Jorge Mario Bergoglio (76) is the 266th and current Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, elected on 13 March 2013. A native of Buenos Aires, Argentina, he was ordained as a priest in 1969. He served as head of the Society of Jesus in Argentina from 1973 to 1979. He chose the papal name Francis in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi. He is the first pope to be a Jesuit (Poverty is one of their three vows, with Chastity and Obedience), the first to come from the Americas, and to come from the Southern Hemisphere. Let us not forget that the Jesuits, missionaries as they may have been, were the confessors of kings nonetheless. They taught me for 13 years!
Francis is the first non-European pope since St. Gregory III, who died in 741. On a pilgrimage to Rome, Saint Francis of Assisi joined the poor in begging at St. Peter’s Basilica.The experience moved him to live in poverty. He later founded the Franciscan Order. For the 1.2 billion Catholics, it seems that the Church will be from now on the Church of the poor and downtrodden, more than it has ever been, which brings about a part of the Sermon of the Mount that always gave me pause (Luke 6):
“Blessed are you who are poor; the kingdom of God is yours. But woe upon you who are rich; you have your comfort already”.
It appears from Jesus’s own teachings that one has to be poor to inherit the Kingdom of God. What does that say about working hard to earn a good income and give a good life to one’s family and good education to one’s children? At first look, Jesus’s Church seems to be denigrating capitalism and rejecting the accumulation of wealth, but then remember the Parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30:
It tells of a master who was leaving his home to travel, so he entrusted his money of 8 talents to his servants. One servant receives five talents, the second two talents, and the third one talent, according to their respective abilities. Returning after a long absence, the master asks his servants for an accounting. The first two servants explain that they have each put their money to work and doubled the value of the property they were entrusted with, and so they are each rewarded. The third servant, however, has merely hidden his talent in a hole in the ground, so the master punishes him:”You wicked and slothful servant. You knew that I reap where I didn’t sow, and gather where I didn’t scatter. You ought therefore to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received back my own with interest. Take away therefore the talent from him, and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will be given, and he will have abundance, but from him who doesn’t have, even that which he has will be taken away. Throw out the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnawing of teeth.”
This famous parable does seem to stress profitability, banking, return on investment and all other capitalist tenets. The “poor” servant was actually punished and the rich is rewarded. What gives?I do not think Jesus ever meant to chastise the wealthy or to condone the lazy who choses to stay poor. Hence some of the misinterpretation among members of the clergy who are veering left and advocating “fair” distribution of wealth in sort of a social democratic regime.The left brings with it: contraception, abortion, gay marriage, removal of God from the pledge of allegiance, abolishing school prayers, nativity scenes and Christmas trees, and other ungodly measures. I am certain the catholic clergy does not support any of that so why would they even consider voting left? If it is to help the poor, this is a sheer human responsibility that neither right nor left has a monopoly on, except the left demagogues use it more to their advantage. There is a lot more charity giving in the USA than anywhere else in the world and most of it is done by rich people and corporations. Members of the clergy should remember that when they take a political stance. History gives us a plethora of examples of leftist regimes where religious freedom was all but abolished and people’s incomes were equalized using the LOWEST COMMON DENOMINATOR, meaning they all became equally poor.
I do not believe the Church wants that. Pope Francis maybe wants to reduce the Vatican’s Pomp and Circumstance (Armenian style), lavish expenditures and trappings of wealth. That would be commendable and I wish our government will emulate him. I trust both Francis and Obama remember that they are Pope and President of both rich AND poor.
Honoring and Aiding the Poor and SHARING with others are NOT to be confused with Glorifying Poverty and the sense of Entitlement