View Full Version : The Pope and the Pauper
Why does the pope get to live in a big fancy palace while the faithful often have a hard time just figuring out where to get their next meal from? Shouldn't the church, in order to tend to the flocks, try cutting back a little on extravagances? I know there are people who would abuse such generosity, but wouldn't it be worth it to help the honest people?
I'm not singling out Catholics, either. I haven't failed to notice the Cadillacs and Lincolns being driven by the clergy of all faiths around here.
12-24-99, 05:39 AM
I wonder why myself. Having things that last,... o.k. Still, I'd feel guilt living there.
Love those that Hate you,
Having things that last is okay, but that place where the pope lives is going just a little overboard.
In my home city there's a church downtown, St. Joseph's Cathedral. It's been here since this place belonged to Spain. A few years ago it was declared unfit to survive an earthquake. It's a beautiful building and well worth keeping around. They put out the money to refit it and all was well. Then they decided that the whole thing needed a beauty treatment, so the Catholic church poured millions of dollars into the job. They even attached a gift shop to the side, justified by the fact that the cathedral is a tourist attraction of sorts.
Meanwhile, the poor, the needy, and the homeless were being turned away because of lack of funds to help them. There was anger, there was outrage, and work on the Cathedral was sabotaged a few times. Work proceeded, however, and when the scaffolding came down, a true work of art was revealed. The gleaming dome outshone even the "Gold Building" right across the street (a financial building covered in gold-tinted reflectorized glass).
Many people who depended on the church for help had to go hungry because of this misallocation of funds. The facelift on the building was unnecessary. It was purely aesthetic.
After the work was done, the head priest retired and a new one took his place. Although the building was beautiful, he couldn't justify leaving the poor behind. He organized some fellow clergy to open up a soup kitchen at the side of the cathedral. This soon expanded into a job-training program, which then added on a housing assistance program, childcare assistance, and financial assistance. The saboteurs confessed and the head priest forgave them, understanding their outrage.
This is where he clashed with the big boys. The Vatican threatened to remove him from his post if he did not represent them in court against the saboteurs, who had cost them so much money. They also ordered him to close down the programs he was running out of the church. They told him to find another building and to stop using church funds.
Well, to make a long story short, the priest went public with his story, the Vatican fumbled, the poor still turn to the cathedral for help, and the flock is tended by the one man who keeps me from condemning the faith altogether. I don't know his name, but he's known around here as the Rebel Priest.
[This message has been edited by Oxygen (edited December 24, 1999).]
12-25-99, 09:31 AM
Merry Christmas morn to you!
I agree that such contradictions exist more often than not... Think about how Jesus Christ lived. He was of very modest means. Then, think about how we live. Most of us probably have more in the way of material things than Christ ever had. For example, in this day and age, we might need a reliable car to get to work. But, do we REALLY need an expensive NEW car??? Or, could we take the difference between a reliable used car and payments on a new one and provide some poor family with food and clothing, monthly, for five years or so??? Yes, we could. But, for some reason, most of us would not do it. Why? Because we are like many of those in the Catholic Church whom you despise. For some reason, we consider material things to be important. It is how some people measure their worth and the worth of others. Some of us even worship these material things. But, as you know, they are not what truly matters. Becoming Christlike and serving those less fortunate than ourselves is what really matters...
The Rebel Priest you speak of IS doing the work of Jesus Christ! God Bless him and all who use their calling to serve others in the ways that Jesus Christ taught us!
May this Christmas morning motivate us all to understand and to act upon the true meaning of giving...
God Bless you, too, Oxygen!!! :)
[This message has been edited by truestory (edited December 25, 1999).]
12-28-99, 02:52 AM
Great post oxygen.
"""""""Why does the pope get to live in a big fancy palace while the faithful often have a hard time just figuring out where to get their next meal from?"""""
I don't know. But I also need to point the finger at myself. I just bought a new stereo today. Theres a lot of better things I could have done with my money. For instance, giving to the poor, but I did not do that. I'd probably be accurate in saying that none of us give all that we have to the poor. It reminds me of a story in the Bible. I don't remember the exact location of it so I will paraphrase it. "A poor widow gives a very small offering in the church temple. Other attendees make fun of her and scoff and say, "Thats it?" Because they gave more they thought they were better. Jesus rebuked them saying "She gave more than all of you. You all gave what you wanted to spare and had extra but she gave all that she had."
Can we call ourselves good people? Can any of us say, without lying to ourself, I am a good person? I don't think so. We may say we are not the cause of these people's poverty but we are the solution. Love seems like it should be a verb. Just like faith without works is not true faith. We can change the world. If we don't who will? God left us in charge.
Yes some poeple give more than others and some over do it with material things but we can't rely on the rich to do everything.
"If I were Bill Gates I'd give billions to charity. What will he do with all that money?" That claim is common and is made so often about people who have lots of money. We can't rely on the rich to stop poverty (it's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven). It seems us humans are mainly talk and want to push off the blame on others. We, myself included, are sometimes to prideful to admit that we are not doing are part to help out. Another person's poverty may not be our fault but if we do not help them out we are contributing to their demise. Being inactive is equivalent to being bad.
Some churches do seem to manage their money badly. Repainting the driveway seems more important than feeding the poor. But again, painting our houses every so often also seems to be more important than feeding the poor. But churches do a lot of good also. The salvation army is an oficial christian denominations. Its a branch of the pentecostal church. Churches feed families around the holidays. They raise money for certain charities. etc. etc. Some churches may misuse money on a large scale as do many other orginizations (christian and non-christian). But we are all guilty. We would most likely be misusuing money on just as large a scale if we were in charge of the same amount. (Look at what I do with the little that I do have) We all need the cleansing power of Christ's blood!
I hope this was received in the spirit it was intended.
[This message has been edited by ilgwamh (edited December 27, 1999).]
12-28-99, 05:22 PM
"A poor widow gives a very small offering in the church temple. Other attendees make fun of her and scoff and say, "Thats it?" Because they gave more they thought they were better. Jesus rebuked them saying "She gave more than all of you. You all gave what you wanted to spare and had extra but she gave all that she had."
I've seen this story in two places in the NT, but in neither place does it say that anyone had scoffed at the widow's offering (reference Mark 12:41-44 and Luke 21:1-4).
Yes, I do think it's important to share what we have with the poor. Isn't this part of what our taxes are going for? But more important than giving a man a fish is teaching him to fish, if you get my drift. It is good to give him a fish now and then while he is still learning how to fish, lest he starve to death in the meantime. But if he never learns to fish himself, what favors have you really done him in the long run?
12-28-99, 05:35 PM
If he has no means to make it to the waters or cannot afford fishing gear or has no use of his hands, etc... you have done him a great favor.
12-28-99, 06:04 PM
I'm not suggesting that we shouldn't support those who, due to severe handicap, cannot support themselves. Again, isn't that part of the reason we pay taxes? For those who are capable of doing something to support themselves, we should make every effort to provide the education and other tools necessary to help them attain self-sufficiency. And fishing isn't the only way to make a living, you know! :)
12-28-99, 06:20 PM
This reminds me a story that was run in our local paper, ten days before Christmas, about a local family whose rental home had been sold right out from under them around a year and a half ago. Local landlords would not take them in because the adult daughter was a parapalegic with epilepsy and, they had a dog. So, they had been living in a tent made of tarps draped over a PVC center pole for over a year (in the north-eastern part of America where it gets very cold in the winter). They had the farmer's permission to "squat" temporarily in this dirt-floor make-shift tent until they found permanent housing, but, despite the elderly mother's consistent efforts, it looked like they were going to have to try to make it through another winter without adequate shelter. Without going into detail, suffice it to say that their living conditions were horrific.
It's not like they could not afford a home... Between the elderly retired mother and the disabled daughter, they brought in about $1,000 per month, of which, they could afford approximately $500 a month for rent. It's not like they were asking anyone to "give" them anything that they could not pay for!!!
People were very touched by the story and started sending food, food vouchers and clothing. Very nice, indeed. However, living virtually "outdoors" this family had no means to store any food or clothing. What the family really needed was a home with solid walls to provide adequate shelter.
Some people complained to the local news paper that... "It was the family's own fault... If they would be willing to get rid of the dog, then maybe some landlord would be willing to rent to them." Little did people know... the dog was trained to "alert" when the adult parapalegic/epileptic daughter went into physical distress.
Finally, after three front-page feature articles which addressed all of the public's concerns and assumptions, "a" rental home was offered to and accepted by the family on Christmas Eve.
God Bless America!
12-28-99, 06:46 PM
There must be something more to the story than that - I find it hard to believe that it would take a year for this family to find a rental home that would accept a dog, regardless of whether or not the prospective landlords knew of the special reasons this family needed the dog. I live in the Sacramento area, and my husband and I had to rent for several years before we qualified to buy our own home. We've always had dogs.
I find it hard to believe that the prospective landlords would turn anyone away simply because they were paraplegic and epileptic! Again, there must be more to the story than that. Is bureaucratic red tape involved in any way? Now there would be the REAL surprise!! ;)
12-28-99, 06:54 PM
I am sorry to say, to the best of my knowledge, there was nothing else to this family's story.
I believe it was Bill Maher who recently joked that the new "Popemobile" was a $1.5 million Fiat.
Add this to jewel-encrusted slippers, &c., and yes, we start to wonder.
But at a Jesuit school, theology curricula instructed that the Pope was a "first among equals", that is, an executor and spokesman for a body composed of equal rank.
While I've never studied material hinting at the beginnings of the Pope's elevation of grandeur, the first place I'm looking is around the time of the Crusades, when parties returned to their nations bearing the spoils of victory unto the Holy Roman Empire.
The Universe is the Practical Joke of the General at the Expense of the Particular .... (Perdurabo; The Book of Lies)
Searcher- I worked in the real estate rental business for seven years. One of the biggest things that keeps people from getting housing is the ridiculous deposits. First and last months, PLUS security deposit PLUS cleanup deposit PLUS an extra 25% if you have pets PLUS an extra 10% if you smoke... It has really pushed the bounds of ludicrousness. Some places don't allow pets. Apartments are usually the ones who don't. I know none of ours did. Also, houses without fenced yards generally don't accept them either, and indoor animals can do more passive destruction to a house than you think. I didn't see what kind of dog they had, but we once had someone insist that a golden retriever was an indoor dog. When she finally left, we had to tear out the carpetting and the padding beneath, disinfect and deodorize the floorboards, and put in new carpets all around the building because even our clean up crew complained about the "dog smell" that permeated the place before and after several shampooings.
While the pet-ban is a reasonable stipulation, many others are apparently serving as evidence that Adolph Hitler is possessing the living. Because of the handicap of the daughter, certain features might have had to be installed. (I don't know what the state law is where they're from, but in California, handicap access MUST be made available when a handicapped person lives in a place, usually at the landlord's expense.) Some landlords will look for any excuse to not have to deal with the handicapped, especially if their buildings are sub-par. If they don't want to put out the money on the modifications, they certainly don't want to put out the money on a potential lawsuit.
I can understand someone spending a year looking for a place to live. Having been on both ends of the gun, I understand it quite well.
What part of the country (or which country) do you live? In the silicon valley not only is hard to find a vaccant place to rent, but verry hard for those who do not have a $30,000 or more salary to afford a half way decent shack. Then try to find a place that excepts pets. FAT CHANCE!!! I know I have been on that end of the stick my self. Oh and try just move. For many it comes down to the fact that they don't have the money to live and don't have the money to move. That may be hard for you to belive, but it is happening with an alarmingly increasing frequency. As a 1 bedroom apartment can routinly catch $1200 - $1300 a month.
My life could have been black and white, but I had to color it.
[This message has been edited by 666 (edited December 28, 1999).]
12-29-99, 03:41 AM
Oxygen & 666,
Actually, I was pretty certain that bureaucratic red tape played a big part in that whole SNAFU.
The dog thing, I'm pretty surprised about, though. When we bought our present home in the greater Sacramento area about 9 years ago, we found out that we were going to be without a home for a period of one month - and on pretty short notice. That was due to the date we closed on our old house vs. the date our new home would become available. We were able to find a home to rent for that one-month period of time, which cost us $800 for that month, plus we had not one, but two dogs!
And prior to 1985, all we did was rent - no problem at all! And we have ALWAYS had dogs!
Of course, the handicap accessibility thing didn't apply to us - so I can't speak on that point. I'm sure that was a major factor - but that's more the government's fault than the landlords'. Let me not get started on what I think of the silly rules the government comes up with, which usually cause far more problems than what they solve!