The cardinal archbishop of Barcelona has decried the “madness” and “exaggerated consumerism” of Black Friday.

Driving the news

On Black Friday, “thousands of people take to the streets with a single objective: to find the best offers”, Cardinal Juan José Omella wrote in a strongly-worded pastoral reflection for the First Sunday of Advent December 1.

“The madness of the day is such that there are even people who take a holiday to go shopping, since they can’t resist the tempting offers”, the cardinal deplored.

“Long lines of people fill streets and shopping centres looking for irresistible prices”, Omella continued.

“There are even people who camp outside the shops to be the first in line. All that to save a few euros.

“Buyers stoically wait their turn for hours at the cashier, where they empty their credit card and fill bags and bags with more things than they had anticipated.

“They arrive at their homes exhausted, but satisfied, without suspecting that some stores offer lower quality products or from previous seasons.

“The end of ‘selling at all costs’ justifies the means”, Omella denounced.

Go deeper

Decrying the “madness of consumerism” behind the Friday after Thanksgiving sales, Omella recalled that, apart from the bargain-hunters, another kind of wanderer ventures out on the streets today.

“These adventurers are the poor of our society”, the cardinal warned.

For the poor, “every day is Black Friday, a dark day, because daily they have to find a way to get by”.

Like the shoppers, the poor also line up in queues today, Omella recalled: only instead of bargains, they’re looking for food at soup kitchens.

Like the shoppers, the poor are also looking to save a few euros, the cardinal continued: only in their case, it’s on yoghurt about to turn or fruit that’s already going bad.

Why it matters

“Initiatives such as Black Friday contribute to normalise exaggerated consumerism: buying for buying’s sake, not for necessity, and that is the general trend”, Omella denounced.

Recalling Pope Francis’ warnings against an “economy of exclusion” and a “throw-away culture”, the cardinal said society must look out for its exploited members, its outcast people, its “leftovers”.

“We are talking about the elderly, poor, disabled or long-term unemployed. Are we going to allow them to be considered as consumer goods, to use and throw away?”, Omella questioned.

The cardinal concluded his reflection with an invitation to reflect on our excess consumption, which he said “is not about giving up on consuming, but about buying only what is really necessary, about buying for those who really do need it”.

“I think that in this beginning of Advent time it would be good to devote a little daily time to consider a more sustainable life, with a more responsible and supportive consumption”, Omella wrote.

“As Saint Teresa of Calcutta said: ‘Poverty is not made by God, it is created by you and me when we don’t share what we have'”.

Next on Novena:

Vatican to Governments: “Reject consumerism and restore solidarity”

‘Religions for Peace’ warn of “cataclysmic” global warming, “dire” sustainability crisis


Progressive Catholic journalist, author and educator. Working on social justice, equality and Church renewal.