Two Tongues For The Price Of One
I am following, in the usual fashion (half terrified of the next bomb, half bored of the usual platitudes) Francis travel to Korea, where he is tirelessly promoting Francis and making clear he is not there to promote Christianity.
One issue in particular stroke me as odd, even for the man.
One day he laments that poverty is rising, whilst the rich get even richer. I do not know whence he has the figures and if he is every worried by facts, but this is what he said.
The day after he is on record with saying that poverty is a treasure.
Now: I was always told that poverty can certain help one to develop humility and avoid hell through that avenue. I am perfectly fine with that, and I think this corresponds to traditional Catholic thinking. But traditional Catholic thinking has also always been based on the serene acceptance that the poor will always be with us, that being poor is in itself no stairway to heaven, and that in the same way as poverty helps the poor to develop humility, wealth allows the wealthy to nourish their poverty in spirit, and to grow in charity. What counts is the humility, the poverty in spirit, the love of God. The arrogant poor, or the resentful poor, or the entitled poor, is certainly not on his way to anywhere for being poor; actually he runs the risk, if he allows his resentment to destroy charity, of being both poor and damned. Conversely, the rich who is poor in spirit and uses his wealth wisely is, in fact, well on his way to avoiding hell.
If this is correct – and I believe it is – we are in front of another example of Francis’ thinking: confused and resentful at the same time.
On the one hand, he never misses an occasion to bash the rich (the ones who are not his buddies, that is; his buddies can be very rich or even have private jets and it will be receiving, video-ing and high-fiving all round), showing that at the core of his social thinking is a resentment for the un-befriended wealthy that would do him honour in Moscow circa 1921, but not among Christians.
On the other hand, he seem to embrace a kind of sanctification of poverty at the same time as he condemns it. It does not make sense. The Church seeks to alleviate poverty, which means that poverty in itself – I mean here involuntary and not willingly embraced: the poverty of the poor and destitute, not the poverty of the monks and hermits – is not seen as anywhere near good. Which Francis also says, with one corner of his mouth. The other, as so often, disagrees.
Poverty that makes one suffer can’t be good in itself, but God can use everything to lead one to Him, even bad events and negative situations. Disease is the same. War, famine or bereavements too. But what Francis does is in my eyes nothing else than an attempt of sanctification of the poor – which is, as I get it, the underlying message, and the message he wants amplified by the press: “look how good you are: rejoice, because you are poor and therefore Christ’s favourites”) that is in the end nothing more than a bashing of the rich (“be afraid, because you are rich; unless you are buddies of mine, that is”) with the excuse of the poor.I never heard him say that those Countries who are at war have found a great collective treasure, either.
I never thought it a coincidence that among the beatitudes, poverty has the qualification ” in spirit”. The meek are blessed qua meek. The peacemakers are blessed qua peacemakers. The poor are, emphatically, not blessed qua (financially) poor. They are blessed only if, and because, they are humble. As are the rich, and those in between.
It seems to me that Francis has his gaze always firmly fixed on this earth, and that on this earth he has long-nourished resentments he now can freely vent, sure in the knowledge an army of sycophants will praise him for whatever he says from both corners of his mouth.
Even if they contradict each other.