The miracle of sharing…

[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.”

— Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez, 25 October 2013

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!]. 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.


About The Codgitator (a cadgertator)

Catholic convert. Quasi-Zorbatic. Freelance interpreter, translator, and web marketer. Former ESL teacher in Taiwan (2003-2012) and former public high school teacher (2012-2014). Married father of three. Multilingual, would-be scholar, and fairly consistent fitness monkey. My research interests include: the interface of religion and science, the history and philosophy of science and technology, ancient and medieval philosophy, and cognitive neuroscience. Please pray for me.
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7 Responses to The miracle of sharing…

  1. Erick Banks says:

    “The poor with always be with you”… give anyway.

  2. Crude says:

    I disagree – I think the poor need our charity, and regarding them as mere… ‘opportunities waiting to happen’ is a bit too far into the Church of Capitalism than I’m willing to go. But I think a fundamental component to charity is a direct, personal connection between the giver and the recipient. Expectations on the part of the giver, gratitude on the part of the recipient. And charity begins at home, with the family, with the neighborhood… distributivism, as I understand it.

  3. tamsin says:

    It seems that our bishops approach the problem of feeding the poor with the following solution: give a man a fish, feed him for a day, go to sleep; wake up, give a man a fish, feed him for a day, go to sleep; wake up, give a man a fish…

    Do they ever wonder where the fish come from? Or would that show an appalling lack of faith?

    Our fishers-of-men seem never to concern themselves with the problems of the fishers-of-fish. Let alone with teaching men how to fish. If you have faith, the fish just appear! The fishers-of-fish are simply supposed to throw their nets over the OTHER side of the boat where the fish are, duh! Like Jesus said!

    I was turning over the problem of “where do the fish come from?” as I pondered the recent T-A-C discussion regarding whether the USCCB should have been a cheerleader for Obamacare, even if it didn’t pay for abortions, even if it did enroll immigrants.

    The default Catholic response to any new governmental distribution of fish seems to be: “give a man a fish? hell yeah we support that! we are big fans of giving men fish! go for it! God bless you, man! that is so Catholic!” And they never worry about where the fish will come from. Apparently the fish are swimming all on the other side of the boat.

  4. vermontcrank1 says:

    If only out of self-interest, we ought give alms for the Kingdom of Heaven is possessed by the poor, and we may require them to put in a good word for us –

    P.S. I have to largely agree with Crude. Just look around you, you prolly know a person in need and giving to that person without that person knowing it was you who provided that which was needed is a much larger gift than whatever you gave.

    Me and The Bride have done this and I can testify to the GREAT joy to be had by giving secretly, in the name of Jesus, all the while knowing God knows.

    Besides, Catholic Social Doctrine teaches the universal destination of goods, so, what they require is due them in justice in anyways.

  5. As I noted in my amended header to this post, it was posted somewhat hastily, and I left a lot of things unsaid.

    1) The main thing that I think was lost in translation is that I AM NOT FINDING FAULT WITH THE POPE’S PLEA FOR CHARITY. Rather, I was defending it by fleshing out what I believe effective charity looks like. One of the major obstacles to genuine relief is the overpopulation agenda which pretends that, garsh, there’s too many people to feed, so we might as well throw some charity at them to be humane. In fact, though, as the Pope and Maradiaga point out, there is enough food, not too many people, but mere “relief” is a notoriously maladroit strategy for getting food and resources to those who need it. The key is to divert such aid into local productivity.

    2) Microfinancing is completely the antithesis of capitalizing on the poor; it is helping them capitalize on themselves, as it were. Did you watch Jackley’s TED talk in the video?

    3) Citing distributism at the end of your comment restates my point in one word. The thrust of distributism is to increase the number of capitalists, as it were: to foster an ownership society. That’s precisely the aim of micro-financing. The old adage about giving a man a fish vs. teaching him to fish is warmly lauded, but as soon as you replace “a fish” with “capital” and “to fish” with “to produce”, you sound like a libertarian ogre. This is my cross. To wit….

    4) I have a hunch that even mentioning the word “capital” in this context sets off warning bells (perhaps not in your mind, but I have learned that such is the case in many a Catholic mind who cares about social issues). We live in a reflexively anti-capitalist milieu. Even the notorious “capitalists” in our day sin against the truth of it, since cronyism is not capitalism. The banksters are as scared of capitalism on a widescale as are ideological socialists in any capacity. Banksters like “capitalism” because it works for them and no one else, which is exactly why OWSers hate “capitalism”. The upshot is that anyone who is less than openly hostile to *the very idea of capitalism* is taken to be a heartless, raving advocate of laissez-faire libertarianism. The Church’s social teaching on “free markets” parallels Her teaching on “free persons”: sheer licence is immoral, a pseudo-freedom, whereas freedom to do the good (or freedom to exchange genuine goods in the public square of The Common Good) is true liberty.

    4a) Let me make a personal clarification: my wife and I give people charity all the time, out of my car, on the street, sometimes right from my front door. That may sound like the racist who says, “I have a lot of black friends,” but I assure you that I believe and practice charity as a corporal work of mercy. My point in this post is to get readers’ minds away from the (hypothetical) shallow reflex that giving a random guy some change at the bus station amounts to a serious desire to “help the poor”. Charity is really more about “us and God” than about the long-term efficacy of our benevolence.

  6. Brother IANS, please see my reply to Crude, above, as I had your comment in mind as well (I just didn’t want to double-post in this thread).

  7. Pingback: Day 7 of the Christmas Novena… | FideCogitActio : "Omnis per gratiam"

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