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The current discussions of "the poor" (both here and elsewhere) in the context of the pope's statements seem to make no distinction between those who are materially poor and those who are spiritually poor (i.e. not "the poor in spirit" of the Beatitudes, but the spiritually impoverished). Certainly, poverty in spiritual matters is a more dire problem than material poverty, because its consequences are eternal. It is true that material poverty can often lead to despair and spiritual desolation, but it is not a given that the materially needy are the ones most in need of our kindness. We live in a spiritually impoverished world. The spiritually needy are all around us, and they include the rich. Is this new pontificate going to concentrate only on those who are temporally needy? I regard the widespread lack of faith and prevalence of error to be the greatest sources of spiritual impoverishment. Will concentration on material poverty do anything to alleviate these merciless destroyers of souls?

This ambiguous talk of a "poor church for the poor" is superficially clothed in the language of the Gospels, but we have yet to see the authentic spiritual message of the Gospels emerge from beneath these garments.
I think he wants the Church to focus not only on material needs, but definitely the spiritual needs of the poor. In his first homily he said "...we can walk as much we want, we can build many things, but if we do not confess Jesus Christ, nothing will avail. We will become a compassionate NGO, but not the Church, the Bride of Christ."
We live in a spiritually impoverished world. The spiritually needy are all around us, and they include the rich. Is this new pontificate going to concentrate only on those who are temporally needy?

This. Is. The Question.

In the western world the poor in their gospel meaning are an extinct species. In the Third World countries it is a different story and therefore the Church should not have a universal approach to material side of that.
In the western world the rich are actually much more in need for the spiritual guidance
Interesting--all the early texts of the homily had "pitiful NGO."  I've seen it also translated as "compassionate" or "charitable."  Looking at the other official translations now on the Vatican website, it seems "social assistance NGO" is what was said--not quite pitiful, but definitely more sterile than most translations let on. 
I think the poverty that Our Lord refers to in the Beatitudes is the kind that the soul has that feels its own need for grace.  If this is what Pope Francis means by his wish for a poor church, then I share his wish.
I know, right? Doesn't Pope Francis understand that the wealthy face greater suffering than those lazy looters could ever imagine? We had better send him some books by Thomas Woods and George Weigel and pray that he comes to understand that our Lord, the first and greatest religious entrepreneur, was a firm libertarian who was in no way concerned with the suffering of "the poor."
Cdl. Timothy Dolan has spoken to this point more clearly and forcefully than I:

A second common misperception is that a new Pope can “change doctrine.”  That, of course, is impossible.  Catholicism is a revealed religion, meaning we believe that God has told us about Himself and about the meaning of life, primarily by sending us His Son as the “Word made flesh.”
To preserve this truth, to “pass on” the faith to our children, is at the very essence of the Church, and the “job description” of the Pope.  He cannot change the deposit of faith.
Some have the impression that we are electing a man who has a “platform,” who can decide new “policies” for the Church.  We are not.
Yes, a new Pope can develop fresh, new strategies to better, and more effectively, teach the doctrines of the faith. In fact, this is a big part of what we call the New Evangelization: to express the timeless truths of the faith — especially the message and mystery of the Person who called himself the Truth, Jesus —in a timely, radiant, more compelling way.
Remember the way Good Pope John explained it on the eve of the opening of the Second Vatican Council?  The faith of the Church is a gift that cannot be altered, he remarked.  But, the way this gift is “wrapped” can!  That is always a challenge for a Pope.
In other words, the how of our teaching can change; the what of it cannot.
Because, as Billy Graham used to say, the aim of life is to change our lives to conform to God’s will, not to change God’s will to match ours.  We let God re-create us in His image; we do not attempt to create God in our image!
(03-20-2013, 06:09 PM)Crusading Philologist Wrote: [ -> ]I know, right? Doesn't Pope Francis understand that the wealthy face greater suffering than those lazy looters could ever imagine? We had better send him some books by Thomas Woods and George Weigel and pray that he comes to understand that our Lord, the first and greatest religious entrepreneur, was a firm libertarian who was in no way concerned with the suffering of "the poor."

My post was a sincere spiritual query, and you respond with this trolling trash. You should be ashamed of yourself.

Read my post again. I never said the rich suffer more. I only mentioned that they could be the object of greater spiritual impoverishment, and that the spiritual realities are what really matter.

I am all for corporal works of mercy. But it is naive and un-Catholic to believe that addressing solely material injustices is addressing the most important problems of the human condition.

After all, riches do not always lead to temporal happiness. The Notorious B.I.G. said it best: "Mo money, mo problems."

Okay, but the problem, from my point of view, is that saying that "spiritual realities are what really matter" can all too easily be used as an excuse for complacency or for making Christian faith a purely private, individual matter. Yes, an exclusive focus on material wellbeing is obviously un-Catholic, and I assume this is what Pope Francis was getting when he said that the Church will become just another compassionate NGO if it does not always keep Christ at the center, but it is also problematic to draw a sharp distinction between the corporal and the spiritual works of mercy. Traditionally, the two have always gone hand in hand. It is not as if they are somehow in opposition to one another. Many of the saints who were concerned with converting others were also concerned with materially aiding the poor and the powerless. This is not to say that conservative Catholics have no concern for the poor, but it seems to me that they can easily fall into the trap of separating the corporal and the spiritual works of mercy and arguing that the Church should for some reason only concern herself with the latter.
I posited a simple question regarding the pope's statement. I never set up a dichotomy between spiritual and corporal works of mercy. The unity of the two did not seem clear to me in the pope's statement. Yet you now respond with an attack on an absent foe (i.e. the "conservatives"), citing a "sharp distinction" between the spiritual and corporal works. Who has done this in this thread? What are you talking about?
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