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Saturday, May 10, 2014

Fr. Tom Writes on Pope Francis and Redistribution of Income

Father hits another home run in this article. Let us share willingly the blessings and benefits we have -- not merely our physical wealth, but the wealth of our prayers, our presence, our talents, our love. For many people, the wealth they need is time. The sick and elderly in nursing homes -- what a blessing to give them a listening ear and a cheerful smile. For children in the inner city who have never walked in the woods, what a gift to offer a week in the country. It will be more than feeding a hungry body; but will feed a hungry heart. Read Father's article and rise to his challenge! As for his statement about “legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the State” what can that possibly mean? Since the government doesn't own the property of its citizens, how can the state possibly "legitimately" redistribute anything without stealing? That's what Zacchaeus was doing -- stealing. He repented of his theft and voluntarily made restitution and gave what was legitimately his. Frankly, I find Pope Francis baffling in his mixed messages and confusion. Causing confusion and imbalance among the faithful is not a particularly positive sign. Pray for the pope and the magisterium. Our poor, confused Church needs it. We all hear about the "new springtime" but it bears all the signs of a drought! Fr. Z has some cogent comments on the pope's statement as well. Check out his blog!

By Father Tom Collins...

In a recent address to a United Nations committee in Rome, Pope Francis called for governments to work for an ethical redistribution of wealth, so as to help the poor and marginalized of the world to rise out of oppressive and degrading poverty.

In reflecting on his words, I could not help but to recall what happened in Zimbabwe when the colonial era of that land ended. With the best of intentions, the government of that nation initiated a land redistribution program, whereby much of the farm land owned by the former colonial rulers of that region was taken away from its colonial owners and parceled off to the poor. It was a great move to empower those who had suffered the burden of poverty for decades. But the results were devastating.
Whereas, up to that time, that region was a major exporter of food, it quickly was ravaged by famine. The leaders apparently overlooked the fact that land could only be productive if the proper agricultural technology was applied to its cultivation and care. Sadly, many of the new landowners were ignorant of the technology required for the proper cultivation and care of the crops, and so a major crop failure plagued that nation. And, to compound the problem, many of the former landowners, with the technical skills to help correct this problem, had been forced to emigrate from the new nation to seek jobs elsewhere.

In reflecting on the Holy Father's concern for the poor, I cannot help but to wonder whether the ongoing oppressive bullying by the Culture of Desecration and Death has caused even the Vatican to cower. Before going any further, I must note here that I am referring here to the Vatican City State, not to the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church. At the same time, I must note that such a declaration by the Sovereign of the Vatican City State seems to be depriving the world of a great opportunity to be caught up into a whole new spiritual way of thinking. Specifically, by embracing the secularist concept of wealth, which is defined merely in terms of material assets, the pope missed an opportunity to promote more deeply the New Evangelization.

The New Evangelization proclaims that the blessings of God are abundant and multidimensional. And the many dimensions of these blessings are also complementary. I am reminded of a story about a very holy bishop. At a Mass, he made a very important point. He first spoke to the poor in his congregation. "You poor brothers and sisters should thank God for your rich brothers and sisters, for, through them, God is delivering you from the demon of hunger that lurks at your door." He then spoke to the wealthy members of the congregation. "And you rich brothers and sisters should thank God for your poor brothers and sisters, for, through them, God is delivering you from the demon of greed that lurks at your door."

Sadly, over the centuries, the redistribution of wealth philosophy has tended to deepen alienation, rather than promote reconciliation. The poor are seen as alienated from the rich. The rich feel that they must be alienated from their wealth in order to help the poor. And both are left wondering, "Is this all there is to the Gospel of Jesus?".

We need to rediscover that true Christian charity necessarily requires true and incarnate fellowship with each other in Christ. That is why Jesus does not merely tell us to help the poor, but to enter into actual table fellowship with them. It seems that only by such fellowship will we be able to find deliverance from the degenerative compulsions required to serve the unholy trinity of comfort, convenience and complacency. Instead, we can discover the liberating joy offered by allowing ourselves to hunger and thirst for that righteousness, which is offered to us through a deepening fellowship in the sanctifying and sacrificial love of Christ crucified. Christ Himself promises that those gracious and generous enough to hunger and thirst for such righteousness will be satisfied in ways beyond comprehension. They will thus come to appreciate more deeply the fact that authentic righteousness is not to be measured by the redistribution of wealth, but rather by the ongoing investment of self into the mystery and ministry of Jesus Christ. For apart from Him, we can
do nothing.

A number of years ago, I was struck by the profound wisdom spoken by St. Vincent de Paul. He was asked by someone when the ministries he initiated would come to full fruition. His simple reply was, "When the poor can forgive us for giving them bread." This saint wisely recognized that ministry of giving bread could even be counterproductive. It could even degrade the sacred dignity of both the one giving and the one receiving. But, as Jesus Himself shows us at each Mass, the true bread required for the realization of our shared dignity and the fruition of our ministry is the gift of self - even as each of us continues to struggle, by God's grace, to be delivered from our own sins and character defects.

The Gospel of Jesus thus proclaims that the sacred reconciling dynamic of His sanctifying graciousness is more authentic, transcendent and transformative than all the alienating power of sin and class envy. And so it is that any effort to impose a change in economic structures - without first offering humanity the opportunity to repent, to be reconciled and to be regenerated together in the gracious love of God - would impose an even deeper degree of injustice on humanity. By treating people merely as consumers of material resources, rather than as the unique, sacred and sanctifying gifts they truly are, we could end up abandoning them to the dehumanizing and demonic dynamics of despondency, depression and despair.

Jesus came that we might have life to the full. To deny humanity access to this life would indeed be the greatest social injustice with devastating consequences both here and hereafter. Keenly aware of this, Francis of Assisi offered the world Jesus, pure and simple. Now, under the leadership of Pope Francis, we need to go and do likewise. May God, in His gracious and compassionate mercy, inspire all of us to invest ourselves into sanctifying our shared humanity in all its dimensions with the wisdom and love proclaimed by Jesus Himself, when He laid down His life, so that we could have life to the full.


Restore-DC-Catholicism said...

Absolutely I am called by Christ to share what I have. However, no government is "called by Christ" to confiscate my earned wealth and dispose of it as they please. It is the latter that the Holy Father advocated this past Friday: a measure that has proven to be an unmitigated disaster whenever it's been tried - largely because it's inherently evil. Read Father Z's commentary at

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

You know, if Francis really cared about the poor, he would order the Vatican to sell some of the billions it owns in land, stocks, bonds, certificates and shares in multinational corporations and holding companies, and give the proceeds to dioceses and archdioceses that have to close schools and churches, many of which serve the poor this pope and this Church claim to "love."

When Francis does that, then he deserves to be taken seriously. But not until and not unless.

Mary said...

About six or seven years ago tenants living on fixed incomes in Vatican owned buildings in Rome were evicted despite the fact that many held lifetime leases and remodeled at their own expense. They were evicted in a Vatican project to turn these properties into four or five star hotels. The project was launched for the purpose tourist income for Vatican City ,along with a Vatican owned credit card for pilgrims and plans for Vatican tour airplanes.
The hopes were based on a planned canonization of Pope John Paul Two.
There were many in depth articles on this story at the time.Here is just one.
It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "Nothing personal, just business."perhaps that phrase should state,'Nothing religious ,just business"?

Mary said...

Here is another article on the subject .

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

Thanks, Mary, what a head-shaker! I'm posting on it. Maybe they can track these folks down and let them take over the papal apartment that's not being used by Pope Francis.