Cardinal Sarah: “Those who want to eradicate poverty make Christ a liar – they are mistaken and lying”

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Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, enters the hall at the Synod on the Family in October 2015.

July 1, 2016, Steve Jalsevac, LifeSiteNews

This is my second article of excerpts from Cardinal Sarah’s book because of the excellent teachings for our times that it contains.  These are MUST READS as far as I am concerned and provide clear guidance at this time of confusion and distortions of truth.

Poverty is a Christian value

Clearly Cardinal Sarah’s comments here address the very misguided, heavily politicized and ideological efforts of many Catholic international aid agencies as well as government and other agencies that tend to emphasis elimination of the poor through contraception and destroying family cultures.

He says:

p.140 I remember being disgusted when I heard the advertising slogan of a Catholic charitable organization, which was almost insulting to the poor: ”Let us fight for zero poverty” .… not one saint – and God alone knows the tremendous number of saints of charity the church has brought forth in two thousand years – ever dared to speak that way about poverty and poor people.

– Jesus himself had no pretension of the sort. The slogan respects neither the gospel nor Christ. Ever since the Old Testament, God has been with the poor; and Sacred Scripture unceasingly claims “the poor of Yahweh”. A poor person feels dependent on God; this bond is the foundation of spirituality.

– Yes, poverty is a Christian value. The poor person is someone who knows that, by himself, he cannot live. He needs God and other people in order to be, flourish, and grow. On the contrary, rich people expect nothing of anyone. They can provide for their needs without calling either on their neighbors or on God. In this sense, wealth can lead to great sadness and true human loneliness or just terrible spiritual poverty. If in order to eat and care for himself, a man must turn to someone else, this necessarily results in a great enlargement of his heart. This is why the poor are closest to God and live great solidarity with one another;

p.141 The church must not fight against poverty but, rather, wage a battle against destitution, especially material and spiritual destitution. It is critical to make a commitment so that all men might have the minimum they require in order to live. “The spirit of poverty and charity is the glory and witness of the Church of Christ”

– But we do not have the right to confuse destitution and poverty, because in doing so we would seriously be going against the gospel. Recall what Christ told us: “The poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me” (Jn 12:8) Those who want to eradicate poverty make the son of God a liar. They are mistaken and lying.

p.142 The language of the UN and of its agencies, who want to suppress poverty, which they confuse with destitution, is not that of the church of Christ. The Son of God did not come to speak to the poor in ideological slogans! The Church must banish these slogans from our language. For they stupefied and destroyed peoples who were trying to remain free in conscience

Truth is charity

Below he addresses the many influential or small-minded critics who insist that we must just pray and remain silent about the damaging programs and statements we see and hear and not speak out in order to protect life, family, faith and truth.

p.143 It is a lack of charity to shut one’s eyes. It is a lack of charity to remain silent in the face of confusing words and slogans!

The atheistic West is endangering the whole world

Cardinal Sarah is aware of the great dangers to the entire world of today’s situation in especially the European Union, the United States and Canada.

p.146 I think that the immense economic, military, technological, and media influence of a godless West could be a disaster for the world. If the West does not convert to Christ, it could end up making the whole world pagan; the philosophy of unbelief feverishly seeks followers in new parts of the globe. In this sense, we are facing an atheism that is proselytizing more and more. The pagan culture is determined to extend the domain of its struggle against God. In order to bring about their rebirth, the former countries of the old Christian tradition need to re-energize by embarking on a new evangelization.

P.148 Following Benedict XVI, I am convinced that one of the most important tasks of the church is to make the West rediscover the radiant face of Jesus. If the Old Continent cuts itself off from its roots definitively, I fear that it will cause a major crisis for all mankind, and I see some beginnings of it here and there.

The absolute need to defend the traditions and doctrines of Catholicism

p.147 we have an urgent obligation, says St. Athanasius, to study “the ancient tradition, teaching and faith of the Catholic Church, which was revealed by the Lord, proclaimed by the apostles, and guarded by the Fathers. For upon this faith the church is built, and if anyone were to lapse from it, he would no longer be a Christian either in fact or name.”

Prayer is the tool to reform the world

p.150 Prayer is the greatest need of the contemporary world; it remains the tool with which to reform the world.

p.153 The start of the reform must concentrate on Catholic schools and seminaries.

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37 Responses to Cardinal Sarah: “Those who want to eradicate poverty make Christ a liar – they are mistaken and lying”

  1. toadspittle says:

    “The poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me” (Jn 12:8) Those who want to eradicate poverty make the son of God a liar. They are mistaken and lying.
    Very interesting, this. The Cardinal has got it wrong, I suggest. Nobody seriously believes poverty can be eradicated. It is relative. I lived in relative poverty as a child. But, compared with some Africans and Indians, it was luxury. The aim however, is, and should be, to eradicate it. Hopeless though it might be. Not is anyone trying to ‘make God a liar.” Paranoid overkill.
    Nor can anyone be both “mistaken” and “lying.” More paranoid overkill.

    ”Let us fight for zero poverty”
    Suppose a slogan said,
    Let us fight for zero intolerance of Catholicism”?
    Would that strike anyone as “mistaken and lying,” and not worth trying to do?

  2. ginnyfree says:

    Toad, have you ever met a religious who’s sole goal in life is to set right all the social injustices in the world? Their largest drum to beat on is the injustice of poverty. They make promises to the poor in third world countries that they cannot deliver on. Their whole Gospel message is geared towards filling souls with false hopes and hatred towards you and I living in the “first world,” who supposedly turn our backs on these lesser brothers and sisters of ours. Then there is the thinly disguised agenda of world population control that guarantees the elimination of poverty by limiting the number of births. Fewer mouths to feed supposedly means more for everyone. I suggest you get informed about how corrupt some of these social justice warriors have become in the fields that deal directly with third world populations. You will find why the good Cardinal used the word “disgusted” in describing their verbal shell game that they use constantly to secretly support population control methods as an acceptable means of the elimination of poverty. Hello?
    http://www.lepantoinstitute.org/catholic-relief-services/crs-and-funding-for-contraception-pushers/
    When you finish with that article, make sure you read the rest in that series and then read more of the works there at the Lepanto Institute and find out all those social justice warriors are lost souls who remain blind to their loss. They are so convinced that theirs is the only legitimate response to poverty, that all who don’t embrace their false gospels aren’t truly Christian. Blind. God bless. Ginnyfree.

  3. Pingback: Cardinal Sarah: “Those who want to eradicate poverty make Christ a liar – they are mistaken and lying” — | Solutio Problematis Omnes (aka "The Catholic Linker")

  4. toadspittle says:

    “Toad, have you ever met a religious who’s sole goal in life is to set right all the social injustices in the world? “
    No, Ginny. And anyone with that sole goal is going to end up out of luck, aren’t they?
    …But trying to improve things a trifle for the poor, in the meantime, seems a worthwhile ambition.

    “They make promises to the poor in third world countries that they cannot deliver on.”
    If this is true (which I doubt) then they are wrong to do so.

    If every human in the world agreed to it, poverty actually could be eradicated. But that pipe dream will never happen.
    The slogan says nothing about succeeding. Just about fighting.

  5. toadspittle says:

    “This is why the poor are closest to God and live great solidarity with one another;”
    The poor of the world are far too often killing one another in gang warfare over drugs and territory, because they usually have no work to do, and no other way of making a “living.” Because the rich don’t care about them, as long as the poor are kept at bay, in great proximity with one another, in foul, unhealthy, slums. And the poor are uneducated, because it costs money to be educated. The poor are generally very miserable and frequently frightened of each other, who are often armed. I’ve lived among poor people in the USA, and I’ve seen it for myself. Why do you think it’s dangerous to go into many poor neighbourhoods all over the world? Because they will very likely rob you. Ask any policeman, if you don’t believe me.
    All this is not an attack on the poor, who generally have horrible lives, steeped in debt and worry if they care for their families, and often driven to crime.

    …Simply that what the Cardinal says above – is straight out of Cloud Cuckoo Land.

  6. Robert says:

    He is right.
    After 2000 years the Gentiles have in their turn rejected Christ.
    This Apostacy of Christendom does endanger the world. It has already turned into a killing factory for babies. In its supposed wealth and economic and military power it is POOR and NAKED because it has thrown off Christ.

  7. toadspittle says:

    “After 2000 years the Gentiles have in their turn rejected Christ.”
    Are you suggesting that, for the last 2,000 years, everything has been all right – Roger?

  8. kathleen says:

    Toad, I think you have a fundamental misunderstanding what Cardinal Sarah is getting at here. You are seeing the whole subject of poverty as solely a question of money and possessions. Real poverty goes much deeper than that. In fact it is all about detachment from material goods. You may find ‘wealthy’ people (wealthy in terms of what they own) who are completely detached from their ‘wealth’ and who live simple and humble lives. At the same time, there are those who are poor, but who are selfish, grabbing, and greedy.

    In following a link from yesterday’s ‘REPENT AMERICA!’ post, I saw this (also written by Fr Heilman) that I think sums up the true meaning of Evangelical poverty very well:

    “In the face of a materialistic, consumer culture where one’s value is often determined by earning power or the acquisition of wealth, a spirit of poverty testifies to our dependence upon God as the source of all gifts and our solidarity with one another, especially the poor. What does it mean to be “poor in spirit”? In Matthew 13:44 Jesus tells this parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” To be poor in spirit is to realize that nothing we have is worth more than the kingdom of God. Knowing this, we become willing to part with anything we have if it hinders us from receiving the kingdom. This is why Jesus said, “No one of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions” (Lk 14:33). Being poor in spirit does not always mean taking vows of poverty or despising the blessings God has given us. Instead, it is a condition of the heart. The main point is always “detachment.” It’s not whether you have it or not, it’s how you have it.

    Also, speaking in the fierce heat of the festering slum where she made her simple home, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta expressed pity for the “poverty-stricken” West:

    “The spiritual poverty of the Western World is much greater than the physical poverty of our people. You, in the West, have millions of people who suffer such terrible loneliness and emptiness. They feel unloved and unwanted. These people are not hungry in the physical sense, but they are in another way. They know they need something more than money, yet they don’t know what it is. What they are missing, really, is a living relationship with God.”

  9. JabbaPapa says:

    kathleen — to be perfectly fair, Toad and his family and his life are excellent exemplars of the Mediaeval and Renaissance virtue of mediocritas, that the wonderfully Catholic Montaigne valued so highly, and quite rightly, and which could perhaps most accurately be translated as “balance”.

    His ongoing daily Works in helping so many onwards in the Pilgrim Way to the Lord can also never be discounted, for which I could never cease to be his advocate in Faith, may the Lord have mercy on our souls.

  10. ginnyfree says:

    Very nice Kathleen. Poverty is a virtue to be acquired with and thru the grace of God. There is a very good reason it is vowed to and worked for in religious life. Those who are materially poor also need to work for the virtue of evangelical poverty. Even a rich man may find the pearl of great price in practicing poverty of spirit. We all need to be poor, as Jesus was poor. It takes grace and prayer and practice. Good job pointing this out Kathleen. God bless. Ginnyfree.

  11. kathleen says:

    Yes, Jabba, I always thought Toad led a pretty ‘detached’ type of existence – one of “balance” – in his Castilian paradise on the Camino. Good for him!

    Loved your last paragraph!
    So this added to the “daily Works in helping so many onwards…”, it shouldn’t be any problem for our amphibian friend to understand the Gospel beatitude: “Blessed are the poor in spirit”, then!
    And together with the prayers of his faithful friends and “advocate”… well, there is, through the Mercy of the Lord, great hope for one and all! 🙂

  12. toadspittle says:

    “Real poverty goes much deeper than that. In fact it is all about detachment from material goods. You may find ‘wealthy’ people (wealthy in terms of what they own) who are completely detached from their ‘wealth’”
    That might well be me. Because I don’t care about money, and what it can buy. That’s because I, right now, I have enough of it. But it’s nothing to be “proud” of. Any fool can be “detached” from money if he has a pocketful of it. Poor people care about money, every penny of it. Without it, they can easily be homeless, or starving.
    Christ says, ” If you are serious, give all your money away and follow me.” No thanks. Too serious for me. But, at least I admit it.

  13. Tom Fisher says:

    I remember being disgusted when I heard the advertising slogan of a Catholic charitable organization, which was almost insulting to the poor: ”Let us fight for zero poverty”

    The poverty addressed by serious Catholic charities has nothing to do with the relative poverty of those living in traditional communities, it is not the poverty of hearty peasants, it is not the poverty of loving families whose bonds haven’t been broken by materialism.

    Those suffering true poverty live constantly in the shadow of destitution, and are little comforted by the distinction. Certain aspects of poverty can be turned to spiritual advantage, especially if the one doing the turning has chosen it. But the distinguishing feature of true deprivation is that it acts on people in almost precisely the opposite way that it acts on the voluntary adopter of fasts, and unheated rooms. True deprivation is a grinding monotony which eventually wears away even desire for anything better; it destroys hope, and the constant anxiety over the animal essentials of life often overwhelm desire for anything higher. It leads to haunted passivity 19th Century writers noted in the despairing industrial slums.

    Real poverty — unchosen, economic poverty — is certainly not the same as destitution (which often quickly results in death) — but it is a great evil. Given the choice between the Cardinal and the Charity, I’d choose the side of the charity.

  14. Tom Fisher says:

    The poverty addressed by serious Catholic charities has nothing to do with the relative poverty of those living in traditional communities, it is not the poverty of hearty peasants, it is not the poverty of loving families whose bonds haven’t been broken by materialism.

    Strictly speaking Catholic charities work with and help all those groups. But the poverty which serious charities seek to eliminate is as I described. And has nought to do with resistance to materialism etc.

  15. ginnyfree says:

    Tom you remain blind to the simple wisdom of the Cardinal who is reminding us all that Jesus said we shall never eradicate the poor. So, 1 + 1 = 2, to work against this fundamental statement of fact, is to work against Christ. He said help them, not eliminate them. Everyone who has even a basic knowledge of the Culture of Death knows that one of it precepts is to provide for sterilization, abortion and contraception mostly among the poor so as to place limits on their growth. Their elimination by the Culture of Death has everything to do with preventing them from breeding. It has nothing to do with lifting them out of their poverty. The Cardinal has seen first hand, charities working a truly anti-Christian agenda while disguised as helping charities. They give them three 50 lbs. sacks of rice and powdered milk and a vaccination for the baby on the hip and another for the mom carrying the baby, one called Depo Provera and tell her to return in less than 3 months for follow up. It has been happening for decades upon decades. You chose a side, the charity, which means you prefer to work against Christ’s message of salvation and prefer one of elimination instead. Simple math. God bless. Ginnyfree.

  16. Tom Fisher says:

    Jesus said we shall never eradicate the poor. So, 1 + 1 = 2, to work against this fundamental statement of fact, is to work against Christ.

    Presumably you meant poverty, eradicating the poor is a whole other matter. Poverty, like sin, will exist as long as the world endures – Jesus clearly anticipates that the gospel will subsist in a world that contains both. And Jesus clearly reminds us in the context of that saying of the primacy of spiritual concerns. — But nothing about his words justify or endorse passivity in the face of material deprivation. And nothing in his words justify “disgust” at Catholic charities working for a world without unchosen immiserating poverty.

    you prefer to work against Christ’s message of salvation and prefer one of elimination instead. Simple math.

    Charming

  17. toadspittle says:

    “Tom you remain blind to the simple wisdom of the Cardinal who is reminding us all that Jesus said we shall never eradicate the poor.”
    Suppose Christ had said “You will no more eradicate the poor than you will eradicate the sinful”? Would we then go around declaring that to even try to eradicate sin is evil and lying – and goes against Christ’s wishes? We all know sin can’t be eradicated – so why bother trying? Same with poverty. ( No Ginny, that’s irony.)
    How many people have used Christ’s word’s as justification for doing nothing to try to eliminate poverty – however hopeless a task it might be? …And have actually used these words to justify their own exploitation of poor people?*
    In fact, if the world was organised less insanely, poverty could be eliminated. But it never will be organised any better, because it’s not in the interests of the rich to do so – and Christ knew that. The weasel word here is “if.”

    And a little less patronising, un-Christian, school-yard, condescension, on this or any topic, would not come amiss. Simple, really. God help us.

    *(I told a bishop that once, in Pennsylvania. He said he’d never thought of it that way before.)

  18. kathleen says:

    Tom and Toad,

    Re-read what Cardinal Sarah says!

    In the excerpts taken from his book and reprinted in the above article, Card. Sarah makes a clear distinction between poverty and destitution. You appear to have failed to have noticed that.

    “p.141 The church must not fight against poverty but, rather, wage a battle against destitution, especially material and spiritual destitution. It is critical to make a commitment so that all men might have the minimum they require in order to live. “The spirit of poverty and charity is the glory and witness of the Church of Christ”

    But we do not have the right to confuse destitution and poverty, because in doing so we would seriously be going against the gospel. Recall what Christ told us: “The poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me” (Jn 12:8) Those who want to eradicate poverty make the son of God a liar. They are mistaken and lying.

    p.142 The language of the UN and of its agencies, who want to suppress poverty, which they confuse with destitution, is not that of the church of Christ. The Son of God did not come to speak to the poor in ideological slogans! The Church must banish these slogans from our language. For they stupefied and destroyed peoples who were trying to remain free in conscience”

    IOW, “poverty”, a willing detachment – i.e., a freedom from dependence and absorption of material goods – is a requirement for all Men if Love of God (the first commandment) and neighbour (the second) is to be obeyed.
    But utter “destitution” is a condition the good Cardinal recognises as an evil we are called to fight against, “so that all men might have the minimum they require in order to live”. This is what is at the heart of all true Catholic missionaries. (He knows. He has witnessed both at first hand.)

  19. toadspittle says:

    “Those who want to eradicate poverty make the son of God a liar. They are mistaken and lying.”
    …Is exactly what the Cardinal says. No more, no less. I (Toad) personally want to eradicate poverty, and am doing what pitifully little I can to achieve that.
    I will fail, of course. But I don’t believe I’m either mistaken – or “Making Christ a liar” – by trying. That’s the basic point I’m trying to make.
    Of course, we are back to Humpty Dumpty logic here, Because it all depends what you mean by “poverty,” and/or “destitution.” However, Cardinal Sarah clearly suffers from neither, no matter how we choose to define them.“
    “p.141 The church must not fight against poverty but, rather, wage a battle against destitution, especially material and spiritual destitution.”
    I personally regard “poverty” as being as near identical to “material destitution,” as makes no difference. But that’s just me.
    “Spiritual poverty” is another beast entirely. Bring rich probably helps considerably in achieving that.

    “IOW, “poverty”, a willing detachment – i.e., a freedom from dependence and absorption of material goods* – is a requirement for all Men if Love of God (the first commandment) and neighbour (the second) is to be obeyed.”

    “Material goods,” – like houses, cars, washing machines, computers, TV’s, suits, and jewellery.
    I own the first four. So I’m disqualified, and off to Hell, no doubt.
    You about you? Or is there a teeny whiff of hypocrisy in the air?
    As I said earlier, It’s easy to be detached from money if you’re got a pocketful of the stuff.

  20. Tom Fisher says:

    Sarah makes a clear distinction between poverty and destitution. You appear to have failed to have noticed that

    No, I specifically referred to that in my first comment. In fact I addressed the issues you raised in your last comment, however briefly. I read the Cardinal’s comments quite thoroughly

  21. Tom Fisher says:

    IOW, “poverty”, a willing detachment – i.e., a freedom from dependence and absorption of material goods – is a requirement for all Men if Love of God (the first commandment) and neighbour (the second) is to be obeyed.
    But utter “destitution” is a condition the good Cardinal recognises as an evil we are called to fight against, “so that all men might have the minimum they require in order to live”.

    I specifically addressed this. If you don’t read what I write, fine, but address your replies to Toad, and don’t include me.

  22. Tom Fisher says:

    Poverty is a word that will bear many shades of meaning. When a Catholic charity seeks to eliminate poverty it is quite obvious that the primary sense they have in mind is unchosen debilitating material deprivation*. Quite obviously they are not seeking to eliminate detachment from material goods!!! Any criticism of Catholic charities must take into account the context in which they use the word.

    I have known Franciscans who fought against, and embraced poverty at the same time, with no contradiction My point is that Cardinal Sarah has vexatiously criticised Catholic charities for seeking to eliminate blessed and fruitful poverty, — when that is obviously not the sense in which they were using the term.

    *Destitution is not the right word

  23. JabbaPapa says:

    My point is that Cardinal Sarah has vexatiously criticised Catholic charities for seeking to eliminate blessed and fruitful poverty

    I cannot see that he has done any such thing.

    Accompanying commentary by Steve Jalsevac condemning some “catholic” agencies that promote eugenics and forced contraception, sterilisation, and abortion cannot honestly be attributed to the Cardinal.

  24. kathleen says:

    “I (Toad) personally want to eradicate poverty, and am doing what pitifully little I can to achieve that.”

    And so you should. So should I, and so should all of us who try to model our lives on Christ; it is one of the corporal works of mercy coming directly from Our Saviour’s testimony. The Sermon on the Mount is full of this “love your neighbour” teaching and sharing with others less fortunate than oneself.

    But real “poverty” – not just living simply without luxuries which you say you do, and BTW, which I do too – and which is what we may understand as “destitution”, has at its root human sinfulness (greed or avarice, envy, theft, extortion, etc.). We live in a fallen world, so we know that this will never be eradicated, and therefore those who say it can be are not speaking the truth.
    That is what Cardinal Sarah was trying to get across in his book. And you are quite wrong in saying that he has never suffered poverty himself; he knows far more about it than you or I ever have or ever will. Even so, he knows that the real poverty of man is when he is “poor in spirit” in the negative sense, e.g. mean-spirited.

    “Or is there a teeny whiff of hypocrisy in the air?”

    No doubt there is – probably on your part too, as you sit on your toadstool and criticise others!
    What honestly do we know about such extreme material poverty (bordering on destitution) here in the West? Even the poorest in our society are rich in the eyes of the poor in some Third World countries.

    And yet, and yet… even in these cases of those who barely manage to scrape a living, bereft of just about everything needed to sustain life (and all those things that we take so much for granted here), one can find a richness of spirit from which many in the West are destitute. Blessed Mother Teresa, Fr Werenfried van Straaten (founder of ACN), and many such missionaries and travellers have discovered this much to their amazement.

    Dominique Lapierre wrote an amazing book ‘City of Joy’* – a true story – about life in one of the worst slums of Calcutta, where Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Buddhists live, love and share together their many sorrows and still find tremendous joie de vivre. It is a real eye-opener. Yes, there were the criminals amongst them too who had succumbed to the temptation of greed, but the overriding sentiment was a true and sincere love of neighbour “as oneself”.
    (* The film made of the book is, I believe, a disaster!)

  25. Tom Fisher says:

    I cannot see that he has done any such thing.
    Accompanying commentary by Steve Jalsevac condemning some “catholic” agencies that promote eugenics and forced contraception, sterilisation, and abortion cannot honestly be attributed to the Cardinal.

    Jabba, I take your point. The article is a collection of quotes from Cardinal Sarah, interspersed with commentary. What I have said applies, strictly speaking, to the article itself, rather than Cardinal Sarah. But it is presented here as a coherent whole, and a representation of his thoughts – I can only engage with it as such

  26. kathleen says:

    Tom, sorry if you think I hadn’t read your comments properly; I can assure you I did.

    Although I was really directing my comment at 07:13 more towards Toad than you (and as you can see, my last comment was addressed solely to him) I am in disagreement with those words of yours criticising Card. Sarah… and that Jabba ^ picks up on above too.
    He (Card. Sarah) has firsthand experience of how many charities (perhaps even some Catholic ones) are a cover for imposing sterilisation and abortive practices on the population, with the idea that with a decrease in the birthrate, poverty could be combatted more effectively. They use loud, attractive-sounding slogans of greater (material) prosperity to pull people in, and we all know how many countries in Africa are being blackmailed to accept Western values (including all their unChristian ‘values’) or the aid will be, if not entirely cut off, greatly reduced!

    That is what he is angry about. Yes, of course many of these charities do a lot of very good work on the ground too – nobody can deny that – but as he would say himself: “What does it profit a man… etc.?”

  27. Tom Fisher says:

    One other issue is the interpretation of this saying of Christ:

    the poor you will always have with you

    The fight against poverty* is not a Quixotic attempt to prove Christ wrong. As long as this world endures there will always be sin, and deprivation. But nothing in that saying encourages passivity. We should struggle against sin, and deprivation, and seek to free the world from them — always knowing that the goal will not be reached by our efforts alone, and not in this world. But the struggle retains its meaning. And it is unfair to say that those who fight against poverty are trying to make Christ a liar.

    *The sense of the word should be clear here!

  28. toadspittle says:

    “And you are quite wrong in saying that he has never suffered poverty himself; “
    And you are quite wrong in accusing me of suggesting Sarah has never suffered poverty himself. I’m sure he did as a child, in Guinea. But he certainly doesn’t now, does he?

    Poverty-stricken people, such as you cite in Calcutta – are destitute, usually sickly, asthmatic from fumes, malnourished, in debt to money lenders, and obliged work for slave wages (if they can get them) to survive. They are not exactly bursting at the seams with “joie de vivre,” I suspect.

  29. Tom Fisher says:

    They are not exactly bursting at the seams with “joie de vivre,” I suspect.

    I suspect people often think of poverty in terms of functioning communities with strong family ties, but few material goods. It can all sound vaguely romantic. In my very limited experience of people who have lived for decades with the constant gnawing fear of falling into utter ruin, there is some joie de vivre, but it has a defensive edge to it. Life becomes defined by transitory pleasures, and the future is a fog; deprivation wrecks the human capacity for hope.

  30. johnhenrycn says:

    Toad, I do not condescend or make light of the sufferings of people who live in grinding poverty, but I have prayed to die a poor man. My prayer is said with trepidation because I am not full of courage, but also in earnest because I believe personal poverty (I’m not quite there yet) chosen voluntarily and in solidarity with those born into that state is one of the surest pathways to Heaven. There are, I suggest, many devout Christians who do live in abject poverty and who are nonetheless possessed of “joie de vivre”. A priest I know who was once assigned to a dirt poor parish in a dusty Mexican village told us that members of his flock there were amongst the happiest people he ever knew.

    These words of St Claude de la Colombière (1641-1682) are profound:

    “Let me show you a good way to ask for happiness even in this world. It is a way that will oblige God to listen to you. Say to him earnestly: Either give me so much money that my heart will be satisfied, or inspire me with such contempt for it that I no longer want it.

    Either free me from poverty, or make it so pleasant for me that I would not exchange it for all the wealth in the world. Either take away my suffering, or – which would be to your greater glory – change it into delight for me, and instead of causing me affliction, let it become a source of joy. You can take away the burden of my cross, or you can leave it with me without my feeling its weight. You can extinguish the fire that burns me, or you can let it burn in such a way that it refreshes me as it did the three youths in the fiery furnace. I ask you for either one thing or the other. What does it matter in what way I am happy? If I am happy through the possession of worldly goods, it is you I have to thank. If I am happy when deprived of them, it gives you greater glory and my thanks are all the greater.”

  31. toadspittle says:

    JH, I’m thinking more of the people, often as not children, who “live” by picking through garbage heaps. There may well be happy, smiling, poor who revel in hunger and deprivation. I don’t know.

    All this reminds me of a favourite quote from Epicurus, which goes (more or less) like this: “If you want to make a man rich – teach him what he can live without.”
    I will say no more on this topic, as I feel I’m getting all pompous and preachy.

    “…but I have prayed to die a poor man. “
    Why wait, JH? Why not start right away?
    “If I am happy when deprived of (worldly goods,) it gives you greater glory and my thanks are all the greater.”

  32. ginnyfree says:

    Bravo Kathleen! Very good response to Toad and Tom. God bless. Ginnyfree.

  33. ginnyfree says:

    Toad, when the good Lord said what He said, everyone within earshot knew exactly what He meant. The word equivocation hadn’t been added to the Catholic lexicon yet. He wasn’t talking in a symbolic way. He meant the poor and everyone knew who He meant. He said we would always have the poor with us and we respond as Christians do with charity. The distortion of this message is what the Cardinal is talking about. People do and he’s sick of it, as am I. Did you even bother to look at the report on Catholic Relief Services that I provided at the Lepanto Institute? Be honest. If you didn’t I will tell you it exposes the millions of dollars of Catholic monies that get regularly given in the form of grants to promoters of contraception, sterilization, abortion and even homosexuality. I’ve learned of this corruption years ago and the day I did was the day I stopped donating to CRS. Open your eyes. Read the reports at Lepanto. Listen to the Cardinal. They are right. God bless. Ginnyfree.

  34. toadspittle says:

    No, I didn’t read it, Gin. Because CRS can put its own house in order – if it wants. It won’t consult me first. Or even you.
    ….Let’s just stop pretending being poor is either noble or nice. Because it’s not It’s rotten.

  35. kathleen says:

    Ginny,

    Thank you very much for your kind words – but I think the golden star for the best entry should probably go to JH @ 12:36 yesterday for that wonderful quote from St Claude de la Colombière.🙂
    And you yourself have brought up some insightful points and provided that important link to what is really behind some of these so-called Catholic charities. The Lepanto Institute’s findings of the CRS’s devious workings to supposedly reduce poverty is an absolute scandal. Is the Vatican aware of what’s going on with their eugenic programme? I suppose they must be; Cardinal Sarah certainly knows about it – hence his criticism of their “slogans”!

    ———-

    “Let’s just stop pretending being poor is either noble or nice. Because it’s not It’s rotten.”

    OTOH, if being rich (in every sense) leads you to forget God and take the wide and easy downward path to Hell, that is most definitely neither “noble” nor “nice”, I would say. In fact it would be truly “rotten”!

    Stop “pretending” you do not understand what everyone (especially Cardinal Sarah) is saying here, Toad!

  36. toadspittle says:

    The choice is not between “poor,” and “rich,” Kathleen – it’s between poor and not-poor. Monks, and the like, are not really poor. They lead simple, basic, lives, which is only good. But they aren’t desperately worried (or so I hope) by how they will feed the kids today and stop them joining drug gangs, or how to find the rent by Friday.
    I think* I do understand what Sarah is saying.
    – And I disagree with him. …But will bloviate no more on this.

    * It is impossible to speak in such a way that one cannot be misunderstood. (Popper.)

  37. JabbaPapa says:

    The choice is not between “poor,” and “rich,” Kathleen – it’s between poor and not-poor

    Why can’t it be both ?

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