05 February 2014

Evangelical Poverty

Pope Francis' Lenten challenge: Evangelical Poverty in Our Time 

Just discovered this, so I haven't had a chance to read it yet.

It might make a good text for the four mission nights I'm preaching at St Ann Church in Bourg, LA in March.

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  1. "The Gospel is the real antidote to spiritual destitution: wherever we go, we are called as Christians to proclaim the liberating news that forgiveness for sins committed is possible, that God is greater than our sinfulness, that he freely loves us at all times and that we were made for communion and eternal life."

    Gotta love Pope Francis.

    BOURG!!!! I can be there!! See you soon and get to feeling better!

  2. I'm afraid that the Pope has no idea how his words are received by the poor, including the poor in his Latin America.

    The millions of people in Latin America who are poor have limited access to education and don't really have the tools to parse the manyfold meanings of the term "poor". In short, they perceive all this talk lauding poverty as scandalous. It scandalizes them because, when not suffering from malnutrition, they know that poverty kills them and their loved ones slowly. Poverty is regarded by them as a curse, especially when they cannot feed or afford healthcare to their children. If anything, the poor work themselves to exhaustion day in, day out, in the hope of getting ahead and, hopefully, leaving poverty behind.

    So, when a well-fed prelate comes to the pulpit proclaiming the virtues of poverty, how an economic system that rewards people differently is immoral and favors another that keeps everyone poor, he sounds like a madman at least or an evil man at worst. Either way, he will alienate many faithful poor and possibly even push them over to the Pentecostal church around the corner, if he's devout, or to the Evangelical church, if he falls victim to the Prosperity Gospel, or to nothing, if he's just looking for an excuse to distance himself from the Faith.

    Well, this is exactly what has happened in Latin America. Clergy all around preached against capitalism and many, adept of Marxist Liberation Theology, preached for socialism, strangely because then everyone would be as poor as the holy Family in Nazareth, displaying a complete inversion of values and corruption of the Faith.

    And it pains me now to see most in my family away from any religion, some into pagan religions, others in made-in-usa sects and a brave and minuscule remnant who put up with such clergy and painfully weathered the decline of the Catholic population from 90% to 65% in a generation. Not only in my country of Brazil, but also in Card. Bergoglio's own diocese of Buenos Aires, which saw Mass attendance decrease from 30 to 20% during his watch (v. http://bit.ly/1b5n9Kn ).

    The poverty of others seems to have a sick appeal to the rich. Even their worship must be of a poor God, demanding shabby churches, as long as they continue living in luxurious MacMansions. So, in rich countries Francis tends to enjoy quite a popularity, but in poor countries, not so much (v. http://bit.ly/1gj3eFg ).

    I must confess to be suspicious of Francis. I know him as the typical Latin American prelate. I can say this very much in first-hand, for the cardinal who told him to remember the poor during hte Conclave and inspired Card. Bergoglio to take the name Francis and whom the pope invited to stand on his right in the balcony facing St. Peter's square in the evening of his election, Card. Hummes, was my bishop and he confirmed me. Francis' approach has nothing good to show for it where he learned and developed it, quite the contrary. And to see this approach being foisted in the universal Church makes me very apprehensive about his papacy.

    If anything, he has my poor prayers for him. Never have I meant to join in the prayers for the Holy Father after Consecration in my life, obviously spoiled by two giants, one a saint and the other, a holy pope: Bl. John Paul II and Benedict XVI.