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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 9/25/15

No Longer God's Church For The Poor

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St. Joseph Catholic Church, Texas
St. Joseph Catholic Church, Texas
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Pope Francis [Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 78] addressed the U.S. Congress September 24, 2015, in his first visit to the United States. He covered a lot of grounds when he dished out his socio-political homily to the American people. He touched on so many issues which were difficult for many Americans to chew, swallow and digest.

I am sure there were plenty of thumbs-up for those who gave their nods for the Pope's sermon on poverty and finger-wagging as well for those who took a bite of what he was preaching and aesthetically if not tastefully swallowed it but could not digest. I am probably one of those who took an overdose of stomach enzyme pills that primary-care physicians prescribed for acid reflux relief when I listened to Pope Francis' long-drawn-out speech in Congress because of indigestion problem.

However, the Pope is Argentinian and hardly speaks English, but the prepared script he was reading in English, was full of nerve-pinching messages that woke up the supposedly listening politicians from their seats, and in fact some of them were on their feet in standing ovation quite a few times.

From the Prelate's prepared socio-political menu, I chose poverty to listen to attentively because it is his favorite gospel of truth [Diakonia], which in the layman's language, the Catholic Church' Ministry of Charity. This justification of Pope Francis' concerns for the poor, who are starving for social justice all over the world, was in the "Deus Caritas Est" of Pope Benedict XVI, his predecessor.

Pope Francis chose this subject of social justice for the poor as his gospel of truth to preach worldwide, identifying himself "as the 266th and current Pope of the Catholic Church, a title he holds ex-officio as Bishop of Rome, and Sovereign of the Vatican City." [1] The Media described him as the "slum pope" who is "bringing his 'church of the poor' to the world's wealthiest superpower" -- the United States of America. He appealed to the U.S. Congress to combat destitution and neediness of "the people in the cycle of poverty" that they may be given hope. At this point of the Pope's congressional homily, I say thumbs up for our passionate, compassionate and highly-esteemed visitor, the Holy Man from the sacerdotal-monarchical Vatican City of Rome.

The first discomfort that I encountered when I swallowed while listening to Pope Francis' discourse on poverty was when he drifted into the subject of capitalism and wealth inequality. This is a very sensitive topic for the listening politicians in Congress to discuss or even giggle or mumble a comment in the presence of the Pope at this time when the Republicans and Democrats had unsheathed their swords of hostility while positioning for the 2016 presidential election.

Before going to Congress, the Pope and President Barack Obama had some sort of pow-wow on this war on poverty. In the Satire I published in this venue, I wrote the following: "Obama had this frightening story of egalitarian wealth redistribution that makes the rich wet in their pants. American Capitalists always fear that Obama would turn the country upside down and with it out of their pocket and arm-bar Brazilian ju-jitsu goes their fortune, power and control of society."

The United States is the leading capitalist nation in the world. The war that is going on here now is not a war against poverty but Obama's war against capitalism. Americans are wary about Obama's class war where the program of conquest is to "level off the status and social standing of all Americans in America where there will be neither poor nor rich." To those who support Obama, a classless society of the Socialist Republic of America does not sound so bad at all.

With the Pope's socialistic advocacy of the Catholic Church's ministry of charity for the poor, the Vatican is in accord with Obama's war on capitalism, but I doubt very much if he does not sound discordant to the powerful army of the capitalist rich and famous in this country that march behind the Republicans in their class war against Obama.

It might have been too late for the Pope and his official entourage to realize that he was standing in the podium of the U.S. Congress of the United States of America, the mightiest and the wealthiest capitalist country on the planet. I hate to hear anyone saying that in Congress, the Pope was in the wrong place at the wrong time. His episcopal message to Obama in the White House is not quite prelatic or pontifical when it was delivered in the hall of Congress.

But the most discordant part of the Pope's church-for-the-poor ecclesiastical soliloquy is the Vatican's great wealth itself that contradicts its liturgy. This church that Christ had conceived primarily for the poor is no longer poor; it is now wallowing on wealth and excessive riches.

For example, it is public knowledge that all over the world the Catholic Church [The Church] owns estates consisting of tracks of lands and investable real properties, several expensive and exclusive educational institutions, religious business enterprises and stock investments the worth of it boggles the imagination. World-wide, the wealth of the Catholic Church is so vast it is incapable of monetary estimation.

In the United States alone, the financial report of the Economist estimated $170 billion for the Church's annual spending. Out of this yearly spending in the U.S., $150 billion was for "church-affiliated hospitals, schools and institutions of learning" and only $11 billion for "Catholic Charities". [2] This is only what the Church spends a year; it does not include what the ministry put aside as savings at the end of the year.

The difference between then and now is that then "Jesus, the founder of Christianity, was the poorest of the poor". Stripped of material possessions, Christ's true disciples of Christianity lived, with their self-imposed humility, abstinence and privation, in secluded places, most of them in isolated massifs and sierras and some even in the mountains with hardly any cloth on their back and food in their stomach "surviving only of crickets and water", similar to how Christ lived his life with nothing, "not even a pillow to sleep on". [3]

This does not mean of course that life in the Vatican should be like what it was to these true disciples of Christ before ... surviving only with crickets and water and for the Pope not even having a pillow under his head, a life of humility, abstinence and privation that today is no longer perceivable; all of these disappeared in time.

Time had changed. But now that the Church has huge, costly and extravagant castles of worships in different affluent cities of the world with its coffer overflowing with gold and riches so to speak, all of these should have been given to the poor under the Church's sacrament of mercy.

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Edwin Sumcad Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Author .. writer, columnist. Published editorials, essays, feature articles, novelettes and short stories. Has degrees in literature and journalism, masters in development economics and in civil law [M.A. Economics and LLM], journalist, lawyer, (more...)

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