It is common today to imagine the Church merely as an instrument of economic change, oriented exclusively to the physically poor, “a poor Church for the poor.” God, if he is thought of at all, exists only to alleviate discomfort. The error of this lies in a radical inversion. Final or eschatological salvation is treated as a symbol of material betterment, which is exactly the reverse of the truth. This thinking leads ultimately to a distorted idea of the Father. God, of whom we are created images, is thought a created image of man, a metaphor for the human person. Service of man is taken to be the ultimate good, and the Trinity is imagined a metaphor for the human community, a symbol of the harmony created by social justice. The untamable Lion is in fact domesticated, or so we imagine. …
[I]nasmuch as the Church is the Church of the poor, it is chiefly spiritual poverty of which she is the remedy. Another way of saying this is that the spiritual works of mercy give meaning to the corporal. Without the former the latter are at best mere humanism. The Church’s bishops are at the helm of a divine society, and open politicking or catering to particular social strata on their part is obscene and scandalous.
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