A Fallacious Preferential Option for the Poor

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by Fr. Thomas R. Collins  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  September 1, 2020   

Class warfare, resentment vs. repentance, reconciliation

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Over the past several decades, many leaders of the Catholic Church have incrementally downplayed the importance of accountability to the whole truth of God and our call to grow to maturity in the grace of divine righteousness. In place of the Church's sacred vocation and mission, they have embraced the secularist social justice agenda and its dynamic of perpetually arousing and appeasing resentments.

(BLM) riots in Minneapolis

This dynamic has become even more ensconced in their thinking by their promotion of a moral system based on entitlement (i.e., people not only have the right to access what they believe is essential for their livelihood, but also the right to have such things given to them).

Thus, we have seen even vandals and looters viewed with codependent compassion — as merely seeking some form of occult compensation for the evils allegedly being perpetrated on them by our nation's "systemic racism."

The hierarchy's promotion of the racial animosity advocated by the Marxists' social justice agenda has been further enhanced by their decision to ignore the clear commands given in the Torah. 

For example, Exodus 23:1–3 commands: 

You shall not repeat a false rumor. Do not join the wicked in putting your hand, as an unjust witness, upon anyone. Neither shall you allege the example of the many as an excuse for doing wrong, nor shall you, when testifying in a lawsuit, side with the many in perverting justice. You shall not favor a poor man in his lawsuit.

Likewise, we read in Leviticus 19:15–16: 

You shall not act dishonestly in rendering judgment. Show neither partiality to the weak nor deference to the mighty, but judge your fellow men justly. You shall not go about spreading slander among your kinsmen; nor shall you stand by idly when your neighbor's life is at stake. I am the LORD.

Unfortunately, those who allege that violating these commands for the sake of promoting the social justice agenda is morally permissible have been regularly honored by a number of Church leaders and institutions over the past 60 years — even as they promote the barbaric butchering of millions of pre-born babies annually.


There has been a further step in promoting the Marxist agenda of class warfare and resentment, rather than the righteous path of repentance, reconciliation and regeneration. And this step has even been taken by some popes!

This step is the assertion that Church must, contrary to the teaching in Exodus and Leviticus, promote a preferential option for the poor. Initially, this phrase may seem to be an appropriate motto for a saintly nun. But in a world still struggling against the false premises and promises of Marxism, it is extremely dangerous.

Patrisse Cullors

Authentic Church teaching asserts neither that might makes right, nor that poverty makes right. White-collar crime and blue-collar crime are both crimes. Thus, those asserting that the rioting, vandalism violence and looting by "poverty-stricken" members of Black Lives Matter and Antifa should not be prosecuted, but rather praised as attempts to overcome systemic racism, are wrong.

In contrast to the fallacy of a preferential option for the poor, the authentic teaching of the Church denounces both the Marxist premise of class warfare and the social justice dynamic of arousing and appeasing resentments.

Instead, through Her teachings on Original Sin and the redemption offered in, with and through Jesus Christ, She invites all into a sacred mystery, which is redemptive, reconciling and regenerative.

Specifically, she offers all of humanity the freedom to recognize and address our common poverty and by humbly and contritely revealing that poverty to a gracious and merciful Father.

They promote the barbaric butchering of millions of pre-born babies annually.

If we are honest, each of us must admit that all of us suffer from numerous forms of poverty and helplessness.

Among these are financial problems, broken relationships, festering resentments, psychological traumas, crippling guilt, inability to clearly communicate, depression, chronic illnesses, self-loathing and a loss of a sense of the sacred.

In order to forget or distract ourselves from our own wretched poverty, we are tempted to despise and exploit the more obvious poverty of others — or even to slander whole groups of our fellow human beings.

Yet we cannot save ourselves by desecrating others, no matter how obvious and wretched their poverty seems to be. However, we can find a fountain of riches in our poverty if we humbly and gratefully allow that poverty to be more deeply integrated into the merciful, compassionate, multi-dimensional and transformative poverty of Christ crucified. United with Him, our poverty becomes receptivity to the graciousness of God — a graciousness that overcomes all the alienating power of cynicism, sin, resentment and self-desecration, which plague all fallen humanity.

We must, therefore, recognize anew that each human being is sacred. We reverence those suffering from poverty because they are sacred, not because their poverty is more obvious than ours.

In a world still struggling against the false premises and promises of Marxism, it is extremely dangerous.

Likewise, by the gracious wisdom offered by the Holy Spirit, we are drawn into a deep appreciation of the fact that all ministry is mutual. I find deliverance from my own poverty only to the degree that I am willing to humbly reverence the sacredness of another in his/her poverty. A reverent approach to human poverty in our fallen world requires more than material or spiritual relief. It requires that we all share more deeply in the reconciling and regenerative love of Jesus Christ, offered to us as He hung in prolonged helplessness and poverty on His Cross.

A true preferential option should not be directed to the poor as an object of our compassion, but rather as companions in a reconciling and redemptive pilgrimage out of the blindness of sin into a new vision of mutual reverence, respect and gratitude, whereby all of us are drawn to love one another, as Jesus is loving us. This is essential for appreciating and experiencing the gospel of Jesus as Good News, not merely as good history or good philosophy.

Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!

Fr. Thomas R. Collins resides in Virginia.
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