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Pope Francis vs. the New York Times

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Over at, I have a new piece arguing that, much as the New York Times would like to claim Pope Francis for their team, he doesn’t approach the poor the way that they do:

Do individual human beings matter? They do to Pope Francis, who recently had 150 of Rome’s homeless persons receive a tour of the Vatican museums and the Sistine Chapel.

Particular men and women, so some folks tell us, aren’t that important, because if you really want to “change the world” and help people, you must turn your gaze from the people you see in front of you and contemplate instead social structures/societal forces/the root causes of poverty.

This kind of thinking is common in places like the New York Times editorial pages, which seem to think Pope Francis shares their philosophy. But I’d say the pope’s treatment of those homeless persons shows that his approach to changing the world and helping others is entirely different.

… the Times and others who deal in disembodied social forces usually condescend to those they would help by treating the poor as powerless victims of social inequities — as persons who have nothing and can do nothing for themselves or for anyone else. Yet the Pope said the opposite. He did not speak abstractly about the poor; he spoke to every single one of these struggling persons. And he didn’t say, “I denounce the sinful structures of our globalized economic system that victimize the class to which you belong and deprive your class of material riches.” No, Pope Francis said that he, a world leader who lives amid palaces, lacks something that only they, in their dignity, could provide him: “I’m in need of prayers by people like you,” he explained.

For the whole article, go here.

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The Author

Scott Walter

Walter served in the George W. Bush administration as Special Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy and was vice president for publications and research at the Philanthropy Roundtable. There…