Letting the poor evangelize the Church
In Paragraph 198 of “Evangelii Gaudium”, Pope Francis writes:
“This is why I want a Church which is poor and for the poor. They have much to teach us. Not only do they share in the sensus fidei, but in their difficulties they know the suffering Christ. We need to let ourselves be evangelized by them. The new evangelization is an invitation to acknowledge the saving power at work in their lives and to put them at the centre of the Church’s pilgrim way. We are called to find Christ in them, to lend our voice to their causes, but also to be their friends, to listen to them, to speak for them and to embrace the mysterious wisdom which God wishes to share with us through them.”
This is one of those paragraphs that, ordinarily, I would not draw attention to for fear of embarrassing the author. It pretends to be full of deep insights and significance, but in fact it is senseless and absurd. Isn’t the Church supposed to evangelize the poor and not the other way around? If the “new evangelization” means only acknowledging the “saving power at work” in the poor and embracing their “mysterious wisdom”, then the “new evangelization” is the white flag of surrender. The Holy Father isn’t redefining evangelism; he is repudiating evangelism.
Note the language throughout the document: the Church is “we” and “us”, the poor are “they” and “them”. Although Pope Francis insists that he wants a Church “for the poor”, the Church apparently has nothing to offer them. The Gospel is for “us”, not for the poor – but it’s a this-worldly “gospel” that almost worships the poor. The poor themselves are never called to repentance, as they are already possessed of spiritual abundance. “We” just need to stop offending the poor with our wealth and start listening to them.
What a terrible, tragic mistake! Poor people are sinners, just like the rest of us, and because of their poverty their sins only compound their misery. Unlike the wealthy, whose resources can alleviate the temporal consequences of sin, the poor are devastated and trapped by their sins. I’m afraid that what Pope Francis actually proposes is depriving the poor of the true Gospel, which alone can make them free.
“The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me: he hath sent me to preach to the meek, to heal the contrite of heart,
and to preach a release to the captives, and deliverance to them that are shut up.” – Isaiah 61:1