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The Poor Need Real Mercy, Not a Marxist Fantasy

“Naïve and immature people have a great passion to ‘serve humanity,’ but they cannot bear to serve a human being standing right in front of them.”

This adage was given to me by a wise man who pithily summed up the pervasive folly of our age, and indeed several centuries of modernity. The bloodshed wrought in the name of “humanity” is a testament to the irrationality of the modern epoch. The poor are themselves weaponized by this murderous ideology in more forms than one, and here we see the nefarious enticement as truly demonic: Satan himself transformeth himself into an angel of light (II Cor. 11:14). Communism, called by Pius XI “the Satanic scourge,” indeed appears as an angel of light, precisely because the miseries of the poor are real:

The Communism of today, more emphatically than similar movements in the past, conceals in itself a false messianic idea. A pseudo-ideal of justice, of equality and fraternity in labor impregnates all its doctrine and activity with a deceptive mysticism, which communicates a zealous and contagious enthusiasm to the multitudes entrapped by delusive promises. This is especially true in an age like ours, when unusual misery has resulted from the unequal distribution of the goods of this world. This pseudo-ideal is even boastfully advanced as if it were responsible for a certain economic progress. As a matter of fact, when such progress is at all real, its true causes are quite different, as for instance the intensification of industrialism in countries which were formerly almost without it, the exploitation of immense natural resources, and the use of the most brutal methods to insure the achievement of gigantic projects with a minimum of expense. [1]

With the reasonable severity of a true pontiff, Pius XI saw that the evil of communism was not created ex nihilo, but was reacting to the real injustices caused by an excess of profiteering and exploitation of workers in the worst excesses of capitalism (notwithstanding the material wealth created by free-market innovation and technology). The Marxist then takes a true injustice from which the poor suffer and uses the poor man’s anger against injustice (which is righteous) and his envy of the rich (which is sinful) to gain power for himself.

From the start, the Church understood that the Marxist cares little for the poor man, but the Marxist’s devotion is merely to “mankind.” Marxists’ love is for an ideology, not persons. This mask comes off shortly after the communists have taken power like in Russia or China — then their true aims become evident. If they truly cared for the poor, they would not seek to the destroy the Church, which is, has been, and ever will be — as even her enemies are forced to admit — the greatest defender of widows, mother to orphans, and advocate for the poor that history has ever seen. Pius XI again:

It may be said in all truth that the Church, like Christ, goes through the centuries doing good to all. There would be today neither Socialism nor Communism if the rulers of the nations had not scorned the teachings and maternal warnings of the Church. On the bases of liberalism and laicism they wished to build other social edifices which, powerful and imposing as they seemed at first, all too soon revealed the weakness of their foundations, and today are crumbling one after another before our eyes, as everything must crumble that is not grounded on the one corner stone which is Christ Jesus. [2]

Pius XI wrote these words in 1937, when the secular tenuous international organization, the League of Nations (forerunner to the United Nations), was about to shattered by the onset of the Second World War. The pontiff saw through the lens of history that all the efforts of modernity, no matter how vast and impressive, were nothing without the blessing and authority of His Majesty, Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of Kings. As the same pontiff had said more than a decade prior in the wake of the global bloodshed of World War I:

[T]hese manifold evils in the world were due to the fact that the majority of men had thrust Jesus Christ and his holy law out of their lives; that these had no place either in private affairs or in politics: … as long as individuals and states refused to submit to the rule of our Savior, there would be no really hopeful prospect of a lasting peace among nations. [3]

The fact remains that whatever politics one promotes, whatever tax system or economic stimulus package is promoted, nothing can ever replace the rule of the true king, Jesus Christ. Indeed, it was from our fathers who understood this loyalty that true mercy for the poor could be given. Men looked to the world to come, and understood that at the Judgment, the King shall he sit upon the seat of his majesty and separate the sheep from the goats. And He will say to the goats who neglected the poor: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it not to one of these least, neither did you do it to me. Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels (Mt. 25:41, 45).

Men who loved Jesus Christ had mercy on the poor because they had true charity. St. Thomas explains that almsgiving to the poor is an act of mercy (the Greek is literally “doing mercy”; cf. Mt. 6:3).

A person is said to be merciful [misericors], as being, so to speak, sorrowful at heart [miserum cor]; being affected with sorrow at the misery of another as though it were his own. Hence it follows that he endeavors to dispel the misery of this other, as if it were his; and this is the effect of mercy (S.T. I q21 a3. Cf. I-II q69 a3).

Thus, not only does the Christian help the poor out of fear of judgment, but when he grows in charity by loving his neighbor for the sake of Jesus Christ, he seeks to alleviate the misery of the poor because he takes their suffering for his own. This is an imitation of Christ, who took our sufferings for his own.

From this love of Jesus Christ and the poor for His sake — and not some malleable and murderous ideology of “mankind” — sprang the innumerable charitable works of mercy throughout the history of Christendom: innumerable saints and orders, friars, convents, hospitals, hospices, orphanages, ransomers of slaves, non-profit loan charities (the Mons Pietatis) — all rescuers of the poor. It is here in the bosom of the Church that the poor find true mercy, because they are loved as persons, not simply given a citizen’s crumbs from the bread line of “the party.” To speak to secular leftists in their own language, the Catholic Church is the greatest humanitarian organization the world has ever seen. If you love the poor, then promote Catholicism. But their aims are not true mercy and charity, but merely their own ideologies.

One cannot have charity for an ideology, since an ideology is not a person. But an ideology can manipulate a group of persons by provoking their passions for some brighter future for “mankind.” This pseudo-altruism propaganda began when Henry VIII, for the sake of his own lust and greed, proclaimed himself head of the Church and seized all the lands of the Church that formerly were held for the poor. They ended up in the hands of powerful nobility and other elites, and this religiously justified theft was replicated across the European countries.

The bloody mass revolutions by means of rhetoric have been going on ever since — creating innumerable widows and orphans where the bodies of all the fathers died. The tyrants who imitated Henry VIII in their contempt for the poor and the Church — Catholic and Protestant alike — were all overthrown by mass bloodshed in the name of ideologies and slogans. Marxism sprang up like weeds in this worldwide revolutionary era, and what Pius observed and predicted has come to pass: everything must crumble that is not grounded on the one corner stone which is Christ Jesus.

Lest any man foolishly believe that Marxism is confined to the fallen Soviet Russia or the still standing China, consider the words of John Hardon, S.J. even in 1998: “The United States of America is the most powerful Marxist country in the world” [4]. Or as the Gordon brothers observe, “in actuality there were two, not one, socialist ‘errors of Russia’ warned against at Fatima 1917: sexual egalitarianism and economic egalitarianism. The west has succumbed to both” [5].

With the Wuhan crisis gripping the globe, these errors of Russia are more apparent than ever. The efforts to make this crisis into a socialist revolution are now making themselves known. The virus is real, but the solution must be a solution according to reality, not a Marxist fantasy. Already governments around the world are facing backlash as millions of poor are forced out of work, particularly in India, where millions of poor are desperately walking millions of miles for succor and literally dying of roadside starvation. Even in the wealthy United States, Hawaiian Catholic Jason Jones was arrested seeking to protest the danger of his own neighbors’ starvation.

In the midst of yet another (attempted) revolution by rhetoric, the poor and vulnerable are cast aside in their misery. They need real Christian mercy, not a Marxist utopia that distributes starvation. Let us remember the poor and do all we can to salve their misery in the Name of Jesus Christ.

[1] Pius XI, Divini Redemptoris (1937), 7, 8

[2] Ibid., 38

[3] Pope Pius XI, Encyclical Quas Primas (1925), n. 1.

[4] John Hardon, S.J. “The Influence of Marxism in the United StatesMindszenty Report

(Cardinal Mindszenty Foundation, August 1998), Vol. XXXX-No. 8

[5] Timothy J. Gordon and David R. Gordon, Rule for Retrogrades (TAN: 2019), 18

Image: Lilian Wagdy via Flickr (cropped).

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