Pope Francis made one of his trademark hyperbolic statements on Tuesday:
Pope Francis said on Tuesday that poverty is the great teaching Jesus gave us and we can find his face among the poor and needy. Stressing that the poor are not a burden but a resource, he said he wished that both the city of Rome and the local Church community could be more attentive, caring and considerate towards those in need and that Christians could knee before a poor person.
Go here to read the rest. He also said that poverty is the great teaching that Christ left us.
How is a Catholic to respond when a Pope constantly makes statements that are bunk? If such statements were not frequent, say once a year for example, perhaps passing them over in silence might be the preferred strategy. When the statements are frequent, I think it is the duty of Catholics to speak out, so here goes.
Saying that Catholics should kneel before the poor is as wrong as saying Catholics should kneel before the rich. Catholics should kneel to no one but God. If the Pope was attempting to say that Catholics should attempt to help, care and love the poor, surely he has the vocabulary to do so without making a statement that so easily can be regarded as an attempt to transform the poor into a false idol.
Likewise poverty was not the great teaching that Christ left us. The great teaching that Christ left us is to love God and our neighbor. We love God by following Christ and His Teachings as given to us by the Church. We love our neighbor by attempting to do good to all mankind, which includes the poor, just as it includes the rich, our enemies and those we find personally annoying and offensive. How this love is demonstrated can be a complex issue in myriad circumstances, but Christ’s teaching that all men are brothers is at the heart of Christianity with love of God.