US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Pope for the poor

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We've all heard it, and maybe even thought it, before: Why doesn't the church sell of all its riches and give the proceeds to the poor?

Now many who share this idea are gathering on Facebook. Alberto Juesas Escudero of Spain started an online petition on Facebook calling on the Vatican to sell its treasure and buy food for Africa, Zenit reports (I couldn't find the petition myself). More than 40,000 people have joined him.

Besides the usual argument that beautiful churches and artwork praise God, the article in Zenit explains why it simply isn't that easy for the Vatican to sell anything, even for a good cause. The idea also ignores the good the church does for the poor. More importantly, the church encourages us to do good and seek justice for the poor where it is denied to them.

That said, the fact that 40,000 signed this petition may indicate that many people are yearning for a role model in simple living and living for others. They want a modern St. Francis.

Perhaps Pope Benedict will make a symbolic gesture while he's in Africa this week. Could he take the fancy, expensive-looking cloak he wear off and offer it to an orphan? Could he wash an AIDS patient's feet? It's not exactly selling a Michelangelo, but it might be a good model for showing how all Catholics can care for the poor.