PopeWatch: Zacchaeus


[1] And entering in, he walked through Jericho. [2] And behold, there was a man named Zacheus, who was the chief of the publicans, and he was rich. [3] And he sought to see Jesus who he was, and he could not for the crowd, because he was low of stature. [4] And running before, he climbed up into a sycamore tree, that he might see him; for he was to pass that way. [5] And when Jesus was come to the place, looking up, he saw him, and said to him: Zacheus, make haste and come down; for this day I must abide in thy house.

[6] And he made haste and came down; and received him with joy. [7] And when all saw it, they murmured, saying, that he was gone to be a guest with a man that was a sinner. [8] But Zacheus standing, said to the Lord: Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have wronged any man of any thing, I restore him fourfold. [9] Jesus said to him: This day is salvation come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham. [10] For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

Luke 19:  1-10

Pope Francis made some comments to a UN delegation that have attracted attention.  Father Z does the honors:

There is some blah blah at first, but keep reading.  My emphases and comments.

NOTE: A lot of this is simply warmed up John Paul II and Benedict XVI.  There isn’t much new here, apart from the terrible wording about the State and redistribution.  But we can, for the most part, say “Ho hum!  Next?”

Mr Secretary General,Ladies and Gentlemen, I am pleased to welcome you, Mr Secretary-General and the leading executive officers of the Agencies, Funds and Programmes of the United Nations and specialized Organizations, as you gather in Rome for the biannual meeting for strategic coordination of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board.It is significant that today’s meeting takes place shortly after the solemn canonization of my predecessors, Popes John XXIII and John Paul II. The new saints inspire us by their passionate concern for integral human development and for understanding between peoples. This concern was concretely expressed by the numeous visits of John Paul II to the Organizations headquartered in Rome and by his travels to New York, Geneva, Vienna, Nairobi and The Hague. I thank you, Mr Secretary-General, for your cordial words of introduction. I thank all of you, who are primarily responsible for the international system, for the great efforts being made to ensure world peace, respect for human dignity, the protection of persons, especially the poorest and most vulnerable, and harmonious economic and social development.The results of the Millennium Development Goals, especially in terms of education and the decrease in extreme poverty, confirm the value of the work of coordination carried out by this Chief Executives Board. At the same time, it must be kept in mind that the world’s peoples deserve and expect even greater results.  [Do they?] An essential principle of management is the refusal to be satisfied with current results and to press forward, in the conviction that those gains are only consolidated by working to achieve even more. In the case of global political and economic organization, much more needs to be achieved, since an important part of humanity does not share in the benefits of progress and is in fact relegated to the status of second-class citizens. [Perhaps the true culprits in that are local governments.] Future Sustainable Development Goals must therefore be formulated and carried out with generosity and courage, so that they can have a real impact on the structural causes of poverty and hunger, attain more substantial results in protecting the environment, ensure dignified and productive labor for all, and provide appropriate protection for the family, [Wasn’t it some UN thingie that suggested that the Holy See was responsible for torture by teaching against abortion?] which is an essential element in sustainable human and social development. Specifically, this involves challenging all forms of injustice and resisting the “economy of exclusion”, the “throwaway culture” and the “culture of death” which nowadays sadly risk becoming passively accepted.With this in mind, I would like to remind you, as representatives of the chief agencies of global cooperation, of an incident which took place two thousand years ago and is recounted in the Gospel of Saint Luke (19:1-10). It is the encounter between Jesus Christ and the rich tax collector Zacchaeus, as a result of which Zacchaeus made a radical decision of sharing and justice, because his conscience had been awakened by the gaze of Jesus. [Do I remember this correctly, or was Zacchaeus ready to give half of the wealth he was creating to the poor, and he did it voluntarily, on his own?  The government wasn’t doing it for him.  Right?  And, apparently, he kept enough to continue to create wealth.] This same spirit should be at the beginning and end of all political and economic activity. The gaze, often silent, of that part of the human family which is cast off, left behind, ought to awaken the conscience of political and economic agents and lead them to generous and courageous decisions with immediate results, like the decision of Zacchaeus. Does this spirit of solidarity and sharing guide all our thoughts and actions? Today, in concrete terms, an awareness of the dignity of each of our brothers and sisters whose life is sacred and inviolable from conception to natural death must lead us to share with complete freedom the goods which God’s providence has placed in our hands, material goods but also intellectual and spiritual ones, and to give back generously and lavishly whatever we may have earlier unjustly refused to others. [“Share with complete freedom”.  NOT “share by government or other agency confiscation and redistribution.] The account of Jesus and Zacchaeus teaches us that above and beyond economic and social systems and theories, there will always be a need to promote generous, effective and practical openness to the needs of others. Jesus does not ask Zacchaeus to change jobs nor does he condemn his financial activity; he simply inspires him to put everything, freely yet immediately and indisputably, at the service of others.  [Again, do I remember correctly?  Wasn’t he already giving half his wealth to the poor before he stood face to face with the Lord?] Consequently, I do not hesitate to state, as did my predecessors (cf. JOHN PAUL II, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 42-43; Centesimus Annus, 43; BENEDICT XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 6; 24-40), that equitable economic and social progress can only be attained by joining scientific and technical abilities with an unfailing commitment to solidarity accompanied by a generous and disinterested spirit of gratuitousness at every level. A contribution to this equitable development will also be made both by international activity aimed at the integral human development of all the world’s peoples and [Wait for it…] by the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the State, as well as indispensable cooperation between the private sector and civil society. [By the STATE?  When has any “State” done this effectively?  And what does “legitimate” mean?  According to laws that are passed?  And if the laws are bad laws?  And who will administrate it?] Consequently, while encouraging you in your continuing efforts to coordinate the activity of the international agencies, which represents a service to all humanity, I urge you to work together in promoting a true, worldwide ethical mobilization which, beyond all differences of religious or political convictions, will spread and put into practice a shared ideal of fraternity and solidarity, especially with regard to the poorest and those most excluded. Invoking divine guidance on the work of your Board, I also implore God’s special blessing for you, Mr Secretary-General, for the Presidents, Directors and Secretaries General present among us, and for all the personnel of the United Nations and the other international Agencies and Bodies, and their respective families.

Combox moderation queue is ON.

I wonder how many people are still listening to him seriously on this issue.

Also, I would like to know if anyone around him is telling him that there are alternative ways of dealing with poverty apart from merely redistributing the wealth that other people create?   Is Pope Francis talking to anyone about ideas that actually work?

I suspect other people might have the same reaction that I have when hearing/reading this stuff.  It comes across as naive, out of step with history.   Has any nation successfully dealt with poverty through redistribution?  I don’t think so.  Moreover, who would supervise this process of global redistribution? Angels? EU bureaucrats? The UN? Card. Rodriguez Maradiaga?  Card. Kasper?

Go here to read the rest.  The reaction of PopeWatch to this glop is that of Father Z.  If it were said by someone else other than the Pope it wouldn’t be worth the time to read.   PopeWatch finds it odd that the Pope centered his remarks on Zacchaeus, the chief of the publicans in his area.  Publicans were private contractors who provided services to the Roman state and who were usually paid from the taxes they squeezed out of the local population.  They were noted in Judea for their rapacity.  The whole point of the story of Zacchaeus in the gospel is that no one is beyond redemption, even a turncoat working for the Roman government and squeezing the blood out of his people.  Turning this into an argument in favor of Caesar redistributing wealth is simply bizarre.


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  1. The pope talks here talks about “appropriate protection for the family”. On a small scale (personal), and on a large scale (national and global) that protection works best if each person takes care of their own family.
    If we are to have a “generous and disinterested spirit of gratuitousness ” we must first consider the needs of our dependents. An individual with no dependents could give everything away, but the heads of a family may not be disinterested. We have to make prudent decisions in each daily situation.
    Giving those prudent decisions over to the state would be an abdication love and responsibility. We would not rid the world of poverty but make it more common… then we would have a form for solidarity we don’t want- we would have solidarity in our poverty and in the decline of standards of civilization.

  2. Here I think we should encourage the interpretation that public officials should do right by the poor with their own money rather than use their office for personal gain.

  3. When we give money to third world countries, the government keeps it. Their governments do not see “the poor”. Our government is no different.

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