The Parish Church, Part 2

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By Arnold Van Vugt

The Living Spirit

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


I WISH to continue my column on the Church with some more quotations from Pope Francis. They are very relevant and applicable on my topic what the parish community is supposed to be.

Charity and solidarity

Francis says in his co-authored book ‘On Heaven and Earth,’ “Christian charity is the love of God and neighbor. It can begin with aid but it cannot stop at fundraising events. These are things that are called works of charity when, in reality, they are social conscience calming activities.

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These kind of programs are carried in order to feel good about oneself, but love always requires a person to go out from himself, to truly give oneself to others…there is no charity without love, and if charity is part of helping the needy, there is no love; it is feigned charity.”

Pope Francis states that, “The ‘word solidarity’ is a little worn and at times poorly understood, but it refers to something more than a few sporadic acts of generosity. It presumes the creation of a new mindset which thinks in terms of community and the priority of the life of all over the appropriation of goods by the few.

Solidarity is a spontaneous reaction by those who recognize that the social function of property and the universal destination of goods and realities which come before private property.”

Pope Francis further states that “the private ownership of goods is justified by the need to protect and increase them, so that they can better serve the common good; for this reason, solidarity must be lived as the decision to restore to the poor what belongs to them.

These convictions and habits of solidarity, when they are put into practice, open the way to other structural transformations and make them possible. Changing structures without generating new convictions and attitudes will only ensure that those same structures will become, sooner or later, corrupt, oppressive and ineffectual.”

International economic order

Pope Francis heavily criticized the current world economic system for “worshipping a ‘money god’ instead of putting the needs of the people first, especially their need for work. Where there is no work, there is no dignity. Unemployment is the consequence of a worldwide choice of an economic system that brings this tragedy that has at its center an idol that is called money.”

Pope Francis also describes the current economic system idolatrous that is without values. “It is a globalization of “indifference” to the poor, creating a throw-away culture that discards its elderly and the young. At the center must be man and woman and not money. Also, migrants are not pawns on the chessboard of humanity but brothers and sisters to be welcomed, respected and loved.”

Pope Francis says, “The dignity of each human person and the pursuit of the common good are concerns which ought to shape all economic policies. At times, however, they seem to be a mere addendum imported from without in order to fill out a political discourse lacking in perspectives or plans for true and integral development.

How many words prove irksome to the system! It is irksome when the question of ethics is raised, when global solidarity is invoked, when the distribution of goods is mentioned, when reference is made to protecting labor and defending the dignity of the powerless, when allusion is made to a God who demands commitment to justice.”

As one comment says, “the Pope’s social criticism is primarily directed against an economic and financial system in which the masses are exposed to the twin evils of inequality and exclusion. It is a system moved by unbridled competition for increased business profits, where the earnings of the minority grow exponentially vis-à-vis the majority, and financial speculation is insensitive to the needs of the poor.

The system, whose history confirms this outcome, is capitalism. By its very nature, capital becomes a continuous theft of work and an instrument of domination by the capitalist over the worker.

Women in the church

Pope Francis mentions that, “a church without women is like an apostolic college without Mary. The role of women mirrors that of that of the Virgin Mary. And the Virgin Mary is the most important of all apostles.

The church is female because she is a wife and mother, the church cannot be understood without the women that serve it. We need to create a theology of women. Let us remember that Mary is more important than the bishops apostles, so women in the church are more important than bishops and priests.”

[Email: nolvanvugt@gmail.com]

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on January 28, 2014.

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