Identity politics and the pope

Identity politics and the pope

Boston reporters are out getting statements from anyone they can about the new Pope and they aren’t even bothering to check if they even make sense. What’s wrong with this quote?

“There were two very good candidates, but I guess the Catholic church just isn’t ready for a minority to lead them,” said Gomes, just after a noon prayer at the Mission Church on Mission Hill.

If you said the word “minority,” you’re right. She was referring to Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria and Cardinals Geraldo Majella Agnelo and Claudio Hummes of Brazil. Here’s a clue: neither of them are minorities. Not in their own countries, not in their continents, and not in the Church. But racial identity politics is a hard habit to break for an American. Here’s another whopper:

“The Catholic church is the richest in the world, but it hasn’t reached out to the poor like it should. I feel that if the pope had been from the Third World, that would have changed.”

Hasn’t reached out to the poor? Name one institution that does more and has done more for the poor of the world. Go to any place in the world where there are poor people suffering. Who will you find there ministering to them? Catholics! Who is the number one provider of medical care to AIDS patients in the world? The Catholic Church. What is the number one non-governmental aid group in the world? The Catholic Church.

The skin color or national origin of the man who holds the office of pope has nothing to do with whether the Church is reaching out to the poor. The desire to have someone of the same race or national origin as you as pope, just because he is the same race or origin, is as racist as not wanting him to be pope because of his race or origin.

The headline is offensive as are the sentiments expressed in the article.

  • Dom, apart from your list of the Church’s contribution to humanity, especially to the poor and the underpriviliged, are you aware that in many countries it is also the biggest private employer, once you include its employees in hospitals hostels and educational institutions. This is definitely so in Australia and I am sure it would be the same in the US.

  • There’s some truth to the charge of “not doing enough to help the poor”.  There appears to be a vast separation between the work of the Church in helping the poor and the average lives of practicing American Catholics.  TCRNews published an article a while back suggesting that we ought to make parishes centers of charity for the communities. 

    The Globe ran an article a few months ago noting that a local priest, after having found a homeless man frozen to death outside his church, decided to leave the basement door unlocked and invite the local homeless to shelter down there.  The Parish Council was outraged.

    That said, the second most offensive thing about the article, IMO, was the disappointment expressed by the Latinos in Pope Benedict’s race and ethnic and national origin. 

    The most offensive thing was the fact that they were disappointed at all.  You know, God didn’t have to give us a Pope.  He certainly didn’t have to get the Cardinals to agree so quickly.  They should rejoice in thanksgiving with the Church.

  • There’s a difference between what American Catholics do as individuals and even parishes and what the universal Church does. Part of the problem in the US is the rise in government welfare, into which the Church bought wholesale via Catholic Charities, a quasi-government agency often devoid of the Gospel message now.

  • A recent CWN headline said the Vatican gave $9 million last year for relief of natural disasters and poverty.
    How much would have been enough?

  • And I’m sure that’s just the Vatican itself, Melanie.  How much did Catholic charities of all kinds give?  More important, how much work did priests, nuns, brothers, and parishoners perform that can’t be counted in dollars and euros?

    seamole: The Parish Council was outraged.

    The outrage is that most “homeless” should be where they belong, in mental hospitals or drug and alcohol rehab.  The remainder come in two groups: the violent, who should be in prison were it not for the fact that their crimes against other homeless go unreported, uninvestigated and unprosecuted, and the truly destitute through hard luck, bad planning, and other happenstance.  The reason the last aren’t taken care of by the shelters and work programs set up for them is they’re scary, crime-ridden, and overcrowded with the other groups who aren’t where they belong.