Monday, October 22, 2018

Politicized Pulpits Dept.

     I dislike to come home from Mass angry, but there are days when it seems unavoidable. Today is such a day.

     My parish – St. Louis de Montfort in Sound Beach, NY – is graced by a couple of excellent priests. However, a couple of others don’t seem to grasp that the pulpit is not for politics or economics. Granted that this has been a problem for some time all around the country, every incidence of it elicits my ire, though I do my best to fight it.

     Some priests don’t grasp why preaching politics or economics from the pulpit is wrong. To be fair, some lay communicants don’t grasp it either. Yet it’s so clearly wrong, both from Christian fundamentals, the individualized nature of faith, and the privileged position of the clerical pulpit, that I can’t understand why they don’t get it.

     Allow me to put it simply:

Christ Himself separated faith from such things.

     Remember “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s?” What the Redeemer refused to do, His vicars on Earth should not presume to take up for themselves.

     Today’s occurrence was especially enraging. The celebrant made assertions that are provably false, to advance a completely fallacious political / economic position. Those assertions were along the lines of the old canard that “If the rich would just share what they have, there would be no poverty.” He cited Mohandas Gandhi as an authority, and went on to invoke Hindu conceptions of the divine as reinforcement.

     Disgraceful. But you don’t argue with a priest at the pulpit, delivering his Mass homily. Indeed, it would be inappropriate to take up cudgels with him even if he were to hang around afterward. The very most you can do is plead with him to stop.

     These uses of ecclesiastical authority to promote political or economic aims would be inexcusable even if they were founded on verifiable facts. The Christian faith isn’t about what others should be doing; it’s about what you, the communicant, should be doing.

     If you encounter poverty that deserves to be ameliorated, and you have the means, do so! Don’t foist off the responsibility for it onto the shoulders of some abstract, ill-defined group of others such as “the rich.” How do you know “the rich,” however defined, aren’t already doing one hell of a lot more to alleviate poverty than you could dream of doing, whether by charitable action or by creating jobs and advancing the economy? And how sure are you that the “poverty” you deplore isn’t the consequence of bad decisions or bad behavior – things that ought to be accompanied by some sort of penalty, so the “poor” person will learn to do better next time?

     Tenderheartedness about “the poor” has led this nation into a very bad course of action: specifically, a national attempt to eradicate not merely sustenance-level poverty but all economic discomfort whatsoever, regardless of its genesis. The major profiteers from this misplaced “compassion” have, as usual, been politicians and government bureaucrats. A priest who leagues himself alongside them, by preaching as today’s celebrant did, is doing harm, not good.

     Forgive me, Gentle Reader. I had to get it out before it blew me up from inside. It’s a cancer on Christianity that demands to be excised.


Linda Fox said...

No, I really do understand. The demonizing of "the rich" is one small facet of the Disorganized Left that has crept into the underbelly of The Church, and festered.

Could "the rich" do more? Probably. But, then, so could many of us. Ask for specific help, time-limited volunteering, and other LOCAL things, and I'm on board, as are others. It cannot be open-ended - most of us are willing to help in specific projects - as long as there will be a time in the near future when we can return to normal life.

The focus of our help should not be depriving ourselves for those who bloody well could do more to help themselves, but focusing on projects to END assistance. Which, for many who are poor, means getting them to examine what THEY could change, so they won't get into this situation again.

BTW, so could a few of the priests and sisters make more of a sacrifice. From the looks of them, and a lot of their Leftist brethren and sistren, they aren't skipping all that many meals.

daniel_day said...

"It’s a cancer on Christianity"
Not just Christianity.

Amy Bowersox said...

I spent my Saturday evening dancing and lipsyncing in a bar, along with ten other performers, and four hours on Sunday pouring beer for a bar full of thirsty gay men, all to raise money for worthwhile causes, including a local battered women's shelter. What has this priest done lately?

Francis W. Porretto said...

Well, Amy, to be perfectly fair, we can't know unless he tells us -- and it would be wrong to demand that he do so. Charitable works are supposed to be personal. Moreover, publicizing them negates their value, at least to the doer. There's a bit of the Gospel about it:

-- "Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly." [Matthew 6:1-4] --

The very same exhortation to individual charity rather than collective action indicts the welfare state and the urgings of Father X that "the rich," those perennial whipping boys, should take on the burden of alleviating the miseries of "the poor."