43 Comments

  1. Maybe the conservative Catholics ought to spend less time on Twitter and more time on the tradition they’re supposedly all about; Catholic social teaching has been around since Rerum Novarum; other texts are even older. “Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you…” (Jas. 5:4)

  2. This is the advantage of having been an adult convert to Catholicism. I had to read the Church’s teachings on everything, and so have not been surprised by anything Pope Francis has said. Instead, I am surprised by how shocked many Catholics are when he speaks of income inequality and care of the poor and the love that is supposed to be our identifying feature. He is not suddenly changing doctrines. He has been reminding Catholics that there is more than abortion and sexuality to think about, and It seems the reminders are sorely needed.

  3. Well I can’t say I expected to be mocked for expressing lack of understanding of the Pope’s tweet, but … that’s ok. It’s true that I’d never claim to be “intimately familiar with Catholic social teaching” or intimately familiar with much teaching on anything, for that matter — I’m no scholar, after all — but my questioning was genuine and the context was that I’d just finished a lengthy trip through Summa Theologica and while roots of sin are discussed, hadn’t come across “inequality.” Or I don’t remember coming across it, at least. I was hoping to see how “inequality” is at the root of social evil. The specific example of social evil I asked about was pornography — and I’m still waiting to understand Francis’ view that inequality is at its root (as opposed to envy or lust or some such). So I’m not sure I see how I was “schooled” here, much less schooled on the social sin of pornography, as opposed to economics.

    Maybe a commenter here will have some tips for someone genuinely interested in this topic. I read through Evangelii Gaudium a few months back and revisited the quote mentioned above. Presumably the Pope intends his words to apply to non-economic social evils as well. That’s what I’m most curious about. Any guidance is appreciated.

    • I’m not an expert in social teaching and I don’t have time to find citations, but I think the Holy Father’s direction in his teaching about poverty and wealth is that the randians have it backwards. The increasing inequality especially in America seems to be tied to an idea that anyone who is clever and driven enough to gather and hold on to wealth is entitled to as much as he of she can get. In Catholic teaching, a person must have access to a decent life by virtue of his or her human dignity rather than one’s ability to elbow in front of the others. It is not wrong to be rich, but it is wrong to get rich by heaping burdens on the poor. Getting rich by paying poverty wages breeds bitterness and despair.
      Paul Ryan recently tried to blame endemic poverty on social ills. He said that the problem was that there was no culture of work in the inner city. He completely ignored the increasingly more common experience in America that years of hard work in low wage jobs leads only to more poverty and insecurity.

    • I’m not a Catholic, nor a porn expert, but I have been led to understand that a great deal of the porn industry – and pretty-much all of the really “evil” bits of it – could not survive in its current state without sexism and exploitation. In other words, “inequality”.

  4. Doesn’t fit the narrative of this article but (conservative Catholic) Ramesh Ponnuru’s explanation of the tweet is good (and manages to answer my query as well). http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014-04-29/everyone-is-misreading-pope-francis-on-inequality.

    • Thanks for sharing this link Mollie. I think Mr. Ponnuru did an excellent job of quickly revealing the heart of Catholic teaching here, and obviously there are plenty of Catholics as well as non-Catholics who would benefit from reading his short, well written post. Sorry that you were mocked for your honest question. Seriously, Church teaching on many issues is broad and deep, but for most of us it will be a lifetime journey to continue to learn from our rich heritage. As an Eastern Rite Catholic (Melkite), I am personally delighted by that, but I think Catholics in general should be more graceful when people are confused about a teaching. I’m glad to see you taking the time to try and understand the tradition behind the statement rather than just glibly dismissing Pope Francis.

  5. Hey, the problem is NOT with Pope Francis going socialist (or a couple notches to the LEFT of socialism, no?). Save your energy; let him have that one.

    And no, the problem is NOT with Pope Francis cutting some slack on a divorced Catholic woman. We still need the house rules, but inserting a little love and mercy at the right time will cause many people to go back and stick to the house rules permanently.

    So conservatives need to focus and combine their badly-needed energies on the TOP priority: Pope Francis needing to stick with the house rules on GAY MARRIAGE (instead of breaking those rules and surrendering to the gay gestapo activists!).

    It is way past time for Francis to fight out loud against Gay Marriage the way he fights out loud against poverty. If he refuses to do the right thing, then it’s time to start tweeting and holding national press conferences on the proper Catholic use of the “I” word….IMPEACHMENT!!!

    • Because social justice, people starving, in grinding poverty and those laboring under abominable conditions are just not as important as feeding your bigotry against gay people.

      Some set of priorities you got there Doc.

    • Your wrong, the real issue in the world is inequality, its hard working families having to use food banks. It’s hard working Protestants having to use the church soup kitchen. It’s the fact that the banks and businesses are growing richer as the poor are down trodden. Marriage is not part of the church it has always been part of the state, a union before god is a choice and one that will be judged by god.

      Jesus will judge you all in the next life, it is not the church’s duty to punish, but to protect. We do not have to protect gay people’s rights to be gay, but we must protect everyone’s right to a secure life, every child’s right to eat and attend school. We must fight for hard working people to be paid a living wage. If we do that we will be judged on our good works. If instead you ignore the plight of millions in favour of attacking gay people and promoting the agenda of those that would lend money and expect to make a profit from that lending, those that would make their workers unemployed to save money while at the same time increasing their own pay and bonuses. If you would protect the greater evil to attack the lesser evil while ignoring the good then you are failing as a Christian.

      Doing gods will is more then just casting stones at those you feel are sinful, it is also trying to convince people to do the right thing by each other, it is making sure you live by the virtues of Jesus Christ and the virtues you hope to Instil in others.

    • Or perhaps in your case, Doc Holiday, “i” as in “idiot!” I’m sorry that wasn’t kind. I apologize. I will also keep you in my prayers with the hope that God can help you with your apparent anger and hate, and lead you to a state of love and acceptance…

  6. Conservative Christians, Catholic and otherwise, are hard-wired to resist anything this Pope says or does, the same way that Tea-Party-controlled Republicans are hardwired to respond negatively to anything emanating from the current occupant of the Oval Office. In today’s world, ideology trumps common sense (which even in the best of times was never all that common).

  7. Sister Geraldine Marie

    So, “The Pope doesn’t speak English.” He speaks Latin very well and those who don’t speak Latin, should study it! It is still the official language of the Roman Catholic Church.

    Christianity is about sharing with others who are less fortunate–it’s called LOVE, which the modern world has reduced to just “charity.” Love means giving of yourself, not just “your” possessions. They will all be left behind when you die, but love will remain (1Corinthians 13:13). And going to Heaven (or not)? “When I was hungry, thirsty, sick, imprisoned…” (Mt.25:35).

    Read the Gospels, brothers and sisters, preferably one at a time in a room by yourself and as if you’re reading each for the first time. Read each one at one sitting (they are not long). And read several good translations (or the original if you are able).

    Blessings!

    • That’s odd. I thought Christianity was about Jesus, “…who is God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten not made, being of one substance with the Father…who for us men and our salvation became man…”

      When did Christianity become most about something other than sin, repentance, and forgiveness from Christ?

      • James 2: 14-26

        14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

        18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your[a] works, and I will show you my faith by my[b] works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?[c] 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”[d] And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.

        • Works are the natural expression of the regeneration of the heart by the Spirit–that can only be begun by faith.

          This is why Jesus told His disciples that He was the vine and they the branches. They could only “bear fruit” acceptable to God via a vital spiritual connection with Him. “Apart from Me, you can do nothing.”

      • All the church’s social teachings are rooted in Christ’s words, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’

      • “when did Christianity become about something other than sin, repentance and forgiveness from Christ”? Probably when St Paul wrote that if I have all of that “but have not love, I am no better than a clanging bell”.

  8. It is not uncommon in history for the pope to confuse his own personal opinion and preference for God’s. It is also a common practice throughout history for the Pope to rewrite or add to the revealed Word of God so I’m not surprised that inequality is substituted for money in his statement nor that Paul’s direction to be content in one’s life station is ignored.

    But he has good reason to make claims such as these. The Roman church invests him with authority and tells him he is infallible.

  9. (1) Jesus himself made comments about wealth, and how wealth prevents people from doing good things. (Remember the camel and the eye of the needle?)

    (2) Jesus had much to say about how you treat your neighbor (and if your neighbor is sick, starving, or even unemployed what is one obligated to do? The parable of good samaritan is a clear analogy.)

    (3) The early Christian communities in the Bible were often described in the letters of Paul and others as being very egalitarian, about sharing what everyone had to everyone’s benefit.

    (4) Look to a long line of papal pronouncements that are collectively referred to as the documents on Catholic Social Teaching. http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/catholic-social-teaching/

    (5) How many orphanages, hospitals, schools for the poor has the Catholic Church established throughout the centuries?

    BOTTOMLINE: Anyone who has seriously tried to study Catholicism would know of its strong social justice streak, and particularly its relationship to inequality.

  10. So as I understand it, conservatives want to talk about “hate and apathy” because with categories so broad, nobody really has to own anything.

    As for the smart guy who pointed out that the Soviet Union was no “garden of Eden,” lots of us Christians would find the economy of Sweden to be a move in the right direction. Health care, education, clean air and water, a place to live and food on the table in reach for all. The trouble with the Soviet Union is that it never really was true socialism, it was cronyism at its worst and sowed the seeds for the oligarchy currently ruining life in Russia. In this country, such vast inequality means that conservative Catholics like Ken Langone (owner of Home Depot) think their views matter because their money matters. They can threaten to withold money they might give to the church if the church points out their sin.

    • As spoken by a person who is taking great pride in feeling that they and they alone are following it. Self-righteous indignation is hubris with religious trappings.

  11. The more I read about the pope’s activities, the more I believe the messages of Maria Divine Mercy. Here is but one message from last October regarding this topic.

    http://www.thewarningsecondcoming.com/you-will-soon-be-told-to-use-your-faith-to-create-a-political-campaign-around-the-world-to-save-the-poor/

    Here’s another message about Pope Benedict’s demise, posted exactly 1 year to the day before he announced he was leaving.

    http://www.thewarningsecondcoming.com/my-poor-holy-vicar-pope-benedict-xvi-will-be-ousted-from-the-holy-see-in-rome/

    Keep an open mind

    Dan

      • Thanks for that link. I didn’t realize so much had been written on this topic. I will review it all and continue to pray about these messages. Personally, they have lead me closer to God and to a more faithful life, but I don’t want to be ex-communicated over it either. Difficult times.

        Dan

  12. 4:3 And the tempter coming said to him: If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.
    4:4 Who answered and said: It is written, Not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God.

  13. I’m greatly enjoying the mayhem surrounding Pope Francis. It is false and absurd to believe that we in 2014 have cracked it, and every piece of Christian theology and thinking should be nailed down, perfectly explained and readily available to all. The world is messy, and God is far beyond our full comprehension. The more quickly the church (Catholic and Protestant) grasps this and is willing to engage in debate as it acknowledges the challenges and intricacies of faith, the better!

  14. Dear Max, let us not forget that no one can force another to Love them for Love is a gift given freely from the heart. Love is an action word, which is why Faith without Love is faithless.

    http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/para/2002.htm

  1. […] As David Gibson reports, the latest controversy in papal communication was a three-word tweet in Latin–Iniquitas radix malorum–that has been translated into English as “inequality is the root of social evil.”  This followed only days after the dustup over the pope’s phone call to a divorced and remarried woman where he allegedly encouraged her to receive communion. […]

  2. […] “As David Gibson reports, the latest controversy in papal communication was a three-word tweet in Latin–Iniquitas radix malorum–that has been translated into English as “inequality is the root of social evil.”  This followed only days after the dust up over the pope’s phone call to a divorced and remarried woman where he allegedly encouraged her to receive communion.” […]

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