Christmas means the redistribution of wealth

Pier Paolo Cito AP Workers check the branches of a Christmas tree that was placed in St. Peter’s Square at … Continued

Pier Paolo Cito

AP

Workers check the branches of a Christmas tree that was placed in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, Monday, Dec. 5, 2011. The Vatican said Ukraine has donated a “majestic” Christmas tree to decorate St. Peter’s Square. The 30-meter (100-foot) high tree will be lit during a ceremony on Dec. 16 attended by prelates from both the Catholic and Orthodox churches in Ukraine.

Jesus came to save the world. In commemorating his birth each Christmas, we ought to remember that the scope of his mission includes all of creation. His saving grace changes not only individuals but through them the treatment of the planet’s resources and the social use of inventions and machines. By making God’s kingdom come, Jesus impacts all created things, including human creations. As the spiritual puts it, “He’s got the whole world in his hands.” Christmas 2011 comes on the eve of an election year when Catholic America is confronted with an escalation in society’s class divisions and a concentration of wealth worse than under the Roman Empire.

The idea that the world needs to be saved – and not just individuals — is contained in the doctrine of original sin as found in the teachings of St. Paul the Apostle. How can he say that a child who has just been born is a sinner? It’s because the world’s history before Jesus made it logical for each individual to care only about him or herself. The evil person alone prospered in the Roman Empire. But Jesus changed that imbalance by substituting for selfishness Christian love of neighbor in Jesus’ name. The world’s original sin of favoring evil over good has been wiped away for those baptized into Jesus’ life and resurrection.

The concept of society’s structural sin that is suggested in Pauline teaching was crystallized in the theology of liberation when it appeared among Latin American theologians after the II Vatican Council. Based on a socio-economic secular analysis of history in secular academia, theologians like Father Gustavo Gutierrez spoke of structural sin. Upholding an unjust political and economic system would only perpetuate injustice, they argued. Good people could be trapped into a web of doing bad things because society fostered a way of acting that normalized immoral behavior.

Detractors have caricatured Liberation Theology as advocating violent revolution against White capitalists. In contrast, based on the Just War Theory, thelogy restricted violence to a response against violent attack, reasoning that self-defense is legitimate when measured by the countervailing force trying to take away human life and liberty. (The Declaration of Independence was founded on that same principle: armed revolution in defense of God-given rights is “as American as apple pie.”)

Christmas 2011 is not a call to violent revolution. But a retrospective look at the past year offers inescapable evidence that social, economic and political structures are undergoing rapid and sweeping change. Whether it is the Arab Spring abroad or the mobilization of the American middle-class at home to attack economic imbalance, such movements have exposed the instability of national and international institutions. We are being called not only to individual reform of thought and action, but concern for the structures of society that shape individuals.

This is the message of Pope Benedict XVI this year for World Peace. “We cannot ignore the fact that some currents of modern culture, built upon rationalist and individualist economic principles, have cut off the concept of justice from its transcendent roots, detaching it from charity and solidarity,” writes the pontiff, echoing an earlier Vatican Committee’s statement in support of the Occupy Wall Street movements around the world that protest laissez-faire Capitalism, the concentration of wealth and the economic philosophy of Ayn Rand. In place of these unfair social principles, the pope calls for “adequate mechanisms for the redistribution of wealth.”

If Benedict XVI were a candidate for the presidency of the United States, his call for “redistribution of wealth” would be controversial. Can it be dismissed as left-wing socialism? No doubt enemies of Catholic social justice will tar the pontiff in this way. But the ideal “from each according to his ability; to each according to his need,” doesn’t originate with Marx. It comes from the Acts of the Apostles (4:34-35; 1:44-45).

This Christmas 2011, then, presents Catholic America with a charge that comes directly from the Holy Father to transform the words “Prince of Peace” into an agenda for direct Catholic action. “Peace for all is the fruit of justice for all,” states the pope, adding poignantly, “no one can shirk this essential task of promoting justice.”

  • IntellectCounts

    And Jesus said to the rich young man, go and give everything away and come follow me. And the rich young man went away dejected because he had much and Jesus told his disciples that it is harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of the needle.

    But then, with his infinite power, Jesus considered what Anthony M. Stevens-Arroyo would write in the Washington Post in 2011 and Jesus returned to his disciples and said: “Tomorrow morning, go to his home, take everything he has, give it to the poor and then put him in hand-cuffs and drag him around after me so he will follow me.”

    His disciples asked if it was just and good and pure to force the dispersion of his goods and then also force them to follow him. Jesus again called on Anthony M. Stevens-Arroyo and Anthony said……

    Don’t hold your breath. Anthony isn’t capable of advising Jesus and neither would Jesus ever read anything Anthony said. The above is simply a bad dream sequence like that of the TV show “Dallas” and J.R. Ewing getting shot.

  • Elohist

    Seems like the criticizers haven’t read the bible about sharing all things in common. Since the professor is citing the pope, the complaints are about the reigning pontiff who has the gift of infallible teaching. None of the commentators below need to be taken seriously: they don’t know what they prattle on about. So hate the church, hate Jesus, hate Jesus’ message, hate those who follow him and you will have a clear conscience to vote Republican. Sounds like Dickens to me.

  • NeilSerafenas

    Dear Anthony,

    You have made so many mistakes. And, all of them are due to your ignorance of the teachings in the Holy Scriptures. You have no spiritual wisdom, so please don’t try to explain something that is impossible for you to grasp (1 Cor 2:14).

    I know this might come as a shocker to you, but the Pope is not God, so talking about his teachings is a waste of time when you are talking to true Christians (There are many false Christians, and they always expose themselves by what they say and how they act.. – 1 John 2:4-5)

    Can you please state some Scriptural references for your ridiculous beliefs? No, you cannot. And don’t bother looking for any because they don’t exist. You are in serious trouble any time you say, “The Lord has said” and He has not spoken. That makes you a false prophet. No good for you Anthony.

    Here’s a good parable for you: Luke 19:11-26
    11 While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once. 12 He said: “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. 13 So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas.[a] ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’

    14 “But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’

    15 “He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it.

    16 “The first one came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned ten more.’

    17 “‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’

    18 “The second came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned five more.’

    19 “His master answered, ‘You take charge of five cities.’

    20 “Then another servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away

  • AwakenedSleepingGiant

    Anthony Stevens-Arroyo’s article is an example of how deeply Marxism has
    infiltrated the Catholic Church. Sad, very sad.

  • raisinman

    Your Theology is as flawed as your understanding of Constitutional Law and the Declaration of Independence. Just like a Marxist to play the one off against the other. Sad to think an American journalist would be so transparently crass. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year–and hopes that you find your way to Pravda, and make best use of your so-called talents.

  • raisinman

    Your Biblical Theology and Systematics is as flawed as your understanding of Constitutional Law and the Declaration of Independence. Just like a Marxist to play the one off against the other. Sad to think an American journalist would be so transparently crass. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year–and hopes that you find your way to Pravda, and make best use of your so-called talents.

  • raisinman

    How about you just make sure you hate republicans. Then you’ll be all set. And if you think the pope is infallible, then ask yourself, why is he getting old, and reverse previous papal decrees, and have to be replaced so much?

  • DrNo1976

    Since when is the fruit of MY labor YOUR God-given right? You should read Lincoln-Douglas Debate October 15, 1858 in Alton, Illinois. The point of Stevens-Arroyo can be seen as perfectly expressing the Douglas side of the debate:
    ————————————————–
    It is the eternal struggle between these two principles-right and wrong-throughout the world. They are the two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of time; and will ever continue to struggle. The one is the common right of humanity and the other the divine right of kings. It is the same principle in whatever shape it develops itself. It is the same spirit that says, “You work and toil and earn bread, and I’ll eat it.” No matter in what shape it comes, whether from the mouth of a king who seeks to bestride the people of his own nation and live by the fruit of their labor, or from one race of men as an apology for enslaving another race, it is the same tyrannical principle. I was glad to express my gratitude at Quincy, and I re-express it here to Judge Douglas-that he looks to no end of the institution of slavery. That will help the people to see where the struggle really is.
    ———————–

    It is the creed of Socialism that we “work and toil and earn bread” , while it is the “divine right of [socialist] kings” to decide WHO “will eat it.” That should help us see where the real struggle is. Taxes paid for the COMMON good of the public is one thing. But redistribution of wealth, of the “earnings” from the sweat of one citizen’s brow, distributed to another because you believe it is your right to enforce such a principle in law is entirely something else.

  • raisinman

    Bravo!

  • jonathan19

    Those who oppose redistribution of wealth ignore the basic teachings of most religions. The Equalize Now movement follows the guidance of thousands of years worth of religious practices and teachings. http://www.equalize-now.org

  • lavistabb

    Most of these “About Faith” columns are a waste of bandwidth. The writers this “newspaper” chooses know very little of religion and perhaps even less about ethics. Sally Quinn for example. The Post uses this column to mock religion and to subvert wisdom and truth like all their other leftist Marxist efforts.

  • raisinman

    So perhaps the better word is not “waste”, but perversion. Yes. And lots of people resent religious beliefs. I have noticed that all of these individual rights are under attack–so articles like this fit the bill. Too bad America. Obama finds the Constitution fundamentally flawed too, in the same way–It doesn’t provide for Federal redistribution of wealth.. And he actually got elected. Hell, I’m still stunned.

  • xexon

    Oh, it redistributes wealth alright.

    From the pockets of consumers into the pockets of capitalists.

    Jesus would beat you people with a stick…

    x

  • Elohist

    Hey Neil! Read the parable again on verse 22: the master of the household is SATAN. God is NOT a “hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow” — the DEVIL is like that. The point of the parable is that the kingdom of God goes against the evil greed of the world. So read the BIBLE and not Fox News and you will be saved.

    So if you are one of those Christians who put worldly values before the teachings of Jesus you will find yourself going to Hell. I hope you repent, admit your mistakes and accept the life of the first Christians who shared all things in common, giving to each according to his need and taking the wealth from those who had too much. (Ananias and his wife were struck down dead for following your way of thinking.) So don’t preach about what you don’t understand. The Professor here is smarter than you: get over it.

  • Elohist

    Holding all things in common without wealth or social class is biblical Christianity. If you want to live in a secular and pagan society that is your right. We Christians want the United States to conform to the values Jesus taught us. Your selfish paganism is the enemy of God’s Kingdom. That is what the pope said: we need the redistribution of wealth.

  • xtina724

    And those who promote wealth redistributon ignore the basic teachings one’s parents should have provided: those of personal responsibility and accountability. There is nothing noble about legalized theft, even if done for a presumed good purpose. When the government takes from me to give to others, it is telling me that I lack the empathy and common sense to know that I must help others, and assumes that it can decide who and what is deserving of my money better than I can. For the Church to not only condone this but to promote it as well is appalling. I can’t speak for anyone else, but *I* don’t need to be forced to give. I choose to do that anyway. Since I do, I should also be allowed to decide on my own to whom I will give, when and how much.

  • xtina724

    We Pagans don’t much care *what* the Pope said, at least as it pertains to what he believes we should be doing and how we spend our money. We, too, have deities who teach us the way to walk our path, as you have your Jesus. Are you suggesting that I don’t belong in the United States because I’m not interested in conforming to what you and the Pope think Jesus wants me to? Since I’m a native-born American whose ancestors got here shortly after the Mayflower, I’m not quite sure where you think I should go.

    How ’bout this: you stick with your god, I’ll stick with mine, and we’ll both agree not to stuff our beliefs down each other’s throats. And we’ll each determine how to best redistribute our own wealth in the manner most in keeping with the lessons our deities have passed to us. Work for you?

  • xtina724

    This criticizer has read the Bible. Since I’m not Christian, however, it had very little impact on the way I choose to live my life. That people like me choose to follow another path to another set of deities in no way means we “hate Jesus” or his message, his church or his followers. I find it fascinating that you, an apparent Christian, can’t seem to say the same; you seem to be filled with a hatred for those of us who practice another faith. One would think you might want to address *those* issues before you start worrying about my opposition to the redistribution of wealth and your Church’s stance on it.

  • thrushjz

    If Jesus was a Liberal, why do conservatives still to this day give more of their own money to charity, a whopping 30%-50% more OF THEIR OWN MONEY to charity than do Liberals, and that includes religious liberals? Could it be that conservatives actually practice what they preach by giving of their own money rather than forcing people to give through Govt. taxes as this liberation Theologian purports? I’ve been around too long to listen to this socialist drivel and seen it all before.

  • NeilSerafenas

    Reasons for your failure to correctly interpret the parable (& the teachings of Jesus Christ). By the way, I read 75 chapters of the Bible every day, and have been doing that for many years. The power of the Holy Spirit has been evidenced in my life since God saved me in 1995.
    1. 11 While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once.
    This first verse tells why Jesus told the parable. He told this parable to His disciples and those who were following Him to instruct them on how they were to live. They knew that God was in charge of all creation-not Satan, and they knew that Jesus claimed to be God (John 10:25-30, 38) Jesus Christ was preparing the people for His second coming. He wasn’t preparing them for Satan’s rule. The parable where all about the kingdom of God. Look back at the first line of the parable. Satan has no power over God’s children. He only has power of those who are not saved. Christ never told parables about Satan. Satan is insignificant and rendered powerless, He’s no king! Many people like you were deceived back in Jesus’ day too. They even claimed the Christ was doing miracles with the power of Beelzebub (Matt 12:22-27). I’m sorry for your ignorance due to the hardening of your heart (Eph 4:18)
    2. The man who called Him wicked was a sinner. All sinners hate God. That doesn’t make God wicked.
    3. The sister parable in Matthew 25 also states that Christ told the parable to show what the kingdom of God is like, not the kingdom of Satan. And the lazy servant is thrown into hell. That’s separation from God. If you are correct, this man is the only one fighting against Satan. Why then would he be thrown into hell? You have no idea what you are reading.
    4. Ananias & Sapphira were killed for lying to the Holy Spirit. And Peter told them that the money was there’s to keep. He didn’t forcefully take it away from them.
    5. Peter repre

  • usapdx

    It would be of great interest to see all religions balance sheets. Why does the U.S.A. with it’s debt of plus $15,000,000,000,000 not repel the TAX EXEMPT law? Give to GOD what is GOD’s and give to your government that is your government’s. The TAX EXEMPT free ride is a unjust law.

  • Medbob

    No it doesn’t. Jesus told the rich man to give away his riches because that was what was holding HIM back. Why did he not ask that of Lazarus? Nicodemus? Wealth or Poverty are merely conditions that we find ourselves in from time to time. The importance is our heart.

    Justice has nothing to do with wealth or poverty. Actually, forced redistribution REMOVES both the positive aspect of giving, and also removes the personal connections necessary for the redemptive relationships necessary for folks to get on in life. It removes the role of the Church in our lives and replaces that with an impersonal government. I will go so far as to say that redistribution is evil. The importance of the matter is the heart, which will be touched by personal generosity, but is hardened on both ends by enforced “dues”.

    “Paying your fair share” has NOTHING to do with money, as the message of the gospel is that money has less importance than people. Think of the cries of Judas, that wasting the money to buy expensive balm could have fed many people. Jesus carefully rebuked him, as I rebuke you now.

  • Medbob

    What is taken by force cannot be given with personal love. Redistribution is NOT love, it is evil. The same evil that Jesus recognized in Judas.

    There are some that are taken in by the emotional trap of “helping the poor”. That CANNOT be accomplished by Governments. Jesus himself said that you will always have the poor. That is actually a blessing to a country, to have people that need help. It is in the provision of that help that individuals find their worth and their soul. Forced redistribution sucks that soul out.

    Johnson started the “war on poverty”, and that has been just as useless as any other war that we have fought. The war on poverty can only be won a person at a time, just like redemption.

  • Medbob

    Elohist, you miss the point TOTALLY. The rich man came to Jesus and asked “what must I do?”. Jesus told him to sell all. He walked away. Did Jesus run after him? What about the governments of the day? Did Jesus organize the people to secure the installation of such a society as you describe?

    No, Jesus demonstrated that the answer is in each heart. The problem you have is that you feel the tug of that calling, and you are projecting it upon others. THEREIN lies the evil that so easily entangles.

    No, Socialism or Communism as you have described it, is not the answer. The answer is personal, for you, and for me. Others in this conversation must find their own way and their own calling. They MUST be free to do so.

    Example: Bill Gates. There are many things that he is able to do through his Foundation that were impossible without his great wealth. Is this God’s calling on his life? Is it your place to tell him what his path is to be? No, we all are given stewardship over the limited time we have on this earth. The algebra is “Time = Money = Possessions”. In this equation, time is a constant. By telling someone that they MUST hand over X dollars or X possessions, you are telling them that their limited time is not theirs. Is it yours? You propose to have control over it! You wish to control the very calling upon each life by the Maker of all.

    Redistribution is wrong and harmful.

  • Elohist

    Maybe Liberals are poorer than Republicans. But Jesus said the widow’s mite was more rewarded in God’s eyes than the proud pharisees. Take heed thrushjz! You’re on the wrong side of the Gospel.

  • Elohist

    Catholics believe in the infallible teachings of the pope and the pope declared in favor of the redistribution of wealth to benefit the poor. Many of the people who speak against the redistribution of wealth favor corporate loopholes in tax and special business privileges. They favor redistribution of wealth as long as the money is taken from the poor and given to the wealthy. We are bound by Jesus’ teaching to seek redistribution of wealth and the government is one of the tools we have to change the world’s values.

  • Elohist

    Dear Medbob:

    The War on Poverty was less costly and more productive than Bush’s war in Iraq. The US had the best educated work force, the highest standard of living, the longest life-expectancy, lowest infant morality in the world in 1978. It’s been downhill since Nixon ended the War on Poverty.

    Governments can and should take measures to improve social conditions. People are punished or put into jail if they injure the body politic and that applies to paying a fair share for keeping people alive, for educating children, for providing for the elderly, etc. The government of the US is clearly better than the Nazi government. If don’t you see the difference, I feel sorry for you. Or do you favor the Nazi solution to “problems” of the sick, the mentally feeble, the Jews, etc.?

  • Elohist

    So laistabb, citing the pope is leftist Marxist?

  • Elohist

    So laistabb, citing the pope is leftist Marxist?

  • Elohist

    The first verse you refer to clearly states that the parable was intended to correct the disciples’ belief that the Kingdom of God was to appear at once. That the faithful disciple was cast into jail for burying his talent coincides with Jesus’ admonishments that his disciples would suffer in his name, as indeed he also would suffer.

    You misread Acts: the money was intended to serve the community and if it were alright to keep it, then why did Anania and his wife lie about it? Greed and lying go hand in hand: both are liable to sin.

    Peter the first pope represented the governance of the Church and if we want our nation nation to espouse Christian values, what Peter asked may be asked of government.

    What does Marxism have to do with the redistribution of wealth? It is a Christian principle, not one invented by Marx.

    Let’s compare daily activities: I promise you that I devote more of my time to works of charity than you. In fact, my whole life has been in ministry and unpaid for at that. You can’t put a monetary value on charity — unless you are the Pharisee condemned by Jesus. (Or haven’t you got to that chapter yet?)

    If God is in control of the US economy (which I seriously doubt) then the decline of the US and the rise of China proves that Communism is a more successful system. (Your circular logic, not that of intelligent thinkers.)

    The US is NOT the most giving per capita in the world: Germany is.

    I could go on and on, but I think I’ll stop here and pray for you.

  • xtina724

    Of course, the difference between the two wars is that Bush’s served an acceptable purpose. The War on Poverty? Not so much.

    Would you mind pointing out the part of the Constitution that covers the social engineering by the government, please? I keep reading it, but I cannot seem to find that part in my copy. Again, when the government takes my money to capture and incarcerate criminals, they are doing a service for me. When they take my money so that they can give it to someone they think deserves and/or needs it more than I, they’re betraying me at a fundamental level.

    And you liberals really have to find a new go-to bad guy. The Nazi analogy is played out.

  • 617patrick

    Hat: $100,000
    Scepter: $900.000 dollars
    Vatican complex: $1.2 Billion

    Convincing a billion people that they should redistribute THEIR wealth: Priceless