Monday, April 7, 2014

Poor "Heart of the Gospel," Brotherhood of Man "My Authenticity" -- Pope

UPDATE: Welcome Pewsitter visitors. You can pick up your orientation pamphlet here.

Pope Francis told communications students that he was not a Communist, but his concern for the poor comes from the gospel. "The heart of the gospel is the poor," Pope Francis stated.

Let's look at that again, shall we?

"The heart of the gospel is the poor."

This is what Pope Francis believes. The "good news" is fundamentally rooted in time and space. The gospel is essentially about material want. Jesus' mission was to liberate the poor.

There is so much that could be said about this. I thought I could take a break from writing about this stuff. But every day there is a new, mind-blowing statement from Pope Francis. Right now, I am so disappointed I just want to exclude these controversies from my Bubble Catholicism.

There is an eccentric tilt to this papacy. A lack of balance. Whether Jorge Bergoglio suckled at the left teat of Marxist liberation theology or the right teat of "Conservative" liberation theology is of no interest anymore. It's the same sour milk. The Holy Father is respectfully invited to pack it all up and send it back to Latin America. It does not have universal application and should not be the Pope's exclusive concern. He is the pope of the entire Roman Catholic Church now. South and North. Poor and Rich and the vast majority of us who are somewhere in between.

No doubt, the poor are all over the gospel. We get that. Pope Francis is not the first person in Church history to be concerned for the poor. We know what he's not concerned about, though. He has made that quite clear.

He also said:
“My authenticity is that I am speaking with brothers, all of us are brothers, believers, non-believers, of this religious profession, of another, Jews, Muslims, all of us are brothers. Man is at the center of history.”
Yes, the brotherhood of man. Man is at the center of history. It may be that the Bear was already growling by the time he got to this part. But you might think the Pope could come up with something a little more, well, uniquely Catholic to tell journalism students. He is, after all, the Pope. The Bear would bet money that the young people already get their ears tickled plenty about the brotherhood of man from television commercials, political speeches and their local masonic lodge.

It's like going to a conference to hear the world's foremost physicist. He's a brilliant man who is uniquely qualified to tell you all about quarks and quantum entanglement and all sorts of strange and wonderful things. But instead he talks an hour about the weather. Everything he says is true, and important, too. It's sunny in Buenos Aires. Farmers can expect good rain in Kansas. That's nice. But what about quarks? 

Where is the brotherhood of man in any creed? Which martyrs died for the brotherhood of man? Is this really the core authenticity of the Franciscan Church? Just carve Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite over the entrance to St. Peters and be done with it.

So who is the heart of the gospel?

The Bear is not the Pope of Rome. So, fine, the poor. Four books about the needs, the aspirations and the rights of the poor. That's the living, beating, sacred heart at the center of the Franciscan Church, and it is a human one.

There, see what a good Catholic the Bear is? He agrees with everything the Pope says. Now may I have my fish? That bear over there caught two, so take one of his.


  1. I 've got to wonder what has happened to you. I remember you as a good attorney who did his share of pro bono representation of the poor and dispossessed. Now you're trolling around these blogs that minimize and even mock the words of our pontiff when he decries the material excesses of our society, including the church of Rome. Man, what has happened to you?

  2. My sincere thank you for the comment.

    In answer to your question, nothing at all has happened to me. I have always believed that Jesus Christ is the heart of the gospel and the source of whatever authenticity I possess. I would be very surprised to hear any Catholic say otherwise, let alone the pope. If I ever helped anyone, it was because of those beliefs and certainly not because I am a good person.

    There are many voices speaking on behalf the poor, and so few on behalf of Christ. The Gospel cannot be reduced to concern for the poor. All Christians must be concerned for the poor, primarily because it pleases God and helps the soul of the person providing material aid. But we must also place God first who said "the poor you will always have with you" when Judas complained that the ointment could be sold and the money given to the poor.

    We are in a time when impressions are formed worldwide in a flash. A great deal of skill and prudence are necessary to avoid obscuring or even losing the Church's supernatural mission. I was originally quite spportive of everything Pope Francis said and did. Time has revealed a lack of balance, however, and it seems to be traced to his unique experience as part of the Latin American church. I've never been a "peace and social justice Catholic." That doesn't mean I'm against peace and social justice, as you noted. I invite you to consider whether we might lose perspective if we preach a new "theology of the poor" that is not organic to the Catholic Church in her history. We must be careful lest the Church become just another NGO. And it was a pope who issued that warning.

  3. In St.Malachy's Prophecy of the Popes, after "Glory of the Olive" which is believed by those who find the Prophecy as legitimate to be a description for Benedict XVI and before the last Pope "Peter the Roman" who will see the City of Seven Hills destroyed before the Judgment; is the phrase "In persecutione extrema S.R.E. sedebit". This is an incomplete sentence "In the final persecution of the Holy Roman Church, there will sit". Some interpreters believe that this is a reference that allows for Popes who come between Benedict and Peter the Roman. Perhaps it is a reference to a period of time when the Church is under great attack (that is certainly happening, particularly in the US) before it takes residence elsewhere than at its current seat of Rome when Peter the Roman is the last Pope. Anyway, food for thought, for what I see happening in the world.

  4. It's amusing that if you have shown shown concern for the poor and downtrodden you MUST have been a liberal.

    I had never seen that interpretation before, Terry. I figured St. Malachi was a bust after the election of Francis. I bet I know how some people might interpret the gap in the list, but I don't think any of them would include Benedict!

  5. So, if the poor are at the center, where do the sick and imprisoned fit in? And of course, where is Jesus in this "infograph" (as text book call various charts these days)?

    Our love of Jesus is central to our faith. We are motivated by that love to care for the suffering Christ we see in those around us. Any one can feed the poor. For, even though they'd deny it, atheists like all mankind are created with natural law written on their souls and can have compassion. But our Catholic faith is something more, deeper, complete. And it is about our encounter with the Son of God.

    1. I would make that infographic but it would be blasphemous. But that is a very good way of illustrating it. The "You don't care about poor people," has been the go-to argument since Reagan. I guess all the people who delighted in calling Pope Benedict a Nazi or "Freddie Kreuger" (Rolling Stone) have suddenly discovered a new respect for the papacy. We're still in the process of figuring Francis out (which is hopefully a process he is also engaged in). His fans might yet be surprised. There's a running gag in Portlandia about the Portland Milk Council where Carrie plays a chipper lab assistant to Fred. "He's my boss" she repeats in an upbeat manner while smiling, no matter what dubious statements Fred makes. So I'm in a similar "he's my pope" mode even he seems to have turned off the transponder and changed course 180 degrees, heading for parts unknown. My concern is that I don't want my grandchildren to have to listen for pings from the black box to even find the Catholic Church.

  6. ... But our Catholic faith is something more, deeper, complete. And it is about our encounter with the Son of God"

    bingo. Jesus is the Heart of the Gospel.

  7. Amazing that we have a pope who has a fundamental misunderstanding of the Gospel and Christianity. The heart of the Gospel is Christ and our redemption. Therein lies the problem with this pope, who is proposing a Church of Man, instead of Christ. Christ and the Church liberate man from sin, not from poverty. "The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me."


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