Pope Francis has declared war on those who aspire to provide a better life for themselves and their families, expressing the misguided snobbery of a man for whom money has never been an issue.
In the first week of his papacy, when briefing the media, the pope exclaimed:
“Oh how I long for a poor Church for the poor!”
This statement is a perfect summary of Francis’ papacy, a primary theme of which has been a peculiar dislike of prosperity. His first major document, — “Evangelii Gaudium” — was a prime example of his disdain for those who are not content to soak in poverty or to submit to socialism.
In the document, Francis says that “the powerful feed on the powerless” in a free market economy, and that those who engage in the market become “incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor.” He says the “culture of prosperity deadens us.”
The pope’s snub of the struggle for prosperity is a typically derisive attitude toward the American quest for self-development, and an attitude that is often encountered among rich European liberals, or, in this case, clergymen who have not had to work to provide a better life for their families.
As a Catholic in my 20s, recently married and with a baby, I can testify to this. I was never much interested in making money when I was single; I was happy to have enough to pay my rent, with some left over for a few books and a season ticket to my soccer club.
But like millions of fathers, I am now working hard — not just to put food on the table, but to give my wife and child as comfortable and secure a life as I can.
The Church has traditionally understood and encouraged this aspiration. Unfortunately, this pope does not, possibly due to his career in bureaucracy that unusually contains zero experience at parish level, in which he would have at least had experience bringing in money.