Are the rich and powerful NOT to be treated with charity?

I’m not even sure if this is the right forum for the question, but I have noticed two opposing trends at CAF.

  1. If a person is seen as poor and/or powerless, such as a homeless person, or even just a “normal” person who, say, is being accused by a poster of sin with no proof, CAFers encourage the person to be treated with charity; not in the sense of monetary notations, but giving them the benefit of the doubt, not assuming they mean ill, etc.

  2. If a person is seen as rich and/or powerful, such as a politician, lawyer, etc., then CAFers are happy to accuse them of being greedy, selfish, lying, evil people who are serving the interests of Satan.

I know the Catholic Church teaches that there is a “preferential option” for the poor. But it seems many CAFers think it teaches that “charity” is only for those in a weaker position than you, but that those who have more riches, power, privilege, etc., are fair game for not just constructive criticism, but personal attacks, and that it is fine to assume all of their intentions are evil or at least selfish.

But as far as I know, the Church doesn’t teach this. Am I wrong?

You!re right; the Church doesn’t teach that. She does teach about the “deceitfulness of wealth”, however, and that it doesn’t lead to the happiness we all desire:

**1723 The beatitude we are promised confronts us with decisive moral choices. It invites us to purify our hearts of bad instincts and to seek the love of God above all else. It teaches us that true happiness is not found in riches or well-being, in human fame or power, or in any human achievement - however beneficial it may be - such as science, technology, and art, or indeed in any creature, but in God alone, the source of every good and of all love:

All bow down before wealth. Wealth is that to which the multitude of men pay an instinctive homage. They measure happiness by wealth; and by wealth they measure respectability. . . . It is a homage resulting from a profound faith . . . that with wealth he may do all things. Wealth is one idol of the day and notoriety is a second. . . . Notoriety, or the making of a noise in the world - it may be called “newspaper fame” - has come to be considered a great good in itself, and a ground of veneration.

  1. If a person is seen as rich and/or powerful, such as a politician, lawyer, etc., then CAFers are happy to accuse them of being greedy, selfish, lying, evil people who are serving the interests of Satan.

You won’t hear it from me.

The people who use that same tired line of logic are some Western liberals and arm-chair charity Christians who use the force of government to redistribute wealth and then take credit while they don’t think twice about giving of their own stock.

You have a valid point. Just because someone is rich and/or famous shouldn’t give us the right to be uncharitable. I have been guilty of this, myself, in the past, but I will try to be more aware of this so as not to repeat my mistake in the future.

Stars and others often have really hard lives, because they have little if any privacy. We often feel their personal lives, and tragedies, are ripe for gossip and judgement.

You are absolutely right that this is not okay. Many a celebrity has suffered terribly. Some have even, as a direct result of false accusations and more, turned to drugs and alcohol, even suicide. You are right that this is not okay.

I will be more aware of this in the future so as not to repeat my mistakes. Thanks for pointing this out, reminding of Christ’s talk for us to treat everyone, rich or poor, the same, with respect and charity.

We are to be good to everyone, rich or poor, slave or free, woman or man.

It seems that positive things said of the poor has bothered you a bit. Now, our current Pope Francis understands that as you noted ‘preferential option’ for the poor not because he has recently discovered it but because Christ himself on many, many occasions speaks of how wealth and the pursue of wealth endangers not only the human person but also his/her soul. Look into Scriptures for the answer yourself. Find out how many wonderful things are said of wealth and money and compare it to Christ’s support and love for the poor. This should answer your own doubts and answer your own question.
It is because of your uncomfortableness for the support of the poor and homeless that you have come up with this inaccurate observation against the rich and wealthy. I have read many sympathetic responses on the wealthy very little negative is said. If it is negative it may just be a few so then ignore them.

I’m reminded of the character, Mr. Bogartis, in the movie, The Bells of St. Mary’s!

I didn’t see anything like that in the original post. The OP didn’t appear to have any problem with the poor being treated with charity, that I could see. He or she just wondered why Christian charity, and the assumption of good motives, was not also applied to those with wealth and/or power.

Given the existence of the “occupy” movement, the whole 99% vs. 1% idea, and the push for much higher taxes on the rich (regardless of the fact that it would make no significant impact on the economy because there are so few of them), it is not unreasonable to think that there is in the general society a lack of charity (obviously not in the sense of alms) toward the rich. I haven’t noticed a whole lot of it on CAF myself, but if I saw a thread going that way, I would probably skip it, so I wouldn’t remember. I can’t say that I have noticed a lot of sympathy toward the rich either, but I might well not remember that either.

Frankly, anything that sets “the rich” and “the poor” up as opposing sides in some battle is something I’m probably not going to waste my time on. Both the rich and the poor are loved by God, and according to the Bible, the poor are going to have an easier time getting to Heaven. I try to do what I can for those who have less than I have, and try to avoid resentment or envy of those who have more than I have, and what more should anyone do than that?


P.S. Politicians are different. God will have to make me a lot holier than I am before I can treat them with the same charity as other people. We all have our faults, especially me. :slight_smile:

No, there is no exclusion…being rich and powerful does not mean they are not to be treated with charity.
Let us remember that not all rich and powerful people have spiritual wealth in them and that is where we can treat them with charity.

I think I saw The Bells of St. Mary’s, but I don’t recall which part you meant.

You are really talking about “benefit of the doubt”.

Who cares what the church teaches. What does your heart say?

Jesus the Christ commanded us to love our enemies, that pretty much includes everybody in my reckoning.

Very hard to do, I agree but this is what is required of us.

St Luke 12:
47And that servant **who knew the will of his lord, **and prepared not himself, and did not according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. 48But he that **knew not, **and did things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. And unto whomsoever much is given, of him much shall be required: and to whom they have committed much, of him they will demand the more.

Not just confined to CAF. But yes—ESPECIALLY if that person is a successful businessman.

I do!!

People should pay some attention to their feelings, don’t get me wrong, bi
but we must temper our emotional reactions with reason. How many people have been conned by really likable people? How many have judged wrongly about someone who was socially backwards or physically ugly?

In addition, we should most certainly care about what the Church teaches, since the Church teacges us how to navigate the route to Heaven and avoid that broad road which leads to eternal fire.

Me too!

We do care very much what the Church teaches. There is no prejudice concerning monetary wealth on CAF that I have seen. Worldly wealth can be used as a tool to assist those less fortunate. Having wealth in a worldly way has no more or less merit than having a physical talent. The Gospel message of Jesus Christ applies to all of us equally. Welcome to CAF.

I have spoken of this time and time again. There is a prevalent attitude of hatred for the rich in this world and those who harbor it are as guilty of sin as those who do not feed the hungry. Globally, we are moving into a renewal of Marxist/Socialist ideology and I truly believe politics is driving much of this thinking. Watch your hearts and be aware that you too, may be guilty of judgment and ill will toward your neighbor.

Since this Administration has become so powerful, a sense of E-N-T-I-T-L-E-M-E-N-T is causing huge negative impact. An inclination to believe that I have a right to whatever my neighbor owns through the fruits of his own labor is covetousness, and when present, sins of envy and resentment abound. I will not revile those who are more talented, work harder and have gifts that I do not possess.

And yes, scripture warns of the dangers of wealth, but true poverty is of the heart. If I am rich and voluntarily share my wealth then I have fulfilled the gospel mandate. If I am poor in material things and breed a spirit of animosity and acrimony then do not think of me as virtuous.

Prior to the advent of liberation theology we were not quite so confused regarding the tenets of social justice teaching. A lingering stench of embracing revolutionaryvalues still remains from that and we have become a society of the rich vs the poor. This is far from a Christian value and John Paul II criticized this and warned of it. Condemnation of those who “have” may seem acceptable, but it is clearly to be denounced.

Rich, middle and poor, all are sinners and they need the Truth…

Cardinal Sarah, citing Benedict XVI, told CNA that “charity is very linked with the proclamation of the Gospel, and doing charity is not only giving food, giving material things, but giving God too. Because the main lack of man is not having God.”

The Church has many missions with a key one being the salvation of souls. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI reminds us not to lose sight of the mission…

“The risen Lord instructed his apostles, and through them his disciples in all ages, to take his word to the ends of the earth and to make disciples of all people,” retired Pope Benedict wrote. " ‘But does that still apply?’ many inside and outside the church ask themselves today. ‘Is mission still something for today? Would it not be more appropriate to meet in dialogue among religions and serve together the cause of world peace?’ The counter-question is: ‘Can dialogue substitute for mission?’

“In fact, many today think religions should respect each other and, in their dialogue, become a common force for peace. According to this way of thinking, it is usually taken for granted that different religions are variants of one and the same reality,” the retired pope wrote. "The question of truth, that which originally motivated Christians more than any other, is here put inside parentheses. It is assumed that the authentic truth about God is in the last analysis unreachable and that at best one can represent the ineffable with a variety of symbols. This renunciation of truth seems realistic and useful for peace among religions in the world.

“It is nevertheless lethal to faith. In fact, faith loses its binding character and its seriousness, everything is reduced to interchangeable symbols, capable of referring only distantly to the inaccessible mystery of the divine,” he wrote.

It’s a good question whether the powerful are to be excluded from certain kinds of treatment. Yes, we should love one another, even our enemies, but I think there is a place for analyzing, guessing the motives of, and criticizing leaders, particularly in the government. I think it is necessary in order to keep government leaders honest and prevent them from committing evil acts. The question is how to do it in a Christian way.

Let’s see what the Catechism has to say:

2477 Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury. He becomes guilty:
*]of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor;
*]of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another’s faults and failings to persons who did not know them;
*]of calumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them.
2478 To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor’s thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way:
Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another’s statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. And if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved.
2479 Detraction and calumny destroy the reputation and honor of one’s neighbor. Honor is the social witness given to human dignity, and everyone enjoys a natural right to the honor of his name and reputation and to respect. Thus, detraction and calumny offend against the virtues of justice and charity.

Calumny (harming someone’s reputation by lying or deception) is clearly not justifiable, regardless of whether the lie concerns a powerless or powerful person.

Rash judgment involves interpreting someone’s thoughts, words, and deeds, and we are taught not to assume as true, even tacitly, without sufficient foundation, moral fault. Perhaps we can assume, tacitly, with sufficient foundation, other personal faults (like incompetence, inattention, weakness, etc.) so long as we do not judge the morality. I don’t know. In what ways and to what extent can we judge government leaders?

Detraction has an interesting loophole: “without objectively valid reason.” In other words, it may be acceptable to truthfully disclose someone’s faults and failings in order to prevent some great harm or evil, or to bring about justice. How do we know when we may do that? What constitutes “objectively valid reason” which would justify a disclosure which affects the reputation of a government leader (or other powerful person)?

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