Sunday, March 17, 2013

Poverty: what is it?

"Don't forget the poor!" And those words came to me: the poor, the poor. Then, right away, thinking of the poor, I thought of Francis of Assisi.
This is how the Pope described the choice of his name, he has spoken of "a poorer Church for the poor" but, maybe I am a bit stupid, I am not sure what "poor" means.

I understand it in the context of a poor village built on the side of a rubbish tip with no water, no food, no education or no real weatherproof shelter. Its occupants by my standards are poor.
But what about the man who earns vastly more than his neighbours and yet spends it on some expensive destructive vice, such as drink or drugs or even the opera or an education, which means he cannot feed himself. Is he poor or feckless? I am always troubled by talk about the "deserving poor", we certainly rarely hear about the "deserving rich".

I had a friend who was Friar, I stayed with him in his friary, it was the only monastery where I have shared a bedroom with two of the community. It was in the poorest block of flats, on the poorest estate, in the poorest city in the country. The furniture was all recycled, the food was incredibly cheap but very good. They had used their skills to make an old car seat into a comfortable chair and rather beautiful chair, they knew where to borrow the tools and they had the imagination to design it, and to make a good food they knew what ingredients to use to feed five for a quarter of the price the part-time prostitute next door spent to  feed her three children. Were these Friars poor? No, their education, their social background, their contacts, their imagination, even their physical and mental health as well as their organising skills marked them out as being almost an alien life form.

I suspect many non-Western cultures are socially heavily stratified, there are the poor who are distinct from the rich. Poverty in this context is about the lack freedom, something not far above slavery. In some Liberation theologies it has, I think, a particular meaning that is connected to class struggle.

As for the Church being poorer, I am not sure what that means either.
Most of our money is in real estate: buildings. Do we sell off the ancient and culturally significant buildings in city centres and the devotional art within them and move to the cheaper suburbs. Certainly we exist as a Church to proclaim Jesus Christ, we not museum keepers. But what about our Catholic schools and hospitals, again we are an NGO supplying education, medical care or any other services, should those be given away to local communities, and the equipment in them, do we just use the cheaper and less advanced, should a Catholic hospital have a highly expensive CATscan or employ expensive staff, where does poverty come here?

As far as education is concerned, do we as Church stop sending students to the better universities in solidarity with poor and less advantaged, or even stop sending the then to university at all. Education is after all the opener to many doors and to influence and power, should we disdain all that?

I have known old Jesuits who kept all they had in a small suit case, ready to move to do the will of their superior at a moments notice. Here poverty was an internal thing, a lack of attachment to created things. Is that what Pope Francis means by a "poorer Church", or is it a Church stripped of its artistic heritage. Is it detachment, or is it a cultural desert?

Again in the West, or should that be the North, society might tend to suggest that those who are poor would include any who are poor by gender, sexual orientation, race, religious or non-religious belief. "Poverty" is obviously the buzz word of this Pontificate, just as "Continuity" was for the last one. It is importantant that we begin to understand it if we are to be loyal sons of the Church.


fidelisjoff said...

A church for the materially poor excludes much of the northern hemisphere. I am not wealthy but I am not poor is the church not for me? I am at times poor in spirit, in well being, in faith I know I need feeding. Being poor does not have to be equated with goodness. The poor can be just as selfish and greedy and wealthy people can be truly generous. The church is for all. Jesus mixed with all, the pharisees and tax collectors were unlikely to be poor. The poor do not want to be poor - Europe in its economic development has removed huge chunks of poverty. The poor need development not a form of idolisation.

George said...

Mother Teresa's famous quote regarding the greater poverty of the West..

Deacon Augustine said...

There are a lot of rather romantic notions of poverty doing the rounds these days. In my experience, the only people who voluntarily embrace poverty are those who can afford to.

For the rest of us mere mortals who know what its like to worry about whether there is enough money to put food on the table or pay the rent, poverty is a debilitating curse to be avoided. As fidelisjoff said above: the poor do not want to be poor. That's why, when pushed to extremes of poverty, people will sell their bodies, children and body parts if they think they have a chance to escape it.

The Holy Father is right to highlight the injustice of the oppression of the poor. But what good does it do to climb down into the hole with them unless you intend to help them get out of it? If we intend to just sit there and wallow in poverty with them, then we are as much use as an ashtray on a motorbike.

If he really wants a poor Church, then that can be arranged in 24 hours. All he has to do is order the faithful to cease donating money to the Church immediately. When everything has been sold off our priests and religious can beg for food and shelter like a lot of Buddhist religious do. That would clear out those who have lost their faith pretty sharpish too.

RJ said...

Blessed are the poor in spirit.

Kirt Higdon said...

I think the Holy Father gave a good example of what he meant when he urged Argentines not to come to his inauguration but to give the money they would have spent on that to charity.

Nicolas Bellord said...

You can see his Holiness conducting the Angelus at:

and there is also a video of his mass in St Anne's. At the Angelus he reiterates what he said at the mass in his sermon about God's forgiveness and how we should not tire of asking for that forgiveness as we sometimes are prone to. I found it very moving. I am not an expert on liturgy but I could see nothing wrong with any of this. I strongly recommend viewing it.

pearl said...

I hope and pray that Pope Francis will not approve of that wretched, wretched, money spinning operation , Medjugorje, the seers are now very wealthy our of it, thank you very much!

Rachel said...

I live in America, in a city that is named for the Blessed Sacrament. Within this city I live in a place that is abbreviated as DPH ( deepest part of hell )is what the locals call it. We have the poor all around us every day. I have to agree that there is a romantic view of poverty these days as another commenter said. I can say though that living here amongst the poor has taught me that just as riches are nothing in the sight of God so poverty is nothing if not lived with dignity. Both rich and poor alike are to live as children of God. Poverty does not give you a dispensation from charity. In the harsh reality of poverty it can be very tempting to excuse yourself from charity and true Christian brotherhood. The poor are called to imitate Christ, we are all called to imitate Him in His poverty. We are also called to imitate the three kings who came with very expensive gifts to worship the King of kings. I could go on and on but that's enough of a comment I am sure. I will just end with rich or poor give God your best in true poverty of Spirit and nobody will be poor.

Gungarius said...

I don't think he had in mind most of the "so called" poor in the UK where poverty seems to mean not being able to afford satellite TV.

Part of the problem is that benefits in the UK if you have children are extraordinarily generous, if there are several children and no one working they can amount to tens of thousands of pounds a year. This has, rightly, caused massive resentment against them, epitomised by the bitterness of single low paid people living in bedsits who have been forced to pay through their taxes for non working housing benefit recipients to have spare rooms - something now being stopped and consequently monstered as a "bedroom tax".

And there lies the flip side. If no children are involved benefits are utterly abysmal, not enough to live on.

I hate to say it (and it would cost me personally) but it has caused a form of corruption where certain people have children because it pays in benefits (approximately £3,000 per child per year until they are 18 in tax credits and child benefit alone), and that money does of course often not actually reach the children. I think all child benefits should be limited to three children maximum and benefits for people without children raised to a level that you can actually eke a basic existence on in a bedsit, which they are not at the moment.

If this is not done the whole concept of benefits will be discredited in this country and we will end up with the system collapsing. Then we will get large scale South American type poverty.

bob said...

One things for sure, the (British) Government definition of poverty is those who earn 60% of the average, is ridiculous. The poor ye have always with you is a fact on that ridiculous definition

parepidemos said...

Nicholas Bellford:

Many thanks for alerting us to the video of Pope Francis celebrating Mass at St. Anne's in Vatican City. I agree that it is well worth watching - if for no other reason consternation of the security personnel when Francis decided to do a walk-about!

However, I did notice that he said "for all" rather than "for many" at the consecration so I am wondering...

Angelo Cardinal Fratelli said...

May I comment that I grew up poor and went through 4 years of college and now am even poorer because of it. This is becoming a huge problem in America.

Supertradmum said...

Well, God, Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, Christ, said the poor are always with us.

This is true. Socialiam has destroyed many Catholics by making them think it is the business of government to take care of people rather than the Catholics themselves.

I am poor. I do not like being poor, But, I recognize the great spiritual benefits of poverty. I have no house, no car, no flat, no investments, no land. In this poverty, which God has allowed, I have found truth about myself and God. And, because I am poor, ironically, my family has disinherited me for my lack of success. Such is poverty. One is judged on top of all the privations.

Now, do I want the Church to have lace and trappings? YES. God is God and worthy of all things beautiful and magnificent.

He deserves the most beautiful liturgies possible. We are to do both: care for the poor and worship God in beauty. There should be no dichotomy and I am sorry that so many people make this into a false argument. People who think the Church is wealthy should consider the real salaries of the priests and the hardships of the Ordinariate families.

The poor we shall always have with us. And, it is we, not governments, who should reach out...

viterbo said...

Supertadmum please write to the Pope!

According to Argentinian Marcelo Gonzalez, ''

'[Cardinal Bergoglio] has persecuted every priest who made an effort to wear the cassock, preach solidly, or who showed interest in Summorum Pontificum.'
I have visions of Blackadders puritan aunt being let loose on the Church.

viterbo said...

the opposite of poverty of mind and heart from Martin Mosebach's - The Heresy Of Formlessness - "He was one of those priests who can be identified by their garb and who are now a rare sight. The Capri clergy were even less impressed when they heard that he seriously intended celebrating Holy Mass every day, alone; still, they were prepared to accommodate his religious scruples...he was was given the key to a little chapel in the Villa Jovis—which was remote and did not constitute a threat. It was late afternoon when we first ascended to that spot, by a long path that rose gently but constantly to the high ground, giving us a wide view of the gulf. We were greeted by an air of decay as we opened the door. The tabernacle’s metal door stood open. There were a few dusty flower vases on the altar, and a plastic sheet covered the mildewed altar cloth. The candles had burned right down. Chairs were scattered around haphazardly. The sacristy looked as though it had been left in a great hurry. Empty bottles, a tawdry chalice of some kind of copper alloy, mousetraps, electric cables for the annual illuminations, desiccated flowers, a chair with three legs—this was the “still life” presented to us. The priest opened the drawers. They revealed a damp amalgam of altar linen and albs and a disintegrating Missal covered in mildew. My parents had just given me an old Missal; I had wanted one from the time of the Holy Roman Empire, and the one they gave me was dated 1805—that is, just within the period—and published in Regensburg. This moldering Missal was the same edition, with the same pale, simple, and affecting copper engravings. There was nothing romantic about the desolate chapel. Unpleasant odors hung in the air; it was a dead place. My priestly friend opened the window, and warm air seeped in. He took a straw besom from some corner and started sweeping out the sacristy. He wiped the altar surface clean. He took the vestments from the drawers, spread them out, and examined them. Aha, one of the albs was clean and in one piece. He carefully cleaned the chalice. He discovered a bent crucifix, kissed it, and placed it on the sacristy chest. He arranged the altar and put the flower vases in a corner of the sacristy. The chairs were now in an orderly row. The altar was covered with a new altar cloth. We found two candles and put them in the tall altar candlesticks. There was a “people’s altar” in imitation wood, with a metal vine decoration stuck on to it. “That’ll make a good credence table”, the priest said, and in a trice we had put it against the right-hand wall. He found the bell rope, got on the ladder outside, and fastened the rope to the little bell. Now the bane was broken, the crust of sadness scattered. The wind blew through the open church door like the breath that brings an instrument to life. The priest put on a bespattered stole of violet satin, took a mineral water bottle he had brought with him, emptied its contents into a pink plastic pot, and began to pray; adding salt to the water, he blessed it and poured it into the little marble shells beside the entrance. I thought I could hear the stone breathe a sigh as it came to life again. At this stage a creased chasuble made of gold lurex thread was lying ready in the sacristy. I was pulling on the bell rope. The bell made a thin, clattering sound in the evening air, dispersed to all directions by the wind. People began to approach from the far distance, drawn by the bell. By the time the priest emerged from the sacristy, dressed in the creased gold chasuble, there were about twenty women and children on the rows of chairs. The priest bowed before the altar and began to speak: “Introibo ad altare Dei.” Never had the psalm “Judica” at the beginning of Mass seemed to me so clear and so full of life."

gemoftheocean said...

Viterbo -- thank you so much for quoting that wonderful passage. It reminds me of the transformation of St. Anne's in San Diego -- it's in a declining neighborhood, and the parish had gone to "mission status." I.e. no resident priest and Mass only said on a Sunday and closed up the rest of the week. In 2008 the parish was given to the FSSP, and a wonderful thing happened. The facilities were smartened up -- first concentrating on the church itself. New marble altar rails, new flooring, painting etc. Good vestments. There are now THREE priests in the parish, Mass is said daily, there is a thriving home schooling organization now, and the parish bought a nearby property and added a badly needed pastoral center and offices. The whole community has benefited. The longest standing Latin Mass community in the US now has a permanent home.

And I'm with supertradmum all the way. Why people hallucinate that because someone is poor they are automatically devoid of a sense of appreciation for the niceties of life is beyond me. In the Eastern Liturgy, the vestments used, decorations, etc. all are to point to the glories of worship we will experience in heaven. If I should be so fortunate to get to heaven, and find it is filled with hippies sitting around coffee tables drinking grape juice out of wooden mugs munching on dorritoes, I'm going to be ticked off, to say the least. The liturgy is to be a foretaste of heaven. People "poverty pimping" drive me crazy. They'd do well to remember Jesus rebuking the apostles who were griping about Mary Magdalene using expensive oil on Jesus to soothe Him.

Save us from socialists! They seem to forget that fine chalices etc. provide work for those who mine the precious metals, design the plate, market the plate, sell the plate, develop skills to maintain it. Fine lace can employ many a nun to provide for the support of the community, fine buildings provide work for the builders, to say nothing of all the people who supply and make all that goes into it. Do you feed everyone on the planet a few times by selling off all the church goods? Or do you indirectly provide jobs and then they can feed themselves as many times as they like? I go with THE JOBS! Most poor people would rather have a job than not. Enough with romanticizing poverty. It is neither fun nor particularly virtuous one way or the other. In particular, spare us the champagne socialists in government. Put the red shoes on, Pope Francis, they are to symbolize the martyrs, and spare us Mahoney blithering on about poverty.

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Whenever the young people whom I taught said that College Chapel should sell all its gold and silver and give the cash to the poor, I used to explain that I myself could not make such a decision, but that I would lead a campaign to persuade the College to do this if they would(1) sell their music systems and sporting equipment and (2) persuade their parents to sell their second homes so that all this money could go to the poor as well. This made them become very serious and thoughtful. A cheap trick?

Lola said...

Father Blake

"Poor" means spiritual poverty and "a poorer Church for the poor" means evangelization by example. As an Archbishop stated in the last Bishops Synod: “…the Gospel can be preached to empty stomachs but, only if the stomach of the preacher is as empty as his parishioners.” The Holy Father’s message is not about divesting the Church of its assets. If it were, he would not speak about the Church being a "pitiful NGO". It is also not about divesting the Church of traditional liturgical disciplines. It seems to be that we forget that Popes have different preferences with regards that and do not impose what they prefer on the universal Church. The message of the Holy Father is about humility and charity, which are not new concepts. I have been taught those as a child and all of our Popes (including Pope Francis, I have had seven of them in my lifetime) lived/live those virtues. Unfortunately, their examples are often impeded by some because of ignorance, arrogance and hypocrisy, simply because the knee-jerk reaction is solely in terms of temporal matters and overlooks the spiritual dimension of the message Popes impart.

God bless.

Nicolas Bellord said...

Parapidemos: This is rather curious. The Bones has put up the booklet for the inaugural mass on Tuesday. The Latin says "Pro multis", the English translation says "For many" but the Italian say "per tutti". Anyone familiar with Italian able to comment?

But if you look at the video of the Mass it is quite clear that the Pope is reading the words of consecration from the missal. Could it be that for Italians there has not been the revision of the wording that we have had in our new translation? I believe having a complete new translation is unique to the English speaking Church.

This is the kind of thing where I think we need to be very careful in judging the situation!

RJ said...

"Blessed are the poor in spirit" is also translated as "Blessed are those who know their need of God".

The materially wealthy might be thought to be more inclined to live in a cocoon which shields them from the reality of their dependence on God.

The materially poor, on the other hand, are daily reminded of their lack of self-sufficiency, so perhaps they are less inclined to forget their need for God.

But if a materially poor person lusts after riches, he is not 'poor in spirit' in the relevant sense - he is putting his trust in something other than God. If a rich person is indifferent to riches and generous in sharing because he recognizes God's lordship over all things, he is 'poor' in the relevant sense.

I think I might want to identify poverty with a just estimate of our dependence on God.

Bishop Sheen identified poverty with a consciousness of our own moral bankruptcy. More here:,388368

Fr Seán Coyle said...

Parepidemos, I've looked up the Mass in Italian in a number of places, eg,, and this is what I find for the consecration of the wine: Prendete, e bevetene tutti:
questo è il calice del mio Sangue
per la nuova ed eterna alleanza,
versato per voi e per tutti
in remissione dei peccati.
Fate questo in memoria di me. 'Per tutti' is 'for all' I guess that Pope Francis was simply following the official Italian Missal.

GOR said...

Over the years of controversy about the Novus Ordo Mass versus the TLM, I have been saddened by the divide among fellow-Catholics. When someone is so steeped in their own certainty that they say things like: “I will never attend a Novus Ordo Mass”, or “I won’t receive Holy Communion from a layperson”, I have to wonder about their faith.

Is Our Lord in the Eucharist any less present in the hands of a layperson than in those of a priest? Would you reject fulfilling your Sunday Obligation (and commit a Mortal Sin) just because a Novus Ordo Mass was the only alternative?

Sandro Magister quoted from an interview then Cardinal Bergoglio gave to the “30 Days” magazine in 2007. He spoke about the prophet Jonah and how when God ordered him to go to Nineveh, he fled in the opposite direction to Tarshish – because he wanted things to be done his way. He said:

“His stubbornness shut him in his own structures of evaluation, in his pre-ordained methods, in his righteous opinions…Our certainties can become a wall, a jail that imprisons the Holy Spirit. Those who isolate their conscience from the path of the people of God don’t know the joy of the Holy Spirit that sustains hope. That is the risk run by the isolated conscience. Of those who from the closed world of their Tarshish complain about everything or, feeling their identity threatened, launch themselves into battles only in the end to be still more self-concerned and self-referential.”

I think we will hear a lot more about this from Pope Francis and it may make us uncomfortable. Then, Our Lord's words made a lot of people uncomfortable. But, just as then, this may be just what we need to hear today.

Lola said...


I have wondered as well about the aversion to receiving the Holy Eucharist from an EMHC. Perhaps, we need to go back to reading up on the life of St Tarcisius?

God bless.

George said...

Serious work awaits the Holy Father along these lines. I reread Rerum Novarum over the weekend. I realize that subsequent popes expounded more on these economic issues and RN is not the sum total of Catholic economic teaching, but frankly the Church has done a poor job outlining a clear plan. Maybe it's an impossible task?

Rerum Novarum discusses necessary conditions for a moral and just economy, but doesn't tell us how this gets done. So much has changed since the Reformation and the Revolution. Fundamental changes in social and political dynamics. Is any real return to a state of justice possible? Yes, there was always evil in the world. But at the institutional level, Christendom was established to promote and preserve Faith, Hope, and Charity. Did it always work out that way? No, of course not. Man will always find ways to interfere with what's best of him.

The Enemy has led us down a path which has destroyed any real possibility (in a strictly natural sense) of a true system of economic and political subsidiarity. We've lost all concept of a society based on responsibilities and have replaced it with one based on rights. Responsibilities ensure social justice and charity; Rights are a poor substitution. We've lost any notion that cooperation is the force that holds together an economy and replaced it with competition as the basis for economic life. Is it even possible to have real social justice anymore? Is the Church only really capable of conducting a sort of simple triage or "first aid" on a bloodied and irreparably battered world.

Cosmos said...

GOR... Are we really going to return to the days before Benedict's papacy so quickly? Are Traditionalists really going to be reduced to a bunch of cowards who are not courageous enough to receive Eucharist in the hands?

Is there any data that would support the idea that Traditionalists are more materialistic, less giving, less tolerant of their neighbors? Demanding purity in worship is simply not analogous to refusing to hear the call of the Gospel. The two are of separate orders.

As our former Pope stated, the reforms implemented by VII in many, many places "created many calamities, so many problems, so much misery, in reality: seminaries closed, convents closed liturgy trivialized ... and the true Council has struggled to materialize, to be realized: the virtual Council was stronger than the real Council." At the heart of his critique is that which "earlier generations held as sacred remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful." Why did that even need to be said?

Those who stood aside and watched without pain as traditions were discarded, Churches were stripped, and novelty and innovation became the norm may have to question their own commitments as well.

We all have some explaining to do!

Nicolas Bellord said...

George: It is not an impossible task. It is just that the clergy need to preach about something which I never hear them preaching about, namely SIN. You do not have to be an expert in economics to preach against avarice, usury, gambling, lying, fraud and impunity.

Usury: Just look at payday loans where the interest is often several thousands of percent. Is the Government going to curb that? No. That is just one aspect of usury.

Gambling: In the old days gambling was regarded as a vice and gaming contracts were unenforceable thereby confining that vice to London Clubs. The Financial Services Act allowed any sort of gambling in the City. It brought down Barings to start off with - did anyone protest? No and we now have the worst banking crisis ever.

Fraud: We had the Equitable Life scandal where criminal fraud received the blessing of the FSA and the Tripartite Committee. Latterly we have had endless frauds by the Banks regarding insurance contracts, LIBOR etc. Has anyone been disciplined let alone prosecuted for any of this? No - impunity is the rule of the day.

A week or so ago the Catholic Herald published an article saying that the problem was entirely the fault of the public at large who were merely jealous and had only themselves to blame. I have never read such self-serving rubbish.

There are some simple basic rules of morality which would go a long way to preserve us from similar financial catastrophes in the future. Hilaire Belloc is worth reading on the subject!

Independent said...

When I was a child I was brought up in a house which had no proper water sanitation, no heating apart from one coal fire in one room, no hot water other than what was boiled, certainly no bathroom or indoor lavatory, and cold unheated bedrooms. When I see programmes on television about "the poor"in England I laugh. My grannie, who managed the household finances, would have laughed even more. We managed. So much poverty is the result of the mismanagement of resources. Perhaps ecclesiastics should advocate such selem. help rather than implicitly suggesting state action which can inculcate a culture of dependency and exacerbate the problme.

Nicolas Bellord said...

Cosmos: At the Papal Mass on Sunday communion was received kneeling and on the tongue.

George said...


I've read lots of Belloc and perhaps need to read more. But I frankly don't find programmatic solutions there. I see him identifying the problems and then demonstrating how historic Christendom answered those problems, but I don't see practical solutions to fixing the problems today. That's why I was curious if solutions even exist. (Same, obviously, a massive global chastisement and near universal return to the Catholic faith.)

Is it possible to buy a home without engaging in usury? (Recognizing that the home buyer is on what is recognized by most as the morally permissible part of an usurious contract. Nevertheless, home ownership is based on massive usury and life-long debt.)

Is it possible to preserve family wealth without engaging in gambling? By gambling I mean exposing wealth to unreasonably high risk in any of a variety of wealth preservation means related to the stock market or other schemes created by the world of finance. Anyone outside these gambling schemes sees their un-risked and saved wealth deteriorate over time through currency inflation. It certainly is immoral to have an economic system where holding onto one's wealth results in losing wealth.

The simple fact that we live in an age where for at least the last 200years Adam Smith's invisible hand has been leading families away from procreation is all one really needs to see to know that the system is unholy to the core.

The changes in family life, combined with the changes in economy, have made family planning universal (even among devout Catholics).

Secular scholarship shows very conclusively that the down turn in procreation began not in the 20th Century, but in the early 19th Century, with the advent at the local levels of banks. I highly recommend you read the study done by Richard Steckel entitled "Fertility Transition in the United States". It's available on line and can be located through a google search. One of the key take aways from the study is that the first major decline in western birth rate, adjusted for war and pestilence, preceded Vatican II, 1930 Lambeth, and even preceded the Industrial Revolution. The author is a secular researcher, but it clearly shows to me, at any rate, the incredible power of the monetary system on faith and family.

Archimandrite Gregory said...

I have a feeling that what Pope Francis envisions is a church that resemble the Missionaries of the Poor, founded by an ex-Jesuit Fr. Richard. One might not prefer their liturgical expression, but one can't be moved by the sincerity and obvious success of their work. Since 1981 more than 500 young men have given their lives to Christ.

Cosmos said...

Nicolas Bellord,

Thanks for that info., that is good to hear.

As Benedict taught, I think we should be very, very hesitant to undo the traditions of our forefathers out of a general recognition that they often carry significance and meaning that we miss. You can give a good reason to receive Communion in the hand, but is it so good as to require change of centuries of tradition? Benedict was calling us back to a method of reform and renewal that came about slower and more organically. We should not be getting major overhauls everytime there is a new Pope.

Personally, I am personally pretty excited about this Pope. I am hoping he is an articulate voice for Christian morality (of all kinds, not just our obligations to the poor). The point of my post was not to criticize him, by any stretch, but only to state that Traditionalists have become defensive for pretty darn good reasons.

Singalong said...

It is very upsetting and distressing to see such concern and foreboding about Pope Francis before he has even been inaugurated. He has been chosen for a great task, as Christ chose St. Peter, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. There have always been tensions in the Church, and differences in emphasis, and we should all accept the priorities which he chooses for this particular time in its history.

Nicolas Bellord said...

George: Belloc in his essay "On Usury" in "Essays of a Catholic" does have some practical proposals distinguishing between productive and unproductive loans. Usury is a sin against the commandment "Thou shalt not steal". Lending say £100 for 7 days and asking for repayment of £114 is charging 768% per annum and that is typical of pay day loans usually made to poor people. To my mind that is just stealing and should be prohibited. It will lead to a cycle of debt that gets worse and worse.

Much of derivative or contract for differences trading is pure gambling. When the man who broke Barings bet as to how a stock exchange index would move he was into pure gambling which is a grave sin when either you cannot afford it personally or it is somebody else's money.

When you sell an insurance product knowing that in the small print there is a clause which prohibits the insured from ever claiming because for example he is self-employed then that is fraud - another form of stealing. That has cost our banks billions. Has anyone been disciplined or charged with criminal fraud?

The current morality is that provided one can get round any regulation then that is okay. I believe though that there are some relatively simple moral principles that should and could be applied.

A few city gents being sent to prison would be a very good warning. It happens in the USA - why not here?

Anne said...

St. Pio was a poor Capuchin but his Mass was two to three hours long. St. Jean Vianney lived a life of extreme poverty but spent his few funds on having beautiful Vestments and proper Liturgical vessels for the Holy Mass. We have seen already the disintegration of reverence for the Holy Mass in many Churches and the consequences of same, which is fewer vocations to the Priesthood and Religious Life. We have to restore reverence to the Holy Mass, not diminish it.