The Church Needs the Poor to Set Its Direction

A good article in the Boston Globe yesterday, on the selections of Cardinals by Pope Francis, and, really, its relation to mission. Here are a few excerpts:

Cardinal picks embody principles of ‘Pope of the Poor’, By John L. Allen Jr.

In Haiti, the pope bypassed the leaders of the country’s two archdioceses, who according to the usual logic would have had better claim to the honor, in order to tap the bishop of a small diocese in the country’s southwest, a man who was himself born into a poor family.

In effect, Francis seemed to want his first consistory to embrace the “periphery” in every possible sense.

“It’s the pope’s prerogative to make whoever he wants a cardinal, but it’s fair to say that I was an unusual choice,” Chibly Langlois said in an interview Friday with the Globe.

“I think it’s rooted in the Gospel,” Langlois said, “symbolizing the pope’s determination to leave no stone unturned in reaching out to the poor.”

He said that giving the country a cardinal has stirred the hopes of Haitians of all stripes.

“It’s created tremendous joy, independently of someone’s religion, whether they’re Catholic or Protestant or whatever,” he said. “Haitians feel a craving for somebody to finally notice them, which is why this means so much to the whole country.” ...

Yet Langlois argued that Francis wasn’t just talking to Haitians in this consistory — he was delivering a message to the rest of the church.

“[Pope Francis] chose a small diocese . . . to express that the church needs the poor to set its direction,” he said. “The future of the universal church under this pope runs through the poor.”


Asked what affluent believers in countries such as the United State can do to help Haiti, for instance, Langlois said the solution doesn’t begin with opening their wallets but with “opening their eyes and ears.” “You need to take a good look around, and try to understand what’s really happening,” Langlois said.

While expressing gratitude for assistance that’s reached Haiti from the United States and other donor nations, Langlois said that the last thing Haitians need is another foreign power riding in, even with the best of intentions, and dictating to them how to move forward.

“The Haitians are a people who need to be helped, maybe, but we don’t need to be ‘assisted,’ ” Langlois said. “More than anything, Haitians need to be heard. What’s needed is a dialogue, so Haitians can take their future in their own hands.”

In the New Testament, Jesus asserts that in the Kingdom of God “the last shall be first.” If personnel is policy, then judging by his first crop of new cardinals it seems that Pope Francis has gotten the memo.