Christians should not ignore the social gospel of caring for the poor for fear of “looking like the Communist Party,” Pope Francis has declared.
In his homily at Tuesday morning Mass at the Santa Marta residence in the Vatican he emphasized, “We are all responsible for one another, especially for the poor and needy, even though we often try to back out of this duty,” Breitbart News reported.
Francis said Christians try to ease their conscience “a little by giving alms, as long as it does not hurt too much,” because they fear that “with these social things the Church ends up looking like the Communist Party, and this bothers us.”
“Fine, but it was the Lord who said, ‘Where is your brother?’ Not the party, the Lord,” the pope said.
Citing the Genesis story of Cain and Abel, he said God is asking everyone today the uncomfortable question he asked Cain, “Where is your brother?”
By “your brother,” the pope said, Jesus means “the hungry, the sick, the prisoner, the persecuted for justice’s sake.”
He said everyone should take the word of the Lord personally.
“The Lord asks me: ‘Where is your brother?’ and then put the name of the brothers that the Lord names in chapter 25 of Matthew: the sick, the hungry, the thirsty, the one who has no clothes, that little brother who cannot go to school, the drug addict, the prisoner. Where is each of them, each of these brothers?”
Is the pope … ?
In 1949, a Roman Catholic Church document approved by Pope Pius XII declared Catholics who professed communist doctrine to be excommunicated as apostates from the Christian faith.
But in 2015, BBC News raised the question that has been on the minds of many faithful Catholics during the papacy of Francis: “Is the pope a communist?”
His “critique of free-market economics has made him an icon for the Left and prompted claims that he is a communist,” said the BBC magazine feature.
The story quoted Stephen Moore of the Heritage Foundation, himself a Catholic, saying there is “a lot of skepticism” among American Catholics.
“I think this is a pope who clearly has some Marxist leanings,” Moore said. “It’s unquestionable that he has a very vocal skepticism (about) capitalism and free enterprise and … I find that to be very troubling.”
The website Catholic Online in 2013 insisted the answer to the BBC’s question emphatically is no.
“Pope Francis is simply reaffirming Catholic teaching,” the website said. “He’s also modeling badly needed behavior.”
The pope emphasizes the disparity between rich and poor, Catholic Online said.
“Disparity in wealth means less opportunity and less freedom for people at the bottom of the socioeconomic scale. Such people become more likely to adopt socialist and communist ideals, which can be very nationalistic and opposed to freedom of religion or Christianity.”
However, statistics show that with the rise of free enterprise globally, billions of people have been lifted from poverty.
1. The number of people living in extreme poverty worldwide declined by 80 percent from 1970 to 2006.
2. Some 94 percent of the world’s population lived in 1820. In 2011, it was only 17 percent, according Oxford University’s Martin Roeser.
3. Globally, people in the lower and middle income brackets saw increases in pay of 40 percent from 1988 to 2008, according to the Adam Smith’s Institute’s Ben Southwood.
4. The world is 120 times better off today than in 1800 as a result of capitalism, according to the Foundation for Economic Education’s (FEE) Steven Horwitz, citing author Deidre McCloskey.
5. Mortality rates for children under the age of 5 declined by 49 percent from 1990 to 2013, according to World Health Organization data.