social action ends up serving private interests and the logic of power.” (Pope Benedict XVI, 5)

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