Enough of the nonsense!
Are the Poor really at the Center of the Gospel?
Countering a misleading Bergoglian Mantra
Preaching a false but attractive-sounding gospel: the Jesuit Antipope Jorge Bergoglio
This past Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020, the Novus Ordo Sect observed the World Day of the Poor. The annual event was instituted by the Argentinian apostate Jorge Bergoglio (commonly known by his pseudonym, “Pope Francis”) in his 2016 “Apostolic Letter” Misericordia et Misera (n. 21) and was first observed on Nov. 19, 2017.
Francis loves to harp on service to the poor, and it is easy to see why. For one thing, it makes for easy applause from all quarters. After all, virtually everyone agrees that it is important to help people in need, and it requires neither belief in God, nor adherence to revealed truths, nor a terrible amount of personal decency. Constant emphasis on the corporal works of mercy, therefore, allows the false pope to look like a hero of compassion before the world.
Secondly, helping the poor is an endeavor that can easily be used in service of ecumenism and interreligious dialogue, since almost all religions agree on the importance of charitable works. Thirdly, the preaching of assistance to those in need lends itself easily to the propagation of heresies such as Pelagianism, according to which one’s works justify apart from sanctifying grace — an idea Francis loves to propagate in a sometimes more, sometimes less subtle manner:
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In his sermon for this year’s World Day of the Poor, Francis proclaimed the falsehood, as he had done before, that the poor are at the center of the Gospel. Although most of his homily was actually fairly good and he even managed to mention the necessity of grace, albeit somewhat convolutedly, he also claimed:
Do not forget: the poor are at the heart of the Gospel; we cannot understand the Gospel without the poor. The poor are like Jesus himself, who, though rich, emptied himself, made himself poor, even taking sin upon himself: the worst kind of poverty. The poor guarantee us an eternal income. Even now they help us become rich in love.
(Antipope Francis, Sermon for World Day of the Poor, Zenit, Nov. 15, 2020; underlining added.)
In his Angelus address later that day, he made the same point again:
Look, brother and sister, the poor are at the center of the Gospel; it is Jesus who taught us to speak to the poor; it is Jesus who came for the poor. Reach out your hand to the poor. You have received many things, and you let your brother, your sister die of hunger?
(Antipope Francis, Angelus Address, Zenit, Nov. 15, 2020; underlining added.)
Of course it is very noble and indeed very important to stress that we must lovingly reach out to those in need, those who are suffering from any temporal hardship, as Christ the Lord had commanded His followers to do. And in fact, oppression of the poor is one of only four sins that cry to Heaven for vengeance (the other are murder, sodomy, and defrauding the laborer of his just wages). But that is not the same thing as saying that the poor are at the center of the Gospel.
In fact, let us engage in a little biblical experiment to test Bergoglio’s claim. If indeed the poor are at the heart of the Gospel, we would expect frequent and emphatic mention of them in the sacred text, not only in the four Gospels but also in the rest of the New Testament. But do we?
Doing a word search on the entire New Testament for the term “poor” only returns 34 results, and that includes a blessing of “the poor in spirit” (Mt 5:3; cf. Lk 6:20), Judas’ complaint that the expensive perfume was used for Our Lord and not “given to the poor” (Mt 26:9; Mk 14:5; Jn 12:5-6), Our Lord’s response that “the poor you have always with you” (Mt 26:11; Mk 14:7; Jn 12:8), a reference to the poverty of Christ (see 2 Cor 8:9), etc. Certainly, there are exhortations to assist the poor as well, but overall, one could not conclude from them that somehow the poor represent what the Gospel is all about.
A word search on the related term “poverty”, by the way, yields only three results in the New Testament: one of them being a reference to Our Lord’s poverty (see 2 Cor 8:9), one being a reference to the poverty of the church in Smyrna (Apoc 2:9), and one speaking of the “very deep poverty” of the Macedonian churches that “hath abounded unto the riches of their simplicity” (2 Cor 8:2).
Perhaps the best way to test Bergoglio’s claim is to use a Scriptural concordance, which is a book that arranges Bible passages by topic, listed alphabetically. Using the 1908 Textual Concordance of the Holy Scriptures (available for purchase here and here), edited by Fr. Thomas David Williams, we find the following entries, under which all applicable passages of both the Old and the New Testaments are not only listed but also quoted:
- Poor, The
- Poor Are Always With Us, The
- Poor Are Pleasing To God, The
- Poor, God Is Mindful Of The
- Poor, God Is The Helper And Protector Of The
- Poor, God Hears The Cry And Prayer Of The
- Poor, God Provides For The
- Poor, We Should Help The [–> Almsgiving]
- Almsgiving Brings Down The Blessing Of God
- Almsgiving, Rewarded By God
- Almsgiving, Commanded By God
- Almsgiving, Exhortation To
- Almsgiving, The Proper Manner Of
- Poor, We Should Do Justice To The
- Poor, Against Defrauding The
- Poor, Oppression Of The
- Poor, Punishment Of Oppression Of The
- Poor, Despising The
- Poor, Refusing Aid To The
- Poor, A Prayer For The
With that many entries about the poor, at first sight one might conclude that indeed the Gospel is filled with references to the poor. Interestingly enough, however, it turns out that most of the passages cited under each entry are from the Old Testament, not from the Gospels or the New Testament.
In fact, let’s go through the whole list again and note the number of New Testament passages given under each:
- Poor, The — 3
- Poor Are Always With Us, The — 1
- Poor Are Pleasing To God, The — 3
- Poor, God Is Mindful Of The — 0
- Poor, God Is The Helper And Protector Of The — 0
- Poor, God Hears The Cry And Prayer Of The — 0
- Poor, God Provides For The — 1
- Poor, We Should Help The [–> Almsgiving]
- Almsgiving — 3
- Almsgiving Brings Down The Blessing Of God — 1
- Almsgiving, Rewarded By God — 9
- Almsgiving, Commanded By God — 1
- Almsgiving, Exhortation To — 5
- Almsgiving, The Proper Manner Of — 4
- Poor, We Should Do Justice To The — 0
- Poor, Against Defrauding The — 1
- Poor, Oppression Of The — 0
- Poor, Punishment Of Oppression Of The — 0
- Poor, Despising The — 1
- Poor, Refusing Aid To The — 1
- Poor, A Prayer For The — 0
That’s a total of 34 New Testament passages. But how many of them are duplicates? Sometimes the same passages are found under more than one heading, after all. After a little bit of work, it turns out that 5 of the 34 pericopes are duplicates, which leaves us with 29 individual passages.
Out of those 29, however, how many are Gospel parallels? In other words, how many of them are really talking about one and the same incident, although recorded in more than one Gospel? For example, the Beatitudes are recorded both in Matthew and in Luke; etc. If we substract Gospel parallels and, in general, condense all remaining verses in such a way that only those remain that speak of separate incidents or lines of thought, we are left with only 24 selections.
And if, lastly, we weed out any verses that, although perhaps mentioning poverty or the poor in some way or another, do not really speak of the importance of aiding the poor (but rather, speak about being poor in spirit or mention the poverty of Christ, etc.), we are left with a mere 19 pericopes. That’s 19 individual passages — some of them even just fleeting references — throughout the entire New Testament that, according to Bergoglio, make up the heart or center of the Gospel, without which we cannot understand the Good News. It is preposterous!
Again, we are not trying to downplay the importance the corporal works of mercy play in the life of the Christian. Our Blessed Lord speaks about them at length in Matthew 25, and St. James’ Letter, for instance, addresses the question as well:
What shall it profit, my brethren, if a man say he hath faith, but hath not works? Shall faith be able to save him? And if a brother or sister be naked, and want daily food: And one of you say to them: Go in peace, be ye warmed and filled; yet give them not those things that are necessary for the body, what shall it profit?
It is divinely revealed that Faith without works is dead and will not justify anyone (see also Jas 2:24-26). On the flip side, however, it is likewise revealed by God that works without Faith will not justify either: “He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned” (Mk 16:16); “But without faith it is impossible to please God” (Heb 11:6); “For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, for it is the gift of God; not of works, that no man may glory” (Eph 2:8-9).
If we contrast the number of times the New Testament speaks about the poor with with the number of times the sacred text, and especially the Gospels, mentions sin and its consequences, the Redemption, Faith, salvation, grace and God’s punishment for its abuse, the existence of hell, and the threat of damnation, we will find that, all of a sudden, Bergoglio isn’t so interested in the center of the Gospel anymore.
At best, the fake “Holy Father” speaks about Christ only to those who already believe in Him. He never truly exhorts unbelievers to convert to Jesus Christ and His holy Church as the only Ark of Salvation. On the contrary: he either confirms them in their errors (such as a Buddhist here, Hindus here, Muslims here, and Jews here), talks other issues with them, or even tells them audaciously and blasphemously that God has willed there to be a diversity of religions, united in fraternity and dialogue!
That is the false gospel of Jorge Bergoglio, which we have dubbed the “Gospel of Man”. Man is at the center of his counterfeit gospel, and that is why the poor can feature there so prominently.
What is at the center of the true Gospel is not hard to figure out: The Incarnation. The Redemption. Calvary. The Resurrection. The life of sanctifying grace. Love of God and love of neighbor.
Does the love of God and neighbor include corporal works of mercy, such as almsgiving? Of course it does. But that doesn’t put the poor at the center of the Gospel, as though we couldn’t understand the Gospel without the poor. It just means that if we love God as we ought, then we will also love all people for God’s sake (see 1 Jn 4:20-21). Christ died for all and “will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4). Therefore it is our obligation to love (not like) all men, which means to seek their good, to desire their salvation and work towards it. “All things therefore whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do you also to them. For this is the law and the prophets” (Mt 7:12).
Francis, by contrast, has given the poor a totally exaggerated, uncalled-for quasi-divine status. He has claimed that Catholics ought to kneel before the poor because they are Christ: “Reach out your hand to the poor person: it is Christ”, he said at yesterday’s Angelus. Yes, there is an orthodox way to understand this (see Mt 25:31-46), but by calling on people to literally kneel before the poor, he reveals that the orthodox meaning is not what he wishes to communicate.
On May 23, 2019, Bergoglio proclaimed: “It helps us to be before the Tabernacle and before the many living tabernacles that are the poor. The Eucharist and the poor, fixed Tabernacle and mobile tabernacles: there one abides in love and absorbs the mentality of the broken Bread.” While Jesus Christ gets demoted to “broken Bread”, the poor become practically divine, with their own tabernacles, not on account of any likeness to God through grace, but simply on account of not possessing much. With that kind of pedigree, one wonders why it is, then, that Francis also wants to eradicate poverty. In any case, that is something Christ has prophesied will never happen (see Mt 26:11).
The fact of the matter is that just as being physically poor does not make one holy, neither does the act of relieving the temporal needs of the poor by itself confer holiness. Rather, for such a good deed to be supernaturally meritorious, it is necessary that the service be done for the proper motive (love of God) and under the auspices of God’s grace. We find this confirmed, of course, in Sacred Scripture: “For whosoever shall give you to drink a cup of water in my name, because you belong to Christ: amen I say to you, he shall not lose his reward” (Mk 9:40).
Commenting specifically on the merits of the good works mentioned in Matthew 25, the Jesuit scholar Fr. Cornelius a Lapide (1567-1637) explains that Christ “counts them done to Himself, because they were done to the poor for love of Christ” (Great Commentary, vol. 3 [London: John Hodges, 1891], p. 138; italics added). And in the Act of Charity, we declare unto God: “I love my neighbor as myself for the love of Thee” (source). It thus follows that if any such works are not done for the love of God (at least implicitly), but for some lesser motive, they will have no supernatural value before God, although He might still bestow a natural reward (cf. Mt 6:2).
In short, we can say that whatever good works we do, we do them to Christ in the sense that we do them to please Him; and if we do not do them — either not at all, or not in order to please Him — then we do not do them to Him. That is the beautiful, profound, and yet simple teaching of Our Blessed Lord in Matthew 25. From this follows the sobering truth that one can serve the poor all one’s life and still go to hell: “And if I should distribute all my goods to feed the poor, and if I should deliver my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing” (1 Cor 13:3).
Enough, therefore, of the Bergoglian distortion of the Gospel as in essence being about the poor!
The constant harping on the corporal works of mercy, while almost never speaking of the spiritual works, which are even more excellent than the corporal works, allows Francis to gradually turn (what is left of) Catholicism into a generic religion of creedless humanitarianism. The ripest fruit of that endeavor is found in his new encyclical letter, Fratelli Tutti, whose core message might as well have been written by an atheist.
Francis’ preaching about the poor relies on, and propagates, ambiguities and half-truths. That is what makes his preaching so very dangerous. It is not that everything he says is wrong or problematic in and of itself; rather, the problem is often its exaggerated sense, its one-sided emphasis, its double meaning, its overshadowing of other truths that are left out although they are no less important or even more so.
Whereas Francis claimed in 2018 that “[t]he poor evangelize us, helping us to discover every day the beauty of the Gospel”, Our Blessed Lord told St. John the Baptist that “the poor have the gospel preached to them” (Lk 11:5). Interestingly enough, at yesterday’s Angelus address, Francis suddenly discovered that “we are not all equal”, when at other times he is busy denouncing inequality as being unjust and at the root of all social ills and therefore needing to be overcome.
Francis is a man of contradictions, and that is no accident. His work is the subversion of Catholicism, or what’s left of it in his Modernist pseudo-church. To accomplish that, he must gradually shift the emphasis from the supernatural to the natural, from orthodoxy to heresy, drawing people’s gaze away from the world to come and focusing it instead on the temporal needs of the present world (cf. Col 3:1-2), all under the guise of charity and compassion, of course.
Instead of distorting the Gospel by maneuvering his beloved existential peripheries into the center, Francis should focus on what the Gospel is really all about, and that is the salvation of souls. Christ offers salvation from sin and from eternal punishment, and He does so by enabling us to attach ourselves to “his body, which is the Church” (Col 1:24), through Faith, hope, and charity. These virtues are infused into the soul at baptism, by which we first receive the abundant remission of our sins by means of an influx of supernatural grace that regenerates the soul, making it truly holy and restoring to it the likeness to God it had lost through original sin.
Now that is truly good news!
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License: fair use