Has Pope Francis gone too far criticizing capitalism and hence alienating the world’s wealthiest people? For Germany’s Die Welt, columnist Torsten Kraue has come to the defense of the “bedeviled” affluent, arguing that they, too, are capable of redemption, and should be equal to the poor in the eyes of the church.
For Die Welt, Torsten Kraue starts off this way:
The luminous message of Jesus can be summed up in a single sentence: There are no first and second class citizens before God.
That is why Jesus graciously devoted himself to those in the Roman Empire who were hated and despised as second-class citizens: the prostitutes, the single parents, the poor, the beggars, the slaves, and those plunged into hardship through no fault of their own.
That is still Christianity’s answer for those who are hated and despised today, or were until recently: ethnic minorities, the poor, the beggars, some immigrants, and those who choose the path of crime. And in some countries, still homosexuals.
The church does not abandon such people. On the Day of Judgment, God will judge all people, each as an individual, taking their entire lives into account. People are not all role models in equal measure. In this respect, the Bible, too, sets priorities.
The Pope speaks of a ‘system’ that is evil
But Jesus also said: “I was hungry … I was thirsty … I was naked; I was sick and in prison” and “inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.”
The church does not praise all to the same degree; but has contempt for no one.
With the exception of bankers, it appears. The wealthy. Aren’t they now “the least, the despised, the outcasts?” Francis finds harsh words for them in his Evangelii Gaudium. According to Francis, social injustice is “crystallized evil.”
It stems, Francis says, from a “system” in which the poor are silenced or stunted [for lack of opportunity]. … The “earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few.”
The system is faceless, and its advocates are not people, but an impersonal “few” who “idolize” the market. The “system” is evil on Earth. If this is the case, are the “happy few” just a small fiendish group incapable of any understanding or compassion?
This choice of words irritates not only because it reduces all happiness to material prosperity. What is especially irritating is the contempt with which the Bishop of Rome speaks of those, who, like all fallible people, have hearts that Jesus wants to reach.
A church so narrowly focused on the material definition of happiness and unhappiness, of wealth and poverty, runs the risk of being perceived as a “kitsch” church that during Christmas ritually celebrates material deprivation as the highest value – as a pretext and an end in itself rather than a model and basis for the benevolent education of the heart
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