Saturday, March 16, 2013

Pope Francis: “I Want a Poor Church for the Poor”

NBC News is reporting that Pope Francis, in his first address to the media, said: “I Want a Poor Church for the Poor”. Here is how that went:

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Francis said Saturday he wanted "a poor church for the poor" in his first remarks to the media since he was elected leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.

Wearing simple white robes and plain black shoes, he explained how he decided to name himself after St. Francis of Assisi: When he reached two-thirds of the vote in the conclave, a fellow cardinal embraced him and said, "Don't forget the poor."

"That's when I thought of Francis of Assisi," he said. "And that is how the name came to me: Francis of Assisi, the man of poverty, of peace."

He added: "This is what I want, a poor church for the poor."

That brought to mind for me one of the writings of another Pope, “John Paul the Great”, whose encyclical letter, Veritatis Splendor, relates and expounds this passage:

Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”

“Which ones?” he inquired.

Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”

“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

The question is, just how much does Pope Francis I now want “a poor church”? How much interest does he have in selling all the Roman Catholic Church’s possessions, and giving the money to the poor?


  1. There's a famous story (which is probably apocryphal) of a conversation that occurred between Thomas Aquinas and the pope (Innocent II? Innocent IV?).

    When the renowned scholar came to Rome he was shown the glories of the Vatican, and as he looked amazingly on the mass of plate and treasure which he saw, the Pope said, “You see, Thomas, the church can no longer say as St. Peter did of old, ‘Silver and gold have I none.’” “True, holy father,” was the reply; “neither can she command, as he did, the lame man to ‘Arise and walk.’”

    1. It would be really good if they'd say, "well, there's no purgatory, indulgences were false" and if, like Zacchaeus, they would say: “Look, Lord! Here and now we give half of our possessions to the poor, and if we have cheated anybody out of anything, we will pay back four times the amount.” Luke 19:8

      Of course, many of the people they have cheated have already died, and many of those had their lives taken from them precisely because of "papal machinations".

      Even this would be enough -- they would still need to renounce their renunciation of the Gospel. But they've got to start repenting somewhere.

    2. I think Catholicism is theologically irreformable. So, I think the main reasons to expose its scandals are:

      1. to pave the way so that people can come to accept the true Gospel.

      2. so that the Catholic church harms less people (e.g. pedophilia victims). Instead of trying to reform it like a Christian denomination, we need to deal with it like we would any other non-Christian institution (e.g. the human rights violations in China);

      3. reduce the effect that Catholicism has on people to give (bad) excuses to reject the claims of Christ (cf. Rom. 2:24 and the common charge "Christians/Catholics are all hypocrites"). I dare say that Catholicism's example has been a major basis in more people rejecting Christianity than almost any other reason. Mention Catholicism and the first things many non-Christians think of are "the Inquisition", "Crusades", "pedophilia and the protection of the sex offenders", "anti-Semitism", "aide to and agreements with Nazi Germany", "complicity in the Holocaust", "the Dark Ages", "superstition", "political and economic intrigue and conspiracies", "brutal popes", "organized crime/mafia connections" etc. The sad thing is it's ALL TRUE. :´^( ´ ´ ´

      I can't think of another institution that has done more harm both in the natural world and in the supernatural world for a longer period of time and a greater geographical area (it's GLOBAL!) than Catholicism. Empires have come and gone, and nations have risen and fallen but the Catholic Church remains and continues to injure people both body and soul.

      Where now are the glories of the British Empire? of the Ottoman Empire? of the Japanese Empire? of the Third Reich? of the Spanish Empire? But the "glories" of the Catholic Church are her shame. Multiple Popes have lived more extravagant and debauched lives than the royalty who lived at the same time. While the sincere but ignorant Catholic believer in Christ starved outside the Vatican because of the tithes that were squeezed out of them (by superstitious fear or physical force) by the Church.

      I don't understand how anyone who claims to love Christ could be willing to connect Christ with such an evil producing institution.

      To the Catholics who might read this, I'm not a Catholic Basher. Both before and after I left the communion, I found the idea of Catholicism very appealing (e.g. apostolic succession, a supreme pontiff of the universal church, Papal infallibility et cetera). The only problems are that it's false and it doesn't deliver the goods. The Catholic Church is like Enron with Bernie Madoff as Pope stealing people's freedom, money and souls.

      I say that as someone who believes there's JUST enough truth in Catholicism for someone to be saved, but by the skin of one's theological teeth.

      Catholics can say, "It's not that bad" or "It could be much worse". But how bad does Catholicism have to get for it to be disqualified as being what it claims to be, the one true Church? Catholics have defined Catholicism so that it's non-falsifiable.

    3. Hi Annoyed Pinoy, I think you are very right about all of this.

      I'm sure you've heard this:

      And if a man consider the original of this great ecclesiastical dominion, he will easily perceive that the papacy is no other than the ghost of the deceased Roman Empire, sitting crowned upon the grave thereof: for so did the papacy start up on a sudden out of the ruins of that heathen power.

    4. yeah, one can't help come to that conclusion. I wouldn't be surprised if some Catholic writers have admitted and gloried in the idea that where the kingdom of man died in Rome, the kingdom of God on earth (with all it' spiritual benefits) came alive in it's place in Rome.

  2. I have seen some RCs on CAF that try to defend all the splendors and riches of the RCC by pointing out that all this glorifies God and may "attract" converts. They also kept asking: "where is the Protestant equivalent of such brilliance?"

    1. This is precisely the opposite of Luther's "Theology of the Cross", and those who say this sort of thing are precisely what Luther called "Theologians of Glory".

      In Lutheran theology, everyone is a theologian of one kind or another. That's because the world is uniquely established such that everyone has a personal relationship with God, one way or another. Even atheists, who reject God, have a kind of "theology" ("study of God"), even though this theology is found to be faulty.

      Roman Catholics, of course, are the epitome of this "theology of glory".