Please don’t misinterpret what follows. I love my Church, despite my handful of disagreements with it. But now and then some of its notables go off the rails so dramatically that I’m compelled to take exception to it.
The United States has a shortage of Catholic priests. Parishes from coast to coast find themselves needing to “borrow” priests from places on the other side of the world, just to meet sacramental needs. This has led to the importation of some deadly ideas. One of those ideas cross-cuts not only American principles but the very essence of charity.
It’s not that long ago that a priest who was visiting from India trumpeted to a Mass congregation that he who holds title to “unused” land is stealing it from people who have nowhere to live. I was shocked speechless to hear that. The priest in question was plainly well to the left politically, as he made plain in other statements from the pulpit, but that one knocked me for a loop.
Then, this very morning, I encountered the following statement from a Catholic saint with whom I was unfamiliar:
“The bread you store up belongs to the hungry; the cloak that lies in your chest belongs to the naked; the gold you have hidden in the ground belongs to the poor.” – St. Basil the Great
This completely destroys the concept of rightful ownership. It’s the sort of perversion that turns a lot of otherwise-well-disposed people away from the Church. It can’t be defended even as hyperbole.
Think about it! If I give you something that you need but that’s rightfully mine, I’ve performed an act of charity. If I “give” you something that’s rightfully yours, isn’t that just restitution – what the law calls replevin? Isn’t it the furthest thing from charity: an act of material generosity that arises from concern for another?
Yes, yes, I know: Pope Francis, himself hard to the Left, has made this sort of thing acceptable, even fashionable. He’s encouraging the looters-in-spirit to come out of their various closets. It’s wrong by every imaginable standard. And it’s doing terrible harm to the Church.
Karol Józef Wojtyła, better known to American readers as Pope John Paul II, must be spinning in his grave. I have no doubt that John Locke and Adam Smith are doing the same.
For material charity to exist at all, the right to property must be honored. Indeed, the Church must be among its foremost defenders. Instead we’ve been getting Marxist nonsense that undermines the concept all the way to its collapse. If it’s permitted to continue, the Church will be one of its casualties.