[Blogging later at night than early inclines me to publish without being totally satisfied with every jot and tittle in a post. (“Get it done, get to bed.”) To wit, there was one sentence that gave me pause–“Yeah, I could say that better”–, so I’ve modified this post (in red) to rectify a poorly written clause.]
“The aid offered by the West to developing countries has been purely technical and materially based, and not only has left God out of the picture, but has driven men away from God. And this aid, proudly claiming to “know better,” is itself what first turned the “third world” into what mean today by that term. It has thrust aside indigenous religious, ethical, and social structures and filled the resulting vacuum with its technocratic mind-set. The idea was that we could turn stones into bread; instead, our “aid” has only given stones in place of bread. The issue is the primacy of God.”
— Pope Benedict XVI, 2007
“[The Church’s] foremost goal is to care for the penultimate (hunger, housing, clothing, shoes, health, education…) to be then able to care for the ultimate, those problems that rob us of sleep after work (our finiteness, our solitude before death, the meaning of life, pain, and evil…). The answer the Church gives to the “penultimate” will entitle her to speak about the “ultimate.” For that reason, the Church must show herself as a Samaritan on earth –so she can some day partake of the eternal goods.”
I’m glad that Pope Francis is promoting the cause of the hungry with such zeal.*
I smell a Nobel Peace Prize.
“The parable of the loaves and fish teaches us exactly this: that if there is the will, what we have never ends.” (* HT to Whispers)
The pope’s right-hand man, Cardinal Maradiaga, has also pitched in to the cause:
I have two children, so the Cardinal’s words about the sounds of a hungry child crying in the night touched me.
I also agree that there is enough food in the world to feed all persons. The problem is not production, still less the bogeyman of “overpopulation.” The problem is a defective and corrupt network of resource allocation, and artificial barriers to the market imposed on the poor. The poor are not a monolith, and they do not need mere charity; they need charity that generates solidarity so that they can contribute their vast but economically “invisible” resources (or non-liquid capital) to the web of production. This is the great lesson of Hernando de Soto’s The Mystery of Capital [PDF!]. Kiva.org is a stellar example of how to empower the poor in their relative poverty, rather impoverishing them as ongoing trophies of our charity.
Lest we lose sight of the deepest forms of poverty, and lest we assume the Church is a mere NGO, contrary to Pope Francis’s injunction, Michael Voris reminds us that mercy without grace is a utopian dead end.